Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Mozy: Free Remote Backup

My Dad just had a hard drive crash on him and had no backup of many of his files. As you can guess, he wasn't too happy about the whole thing.

To make sure this doesn't happen again I figured he needed a remote backup system. I wanted something where he could backup his files to a server over the internet and then download them if his hard drive ever crashed again. I came across a service by Mozy that is pretty cool and completely free.

To use Mozy, you sign up online and after verifying your address, you download a small Windows client. After installing it you configure how you want Mozy to work. There is a nice wizard that walks you through selecting which files to backup. It knows the location of many common files (like Outlook email and contacts, Word Processing Documents and IE Favorites) so you don't even have to tell it where to look.

Then you tell it when to do backups. It has an "automatic" backup setting which will backup your files whenever the computer is idle for more than 30 minutes. So you don't even have to specify a time for the backup to occur each day. The configuration also generates a key to encrypt all of your files. Files are stored in an encrypted format on their server so no one will be able to view them who doesn't have the key. It also allows many other options to be modified for those that like to fine tune their software.

Once configured, it will copy all of the files to their server. This can take a while depending on how large the files you are backing up are and how speedy your internet connection is. Subsequent backups just send files that have been modified and is quite quick.

The best part is that the whole thing is free. You get 2GB of storage on their server. The deal is so good that I am concerned if their business model is viable. They make money if you need more space. They charge $5 a month for 30GB and $10 for 60GB. Even that seems cheap. This might explain why the backup server was actually down for the first weekend after I signed up. They apparently were changing hosting locations and the service was unavailable. Since that point I have had no problems connecting.

As long as the service is free, I highly recommend it. The setup is easy, the Windows client works well and hardly slows down your machine at all. And when your hard drive crashes (as all eventually do) you can easily restore all of your old files.

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