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Walkthrough: Easy Backups with Mozy (and how to get a few free gigs)

Many people still have not made the “Leopard leap” and upgraded to Apple’s latest operating system. And of those who have, I am sure there are many that are either not using Time Machine, or want an off-site backup system. It is nice to be able to back up all your stuff to a backup hard drive, and pray your home or office does not go up in flames. Apple has provided a partial system available for this, the wireless base station with a hard drive, called Time Capsule. This walkthrough for beginners is meant to help those who don’t have a backup system get their most important files onto an off-site backup site quickly and easily. Plus, I will tell you how to get a few extra gigs of backup space beyond the free 2.0 gigs.

The Set Up

The first thing you want to do is go to [referral link: I’ll explain why you should use a referral link later] and get signed up. I know there are a lot of other products out there, but this is one that I have used for both backup and a restore of my files, and it does work. ?

When you get to the home page, you will click on MozyHome. MozyPro is an unlimited account for businesses. Sadly, Mozy does not offer the free 2GB on the home page, so you will need to click through to find it. ?

Once you do click on MozyHome, you will find the free sign-up about half-way down the page, on the left-hand side. It looks like the picture above, but without the red arrow. Click “Sign Up Now, and I will walk you through the process.

You will come to a screen that looks like the one above. Fill out all the information, and click continue.

This little survey is a bit of an annoyance, but you need to fill it out anyway. Mozy won’t let you continue if you don’t. My personal feelings about this, though, is that if you are getting something for free, it is fine to pay with a little background info so the company knows who is utilizing their service. And, luckily, Mozy has a sense of humor about their request for you to fill out this “soul-sucking” survey.

As I stated above, use a referral link. For each person that you refer that uses the free service, you get an extra 256 MB. The good thing is whoever uses a referral code, regardless of whose code it is, also gets an extra 256 MB. Let’s spread the love, leave your referral codes in the comments so those who sign up can get some extra space.

You need to start using the service for the extra storage space to appear in either account.

Once you click the link in the email address you provided Mozy, you will come to a screen like the one above. Click “Download for Mac” and you will be able to download the desktop client that allows you do the actual backups. You will download a DMG file (disk image file) that you will need to open. ?

If you get a warning like the one above, disregard it, and open the file, anyway.

Once it is downloaded and opened, you will need to open the Mozy Installer. Double click that, follow the prompts on-screen, enter your computer password when it prompts you, and Mozy will be installed. As it is installing, you will probably get a pop-up that says, “This package contains a program that determines if the software can be installed. Are you sure you want to continue?” Click “Continue.”

Once it is installed, It will open up the configuration screen. This is where you decide what you will backup. There are two things here that are important: Backup Sets and Files and Folders. Files and Folders will allow you to go through the Finder and select specific files and folders that you want to back up. This option works great if you are fairly organized.

The Backup Sets section will back up all the files of a certain type, or related to a certain program. If you have a million things saved to your desktop, with no rhyme or reason, you can choose to save all your presentations and spreadsheets, and Mozy will search through your folders all over your computer to find the types of files you request.

You can select items from each of these, and you can add different sets to the backup sets window. For example, you could create a set that included all your files for a certain project, and then you just have that box checked. Mozy integrates Spotlight nicely, so you can easily search for files that you have named a certain way. So you can put a BU at the end of each file you create and it will be automatically added to the backup set you created.

When you are ready, select “Save Configuration.” If you have not yet backed up, Mozy will ask you to backup. Depending on how much you have selected to back up, this could take a very long time. I suggest starting the backup just before you go to bed. Mozy says it may take many days to back everything up, but it only took a couple hours on a wireless connection for me to back up my 1.5 GB.


One drawback of the Mozy backup system is that it by default backs up your computer whenever you aren’t using it. It is a drawback because it takes a lot of resources to run the backup program, which slows down the rest of what you are doing.
Luckily, you can easily change it.

I suggest you keep all these boxes checked. That way, Mozy can update as it needs to, and you will always know what Mozy is doing if its status is in the menu bar. The menu bar menu looks like the picture below. You can see the Mozy logo at the top. When Mozy is not backing up, it is grey and black. It turns black and orange when it is backing up.

Typically, I leave my computer on at night, and so I backup every morning at two a.m. I turned off the automatic backup because I am often away from my computer for a time, and then I need to get back to something else that is resource-heavy. It was very annoying to wait for five minutes for anything to happen. Besides, my computer doesn’t crash very often, so I don’t need backups multiple times a day.

Since I am the only user of my fiber-optic Internet connection at home, I don’t need to throttle my bandwidth usage. You may need to, so it is there. The more it is throttled, the slower the backup could be, so be aware that this could be the case if your backups are taking a long time.

Restoring Your Files

When you lose files, erase your hard drive, or your computer crashes, it is time to restore. To restore your files, you will log in to your Mozy account. There are three options when you choose “Restore Files” from the list on the left of your “My Account” screen. You can choose to restore your files through DVD, Mac Client Restore, or Web Restore. For a processing and shipping fee, Mozy will send your files on a DVD. You can also download straight through the browser for a web restore. We will choose the Mac Client Restore for this walkthrough. This is great for a small number of files.
From the Mozy menu bar icon, you will select “Restore Files…”

For me, this box stays up for a couple minutes before I get anything else.

You can select the backup date that you want to restore your files from. Choose the location and click “Restore” to start downloading those files.
The download process is pretty quick, and didn’t take as long as I thought it would. The files are saved by default to your desktop, but you can put them wherever you want to.

Alternatively, you can download everything using your browser or you can order a DVD.

All in all, this is a very easy program to use. If you need more than the standard 2 GB of backup space, they do have an unlimited option for $4.95 per month for home users. Their business service does not support Macs.

49 Responses to “Walkthrough: Easy Backups with Mozy (and how to get a few free gigs)”

  1. François-Albert Gandon

    Hi Jethro, thanks for your very interesting post.

    I subscribed to Mozy few days ago and now i understand the difference between “File system” and “Backup sets”.

    I wanted to know if you would confirm the fact that erasing one (or more) file on the hard drive on my computer doesn’t erase the backed up file on Mozy’s servers.

    Even if I know you wrote : ” When you lose files, erase your hard drive, or your computer crashes, it is time to restore. ” I still ask the question ;-)

    (I lost more than 100 G of data last year thanks to my Iomega external hard drive, so now i am very cautious with the subject of backing up data …)

    Thanks for your answer.

  2. I have 10 invites for dropbox for anyone who wants it, just email me. Dropbox and Mozy really serve different purposes. Mozy is good for automatic online backups, while Dropbox is great for sharing files and throwing stuff on the net for people to download. Dropbox could be used for backup, but I find Mozy works much better and is designed to do backups.

  3. My referral code is T34NPI (or use this link).

    Have been using Mozy since the earliest beta and it works flawlessly. The only downside (which is actually an upside) is that individual file restores come in DMGs (so you can’t use them from within Windows, but they preserve all your metadata goodness).