Disaster Recovery

How do I... back up my computer with Mozy for free?

For comprehensive disaster recovery, your backups must be stored off site. Wally Bahny explains how to set up, configure and use Mozy's free online encrypted backup service.

For a home user, backing up a PC can be an inconvenient task; one that is usually not done with disaster recovery in mind. Sure you can back up important files, documents, and pictures to an external hard drive, but that doesn't help if the data loss is caused by a fire or natural disaster.

Mozy, Inc. offers an on-line encrypted back-up service, free of charge or at a nominal fee, depending on the amount of data storage required. Mozy also offers business backup for a fee.

This blog post is also available in the PDF format in a TechRepublic download.

Setup and configuration

After visiting Mozy.com, signing up for either the free (2GB limit) or unlimited package, and downloading the setup file, MozyHome takes you through a simple set-up procedure similar to every other Windows program (see Figure A).

Figure A

Setup

The last screen of the setup includes a check box that will automatically launch the configuration wizard. We'll go ahead and leave that checked.

The first configuration screen simply asks for the account information provided when the account was set up on the Web site. Filling that out and clicking next will bring up a screen that asks the user to make a choice on encryption (see Figure B).

Figure B

Encryption options
For most users, the first option will be more than sufficient (use MozyHome's key), but the more security-minded (or those with sensitive data) may want to choose to create their own custom key. Choosing the second option and clicking Next will bring up the Self Encryption Key screen, shown in Figure C, which gives the user the option to create a private key by either typing in a sentence or paragraph or importing a key from a file.

Figure C

Self Encryption

Clicking Next will ask if you would like to save your key to a file. MozyHome does not save your key anywhere on their servers, so if you lose your key, you lose your data. Clicking Yes will prompt the user with a normal Windows Save As dialog box, while clicking No will give the user a final warning that there is no way to retrieve the custom key. If you click No here, you are returned to the Self Encryption Key screen to start the key archive process all over again.

Either saving the key file or clicking Yes on the warning dialog box will bring up the Backup Sets screen, shown in Figure D, where MozyHome has automatically grouped some of your data into back-up sets for you to choose. (Also, if you had chosen to use Mozy's encryption key back in Figure B, you would be brought directly to this screen.)

Figure D

Backup sets

After checking any of the Backup Sets, click Next and you will be brought to a speed test screen. Running the test ensures that MozyHome can communicate with its server and properly back up your files. The speed test will return an upload speed along with a comment as to whether or not MozyHome can do its job.

The next screen allows the user to choose how much system resources to use to perform the backup; most people will be satisfied at around three-fourths. Since Mozy is configured to run during off hours, system resource usage should not be a problem. Figure E shows the Speed Selection screen.

Figure E

Speed Selection

The last step in the configuration process is to choose what to do next. Mozy can start the initial backup now, queue the backup until the system is idle, or send you into expert configuration mode. The average user would probably want to choose one of the first two options, but the more advanced user will want to go into the expert configuration to more closely define the backup selection.

Advanced configuration

The advanced configuration screen is separated into tabs. The first tab is Backup Sets. This tab is similar to Backup Sets in the configuration wizard, but it also shows which files are in the backup set on the right half of the screen (see Figure F).

Figure F

Backup Sets tab
Next to the Backup Sets tab is the File System tab. This allows a more advanced user to select individual files and folders for backup using the standard Windows folder tree to choose folders and a standard list view to choose files (see Figure G).

Figure G

File System tab
The next tab is the Schedule tab, as shown in Figure H. The Schedule tab allows the user to choose whether the backup should run automatically when the computer is idle or whether the backup should run at a set time. The scheduled time uses similar settings to the Windows Scheduled Tasks, so these options should be familiar to most advanced users.

Figure H

Schedule tab
Following the Schedule tab is the Options tab, as shown in Figure I. Here you will find an array of settings ranging from Tooltips to Bandwidth Throttling to Proxy Configuration. These options are pretty self-explanatory and are usually set in the best state for most users. Also found here is the slider seen in Figure E above in case you would like to change how Mozy uses system resources.

Figure I

Options tab
After the Options tab is the History tab, shown in Figure J. The history tab simply lists the backups that have occurred along with their results. This should be familiar to anyone who has used a backup system before.

Figure J

History tab
Finally, there is a Restore tab, shown in Figure K. Also familiar to those who have used a backup system before, the Restore tab allows the user to choose a back-up date and time (upper-right corner), select one or more files, and then choose to restore to the original location or redirect the files.

Figure K

Restore tab

Also prevalent on all the tabs is a bar showing Quota Usage (free version) as well as a button that gives the option of Increasing Quota; clicking this button will take you to the Mozy Web site to upgrade to the Unlimited version. If you made any changes on any of the tabs, don't forget to click Save.

Back-up results

After a backup has successfully run, Mozy will automatically pop up a small box on your screen that contains the results of the last back-up process (see Figure L). A simple report, the box contains the elapsed time since the backup completed as well as the amount of quota used and the time the next backup will occur. There are also several buttons that take you into the advanced configuration section covered above and a Hide button.

Figure L

Status

More information on Mozy

We have reviewed only the MozyHome free version for Windows. There are several slight changes in the unlimited version of Mozy (no quota limit). Mozy also offers MozyPro for business. In addition to the Windows versions, Mozy has Macintosh versions.

Although the free version is initially limited to 2GB of storage, that limit can be expanded indefinitely by inviting your friends to use Mozy. You can gain 256MB of space for each friend that signs up -- and they gain 256MB as well.

14 comments
Aydin H
Aydin H

Mozy saved me twice within past week. It happen on my TrueCrypt volume on Corsair Flash Voyager GT 4GB which suddenly stopped working on VISTA. Restore feature is great on Mozy, but back-up usually takes some time. I'm currently using Mozy Home (Free) edition and store 800+MB data online. Highly recommended

techrepublic
techrepublic

How long do you think it would take to backup an entire hard drive of say 60GB full over an ADSL uplink of even 500kbps? And how long would it take to restore that amount in case of a disaster??? You must be kidding me! I think Mozy may be ok for for My Documents, and perhaps mail backup but I would think very carefully about full disk DRP.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

Our retrospect dealer kept trying to push this product on us... no idea why since we have well over 200 GB a week in transient back up data and close to 2 TB of archived job data. try sending that over the net or on DVDs... And, even if we were a much smaller business, I think the $5 a month would be better spent on a dvd burner and make your own off-site back-up DR media.

rkuhn040172
rkuhn040172

Would I trust my private data to a third party. I'd rather purchase a product (some are free) to image my PC or use Win Backup and backup to a DVD, CD, thumbdrive, etc.

cuong.nguyen
cuong.nguyen

It would take a long time for the initial data backup, but it's still better than not doing anything. If there's a large amount of data to be restored, Mozy can provide the data on a DVD for a fee intead of using the free restore over the web. The cost is very reasonable at $5/month and it's a great value considering the peace of mind it buys.

TechrepLath
TechrepLath

I use this stuff as well (from another provider though) My backup set is now 11Gb. Sure it took a long time to upload after the initial backup the delta's are ok. And sure it will take a long time to download, but I hope I ever need to use it. I have my regular backup lying around the house in case a disk crash, but this is a DRP we are talking about. A "what if my house burns down" kind of scenario. I my house burns down I'll be able to recover my family photo's in a download that will take me a day or two... I call that a lifesaver, and I am by no means "kidding you".

cpt0866
cpt0866

Mozy was acquired by EMC Corporation in 2007.

Wally Bahny
Wally Bahny

::Shrug:: the advantage to this is that you don't have to have the offsite location for your backup. Sure, you could take it to work and stick it in your desk, but that's an extra step. This is more of a set it and forget it thing. And, as for the security, do you use your credit card online? This is no less secure (and in some cases probably more secure) than the sites and their databases you use to purchase. At least Mozy allows you to specify an encryption key. I have yet to see an online retailer or even PayPal offer to let you encrypt your credit card or bank account info with your own key.

cpt0866
cpt0866

I had the Pro service for over a year. During that time, at least monthly, uploads would not be accomplished and I had re-install the software. Inconvenient to say the least. Then disaster struck. Hard Drive failure. All my business records were backed up to Mozy. So no problem I thought. The computer tech said he may be able some but not all data and suggested I request the DVD backup from Mozy. I ordered those DVDs on June 23, 2008. The Mozy website said I takes 48 hours to send out the DVD. Seven (7) days later no DVDs. Called Mozy who said my request was being handled. When do I get the DVDs? Customer service replies,"When we get to it." More calls and emails. Same reply.July 11, 2008 DVDs delivered. Eighteen (18) days after our request. The DVDs are labeled Mozypro, date 07-02-2008, Restore: Vol. 1 of 2. The FedEx label shows they were held until July 10, 2008 and shipped overnight. Why the long delay. Again, no one at Mozy can explain. The customer service is department is a prime example of how NOT to treat customers. Yes, I have all the emails, chat records, etc. to backup this posting. As has been said so many times, Buyer beware!

andreibat
andreibat

Clearly not the universal answer to all problems. But let me tell you why I use it. I work from home, partly, and the location is many hundredth of miles away (yes, it involves travel by plane, too). When I am at home I connect to one corporate network and to another, lot less professional one. I keep much of my work on the network at my work place, but I do have a pretty complete copy of the most important files on a large memory stick. I have several times left this memory stick behind at either work or home, and surely enough I was glad I had backed up my working files on Mozy!

Wally Bahny
Wally Bahny

I haven't yet _had_ to restore anything (but I have tested it). I haven't had a problem with the uploads when my Internet connection has been up, and the uploads automatically start back up the next night (I'm using a schedule). I hope they've worked out the kinks you experienced.

trtrash
trtrash

I thought about giving their free service a try before using them for office use. Now, I don't need to waste my time. Thanks.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

May their company recieve less customers because of this. I would have hit the roof!