Many freelancers treat the need to routinely back up data the same way many Americans treat the need to exercise: By ignoring it.
The comes the heart attack–or the computer crash.
200kfreelancers are different. If you’re going after business seriously and aim to produce the high-quality content that clients want, the last thing on your mind should be worry about what happens if you lose your data.
One option is getting an external hard drive, to which you need to trigger a backup every night. Macintosh offers an external drive it calls Time Capsule, that works automatically and wirelessly with OSX Leopard and above, and costs $299. We know of two cloud-based services, Carbonite, which according to its website you can get for $59 a year and Mozy, which costs $5.99 a month for the most basic service.
MozyHome for three computers is $9.99 a month. According to the Seattle-based company, which has 300 employees, 3 million people use it. About 70,000 small businesses use MozyPro, which includes server backup and desktop licenses for under $10 a month.
Elaine and I use MozyHome. When I signed up, I called a customer service rep to ask if I should sign up for Pro or Home, and was told Home would be sufficient. We also heard from another freelancer, Kimberly LeRiche, who shared her experiences with Mozy. Portland, Ore.-based LeRiche provides social media and Internet marketing assistance to solopreneurs and small businesses.
Lower stress, less dust
Elizabeth: Before I signed on to Mozy, I used an external hard drive. Of course the biggest problem was that on many nights I neglected to do the backup, even if I set buzzers and alarms in my calendar to remind myself. I also worried that the backup drive would fail somehow. And, it got dusty under my desk.
Kimberly: So far it’s been easy to use and I’ve been able to back up my laptop and my desktop without issue. I have not had the need to use my backed up data but I feel good knowing it’s there.
Elizabeth: I’m a big Mac user, so I looked seriously at TimeCapsule. But I couldn’t justify the cost. At $5.99 (for one computer), Mozy is one of the lowest-priced options in the market. I signed up for a year-long contract, and remember to write it off every year.
Less than perfect backup
Elizabeth: I know that Mozy’s backup isn’t perfect. It doesn’t, for instance, back up my Dropbox files.
Elaine: Mozy saved me twice when I had computer problems. I was quickly able to transfer all of my files to a new computer. However, I did notice that older files were not always readable and seemed to be translated into codes. An IT pro might know how to fix them, but I didn’t. Fortunately, I never needed any of those documents. I now use an external hard drive for occasional backups, too.
Kimberly: The only con I can think of so far is that it took quite a bit of time initially to upload all of my data and it seem to slow down my system and my network. But after that initial upload, it’s been pretty smooth so far.
Need For Monitoring
Elizabeth: I’ve had one problem with MozyHome. When I got a new computer, I transferred everything from my old one via a firewire. MozyHome looked like it transferred fine. Though I occasionally saw a flag in the mornings that told me some of the files didn’t backup completely, those flags weren’t uncommon before the transfer, so I didn’t think much of it. When I finally got around to checking, I discovered that Mozy doesn’t in fact transfer via firewire. I needed to reinstall. So I’d been unprotected for about three months, while Mozy kept charging me the fee and never signalling that there was a problem.
Elaine: I’ve also discovered that my Mozy backup was not working, after checking it to see if it was. If I recall correctly, I went for more than a week once with no backup. However, I was able to quickly fix the problem, and the backups resumed.
Elizabeth: This fall, I tried tweeting MozyHome’s support twitter feed, @MozySupport, but didn’t get an answer. When I called Mozy’s live-chat customer support, it took me about a half-hour to get to the bottom of the issue that arose when the software didn’t transfer smoothly on to my new computer. The customer support person seemed to be working from a script, and when my questions deviated from it, she foundered.
Steve Jensen, Mozy’s senior manager for public relations, said the company has improved its customer support services over the last 18 months, moving it back to the United States. In the last few months, he said, the company hired a full-time person to work the customer support Twitter feed. “You can get phone support if you pay for MozyPro,” he added.
The Bottom Line
On balance, all three of us would recommend Mozy. If you want absolute reassurance for 100% of your files, however, it may be wise to have a secondary backup plan.
Kimberly writes, “My computer is the single most important tool for the work I do and I need to know that if my computers were to crash or otherwise fail, I would have all that data available to me.”
We’d love to hear about any backup services you’ve used, or ideas about how to solve this home-office problem. Please tell us in the comment area.