Back up your data. Preferably make a few backups and keep them separate from your working data. Nothing worse (true story:) about keeping your backups in the same room as your server when you’re located on a flood plain.
Back when I worked in the computer labs of SIUE more than one grad student came in completely panicked that they could not access the only copy of their thesis – usually on some generic 3.5″ floppy. I became adept at opening the shell and swapping the disk into another shell (sometimes because the shell was broken, sometime because they spilled beer or soda on it…). I doubt the incidents enticed many of them to start making backups.
Fast-forward a few years (ok, many years) and people are still no more likely to back up their data, let alone keep (and sync) multiple backups. I started looking at online backup methods for smaller companies to use instead of tape backups, one of the nice benefits being set-it-and-forget-it. I could configure the agent to run on their server, check backups and test restores via the backup vendor’s website and the client can be protected with twice-a-day off-site backups.
I picked Mozy as it was the first online service I had heard of and the price seemed right – $55 per year for unlimited storage (Mozy Home). They only guarantee 30-days of backups but actually keep more than that (I can currently see file versions back 2 months). They also do not limit upload speed, but suggest avoiding certain times of the day (one of their FAQs says “top of the hour”) to maximize upload speed.
It took about 2.5 months to backup 850GB of data across my 3Mbps cable connection. I opted to make multiple data sets to ensure my most critical data was backed up first, then added additional backup sets later. Make sure to exclude temporary files and anything else you don’t need.
The initial backup can slow down your PC, tho my 2year old quad core rig didn’t mind much, and will saturate your connection if you let it – my pings dropped from 30ms to 150+ms (using speedtest.net) and I would see the uploads hitting 3Mbps. The client has settings to adjust how much it affects your local PC and upload speeds. You can also manually set the times to run.
Once uploaded, the maintenance is unnoticeable – by default it runs twice a day and only copies whatever changed since the last backup.
Once backed up you can log in to Mozy.com and check on your files and initiate restores.
With restores you can get individual files, select files or entire folders and have Mozy bundle (zip) them up and make that available for a download or request a “media set” (CD, DVDs or hard drive) of your data. The media method costs extra however, restoring my 850GB via “media restore” would cost $511:
Process fee $29.95
Shipping $40 (FedEx Next Day)
DVD cost $442 (50 cents/GB)
I’m not sure what their cut-off sizes are, 883GB would take up over 100 dual-layer DVDs. Hopefully it would be on a hard drive, but I would contact their customer service before ordering the full restore.
Last weekend I upgraded my computer including reinstalling the OS and renaming it. (for the real geeks out there I went from an Asus P5K Deluxe/Q9550/8GB DDR2 / ATI 2600 to an Asus Rampage III Formula / i7 950 over-clocked to 3.8Ghz / 12GB DDR3 running @1600Mhz / EVGA nVidia GTX470. Data is on stripped 500GB WD blacks or striped 400GB Samsung Spinpoints)
2/3 of my data stayed in the same drive (a secondary drive) and 1/3 was restored from a local copy to the C: drive (Windows Easy Transfer) . I downloaded the Mozy client to the rebuilt machine and instructed it to replace my old machine with the new machine. I then created new data sets, one for each drive (previously I had ~8 data sets, one for each category of data).
It took 3 days of “processing” and uploading, but I now see all of my data backed up online and I can access changes going back 2 months so it handled the computer name change, dataset changes and local restore with ease. Sweet.
I have not dealt with their customer service yet, but I did post a question to their forums and received a correct answer in a few hours (not bad for a holiday weekend).
The only issue I see now it for some reason it thinks my School House Rock downloads from iTunes are EPS encrypted and won’t back them up.
I think the interface is a little “dumbed down” and their documentation could use a little help but overall it’s been very successful.
Mozy Home: $55/yr unlimited backups
Mozy Pro (ie business): $4/mo + $.5/GB Desktops : $7/mo + $.5/GB Servers