Over the weekend my sister called me in a panic. “I can’t get my computer to start! It has over 10 years of Quicken history for my small business and it’s not backed up anywhere! HELP!”.
Sound familiar? Hopefully not but the chances are if it hasn’t happened yet… it soon will. That’s because the statistics show that on average, over 140,000 hard drives crash every week and another 12,000 laptops are lost or stolen from airports each week as well.
Fortunately for my sister, about a year ago when she invited us over for
free tech support “dinner”, while I was cleaning the PC from a years worth of Virus buildup I decided to install a free copy of Mozy. We made a trip to Fry’s, grabbed a new drive and she was back up and running with no data loss. Happy ending.
Who is Mozy?
Ok, story time is over and it’s time to get serious about home computer backup. The good news is it’s simple using the online “cloud” backup service Mozy.com. Mozy is an online “cloud” backup solution which provides 2 gigabytes of free online backup. Their backup agent is simple to install and configure.
Why use Mozy to Backup my data?
Although there are several other vendors out there that provide “cloud” backup, I like Mozy for several different reasons.
- Mozy provides 2 gigs of free online storage and unlimited storage for a flat fee of $4.95 a month.
- Their client is simple and easy to install and configure.
- The Mozy backup client allows you to encrypt your data before you upload it to them. That’s great news since you never know what “goons” might be working in the remote data centers with access to your data.
- Mozy keeps versions of files for 30 days in the event you need to go back to an old copy of a file.
- Mozy isn’t going to disappear / go broke because EMC (World wide leader in Corporate data center storage) acquired Mozy in 2007.
- Mozy supports both MAC and Windows computers
- If your house burns down or your computer is stolen, your data is locked away safe in their data center.
Quick Overview of the Install and Config
1. My recommendation is to setup the free account with 2GB. If you find you like the service you can always upgrade to a HOME account for the $4.95 flat fee w/unlimited backup.
2. Setup your Free account and download either the MAC or Windows Client.
Note: All screenshots taken from Windows 7
I recommend you take a look at the accounts page also. The accounts page is where you will configure all your info is stored about how much data you have backed up, which computers are being backed up, upgrade your account etc…
3. Press the typical Next, Next, Next until the install is completed.
4. Begin the configuration wizard and re-enter your email address and password you setup during registration. Click Next when done.
STOP! READ CAREFULLY!
Ok, now you have a VERY important choice to make. As mentioned above, (reason #3 for using Mozy.com) one of the great things about using Mozy to backup your data is the backup client will encrypt your data before it uploads it to the Mozy “cloud”. This is a nice feature because this will ensure your data is never found on a backup tape in some warehouse somewhere or on a file server somewhere if the company ever goes bankrupt. Encryption at rest is GOOD.
So, what you need to decide in Step 5 below is whether or not you want to use the Mozy encryption key OR your own encryption key. Let me explain:
Lets say your computer is stolen. No problem! Simply login to Mozy, download the Mozy client, install it and begin a data restore. You don’t need to remember anything other than your Email Address you used with Mozy and your Password.
If at anytime Mozy wants to gain access to your account, all they need to do is reset your password on your Mozy account and login as you and perform a restore. Why would they do this? Who knows. Perhaps your an enemy of the state (or accused) and a judge hands Mozy a subpoena might convince them to do it.?.?.? I have no idea. My point however is if Mozy wants to gain access to your files, they can.
Now, if all your backing up is Quicken data or pictures of your kids, this is probably a good way to go. If however your a paranoid privacy groovyReader like me (just because your paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you) you might want to go with the Personal Key option.
Using a personal private key that you generate (I recommend using a looooooong pass-phrase) Mozy will not have the ability to easily gain access to your data. Should your data show up at a corporate bankruptcy auction on old hard drivers or backup tapes, you should be good.
If your PC dies or is stolen and you need to recover your data, after installing the Mozy client on your new PC/MAC you will be asked for that long and strong pass-phrase you used when you originally setup your account. If you can’t find it or remember it… your done. Game over. There is no back door. Your data is pretty much gone forever. Personally, this is the route I always go however I have a process for not forgetting my pass-phrase which I’ll write about another time (I would do it now but it’s late and I’m tired).
Granted, if your an enemy of the state of a terrorist, you probably should not use Mozy. My guess is if the CIA, NSA or PTA want to get at your data, a 256-bit AES key is not going to stop them.
5. Decide which method you want to use to protect your data and Click the radio button. In my example, I’m going to Click Encrypt my data with my own personal 256-bit AES key.
6. After reading the WARNING again, Type in your Key. If you have an existing keyfile from a previous install, you can import it as well.
If you have a SAFE, Safety deposit box or Thumb Drive you keep on you at all times, you can save the Key to your Hard Drive then copy it to your Thumb Drive for safe keeping. This is a nice option if you don’t want to risk forgetting your password. That being said, if you just leave it on your computer and the computer is lost or stolen, your PW is gone along with your data.
7. Decide if you want to save a copy of your keyfile. Click Yes or No.
The Wizard will automatically scan your Hard Drive and create a backup job by grouping your files into Backup Sets. (Documents, Email, Financial Files etc..). In my example below, I had to unselect my Photos because my free account allows for just 2 Gigs of data. That’s ok however because this backup is primarily being done just for my 16 Megs of Quicken data.
8. Confirm the initial backup looks accurate (and is under 2 Gigs) and Click Next
9. Mozy will perform a quick Upload Speed test to confirm your Internet connection is good enough for online backups. If you have a DSL line or better you should be fine. Click Next.
If you have a slower computer, Mozy could cause interruptions when uploading new backups. To solve this they allow you to adjust the slider bar to choose PC Performance Vs. Backup Speed. I recommend you leave everything at the default setting.
10. Click Next.
Now it’s time to start your first backup. I recommend you just leave everything at the default settings and start the backup. If you want to customize the settings later in expert mode you can. For now however, let’s just get a backup done to get your data safe.
Like the “REMEMBER” note says below, if you’re backing up a few gigs, it could take a few hours or even days depending on you connection speed and amount of data your backing up. The first time I backed up my entire computer using the $4.95 plan, it took about 2 weeks because it was backing up about 400 Gigs of data… Yeah I know… The good news is once the initial backup is done, future backups very fast since only delta’s or incremental backups are performed.
11. Click Finish
12. Nothing to do here but watch as your PC is backed up into the Cloud! Ahhh… I feel better all ready! Click Hide if the backup is going to take awhile.
When you minimize the backup, you can later access the Mozy app. by clicking on the Mozy Icon in your Windows Taskbar.
As mentioned earlier, per the above screenshot, Mozy will now keep track of any changes to your File and Folders. If you delete anything or add anything to your system, your PC / MAC will be kept in Sync with the “cloud” every 20 minutes or so.
Restoring files you’ve backed up on Mozy can be done several different ways. The easiest method is to just use Windows Explorer. Simply Right-Click on a Folder or File to gain access to the Mozy Restore feature in the Context Menu. From there it’s very straight-forward to restore a version of the file.
Tip: The Right-Click context menu is another great way to choose folders or files to be included in a future Mozy backup.
Another way to Restore your Mozy backed up files is through the actual Mozy Client. Simply Right-Click the Mozy Taskbar Icon and Click Restore Files.
This will launch the full Mozy client which will allow you to restore either the latest version of files or versions of files up to 30 days back.
And of course you can also restore files from the Web Browser AND Via Fed-Ex if you need to restore an entire Hard drive.
As you can see, the options are robust yet simple to navigate and use. Best of all, it’s 100% free. Now there are some additional “expert” features which I’ll cover at a later date but I think for now the message should be pretty clear. BACKUP YOUR COMPUTER! If you still need some help, just let me know! Drop comments below or if you have a detailed question or problem, create a new topic in our Free groovy Forum!