I have been looking for a good online backup solution. The idea is that your computer keeps track of any changes you make and automatically uploads them to a secure server. If your hard drive goes bad, it is a simple matter to download all of your data.
I am experimenting with a few different services. One of the ones I tried is called Mozy and I finally gave up on it. It is nice in theory, but they just haven’t figured out how to make it work on OS X.
I’ve heard some people say they have had good results with the Windows version.
Their business model is to give you unlimited backup of a single computer for $4.95 per month. Once you get a complete backup, Mozy just uploads the changes to the server. It can take a very long time to do a full backup of your computer. Most internet connections are fast to download and slow to upload. The initial backup may take a few days or even weeks depending on your connection.
Backups can be scheduled to run automatically so if everything works correctly you can just set it and forget it.
One of the unique things about Mozy is that they will send you a DVD if you need to recover your files, but have a connection that is too slow. This can be a nice option.
As far as security goes, Mozy gives you the option of using a key that they generate to encrypt the data or you can use your own key. By using your own encryption key you can make sure that your data is useless to anyone who doesn’t have the key. The way I understand it, the encryption takes place on your computer before it goes over the network, so your data is kept secure. (Just make sure you keep a backup of your key somewhere other than your Mozy backup!)
By encrypting the data using your own key, it should be secure, even if Mozy gives all your files to someone else. For example, if someone was to steal or seize Mozy’s servers your data should be inaccessible unless they also get your key.
Mozy also has a business class service that can backup databases and Microsoft Exchange. The prices for those services are quite a bit higher and you’d need to make sure you have a fast enough connection to support the amount of data you’d be transferring each day. They have a 2Gig free personal plan, which can be a good way to try things out–although some problems only seem to appear when you get into larger amounts of data.
As with any online backup solution, you can reduce your network usage by being careful about what you include in the backup. Once the initial backup is complete, I would recommend taking a look at what is actually changing each day and see if it is really data that needs backed up. If you include your temporary internet folder, you could potentially upload hundreds of megs of data you don’t really need.
I’m going to keep an eye out for future versions of Mozy because it looks like it will be a good service once it is working with OS X.