I have written before about Mozy, an online backup service for Windows XP. I use this service daily and love it. When I wrote the earlier article, Mozy was offering up to two gigabytes of backup space free of charge and larger amounts of online storage on a sliding scale of charges. Now Mozy has a new announcement that I find amazing: Mozy's free offering for two gigabytes of storage space remains the same, but the company now offers UNLIMITED backup space for only $4.95 a month.
Unlimited storage space for backups? That's what the company says. You can back up 50, 100 or even 500 gigabytes of data for $4.95 a month. I don't know of any other company that offers unlimited storage for a fixed fee, much less for a fee as low as $4.95 a month. Mozy's competitors charge up to $95 a month for only 50 gigabytes. This is a very competitive offering, and I suspect that Mozy's competitors will have to scramble to match it.
The new flat rate service can be used to back up an unlimited amount of digital files: genealogy data, family photographs, your checkbook data, all sorts of documents, video, e-mail messages, anything at all. You manually back up your data when you wish, or else tell the Mozy software to automatically make backups every few hours. All data is saved at an off-site location for your protection.
I especially like Mozy's "set it and forget it" mode of operation. You download and install a small program in your PC. You then can tell the program to automatically make backups every few hours if the computer is idle. Other options include the ability to make backups only at specified times or only when you manually tell the software to make a backup at this moment.
The first time you make a backup, all the files that you specified are encrypted and sent to Mozy's servers. After that, only the files that have changed are sent. For most people, these later incremental backups are completed quickly. In my case, the first backup required the better part of 24 hours, but my later incremental backups usually complete in a minute or less. Yet I can retrieve any or all of my files at any time.
Mozy Unlimited Backup also includes a major overhaul to its previous restore process. Users can conduct unlimited restores within Windows Explorer by right clicking on a file or folder. Users on the road can access and restore their data via the Mozy Web site. The company also now also offers consumers the option to order a copy of their data on DVD, shipped next-day air via FedEx. Note that you do pay extra charges for the DVD to cover the labor and shipping expenses.
Other standard features include private key encryption, custom backup scheduling, continuous backup options, bandwidth throttling, block level incremental backups, 30-day file version archives, support for files larger than 2 gigabytes, and automatic Microsoft Outlook file detection and backup.
Please note the phrase "private key encryption." The encryption key is stored on your computer and no place else. This means that all your data is fully encrypted on your computer before it is sent over the Internet and stored at Mozy. Your data cannot be decrypted by anyone, not even by Mozy employees. It can only be decrypted when the data is restored back to your computer and then only after you re-enter the encryption key that you originally created. Your data always remains safe and secure from prying eyes.
One downside is that the Mozy Backup Service only operates on Windows XP. Users of earlier versions of Windows or of Macintosh or Linux systems will not be able to use the service. The company's web site does not yet mention Windows Vista, but I suspect that will be added soon after Vista Home Edition is released.
A second issue is that a broadband connection is the only practical method of backing up gigabytes of files. Mozy probably will work on a dial-up connection, but you won't be happy with the results.
Finally, the Mozy Backup Services described here are only for private individuals. If your employer would like to start backing up all the PCs in the company, you need to contact Mozy for a custom price quote.
I have used Mozy for several months and have been very pleased with its operation. The new announcement is obviously going to broaden the appeal for the company's services. I don't know of any other backup service that comes close to Mozy's prices.
To sign up for the free 2 gigabytes of storage or for the $4.95/month unlimited storage option, go to http://mozy.com/?kbid=7017.
When was the last time you made an off-site backup of your critical data?