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Mozy On Out: My backup and restore experience with Leopard

SuperDuper, Mozy, Time Machine

Thinking back a few years, I remember every time I needed to upgrade my system or prepare for a format, I’d rely on using CD-Rs as a method for backing up my media and documents. Pain yes, efficient no, effective, yes. Of course this was back in the early XP days when I needed to format every 6 months to keep my sanity, and my computer booting. But as I grew older, so did my volumes of content. Eventually good fortune was bestowed on me, and a bad Trojan Virus led me to my first iBook. From there formatting wasn’t an issue, now it was only a matter of backing up. Three years and one hard drive later, I had learned my lesson the hard way.

Needless to say I began to look for much more efficient tools to remain organized and safe in case that one inevitable day should return, hard drive hiccups and all. I began using an external for basic back up. Thanks to OS X’s ability to simply copy files from my Library to save settings, I was able to back up my iCal, Address book and other application preferences. For software it was more of an issue, keeping .dmg’s can be tough. Documents were simple drag and drop, and media, in all its extenuating glory took quite a bit of time. Then came Mozy. And I was happy. It seemed that for 2 gigs of space I would be able to keep a constant back up of key files, documents, few pictures, and application preferences. Having it completely in the cloud and up to date without me touching it, seemed like the perfect blend of web and application.

I did come across SuperDuper! in my trials, and without paying, the free version only allows for a complete wipe of an external drive and an exact duplicate of your hard drive. I gave it a shot, and felt content only until I realized how quickly I add or update files. Without paying for it, free would be out of the option. I finally saw Leopard spots on the horizon and began preparing my backups for a completely clean install and restore for my now MacBook. I figured now would be the best time if any to put all my backing up methods to the test. So I re-plugged in my external and re-SuperDuper!’d my entire Tiger operating system to create a bootable external drive. Thinking about it made me feel the most secure, mostly because of the issues I kept hearing regarding Leopard installs. Next I made sure my Mozy was synced up ready to go with the nearly all 2 gigs filled with documents, app preferences and more. CD-R’s you ask? I think I’ve had enough for a few lifetimes, and for the record I never had a Re-Writeable drive in those days, so you can imagine how fun it was for me every 6 months to re-burn everything. Having a 2 gig thumb drive, however, I duplicated all the files going to my Mozy on it for reference, and well, just in case.

Despite the few Leopard install issues I was hearing about, I was prepared for my clean install, and ready to migrate everything if necessary from my external drive. It was my hope that Mozy would be the most efficient method for getting set back up on Leopard. So now came the faithful moment. I popped in the Leopard CD and after one necessary Disk Permission Repair, I had a completely formatted MacBook and Leopard ready to go. So I accessed Mozy’s site, logged in and saw three choices for retrieving my files. One, download the client and restore; two, request the files be sent to me via email; three, buy a DVD burned of my files mailed to me. One, I downloaded the client, set it up, but when I chose to restore files, no files appeared in my directory. It took me a minute, but I finally found them. Browsing through my files, a few were missing, namely my iCal. I attributed this to Leopards new and improved iCal which no longer resides in the Library. However I soon realized more was missing, including documents, and other application files. Odd, I remember backing them up, yup, they’re all on the thumb drive. Let’s see the other options. Two, sure, I’ll request it by email, but it takes a few hours to receive the e-mail, and 2 gigs will take a bit of time to download. And three, despite being cheap, I decided that CD/DVD’s would be a bit aged for my transition, after all this isn’t Windows anymore. So I figured having them e-mail me my files would consist of the same ones the client found, so I hit restore, choice number one (the one Mozy recommends). Seeing the amount of time it would take to download for files that are patchy at best, I gave up after the first twenty minutes. It wasn’t worth my time to reorganize files that weren’t going to be there. So I fired up my external drive, and migrated my life back over, applications and all.

I know, you’re all thinking well it’s great you now have Time Machine. It might be for some, but I haven’t set it up yet, and still remain a bit apprehensive about it. I’ve been hearing issues arising with it, moreover I feel a possible hard drive plus RAM hog. The alarm bells are ringing, and until I see it in physical action, I think I’ll stick to what I have. Unfortunately SuperDuper! isn’t Leopard ready, and for the record I did eventually opt to buy it and be able to sync only new files, or updated files to the external. For Tiger it was an immense life saver, and once it’s Leopard ready, I believe it will be my go to system. Maybe it’s hard to let old methods die, and maybe I’m taking the long way, but I’ve always been a, “better to be safer, than sorry” kind of guy.

For those who love the idea of uploading to cloud for immediate access wherever you are, I did finally find something worth trying. Box.net offers a 1 gig free account with a good number of features to boot. You can publicly share files, folders, or have a Facebook widget of your files. And so I’ve decided to backup my entire Documents folder to it in case I need to access it globally. But dragging and dropping files can be really tedious, especially if you have to do it one at a time. So thanks to Firefox, and the FileUploader application, I can access my Box.net account and simply drag and drop my entire Documents folder at once for an entire sync. It’s no “back up” system that will automatically retrieve files, and update files, but it is a simple tool provided you keep organized.

26 Responses to “Mozy On Out: My backup and restore experience with Leopard”

  1. I will update what I said in comment #20 above – I have dropped Mozy. An update occurred and things stopped working. $15/mo. isn’t too bad, but is a lot for a beta product with a sketchy record. I switched to JungleDisk with Amazon’s S3 service and haven’t looked back. Like TimeMachine, it just works. $20 up front, one-time, and maybe $1.50 a month at the most for storage. Now my wife’s work legal documents are backed up and safe and all my personal stuff and photos are as well.

  2. Mozy for Mac has been a nightmare for me. I have a very high-speed DSL connection, a new MacBook Pro, and Leopard. I also used it on a Powerbook running Tiger.

    My first tech support request, which came within a day of using it, went unresponded to for about 5 days. That was not the only time an inordinate delay for tech support occurred.

    But the main problem was, the software just did NOT work! I signed up at the end of January, and here in early April, Mozy has not succeeded in backing up my 60 GB of data! I have had it running several times daily. The software kept quitting, or connecting but failing to actually upload anything. I exchanged email with multiple tech support people, and went through about 5 upgrades, each upgrade promising to fix the problem that was stopping me from uploading data.

    I cancelled today after an upgrade to the most recent version failed to work at all, despite several uninstall/reinstall procedures.

    IMHO, Mozy for Mac is not even reliable enough to qualify for a Beta test status. I do personally know ONE Mozy for Mac user for whom this actually seems to work. He is happy. But it seems possible from internet reviews that he is in the minority.

    In response to my repeated attempts to problem-solve for Mozy, they extended my contract by 2 months, for free. But I found that the amount of time I was spending trying to get Mozy to work was not worth “free,” even.

    Good luck to Mozy, and I hope they get their sluggish technical support times improved, and that someday they have a product worthy of marketing to the Mac community. We Mac users expect better.

  3. @Glenn: I am beginning to be a much stronger believer in Time Machine as well. I agree that online storage should be mainly about access, and a back up for your back ups. My biggest concern so far with online backing up is automation. While Mozy achieves a strong interface, it does fall through when trying to restore, at least from my experiences. And especially in terms of migrating. Box.net allows good storage, but without an automated back up, I find myself falling behind, forgetting if I backed up something, and ultimately remain not completely backed up wit hit. I’m hoping to see what gDrive has to offer when Google releases their online storage. Hopefully we can see a nice blend between box.net and mozy.

  4. Here’s another vote for Time Machine – it just works.

    And I definitely understand the desire for offsite backup. Time Machine won’t help if a power surge or lightning strike or fire takes out your external HDD along with your Mac. Offsite is not as fast, so it should be a backup of your backup (so to speak). I have had a few issues with the Mac beta of Mozy, like the fact that it has stopped making backups for the last ten days, but support is fairly responsive. Between the wife and I we have three separate machines with them.

  5. – incredulous

    You may not be knocking Mozy, but I am. I totally get what you’re saying, and agree SuperDuper! is the way to go, just waiting for it to be Leopard ready. It’s why I ended up Migrating from an external set up thanks to SuperDuper! And as far as pulling files out of the fire, I think box.net does a much better job.

  6. incredulous

    “It was my hope that Mozy would be the most efficient method for getting set back up on Leopard.”

    Lemme see if I understand you correctly. You felt that the most efficient way to get your data and settings back to Leopard after doing a clean install was to use a *beta* online backup storage client that doesn’t even purport to support Leopard yet? That’s more efficient than using SuperDuper and a fw drive, how exactly?

    I’m not knocking mozy (although the perpetual beta and the fact that it started filling my hd up with temp files prompted me to abandon it altogether), but c’mon be real, it’s not a casual “quickie” push/pull solution for migrating data. It’s for getting your files out of the fire so to speak.

  7. On Tiger, I used a combination of SuperDuper for daily cloning (in case of hardware failure or stolen MBP), and rsync for an incremental backup (in case of un-noticed deletion or corruption). Also about once a month I burned a backup to a few DVD-Rs of my home folder and mailed them to my parents (in case of the worst, fire, flood, pestilence, etc. I still do this with Leopard).

    With Leopard and Time Machine, things have changed a bit. I now use Time Machine for both my incremental backups and also to restore in case of hardware failure. Time Machine is infinitely easier to set up and restore from than rsync ever was, with only a few minor tradeoffs. I like that I can restore my Time Machine backups directly from the Leopard installer disc.

    I think some testing of Time Machine is deserved before you condemn it as a poor solution. It’s only a disk hog if you let it. Time Machine only backs up changed data since the previous backup. If you change lots of big files, that can result in large backups, however if you change smaller items or fewer items, backups are quite a bit smaller. Time Machine also scales as large as your backup volume is. If you only dedicate a 120GB backup volume for 75GB of data, Time Machine will just have to start deleting files earlier than if you had a 500GB drive. They’re still valid backups, they just don’t span as far back in time as if you had a larger drive. Any way you use Time Machine, it seems to be better than SuperDuper in many categories. I really like incremental backups, as I don’t always notice incorrect things right away, but I also like easy to restore backups. SuperDuper backups are super easy to restore from, but are not incremental at all.

    I do have a few minor complaints about TM. I wish I could configure how many hours/days/weeks backups it could do (instead of the default 24 hours/30 dailies/weeklies until drive space runs out). I would also like to be able to configure how often it backs up and when. And finally, I would like to have two concurrent TM backups, in case my backup drive fails.

    Overall, I think you’ll be impressed with TM. It’s not perfect, but it’s by far the easiest and friendliest backup method I’ve ever used.

  8. SuperDuper is great for full back ups. But I have to say, lately I have been using iBackup for specific files and folders. I am not certain why it hasn’t gained in popularity yet. It is free and has worked flawlessly. I am referring to the application not the online service by the same name but different company. This thing is great because it backs up what matters according to you and allows for a restore. http://www.grapefruit.ch/iBackup/

  9. Christian Kaas

    My oh my…
    I don’t want to be or sound offensive – but why don’t you buy one of thos 500GB external harddrives for around $99 and create a bootable image with disk utility (the one residing in the utilities folder under programs)!?
    It’s definitely Leopard ready. If you backup to a img file, you can use the remaining space on the disk with time machine still…
    And believe me Time Machine is WHAT YOU WANT if i read what you typed.
    Just be sure to have that new drive formatted using jounaled hfs+.

  10. Nathaniel

    Yeah, TM doesn’t eat up a bunch of disk space as long as you’re sensible about excluding the folders where you do a lot of miscellaneous junk you don’t ever need backed up.

    And FWIW, I’ve been running Mozy with no problems under leopard since day 1.

  11. according to Marc his 75 gigs netted a total of 120 gigs worth of backup. I would be backing up roughly the same, and my external currently is 120. So I’d have to pick up a new one.

    well, not necessarily. I think inherently, Time Machine requires very little more space than the amount you’re actually backing up. How much space is used as TM runs, though, depends mostly on the kind of data that is being backed up. As you’re probably aware, if you have a Parallels or some other kind of VM disk image, every single time you make a change in Parallels, the whole disk image is updated. So every hour when TM fires up, it will see your Parallels disk image has changed, so it will back up the entire 5-7GB image. This is obviously a huge waste of space, so in my TM Preferences, I just tell it not to back up my Parallels virtual machines folder.

    Also, my Video folder has basically 2 “types” of videos in it. One is videos, like from my camera or other videos I want to keep, that are “permanent”, that I want to save and backup. The other type are “temporary” – torrents that i download for 1-time use, DVD rips that create for my iPod – stuff that I will generally delete as soon as I’m done with them, and I have no need for backup. These files can take up a ton of space – like if you rip a DVD, encode it, then delete the DVD Rip. If that whole process takes more than an hour, TM will backup the DVD Rip, even after you delete it. Repeat that process a few times with 7GB DVD Rips, and you all of a sudden have 40GB of space on TM of data that you have absolutely no use for. So… i just tell TM to exclude that folder as well. macoshints.com has lots of other TM space-saving techniques, so you can just be sure that you have good recent and historical backups of only files that you actually want and need.

  12. -Joe

    I totally understand using Time Machine, and giving it a shot, but for the purpose of this article it was mainly for migrating from Tiger to Leopard so Time Machine wasn’t an option for me. But now seeing your enthusiasm and full support, I’m more willing to plug in my external and ditch SuperDuper! for awhile.

    That said, according to Marc his 75 gigs netted a total of 120 gigs worth of backup. I would be backing up roughly the same, and my external currently is 120. So I’d have to pick up a new one. SuperDuper! creates a direct image, so my 75 gigs translates to 75 gigs. The interface for going back through time is a neat feature, but I HOPE I’m careful enough not to misplace documents.

    As for backing up online, it’s mainly for access. I don’t have the luxury of always having my laptop with me, and I certainly can’t carry my backup around with me , so more often then not I need quick access to an archived file. I try to keep my gDoc as empty as possible, with only the articles/features I’m working on currently. Everything else I keep archived on box.net for retrieval. Plus Box.net ties in with zoho, so I can edit documents and spreadsheets on the fly.

  13. Ok, my comment has nothing to do with the content of the piece. Rather, it is my calling in life to battle back against the satanic improper use of the phrase “beg the question.” The author writes: “Coincidentally, like most beauty in this world, it seems to come with a price: either your sanity, or your RAM. It begs the question, why would users put up with such a bad relationship?” No, it does not beg the question. It may prompt the question, stimulate the question, give rise to the question, etc. To beg the question means one thing only: to contain the conclusion as one of the premises in the argument. Apologies, but whenever I see this, I become apoplectic.

  14. Brian, concerning your comments about why backup to the internet. I do it as a insurance policy in case my other backup mechanisms fail or get destroyed. I backup to an external disk at home, I less frequently take a copy of that disk to work. The Jungle Disk / S3 solution gives me an encrypted backup in multiple other cities. Perhaps that is paranoid, but the amount of storage I use on S3 costs me less than $3 per month. Cheap insurance. Nothing more, nothing less.

  15. to be clear, i’m not knocking online or offsite backup solutions. But I do think the first mode-of-attack should be an extra hard drive, and Leopard + Time Machine makes that a no-brainer.

    I actually set up Mozy about 6 months ago, and was relatively happy with it for several months. It did its thing a few times a day in the background, usually staying out of my way and was completely transparent. Then about a month ago I started having all sorts of errors during my backups and went back and forth with support and never fully got them fixed. I just uninstalled Mozy so it would stop annoying me, and since I installed Leopard and use Time Machine, I haven’t bothered to reinstall Mozy.

    But i do think it is a good idea to use some kind of offsite backup, but after the initial setup, it should be completely transparent and require even less attention than Time Machine.

  16. I’ve used a lot of serious backup solutions such as Retrospect remote (in the classic days) and RSYNC in OS X–works but a major PITA. My experience so far is that Time Machine absolutely blows away ALL of them. The ONLY thing I would love to see in it is TAPE drive support, but that is mostly because I have some fairly swanky tape drives. :-)

    I have to agree with the first two posters. Why on earth would you use toys like MOSY, and JUNGLE DISK etc… when you have such a great solution built in?

    Also, why tie your BACKUP to your INTERNET ACCESS? Hard drives aren’t totally reliable, but at least they are still there if comcast, etc… flake out on me. And they much faster (does that even need to be said). Finally, it creeps me out to think that my data are on some server somewhere that I don’t control. I have some confidential data and I can’t put it on some server somewhere.

    Finally, remember that a lot of people are going to complain about any new Apple feature that they see as a threat to their own MS based computing. They are just haters. What I am saying is that I don’t discount all complaints about time machine, but I have read several that seemed like they were just looking for trouble. My advice would be to use something like carbon copy cloner once a month (just in case you had a problem with time machine since it IS a new product) and use time machine the rest of the time since it is SO good and requires absolutely no work on your part.

  17. I tried Jungledisk to use with Amazon S3 and have since moved on to Transmit FTP (with Amazon integration). The issue I had with Jungledisk is that it uses its own proprietary format to upload files to S3. As a result the only way to download your files is WITH Jungledisk. No other program will allow you to download these files. What happens if Jungledisk stops being supported? Disappears? Is no longer updated on a regular basis? At least with Transmit-Interarchy and any other FTP program which supports Amazon S3 you will always be able to download your files. If one program stops working you can always use another.

  18. I’ll second the recommendation for Jungle Disk. In a nutshell, you sign up for an Amazon S3 (simple storage service) account, then use Jungle Disk to mount it on your system. From here you can use JD’s built in backup capability or some other backup utility you already know or just drag and drop with Finder. It’s reliable, performant and very cheap. Your data is permanent, encrypted and replicated to multiple amazon data centers across the country. JD has none of the silly limitations of other online backup services such as timing your data out after 30 days or not backing up attached storage etc.

  19. Got to agree with joe here. I’ve been running Time Machine on my iMac since Leopard Day. It’s neither a RAM nor HDD “hog” as you fear. Once the initial backup is performed – completely dependent on how much data you have – it’s fast and unobtrusive.For example, I have a 320GB HDD in the iMac with about 75 GB used. My Time Machine backup (on a 500GB FW400 drive), currently consumes 120GB and I do a lot of downloading and archiving (to a separate 320GB USB HDD).
    Navigating back “through time” is easy – yes the 3D space graphics are a little hokey but so what? – and restoring files is one-click simple.

    Give it a try. There’s great confidence in knowing you’re well-covered at all times.

  20. jesus, i thought there was going to be something meaningful to come out of all of that.

    you’ve gone through all this trouble, and are trying various solutions on Leopard, but you haven’t even tried Time Machine? What are you waiting for? What’s to be “apprehensive” about? Just plug in a drive, let it do a backup and let it run for a day or two. if you don’t like it, it’s 2 clicks to turn it off. A lot easier than futzing with various online tools and waiting for 2GB of data to upload….