Mozy loses the backup race (and why CrashPlan is superior)

About a month ago, I decided it was time to look  into a backup solution for my MacBook. All of our photos—everything from the last five years or so that April and I have been together—are on this laptop in iPhoto. All of our music is stored in iTunes. If my MacBook dies, everything we have accumulated over the last five years is gone.

I’d heard a lot of advertisements about Mozy, and their site looked swell, so I figured I’d give it a try. The initial backups with the free client went well, so I purchased the $9.99 per month plan for 125 GB of backup space. I liked the way the client worked (with throttling my connection during the day and ramping it up at night, along with a few other features), and I figured it would be a cheap experiment.

Unfortunately, the client soon stalled. It would slowly upload files for a while, and then the icon would change to a red warning exclamation point that meant… something. I have no idea what, because their logs don’t capture a lot of useful information. Not finding much online, I submitted a support ticket.

The customer service at Mozy was phenomenal, and I really appreciated my support technician, with whom I worked over the course of a week. In the end, she told me that this was a known issue with file caching on Mac OS X and that they would have a new client out in October that should fix it. Because it wasn’t going to be fixed for a while, they extended my subscription for free to November.

That’s pretty great, and I was impressed. I figured I could just slowly upload stuff until October, then it would work, and I’d be happy. In the meantime, I setup Mozy on my gaming computer. I hadn’t really thought about doing so before, but my gaming hard drive crashed recently and I lost all my save games, so backing those up automatically seemed like a pretty good idea.

Unfortunately, Mozy failed again. Some save games are stored in the Program Files directory, which Mozy by default doesn’t let a user see. I filed another support ticket and the same technician kindly pointed me in the right direction—there was a setting I could change to see the folders. Great! thought I, a simple solution, and off I went to back things up… except it didn’t work. Mozy requested more log files, and I went out to look at their competitors.

I didn’t read many reviews in advance of going with Mozy, though I did post on Twitter and G+ and received generally positive feedback. When I searched online, every review was negative, and many of them focused on lousy file restoration processes. It turns out that once you give your files to Mozy, it is very difficult to get them back out. That wasn’t too encouraging considering how hard a time I was having getting my files in.

CrashPlan was recommended as an alternative in every review, and I’d heard about it from others as well, so I browsed their site and decided to download it. I ran it in parallel with Mozy for a day or so, and I’m mostly impressed. Its interface isn’t quite as slick, but I was able to easily select all my files and folders with it, and the upload has already finished (which was speeded up by taking my MacBook to work for a day). This is compared to Mozy where I had to trick it into letting me select iPhoto and iTunes. On OS X, these are considered a sort of “package,” and the Mozy client couldn’t expand them to let me select just the iTunes Music and iPhoto Originals; backing up the entire packages would triple the size of the upload with a bunch of unnecessary stuff. ((For those interested, I created symlinks deeper into the packages, then used the Mozy advanced file select to get to the directories I wanted.)) And because of the bug with the OS X client, it took me three weeks to back everything up with Mozy, while CrashPlan is already done (after two days).

Let me take a moment to remind everyone that Mac OS X Snow Leopard is over two years old, as is Windows 7. And Mozy’s client has known bugs that prevent backing up data on both operating systems.

I wrote my support technician a comment ((Created By: Matthew Stublefield (9/3/2011 12:32 PM)

Samantha,

Thank you for your time and effort helping me with all this. Your customer service has been top notch, and I appreciate it.

Unfortunately, Mozy isn’t a reliable product to which I can trust my data. OS X Snow Leopard is over two years old, as is Windows 7, and I find it ridiculous that the client does not work well or with good stability on either system. What I’m essentially looking for is SFTP + Rsync, but with a nice GUI and without having to think about it, and I can find no reason to spend a lot of time wrestling with your client to get it to work.

I hadn’t researched Mozy much before trying it–I think it’s the first purchase I made based on the marketing–but now that I’ve gone out and read more reviews I have been surprised by how many and consistent the negative reviews have been regarding file restoration. I’ve even found blogs where the founder of Mozy commented, saying that yes, the service is bad, but they’re going to work to improve it. That’s swell, but based on my experience over the last three weeks, it doesn’t look like sufficient improvement has happened.

I signed with one of your competitors, CrashPlan, a few days ago and was quickly and easily able to select all the files I wanted on both operating systems (which was hard with Mozy: on OS X I had to trick it to let me select my iTunes and iPhoto directories, and on Windows I never was able to get it to back up all the folders I wanted), and my entire file set is already uploaded. It’s not quite as shiny as Mozy, but it works, and has a lot of positive reviews, so I’m going to be canceling my Mozy account.

Again, thank you for all your help. You’ve been top notch. I wish I could say the same for the product.

Regards,

Matthew Stublefield)) explaining my problems with Mozy and thanking her, deleted that account, and now I’m off to purchase a CrashPlan account. My save games, music, photos, and other documents are already backed up, and while CrashPlan lacks a few of the features I really liked in Mozy (namely, being able to throttle my backup during the day but have it go fast at night), at least it works.

 

3 thoughts on “Mozy loses the backup race (and why CrashPlan is superior)

  1. Thank you for taking the time to write this up. Personally, I use Crashplan, but I have helped others using Mozy. They have the same kind of problems with the client you observe.

  2. Sorry to hear about this. Thanks for posting your experience. We are ready to nuke Crashplan from orbit based on their OSX client problems and non-support. I want to never ever ever hear the C-word again.

    Was hoping Mozy would be a lifeboat for our gazillion GBs of camera raw photos.

    1. What problems are you having with Crashplan on OS X? It has worked flawlessly for me since September.

      I’m not really a Crashplan salesman, so I don’t have a vested interest in what you use, but it surprises me to hear you’re having problems.

      That said, I never interacted with their support since it just worked for me. Mozy did have great support, just a poor client… maybe Carbonite would work better for you? I continue to hear good things about them. There’s another that came out recently that has unlimited storage, and I’ve heard good things about them as well, but I don’t recall their name right now…

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