If you have your files backed up to another computer or up-to-date external drive or discs, in a different location, you’re in much better shape than a lot of us. If you don’t, you might think about online backup at Mozy.
I resisted this for a long time because I thought it was too expensive, too complicated and would expose my private files to prying eyes. None of those things are true.
When I got to looking into it further, I realized that it costs me just as much, or more, to redo my CD backups once a year. I also have 3 USB keys and 2 external hard-drives. The part that makes me nervous, though, is that it’s all living in an area of about 12 square feet. If anything ever happened to those 12 square feet and I lost my 10′s of thousands of hours of computer work, I would be having a very bad day. Online backup is not complicated at all, and my online files are as secure as I want them to be. If the company went bust, or all their servers blew up on the same day my house caught on fire, that would be the end of that, but we’re talking really worst case scenario there.
The reason I chose Mozy over Carbonite is that Carbonite only works from a C-drive, (or did when I tried it) and I keep most of my family history, photo, video and music archives on an external hard-drive. Carbonite worked fine for me though, it’s very simple and might be some people’s preference. There are other choices as well, all of which I know nothing about.
When your first sign up for Mozy you can have 2 GB for free, so this way you can try it out, get used to it, and decide if you want to go the whole nine yards, about $50 a year for unlimited space.
First, you have to install the small Mozy program. It’s fast and easy. During the installation process you have the option to choose your own encryption key (password) or use theirs. It’s important you think this through because once you’ve started backing up files there’s no going back without starting over.
OK, boring stuff about encryption: When your files are backed up to the Mozy servers, they are encrypted before they leave your computer, which means they’re turned into a gobbledygook of 1′s and 0′s. If you choose your own key this means you, and you alone, have the key to decrypt the files. Otherwise Mozy uses its own encryption key and only they can decrypt the files before sending them back to you. If you choose your own encryption key make sure there is absolutely no way you can ever lose it, because if you do, there’s no way to get your files back in readable form should you ever need to.
After Mozy is installed on your computer you’ll have a Mozy icon under My Computer. Double-click and you will find a listing of all the files and folders you’ve backed up, looking exactly as they do on your computer. If you right-click on a file and choose Restore, the file will come back from Mozy to its original or other location chosen by you. Like magic.
Or you can log into your Mozy account online and restore from there. That shows a complete listing of your backups by date, in a folder tree layout.
But, before this happens, you have to decide what you want backed up. For this, double-click on the Mozy icon in the System Tray and click Configure. It may open automatically upon installation but you’ll need to do this manually in future if you want to make changes.
When I first started I didn’t pay any attention to my choices here which meant Mozy backed up several files and folders I didn’t want backed up. Unbeknown to me, it was backing up Backup Sets. (first tab) If you also don’t want this, just tick and then un-tick all the boxes to make sure they’re un-ticked and go to the second tab, File System, instead.
All you have to do here is go through the folder tree ticking off what you want backed up. You can also choose subsets of any folder, right down to individual files, so you have total control over your choices. Then save and you’re ready to go. You can come back here and make changes anytime you want to by clicking Configure again.
If you want to watch what’s happening anytime, just double-click the icon in the System Tray which brings up the Status box. There’s only a few buttons so you’re unlikely to get lost.
It’s harder to describe Mozy than to use it. You can fire it up manually at any time, choose a schedule or just let it turn itself off and on according to its own. If you want to use your computer while having it run in the background, move the slider to “Faster Computer”. If you’re going in the kitchen for awhile move the slider to “Quicker Backups.” If Mozy is running at all, the icon in the System Tray will be pulsing slowly. If it’s not moving you can go into the Status box and start it yourself.
Online backup is slow. If you can stay focused on the endpoint the day will finally come when it’s all done. After that it’s easy. Mozy will scan for changes and keep you up to date. I have sometimes left my computer running at night as it will do about 3GB over 8 hours when left entirely alone.
Mozy keeps all “old” backups for 30 days. So if something you backed up 30 days ago is no longer part of your present backup choices, it will be deleted from their servers. Theoretically. The files may stay there for longer if they don’t do their maintenance on a regular basis. In any case they guarantee your old backups for at least 30 days. You cannot delete files from their server yourself.
I have finally finished backing up about 50 GB, and it feels great. No more CD backups, (I’ve spent a small fortune on those) no more nagging “what ifs…” I don’t actually worry about fires and mudslides, I mean, really, who does? We’d be paralyzed if we lived that way, or about my computer blowing up, although a friend had both his home and work computers do that on the same day (no, I don’t make this stuff up) … but …