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Summary:

If you look at the amount of advertising out there these days, you’d think the Mac vs. PC war is a mere slap fight compared to the war being raged for your data backups. They want your data, and they want it now! In one corner […]

mozy_carbonite

If you look at the amount of advertising out there these days, you’d think the Mac vs. PC war is a mere slap fight compared to the war being raged for your data backups. They want your data, and they want it now!

In one corner you have Mozy, which shares corporate DNA with former Mac backup champion, Retrospect. In the other corner is Carbonite, which began supporting the Mac this year. Mozy had almost a 2-year head start on Carbonite, but the software race doesn’t always go to the first one out of the gate. I gave both products an intense 3-month test. Which one deserves your data? Read on.

Round One: Staying Power

I wouldn’t trust my data to a brand-new company that could go out of business when I need my data (X-Drive, anyone?). Carbonite and Mozy are both well established. Of the two, Carbonite has the better name recognition, referencing Han Solo’s preservation in the “Star Wars” series. But Carbonite also seems to attract bad press like the Millennium Falcon attracted mynocks.

A server failure in 2007 lead to quite a few lawsuits, but according to Carbonite, no data was lost. Additionally, Carbonite was caught using “the Force” to influence reviews on Amazon — and by the Force I mean its employees. Carbonite uses Rush Limbaugh as a spokesperson, and you can’t get more controversial than Rush. However, Mozy has the “Mozy gal,” who has almost as high a following as Deltalina. This is a tough choice, and we’ll call Round One a draw.

Round Two: Setup and Installation

Carbonite cleans Mozy’s clock in software design. For reference, both Mozy and Carbonite require Tiger, but Carbonite is Intel only.

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Both programs have assistants that automatically pick your critical data, as well as let you manually decide what to back up and how much bandwidth to use. Because these programs upload large amounts of data, the average system could take weeks to back up. Neither program will back up external media. Mozy claims it does, but if you detach it, it forgets the configuration. Carbonite flat-out refuses to back up externals. If you keep critical files, such as iTunes or iPhoto libraries, on something besides your main boot drive, neither product will back it up reliably.

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Mozy is a background program that can easily be quit, reconfigured or uninstalled without asking for an Administrator password. Like the Death Star, one well-placed shot, or mouse click, renders this program useless. On the other hand, Carbonite runs as a daemon, requiring Administrator approval to change or quit. Mozy allows you to back up other users, but doesn’t always run when switching users.

Dare I say that Mozy operates like a clumsy blaster and Carbonite is the elegant light saber? The clear winner in this round is Carbonite. If you have more than one user account on your system, it’s time to go home, because Carbonite has won.

Round Three: Restoration

Carbonite takes a blow to the chin in this category. Both services offer a web-based restore program, not requiring installation of their software. Unfortunately, Carbonite does not handle Mac OS packages well, so I could not restore OmniOutliner and Keynote data files via its web site, since its software saw them as folders rather then files.

carboniteproblems

However, Carbonite restored those files properly after installing the client software. Unfortunately, after installing the client software for either product on the restoring computer, the services got confused and stopped backing up my old computer.

The process for restoring Mozy is a bit more complex. Mozy has you choose the files to restore, and emails you when they’re “ready.” The prep for a 6GB file took about an hour. Mozy also allows you to order a DVD of your files at a rather hefty price of 50 cents a gigabyte, plus a processing fee of $29.95 and a next-day shipping charge of $40.

Neither company wins this round: restoration isn’t easy or efficient. Both programs, go back into your corners and make this process easier for subscribers.

Round Four: Support

Neither company includes phone support, but Carbonite allows you to purchase it for $19.95 a year and Mozy provides it with their “Pro” package. I tested support via free online chat sessions. Of the multiple times I contacted support for both real and made-up problems, both companies failed to provide quality tech support folks that could understand the most basic of questions.

Emailing questions was equally frustrating. I consistently received conflicting and contradictory information. This is very scary when we’re talking about backups. Carbonite annoyed me more because their reps would reference instructions they were going to email me, trying to quickly close the chat. Neither company wins this round and both deserve an upper cut for lousy tech support.

Round Five: Security

Mozy, how could you let your guard down? Its software, when used properly, has all your critical and very personal data stored on its servers. When resetting your password, no security questions are asked. All you need is access to someone’s email and you can quickly and easily reset the Mozy password on an account. Email accounts can be hacked and if all you need is someone’s email password to get into any file on their computer, well, that’s a foul stench even Princess Leia can smell from across the galaxy.

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Carbonite forces you to answer a series of personal questions before it’ll let you reset, and not the standard biographical info you can find on the web about anyone. The clear winner in this security round is Carbonite.

Round Six: Cost

Both Carbonite and Mozy have limited trial versions, but these tests were done with the full versions. Mozy offers a multitiered plan of 2GB of backup for home users for free. Unlimited backups for home users are $4.95 per month (though 20 percent off codes are easy to find). Business users of the Pro version pay $3.95 a month plus 50 cents per GB. Carbonite is simpler at $54.95 a year for everyone ($4.58 a month, for those without calculators). Carbonite is less expensive, but Mozy does offer the free version. We’ll score this round a draw.

The Winner

Overall, there’s no clear winner in this fight. If you have multiple users on your computer, Carbonite wins by default because it easily backups all accounts and prevents others from tampering. Additionally, if security is of high concern, then Carbonite is also the winner due to Mozy’s terrible security practices. However, if you have exclusive control of your email and don’t have multiple people using your Mac, then Mozy might be the better choice since it has the friendlier pricing plans. Who wins? I’ll leave that up to you to let me know in the comments, and/or with your wallet.

But wait, a new contender approaches the ring! New to the scene is Internet darling BackBlaze. The winner of the Mozy vs. Carbonite bout will go on to fight BackBlaze in a further review, coming soon. Make your predictions now.

  1. I think backing up external drives is important, and Backblaze claims to do just that at the same price as Mozy and Carbonite.

    Any good or bad experiences out there?

    https://www.backblaze.com/

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    1. I used Mozy for quite some time until Backblaze came out. While I thought Mozy did the job, Backblaze was much better. As I wrote here:

      “Mozy throttles your upload connection, uses an unreasonable amount of resources, and can occasionally get in your face with application messages. On the other hand, Backblaze allows you to upload your files as fast as your connection will allow, appears to leave a very small footprint on your computer when it’s running, and runs completely in the background (I have yet to see a message pop up from it.)”

      I couldn’t recommend Backblaze more. It just works, stays out of my face, and doesn’t use up too many resources. I’m looking forward to your next smackdown.

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    2. ken MacDonald Tuesday, August 4, 2009

      I don’t know why, but carbonite keeps going belly up on me, and has worked only a few weeks out of the few months i’ve been a subscriber. Free tech support by email is just like the article says: lousy. Let’s make that with a capital L: Lousy. It’s been longer than two weeks since my service went south, and about every third day i get another email asking for more information, but no fix to try so far. To be fair, it seems to be working on two other computers here.

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  2. i was told Safecopy was better than both of these two and at $50 a year for 150 GB seems fair enough

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  3. I like Mozy personally. Never had a single problem with it, its affordable, and even the FREE version works really great!

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  4. None of this stuff. Why go nuts with backups when there is Superduper, that really works ?

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    1. servantofjc316 Tuesday, March 16, 2010

      I have used many different backup programs such as superduper Ghost etc, When I go to use the hard drive to restore the file the Hard drive or CD/DVD has either gone bad or the data is corrupted. I have made it a normal part of my life to always have more then one backup. So using a online back in conjunction with an external drive or CD/DVD is a good idea.

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  5. My vote is for elephantdrive – I like the web interface better and it uses Amazon S3 so I feel good about the storage.

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  6. @ Catmanrog:

    Backing up your data using one of these services is an excellent way to keep your data safe in the case of theft of your computer/external drives and a disaster such as a fire. Keeping irreplaceable data in one physical location is not a very good idea…

    As far as Carbonite goes: any company that hires Rush Limbaugh as its spokesman is out of the running as far as I am concerned. Thanks for the heads-up!

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    1. piratemacfan Friday, July 17, 2009

      It’s a wash. Any company that hires Rush Limbaugh as its spokesman gets a head start as far when I start evaluating, as far as I am concerned. Cheers!

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    2. piratemacfan Friday, July 17, 2009

      Oops. My cut and paste effort fell short. I’ll try again:

      It’s a wash. Any company that hires Rush Limbaugh as its spokesman gets a head start when I start evaluating, as far as I am concerned.

      BTW-helpful article. Giving both Carbonite and Mozy a trial. Carbonite does seem a bit easier to use. However, how to evaluate reliability in an emergency? That’s the crux of the issue.

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    3. Another vote for Carbonite – especially with Rush’s endorsment.

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    4. George Worley Sunday, November 1, 2009

      Carbinite is out of the running because they failed to backup my external drives When I complained, they said it was by design and I need to move everything to the internal hard drive…. Well that is kind of hard since I have 100 GB internal hard drive and a 500 GB external HD with about 300 GB of music on it. Mozy is very slow. Elephant is too costly plus will not backup my INBOX as it is over 2 GB on three acounts.

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    5. Sorry, your comments loose all credibility when you base your opinion on who advertises the product. Stick to the facts related to the product and maybe I will believe you.
      I have used Carbonite for over a year and found it to be great.

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    6. Blind hate is a cruel master. What does a company’s choice of advertising have on the usefulness of its product?

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    7. but at least you’re listening to Rush, there’s hope for you yet.

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    8. If Rush endorses it, I don’t!!!
      Going with Mozy!!

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  7. Recently, I was evaluating all online backup solutions.

    In the end, I decided on Jungle Disk as I have 3 computers to backup plus a percentage of an external drive.

    As such, Jungle Disk was the cheapest – however, you do pay by the GB. Currently I pay $9USD / month (60GB) to have all three computers backed up to my satisfaction.

    FWIW, I also use Time Machine on all three computers so the off site backup is a redundancy.

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  8. Howie Isaacks Thursday, July 16, 2009

    Very good info. What I would like to find is a good, Mac compatible enterprise class online backup solution. What lot of people are unaware of is that if they have hundreds of gigabytes of data, or terabytes, these solutions may not be appropriate, and they need lots of bandwidth. I’m currently researching a good online backup solution for one of my customers in Dallas.

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  9. I tried out Mozy and it was doing OK, but then it started getting really sluggish. This was after it decided one day to make me run the setup assistant again. Not good.

    So now I’m still attempting my first backup with Backblaze. It actually lets me use the insane bandwidth I have here at work, and as a result is almost 2/3 of the way through my initial upload after about 3 days, where Mozy only made it halfway after more than a week.

    Also, when I tell Backblaze to pause, it does so almost immediately. Mozy took a long time and then a long time to get started again. So far, I’m much more impressed with Backblaze.

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  10. I can’t get mozy to work — and I’ve had 3 open tickets that haven’t been responded to in just about a month now (despite many people saying they’d get it escalated past their first-line outsourced tech support).

    I can’t backup (worse still — it claimed my system backups were running but it was backing nothing up), it consumed tons of resources (90% cpu. When idle. 3 GB RAM, also when idle), and I also can’t restore what I did manage to back up (the website freezes on the spinner).

    I haven’t tried carbonite — there were already some bad reviews out there so I took a pass.

    I signed up for backblaze which uses only a small pittance of my resources, has been backing up flawlessly, and has MUCH BETTER support (it’s downright impressive how good they are).

    There are some limitations: no backing up files >4 GB, won’t back up certain folders (like /Applications), but it WILL backup any external hard drives you have.

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