How to backup your data online

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It’s time to rethink about how we save (backup) our critical data.  For quite some time I have used and recommended a USB external drive, and a free program called Karen’s Replicator to automatically copy your data over on a set schedule.  While that procedure can certainly be useful (and is infinitely better than having no backup at all), it has its flaws:

  • it requires the purchase of extra hardware
  • that hardware can fail
  • if something changes in your computer’s configuration, your backup may not happen properly (this happened to one of my clients recently – she discovered in March that the last successful backup was done in December)
  • if you have a fire or flood in your computer area, you have lost both your original AND your backup because they reside in the same location

And with the big movement of storing data “in the cloud” it became clear to me that it was  time to investigate other options.

Mozy online backupThe 2 big names in online backup are Mozy and Carbonite.  Their pricing is similar also, except for one thing – with Mozy, you can get a free account that handles up to 2 gb of data.  For some people, that’s more than adequate – which makes it a great deal.  You can certainly start with a free account (for personal use).  If you need more than 2 gb of space it’s very affordable.

First, you need to determine if you have less than 2 gb of data, or more.  In Windows 7 or Windows Vista, open the Documents folder, then click Organize – Select all (for Windows XP, open the My Documents folder.  Click Edit – Select all.). Do a right-click on one of the highlighted folders, and choose Properties to get the total size of the Documents folder.  Do the same thing for the folders containing your Pictures, your Videos, and your Music.  If you have any other folders where important data is saved, include them as well.  Total up the size of the data in all of these folders combined.

NOTE: If your total is just “barely” under 2 gb, you should skip the free account and just get the paid version.  Otherwise, you will most likely run out of space pretty quickly. If you are not sure about your total file size, you can try the free account setup and Mozy will measure your total backup size.  If it’s more than 2 gb, they will offer you the other account.

Below are the instructions for setting up an account for more than 2 gb, and further down are instructions for setting up an account for less than 2 gb.  If you need to set up an account for commercial purposes, follow the instructions for the “more than 2 gb” account and look for the “Business” or “Commercial Use” links in the process.

Setting up an account for more than 2 gb:

1. Click here to get to the site (this will open in a new window so you can keep following along here if you want)

2. Click on the button to sign up:

Mozy signup
3. Fill in your name, email and create a secure password:

Mozy signup

4. On the next screen, choose the base plan size (50 gb or 125 gb) and whether you want to pay monthly, or by the year, or for two years:

Mozy signup

5. On the next screen, you will enter your credit card information.  After payment is processed, you will have the option to download the program depending on what type of computer you are using:

Mozy download

6. Download the file and then run it to begin the installation process:

Mozy installation

7. The Terms of Service will be displayed – click Install:

Mozy installation

8. It will go through the installation process, and you will be asked to sign in.  Sign in with the information you used to create the account back in Step 3.

Mozy setup

9. The program will log you in to your account, then it will scan your computer to determine which files to back up.  A summary is displayed, listing the folders that will be included in the backup process.  Also, it will give you a total file size for your backup selection.  If you want to add other files to the backup, you can do that on the next screen with the “Settings” button.

Mozy file selection

10. On the next screen, if you click the Settings button, you will see all kinds of options such as:

  • Backup Sets – this lists specifically which folders are set to be backed up, and allows you to choose additional files and folders to be included
  • File System – you will probably have no need to bother with this
  • Other options – the 2 areas of interest here are Scheduling and Local Backup.  For Scheduling, it will default to backing up automatically whenever the computer is not in use. You can change that to a particular day and time if you want (I leave it at the default setting of Automatic).  For Local Backup, this gives you the option of also backing up to an external drive – all you have to do is designate the drive letter.  If you already have an external drive connected, this is not a bad idea – more backups can’t hurt!

11. When you click OK, the setup is complete.  Now your first backup will begin.  You will know because you will see this notification in your system tray:

Mozy first backup

The first one will take a while because it is backing up ALL of your designated folders and files.  After that, it will only backup what is newly created or changes, so the subsequent backups will be very quick.

If you want me to take care of this setup for you,
I can do it through my Remote Support Service.

Setting up a personal account (LESS than 2 gb):

1. Click here to get to the site (this will open in a new window so you can keep following along here if you want)

2. Look for the phrase “Mozy has a plan just your size” and click on “Learn More”:

Mozy free
3. On the next screen, in the “Mozy Home” section, click on “Learn More”:

Mozy free 2
4. On the navigation bar in the middle of the screen, click on “Try it Free”:

Mozy try it free

5. Next screen – click on the “Try it Free” button:

Mozy try it free 2
6. Fill in your email address and create a password:

Mozy signup

7. Mozy will then ask for some other information from you in order to give you their free 2 gb of space.  Fill this in and click Continue:

Mozy info
8. Next, you will receive a confirmation email with a link.  Click that link to activate your free account and begin the download process:

Mozy download

9. Choose your operating system to start the download:

Mozy download

6. Download the file and then run it to begin the installation process:

Mozy installation

7. The Terms of Service will be displayed – click Install:

Mozy installation

8. It will go through the installation process, and you will be asked to sign in.  Sign in with the information you used to create the account back in Step 3.

Mozy setup

9. The program will log you in to your account, then it will scan your computer to determine which files to back up.  A summary is displayed, listing the folders that will be included in the backup process.  Also, it will give you a total file size for your backup selection.  If you want to add other files to the backup, you can do that on the next screen with the “Settings” button.

Mozy file selection

10. On the next screen, if you click the Settings button, you will see all kinds of options such as:

  • Backup Sets – this lists specifically which folders are set to be backed up, and allows you to choose additional files and folders to be included
  • File System – you will probably have no need to bother with this
  • Other options – the 2 areas of interest here are Scheduling and Local Backup.  For Scheduling, it will default to backing up automatically whenever the computer is not in use. You can change that to a particular day and time if you want (I leave it at the default setting of Automatic).  For Local Backup, this gives you the option of also backing up to an external drive – all you have to do is designate the drive letter.  If you already have an external drive connected, this is not a bad idea – more backups can’t hurt!

11. When you click OK, the setup is complete.  Now your first backup will begin.  You will know because you will see this notification in your system tray:

Mozy first backup

The first one will take a while because it is backing up ALL of your designated folders and files.  After that, it will only backup what is newly created or changes, so the subsequent backups will be very quick.

If you want me to take care of this setup for you,
I can do it through my Remote Support Service.

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Jim Robertson
March 14th, 2011

Scott:

A timely topic for everyone !

I have external back-up drives on my desk and another set in my safety deposit box at the bank for over 2tb of data (the large majority is digital images in RAW file format)

The safety deposit box (SDB) is a better value than the “cloud”, but the external drives at the SDB will fail at some point, so it is not foolproof.

Cloud storage is not foolproof either (the company can go belly up) but it is a safer bet than the SDB. (You of course have to trust the Cloud not to share your data and to be as hack proof as possible)

A couple of questions:

– any reason you did not mention Google DOCs ? They are cheaper I believe, and you can share individual files with others if you want.

– What back-up do Carbonite and Mozy have for the data they are storing for their customers? I asked Backblaze (an inexpensive alternative) and they said they have no off site back-up site). I also asked Carbonite and received a non-conclusive answer. I have not looked into Mozy.

Thanks

Scott Johnson
March 14th, 2011

Google Docs is a great service, but it’s not really designed as a backup service. You can “finagle” things a bit and back up some documents that way, but I definitely would not use it as a regular backup for anything critical (for a variety of reasons).

For storage safety, this is from Mozy: “Your data is stored in its encrypted state in Mozy’s data centers with 24/7/365 on-site monitoring and security, state-of-the-art fire detection and suppression systems, redundant power distribution units and seismic safeguards that can withstand a 7.5 magnitude earthquake. In addition, we use a proprietary protection mechanism based on a complex encoding structure to ensure that your data is safe, even in the event of multiple hardware failures.”

Thai
March 15th, 2011

I get as far as step 8 and when I enter my info in the sign in box, a logo comes up that it is logging in, but that never happens! Like it is caught in a loop.
Any ideas?

Scott Johnson
March 15th, 2011

I would have to say that is a question for Mozy support.

Charlotte Henderson
March 18th, 2011

Norton 360 which was pretty much insisted upon by Dell some time back has been giving me warnings for weeks about no back up.

I finally took you up on the Mozy offer and have the 50 gig option now for a year.

You’re a real good guy to have in my life – cyber though it may be.

A few spears of green grass are emerging on my front lawn here in Washington, Maine. Snow has only been off for two or three days. Still some piles where it got shoveled or plowed up. Quite warm yesterday and today in the 50s and low 60s. I know you don’t miss it at all. 🙂

Charlotte

Scott Johnson
March 18th, 2011

Glad to hear you have a backup now! Ever since I switched to the Mozy online backup I have loved it – so easy and reliable.

Now if we can just get you away from Norton 🙂 (Dell has absolutely NO say in your choice of antivirus – it is your choice alone.)