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Thorvald Bøe
Choosing the right backup scheme for your personal files is essential, and far too often backup is not considered until it is too late. With Mozy Home cloud backup, I thought I was well prepared for disaster. Man, was I wrong!

As many other families we have a lot of photos and videos covering all stages of our little ones, from birth, to present. Using video cams, photo cams, phones and other devices we have covered many moments of tears and joy, holidays, regular days, all stored on our family pc. Needless to say, these are precious files, and we want to make sure they are protected in case something happens.

That something just happened right after christmas, when our oldest boy accidentally knocked over the family pc which was standing on the floor. It wasnt a big shock, but probably just enough to take out the hard drive, because the pc stopped working soon after this. I wasnt worried though, after all I was backed up.

As a computer guy, I take backup seriously, at least seriously enough to actually have a backup scheme. As a cloud enthusiast, nothing makes more sense for me than having a cloud backup vendor. I started using MozyHome many years ago, when they had an unlimited storage plan. I was very attracted by the easy and care free setup, and the fact (or the assumption) that my files were automatically backed up and safe. I also had a disk crash years ago, and I restored everything. Mozy saved the day, and happenings like this builds trust. Too much trust it seems, because I got sloppy and did not follow up the state of my backup.

For those who are not familiar with Mozy, it works like this: You sign up, choose a plan, download the software and install it. Then you select which files to back up, and how often. On your pc, you have a backup client that pops up on a schedule to tell you the state of your backup.

About six months ago, I became aware of a situation. I accidentally noticed that the backup client said something like "no successful backup for xxx days". It checked the Mozy forum, and it turned out to be a problem with my anti virus preventing backup. I was a bit baffled, because the backup had not run for months, and I did not notice it. There were no warning emails from Mozy. No flashing, beeping dialog boxes. Just a quiet print on the backup client saying no successful backup. I decided I needed to improve my routines. After the problem was fixed, I created an alert on my mobile phone to check backup every week. For about six months I did, and I swear to God, I have not seen a single error message. Just "Backup successful" with nice, green letters stating that everything was OK.

Fast-forwarding to Dec 25th, when our pc stopped working, I was feeling a bit annoyed since every store was closed for x-mas holiday, and I had to wait until monday to buy a new hard drive. The good thing was that I could now get an excuse for upgrading to a much quicker SSD drive. On Monday, I go to the store, buy the SSD drive, and to my pleasure, the PC is working fine again after replacing the drive. Late Monday evening, I am done setting up the pc and installing Windows. Now I just need to restore my files, and I am back on track. This is were the horror begins.

First, I log in to my Mozy account. I am a bit surprised to see that I have no files backed up. Surely it must be an error. Fortunately the support chat is open. I am sure they can help me. To make a long story short, it turned out they couldn't. I talked to an arrogant support technician who basically stated the backup had failed, and it was all my fault. After arguing for a while whether or not I have been getting error messages (I should know that best, shouldn't I?), he changes tactics and claims I have not selected anything to back up. I know for a fact that there was no error messages, and that I have selected which folders to back up. But that's pretty hard to prove with a broken hard drive, right?

Finally I give up arguing, and asks him to just give me the backup from 6 months ago, when my backup started failing according to him. After all, 9.5 out of 10 years of family photos are way better than 0. And this is were the big shock hits: They don't have it!

It turns out Mozy have a 30 day data retention policy. After that, your data is automatically deleted, unless you make another (working) backup! And if you go "Wait a minute, does that mean that...":
-If something fails and you don't take action for 30 days, your data is gone?
-If you accidentally delete a file from your pc and does nothing for 30 days, the file is gone?
-If you switch off your pc and go for a long holiday (30 days) your files are not protected?

The answer, my friend, is YES to all the above. Furhtermore, they will not warn you or notify you in any way that your backup is gone. I would have expected an email before they deleted my backup, but no. Nothing except the error messages on the client (that weren't there). This is like a bank saying "Sorry, we have a 30 day retention policy. You haven't made any deposit for 30 days, so we took your money. There is no way you can get it back, you should have read the fine print".

This is how Mozy "protect" your data. It is a genious business case, actually. I had paid for a two year plan, thinking that I actually owned that space (like you do with DropBox, OneDrive, Google drive etc.). No, it turns out that I don't own squat. The backup is deleted, and now they can use this space for other customers. I wonder how many other paying, unsuspecting customers they have, thinking that their data is safe when it is actually deleted a long time ago, and the space is used for others. This must be a huge cost-saver for Mozy, deleting peoples backups freeing up space without the customer knowing it and while he is still paying!

I tried contacting support again, thinking I might have been unlucky, reaching the wrong support person. I BEGGED them to look at my case, to see if there was ANYTHING they could do to help me. All I got back was a link to their FAQ. Impressive customer support!

I know I have been naive and stupid. I should have made a secondary backup. I should have logged in to Mozy to check if my files were actually there. I should have read the fine print. It is all so obvious and easy to say now. But I didn't, and now I must face the consequences.

Mozy market themselves with a "Set it and forget it" slogan. I wonder how many other people out there will find out the hard way that Mozy actually did "forget it". When I, a computer scientist, did not catch the problems until it was too late, how many regular users are out there thinking that their files are safe, not aware of the technical issues under the hood or the fine print in Mozy's terms of service?

I don't know, and I hope you are not one of them. I know one thing though: I WILL NEVER, EVER USE MOZY AGAIN!!

I have sent my broken hard drive to a data reconstruction company. They have given me a good prognosis for recovering all or most of my data. It is very expensive, but if I can get it back, it is worth every cent.

For the future, I will use DropBox (which actually did work after my crash) for my backups, and in addition make frequent backups on multiple media kept on multiple locations.

Posted on Monday, January 4, 2016 12:54 PM cloud backup , backup , mozy , nightmare | Back to top

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