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malevolent design weblog

This blog is now defunct, but you can find more stuff over at my personal site

Mac Backups With Mozy

I’ve always been reasonably cautious about keeping copies of important files, but never feel comfortable that I’m doing enough (and often enough). A hard drive on my desk holds a bootable clone of my main work machine (created using SuperDuper), and I’ve occasionally burned sets of DVDs, or put crucial files onto memory sticks, or uploaded them to a server, but I needed better off-site backups. It doesn’t matter how many copies you’ve got if most of your files can be wiped out by a fire or burglary.

So last weekend I signed up with Mozy, which offers 2GB of backup storage for free or unlimited space for $4.95 a month (with discounts for paying for years in advance). Unlike most similar services, they offer a beta Mac client which seems to work OK and includes bandwidth throttling options (despite what their home page currently says). You can configure it to back up continuously, periodically or on demand, and recover files either via the software or a web interface.

Mozy data recovery interfaces

A few tips for any Mac users giving it a try:

  • Tick ‘Show Mozy Status in the menu bar’ in the preferences; the menu bar icon lets you easily find out what’s going on
  • Unless you’ve got oodles of upstream bandwidth, configure the throttling to make sure your net connection remains usable
  • If that still isn’t enough to avoid problems with bandwidth-hungry activities (e.g. streaming, gaming or VoIP), switch off both ‘Perform backups automatically’ and ‘Backup at a specific time’. Instead, manually trigger backups from the menu bar icon and cancel if you need the entire pipe

It’s taken me a week to initially upload everything, with no crashes or glitches other than it failing to automatically resume after the machine went to sleep. My only concern about most of these services is that they’re disturbingly cheap and competition is fierce, meaning that the biggest risk to your backup may be the firm you’ve chosen going bust.


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