Thursday, November 26, 2009

Mozy: Backup that does not work.

I just gave up on using Mozy as a backup solution because it simply does not work.  Now that I am using a DSLR I needed a better way to back up the photographs. Previously I had just been uploading all the jpegs to Flickr as a form of offsite backup, as well as keeping local backups on DVDS.  With the DSLR I now have lots of raw files and the modifications that I have made in Lightroom so I needed a real backup solution.

I have been using JungleDisk for some time for sharing files between computers and for backing up a small volume of important files.  JungleDisk uses Amazon’s S3 service for storing the data which charges per GByte of data stored. I thought this would start to get expensive if I had many GBytes of raw files plus other data so I looked around for an alternative.

Several of the photography podcasts I listen to mentioned Mozy as simple to use backup service which is reasonably priced and offers unlimited storage. The uploads are slow, but I decided it was probably adequate for the amount of stuff that I have.  I tried out the free version, which has a 2GByte limit and it seemed to work so paid for a subscription and started backing up my data.

After about 2 months of continual backup leaving the computer on during the day I had about  150GBytes of files backed up and the initial backup was complete. Then the trouble started.  Backups stated failing with a “Server Error 12” so I emailed Mozy support and did some Googling about the cause. The support, outsourced to India, replied with a “reboot and try again” message even though from reports on the web it is clear that “Server Error 12” is a problem on the Mozy side not on the client. When that did not work, support replied again that they could not fix it so had “escalated it” to someone at Mozy. They replied after 3 days that the error should be gone because they had fixed the account on the server. However, backups still did not work.

Then the Mozy emails started being blocked by GMails spam filter and some emails seemed to have been blocked before then. So far these are the only false positives that GMail has ever  found in my email. This caused some delay, but the advice was then to uninstall and then re-install the client which I did. After re-installing files started being uploaded again but the program wanted to re-upload all the files.  Since that took 2 months the first time I don’t think that is reasonable. But, to see what would happen I left it running only for it to stop with “Server Error 12” again.  So I emailed support again, and waited.  4 days later I gave up and deleted the account and have applied for a refund.

The backups stopped working on November  6th, by November 24th they were still not working and it is clear that something in the Mozy system is broken. A backup system needs to be reliable and Mozy, in my experience, is not.

Googling for possible solutions I found many others who had also had problems with Mozy and had given up as well. Not only are there reliability problems there seem to be serious issues if you want to restore files or transfer data from one computer to another or reinstall the OS or, well do anything that you might expect a backup system to support. The comments on the review: "Mozy Review: Is Mozy Online Backup Worth it? My Experience…" seem both typical and agree with what I encountered.

Reading other’s experiences it seems that Mozy may be fine if you have 1 or 2 GBytes of data so can do a full backup/restore in a few hours. Then if there is any trouble you can simply back up everything again.  If you have more data than that then Mozy does not appear to be reliable enough.

For the moment I have gone back to using JungleDisk. The upload speeds are much better than Mozy and I have been using it for several years without any reliability problems.  I can use it on multiple computers and browse the backed up files on a virtual drive. With lots of data it is more expensive than some of the other online backup providers. So I will probably investigate one of the alternatives.  But next time I will be more careful about checking for bad reviews first!


icodebot said...

It's broke for me too. It hangs all the time. Mozy server error 12 is common, and more often than not my backups fail. They seem to have some fundamental problem with their system that they are unable to resolve.

David Dibben said...

Thanks for the comment. I gave up an got a refund from them. Only for the "unused" part of the subscription though.