Mozy: Offsite Secure Backup

March 10, 2008  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

Data integrity is pretty important to lawyers. We need to make sure our client’s data is available and protected. Failure to do so could even be an ethics violation. With that in mind, I have been looking for a backup solution for my wife’s estate planning practice. I may have found what I am looking for in Mozy.

Mozy is a company (which is part of the EMC family) offering secure online backups of your computer files. Mozy offers three levels of service: MozyHome, MozyPro, and MozyEnterprise. Currently, on MozyHome supports Mac OS X. You’ll need to be running Windows 2000, Windows Server 2000, or any newer versions of Windows to take advantage of MozyPro or MozyEnterprise. In this article, I will talk about MozyHome, but much of the information will apply equally well to MozyPro and MozyEnterprise (take a look at the Mozy product feature comparison chart). I signed up for a free 2GB MozyHome account. MozyHome accounts with unlimited storage are also available for $4.95 per month.

Getting Started

Using MozyHome requires installing the Mozy backup software. The Mozy software works similarly to Apple’s .Mac Backup application when choosing which files to backup. You can choose one or more backup sets to be included in the Mozy backup. A backup set can be an entire folder or a spotlight search that is run against a folder (or even your entire computer). The software also supports a simpler backup mode where you can choose a single directory or file to be backed up.


Your files are transmitted securely to Mozy’s servers using 128-bit SSL encryption. This is the same kind of security you will find on many banking websites and other websites which ask for or display your personal or financial information. Once on Mozy’s servers, your data is protected with 448-bit Blowfish encryption. You can choose to either use Mozy’s encryption key (which the software lists as “recommended”) or use your own key. Using Mozy’s key might mean less strain on their servers, but it’s not going to mean better protection for you. If anything it will mean the opposite: if someone breaks into Mozy’s servers and gets the Mozy key, all of your data is vulnerable. If you’re using your own key, the attacker will have an extra hurdle to getting at your data.

Backing Up

Setting up was quick and very straightforward. Backing up? Not so much. A trip to the dictionary might help us understand.

intr.v. mo·seyed, mo·sey·ing, mo·seys Informal
1. To move in a leisurely, relaxed way; saunter.
alternate: mozy

Ok, that list part wasn’t in the dictionary – but it should be. Mozy was quite leisurely and it didn’t appear to be in any hurry to backup my files. The initial backup of 1.5GB involved many false starts (broken connections) and finally finished 3 days after it started. Upload speeds ranged from 1.6 to 114.5 KB/s. That first number might help explain why the initial backup took so long. Even that second number, though, could be troubling for people who have 10-20GB or more of data to backup. Backups seem to happen pretty infrequently also. Mozy seems to only perform a backup about once a day, and I can’t find a way to alter that frequency.

Restoring Data

Using the Mozy software you can view your backed up files and traverse the directories in the same manner as the Finder’s column view mode. Unfortunately, there is no preview ability, so you just have to know what you’re looking for. Prior to Leopard, this wouldn’t have been an issue because that’s the way it’s always worked. Quick Look changed expectations – it’s the new baseline for required features. You can choose which backup to restore a particular file from by choosing a date from the Backup Date menu. It’s not clear whether multiple versions of changed files are retained or whether it simply allows you to filter the list and find what you are looking for more quickly. In either case, it’s of limited usefulness without the ability to preview files.

Mozy also makes you choose where the restored file will appear (the default restore location is the Desktop). Having the flexibility to make it appear anywhere is nice. The restore location should default, though, to the folder the file came from.


Pros: Easy to setup; flexible backups using backup sets; solid encryption (if not quite top-of-the-line); free 2GB backup.

Cons: Only backs up files every day or two; no ability to preview files before restoring; slow backups.

Bottom Line: I’ll probably start using MozyHome to make offsite backups of critical client files. That is the kind of backup where you never plan to restore, unless your office is destroyed in a flood and all of your computer equipment is swept away. For everyday backups – the kind where you need to restore a file you accidentally deleted – Time Machine is a far superior solution. If you’re a lawyer or run any other kind of business that involves valuable or private data, you probably need both. Mozy provides a good second layer of backup behind Time Machine.


  1. Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for sharing this information.

    I have been reading about online backup at the backup review website for a while now:

    Yes, I agree with your conclusion.

  2. Great article!

    I am an jungledisk user myself. But, however you do it, getting some cloud storage is a way of doing off-site storage.

  3. I discovered a Memopal ( “cutting edge solution for online

    They merged online backup, online storage and file sharing services into one product.

    If you try this service you will notice that (contrary to most competitors):
    – You can access your files in (true) real time with a web browser
    – They really offer 250 GB (some competitors offer a fake unlimited web
    space, they say “fair use”)
    – You can share a file or many files with the 1-click-share functionality
    – Some of your files will be uploaded very very fast (turboupload)
    – The service and website are in 10 different languages

    I’ve also found two useful guide to online backup on Wikipedia:

  4. The thing with the Mac is that it is build on top of FreeBSD Unix. Unix already has an excellent online backup application built into it – Rsync.

    The is no need to suck up resources on your computer with stuff like Mozy when you don’t have to.

    When we re-did our online backup product we went with Rsync because it is fast, secure, and Mac Ready with no software.

    If you want to give it a try ping me on our chat box and we will be happy to help you with a test account and setup.

Leave a Reply