Cucku Uses Skype to Back Up Your Family's Data

cuckuEvery family has someone who does all the tech support — you know, the guy who gets a call Friday night at 9 p.m. if Aunt Emma’s LCD picture frame doesn’t work. Chances are, if you read this blog, you are that person. Well, guess what: Your life is about to get even busier. San Francisco-based backup software startup Cucku wants you to safe-keep all of your family’s data.

Cucku has been offering a Skype-based buddy-to-buddy backup solution since late last year. The company is rolling out version 2.0 today, which includes multiperson support, as well as a neat sneakernet component as an answer to those slow upload rates we’ve been complaining about. Cucku is trying to establish itself in a crowded and increasingly brutal backup and storage solutions market, with companies like Crashplan and Zoogmo already offering buddy back-ups. But Cucku may be onto something with the idea of pairing up novices with more experienced users.

I talked to Cucku CEO Robert Ellison last week, and his main pitch was simple but convincing: Online backups are slow and unreliable. “It can be a pretty painful experience,” he said, and many of us would have to agree. Uploading your 80 GB photo and music collection takes weeks — after which your online backup provider may go out of business, or even lose your data.

So how is exchanging those 80 GB of files via Skype any faster, you might ask, and why should your mom’s PC be any safer to host your files? The answer is that Cucku doesn’t just rely on the Net to facilitate your backup needs. The first backup you do is always local, and your first remote backup doesn’t have to choke up your Internet connection, either. Instead, you’re going to export an encrypted copy of your backup on an external HD or flash drive.

Plug it into your mom’s PC the next time you’re over for coffee, and she’s going to be hosting those files for you in no time. Future incremental backups can then be facilitated via Skype. Restoring your system can also be done through an exported image on an external storage medium, or you can just grab your laptop and restore everything with LAN speeds.

Cucku is eyeing the small business market for future versions of its product, which are supposed to include a proprietary network aside from Skype. For now, Cucku is concentrating on the consumer market, where it will continue to offer a free version that allows two users to back up each other. Pro versions that make it possible to host unlimited backups will cost you $49.95, but free and pro versions can interact, meaning that your mom can continue to use the free version even if you go pro and become what Ellison likes to call “the mini Mozy” of your family.

Ellison told me that his company somewhat accidentally stumbled across the geek in the family as the target audience. Users started to ask for ways to back up files of multiple family members, and Ellison now believes this could be a great way to “pull in the people who don’t back up,” as he put it.

I must admit that I was skeptical when I first heard about Cucku. However, I love the idea of an easy way to combine online with sneakernet backups, and I liked what I saw when I played a little with the new Cucku version over the last few days. I would even get my Mom to install Cucku — if she wouldn’t use a Mac, as recommended by the family geek. Cucku is Windows only, and an OS X version is currently not on the company’s road map.