Backup that actually works

After 3 months of patience and constant anxiety, I can finally say with some confidence that almost all the data on my computer that I care for is secure in case of a computer crash or other unforeseen disaster that would blow away all my digital assets.

I am a backup freak. I have 5 500GB external hard disks attached to my iMac that has Retrospect backup software that takes rolling incremental backups to these disks throughout the week. At any given day I have the ability to go back upto 5 previous days in the past week. I think this is pretty conservative and has saved me much grief in the past.

However, keeping your backup next to your computer isn't the wisest thing to do. It is good to recover from accidental deletes or computer crashes but isn't a DR (disaster recovery) solution. So, after trying out a bunch of services I decided to try Mozy for a year at $5 a month for unlimited disk space. $5 a month for unlimited backup sounded too good to be true. A coffee a day costs more than $5.

What Mozy does is it installs a little software that runs in the background. You tell it what folders you want to backup and it copies them over via the Internet to its backup servers somewhere you don't know. It encrypts the data so it is unlikely that anyone will be able to read anything while it is in transit or stored on Mozy's servers.

So, after some false starts and a lot of patience, after 3 months I have been able to backup about 165 GB data that has all my documents, my music, my photos (JPGs and RAW) and Akshra's website and a bunch of other small stuff. I've now added Akshra's videos as well which will probably take another month or so to backup.

Why did it take 3 months to backup 165GB of data? Because 165 GB of data is a hell of a lot to upload. The internet service providers have designed their network for downloads and not uploads because most of what people do on the web is download content. Also, Mozy is pretty new so often times the program would just die or Mozy's servers would throw a random communication error and Mozy would start the file transfer again.

The good thing is that now that the data is backed up -- the incremental backups should be much faster because I am only going to add a little bit more data to what I already have at least every time and Mozy will constantly be copying it over.

I highly recommend Mozy. It is cheap and it is easy. However, more than Mozy what I recommend is that we all take online backup of some sort for things that matter to us the most and are unrecoverable -- like our family photos and videos.