Walter Elly's blog and website

Why I switched from Mozy to Crashplan for backup

by on May.22, 2010, under Software

crashplan-vs-mozyOn the twitters I really enjoy talking tech. I often tweet with others about online backup software and my experience with Crashplan. I’m writing this blog post to link to in tweets like that in the future.

I want to preface this by saying that Mozy is a great organization, has a great team, stellar tech support and was there for me when I needed them. However, after almost 2 years of using Mozy I switched to Crashplan. Note that I stopped using Mozy at the end of 2009, so Mozy may have fixed or improved upon the issues I had – they may have also been completely unique to me. Now, personally I think the merits of Crashplan make Crashplan a choice over Mozy alone, but I want to share my experience as to why I switched to give context and transparency to why I recommend Crashplan. Also note – this is no way supposed to be a solid, comprehensive review of either product. I just want to relate my experience:

I started using Mozy in March 2008, for my Mac at home. This proceeded months of wanting Carbonite to come out for the Mac and finally something new showed up on the radar, Mozy. Finally! Easy online backup, I was sold. It rocked, it worked, it backed up automatically over night. BUT, it slowed down my Mac – an iMac 2.16 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 2GB ram. Perhaps my iMac was just never fast enough for it, but it really hogged ram and CPU. I figured this was because it was a beta (at the time). I was a fan enough though that I had Mozy Pro installed on our Windows servers at work to have them backed up online (I don’t believe Carbonite had a ‘pro’ version available then). Though performance wasn’t an ideal, like at home, it was all scheduled to run at night – so realistically performance wasn’t a huge deal.

Mozy released updates over time that sped it up, but it seemed to never go fast enough or be a system hog. Then at work the servers stopped backing up reliably. We had to worry about them every day as a result- “Was the back up running?” It was not fun at all. We went through several tech support calls, remote desktop sessions and trouble tickets to keep it working. It would work for a few weeks, then break. Meanwhile at home Mozy was starting to really crawl and slow things down. Then the home backup often just didn’t happen for whatever reason. Tech support was helpful and gave me things to try and sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. I was fully invested in Mozy at this point [I had backed up lots and lots of data with them!], so I worked hard to make it happen every day, reinstalled several times and eventually just gave up on trying to make it work. I made myself a note to find an alternative because at home and at work we just couldn’t hang with it any longer. We limped along with Mozy for a few weeks until finally the todo list item of finding an alternative got priority.

In finding an alternative I looked at several options including Carbonite (finally available for Mac) and Crashplan. I wanted Carbonite to be the one (as it’s what I originally wanted) but unbelievably, Carbonite does not support backing up data from external drives! I looked at Backblaze and one other and their performance wasn’t much better than Mozy’s (and I was beginning to think that it was just my Mac). BUT then I took a look at Crashplan and it blew me away. Like the competition it had tons of features, some that the others don’t even dream of (like local backup and network backup to a local drive). But UNLIKE the competition it was clear that the programmers behind this product had built it in an incredibly efficient manner. Crashplan ran like a dream. It was incredibly smooth, didn’t slow down my computer, even when backups were running. It enabled me to backup in the middle of the day without issue – and when we installed Crashplan Pro at work we were pleasantly surprised to discover that the excellent experience I had at home translated.

So – why Crashplan? It doesn’t hog system resources, the online (web) and offline (app) interfaces are smart and easy to use, the feature set of Crashplan is rich and powerful, it backs up external drives and most importantly it works, and it works well. Oh and by the way, did I mention that it’s one of the cheapest solutions out there? I’ve been using it for several months now without issue on both Mac and PC. For me Crashplan is the clear winner and I can’t recommend it enough – and after a little Googling it appears I’m not alone here.

Both Mozy and Crashplan (as well as the others) offer free trials, I encourage you to try them all. If you are already using online backup or are looking for a solution I’d love to hear what you use, what you’ve tried and why you like it, please share!

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  • T Hightower

    You are 100% correct I used Mozy, then various others and truly CrashPlan rocks, I have even prepaid for 3 years thats how much I believe in them. I also pay for Dropbox but for true backups of all files Crashplan is it. I set it forget it, and what if I don't want to forget it? Crashplan offers twitter and email notifications of failure to backup, backup status in general, for all computers on your account. A major plus is a friend can also back up to your drive and all of his/her data is encrypted. So even you cannot access it. Which is free for them to do.

    I love Crashplan, plain and simple.

  • T Hightower

    Sorry, I forgot to include I found your blog via a retweet from Crashplan

  • fellowweb

    Walter,

    As you're using a Mac I'd suggest you take a look at Arq, a native Mac backup software for backing up to one's own Amazon S3 account.

    I am using it for a couple of months now and it works perfectly well: It's very simple to use, works silently in the background, and my restore test runs have worked flawlessly. In contrast to all other backup solutions I am aware of (apart from JungleDisk) it passes the very relevant Backup Bouncer tests in supporting all the important meta data which is specific to Mac OS X. Eventually, the developer is very helpful and extremely good at quickly implementing new features.

    In my opinion, it's the most convincing online backup solution for a Mac – pretty much as simple and powerful as Time Machine is for local backups. But most of all, its approach to online backup is the only trustworthy to me: You don't backup to a server you don't know much or anything about (no “security through obscurity” fake). Instead you simply set up your very own Amazon S3 online storage account. Arq encrypts all data before it backs it up to S3. No one other than you knows this encryption key. Neither Amazon nor the developer will be able to access your files (with or without your knowing). You not only have full control over the privacy of your data but also over the storage itself.

    This is very important and a distinct difference to CrashPlan etc.: If CrashPlan went out of business, all you're backups could be gone without you being able to do something about it. This could never happen with Arq. Even if the developer went out of backup, you can always access your S3 accounts using freely available programs like Cyberduck. But most remarkably, they provided an open source tool to decrypt all your backups. So this is a very need way to eliminate this risk.

    With S3, you only pay for the storage you use: This is 10 Cent per Gigabyte per Month (or 15 Cent for a even more redundant storage option). It may at first not sound as convenient as the flat rate pricing scheme of CrashPlan and others. But I usually tend to stay (distinctly) below the 4-5 USD these providers charge (even with the 15 Cent/GB/month option). This of course depends on the size of your backups.

    However, even if I ended up above the flat pricing scheme of CrashPlan some time later, I am sure that I am willing to spend those extra cents knowing that the backups scheme I've paid for doesn't one time reveal a placebo nature. ;)

    In addition, Arq let's you define a monthly budget (either in terms of USD or in terms of GB storage). This means that you could never lose control over the costs.

    (In case, you're not aware of S3 yet. It's probably the most reliably mainstream cloud storage provider. For example, the very popular service Dropbox runs on it as far as I know.)

    I had also been looking around for online backup solutions. CrashPlan also was the only convincing offer I could find among the usual suspects. Regarding Mozy, Carbonite, Backblaze and some others, there were too many severe negative experiences. (You don't want to read the fine print of your backup software to realize (when you depend on being able to restore your data) that it doesn't backup certain file types or deletes backups of drives which haven't been connected to the PC during the last 30 days.) Those negative reports were rare regarding CrashPlan. However my doubts regarding “proprietary” online backup solutions in general have seemed to be justified after I came across these nasty experiences of a CrahsPlan user:

    Original article: http://try-dot-ch.blogspot.com/2010/03/crashpla
    Follow up: http://try-dot-ch.blogspot.com/2010/04/crashpla

    I outlines how CrahsPlan “keeps” to its marketing promise: “CrashPlan continuously checks that your files are 100% healthy and ready to restore when you need them. If it finds any problems, CrashPlan fixes them.” (source: http://b4.crashplan.com/consumer/features.html) If there are integrity problems with your backup (which is pretty much the worst case for a backup), they seem to rather camouflage than to fix it.

    I am not affiliated with Arq. It just took me a lot of time to really get a clear picture of what the different offerings in the online backup market really can provide.

    Using Google, it should be pretty easy to also find further opinions regarding Arq. Out of my head, I primarily remember the review by MacStories: http://www.macstories.net/reviews/arq/

    The writer seems to still be using Arq after the review with it being important to his backup workflow: http://www.macstories.net/stories/my-backup-wor

    Gosh, this got long. I apologize. Obviously, I have to admit that I turned into an Arq fanboy. Uh… :-)

  • fellowweb

    I am sorry, over the whole praising thing I forgot to provide you with the URL of Arq. This is it:

    http://www.haystacksoftware.com/arq/index.php

    If I remember correctly, there is a free 30 days trial. The developer is also on Twitter:

    http://twitter.com/arqbackup

  • http://try-dot-ch.blogspot.com/ Nik Clayton

    Note that, despite their claims to the contrary, Crashplan does not remove the need to carry out regular test restores of all your data. Their advertised “continuous” checks of your backups appear to not be reliable, and I, and others, have suffered data loss as a result. I see that “felloweeb” already linked to my blog entries about this, so I won't repeat the links here.

    I'd be interested to know what regimen you're using to regularly verify that your data is restorable.

  • http://www.microarts.com/?s=we Walter Elly

    Fellowweb- thank you very much for the detailed and informative report on Arq and your thoughts on open vs proprietary backup and backup reliability.

    I agree with you that Arq+S3 is a more attractive platform…if price is not an option. I had never heard of Arq before and have had professional experience with S3, but always thought that a program like Arq would be nice to have. However I am not able to justify the cost of the service- it's not affordable for the amount of data I am choosing to back up. I'm an avid hobbyist digital photographer which produces tons of data as you can imagine. But as it is just a hobby it's not as easy to justify that extra expense to do it via S3 to my CFO ;)

    I recognize Crashplan's limitations, and thank you for pointing them out (as I expected their reliability to be higher than what you have discovered), but (and I'm sure you'd agree)- realistically their online backup solution is/should only be just one layer of many layers of backup systems in an overall backup solution. (agan I'm sure you'd agree) Reliability is never 100%- you can only seek to decrease risk by employing multiple solutions.

    For now I'm going to continue to use Crashplan, the best of the bunch amongst the “flat-rate solutions” as we've discussed, and (thanks to your post) redouble-check my other layers of backup to ensure that if data loss occurs I'll be covered.

    Thanks again. Also, sorry for the late reply, but I hope you see it :)

  • http://www.microarts.com/?s=we Walter Elly

    Thanks Nik – I posted a reply to “fellowweb” below – http://www.walterelly.com/technology/why-i-swit… – and unfortunately I have not been checking my Crashplan data backups – but because of this comment dialog I do plan on doing so! Also, one other note- based on the great dialog we've had here this is something I think Crashplan should consider disclaiming in their online backup solution section of their website. Fortunately I am employing local backup solutions as well so I'm not entirely dependent on them for restores.

    Thanks for the comment!

  • John

    Your picture of crashplan shooting a fireball at mozy, sf2 style, suggests you think it is better.

    Fact is.. What you are saying is specific to MAC software. Most people use a PC.

    Your problem applies to Mozy for the MAC.

    I've used Mozy.. it does slow down the internet connection or computer a bit.. but I can always stop the backup.. so it will do it later. Mozy offers 2GB free. *no time limit*

    I have tested the backup a number of times. You get a link to all your files. So that's really a good test to see if it is likely to work when I need it, and it passes no problem.

  • John

    I should add. I use a PC. so Mozy's PC Software

  • http://www.microarts.com/?s=we Walter Elly

    Thanks for the comment John – as I noted in my article, my troubled Mozy experience unfortunately was on both Mac and PC. I mentioned in the article that in addition to the Mac at home we installed Mozy Pro on Windows machines at work and then experienced problems later.

    Please know that I'm very glad you are having a positive experience with Mozy – it's been several months since I last used Mozy and I hope that they've since fixed the problems I described that caused me to switch to Crashplan. But until Crashplan starts having problems I'll stick with them for now.

  • AZ Realtor

    can you clarify — re Crashplan – does it back up external hard drives? have read everything on their site and can't find this answer ? also any issue you are aware of with it backing up thunderbird or foxfire user files — we tend to leave these programs open all the time computer is on — thanks for any insight — we are trying to make a decision to move from carbonite

  • http://www.microarts.com/?s=we Walter Elly

    Greetings! I can confirm that on both mac and PC Crashplan does backs files on external hard drives no problem. According to http://support.crashplan.com/doku.php/articles/vss it can even back up files that are currently open (like thunderbird files/etc) – but I've never tested this myself. I primarily use Crashplan to back up my photos/videos which aren't usually open anyways :)

    Why are you thinking about switching from carbonite? I will say this – “if it ain't broke, don't fix it” ;)

    Good luck!

  • http://www.best-registrycleaner.net Best Registry Cleaner

    Mozy released updates over time that sped it up, but it seemed to never go fast enough or be a system hog.

  • http://www.best-registrycleaner.net Best Registry Cleaner

    Mozy released updates over time that sped it up, but it seemed to never go fast enough or be a system hog.

  • Jake

    I had forgotten about these software packages being possible resource hogs. I am very interested in online back-ups and I am going to give Crashplan a try based on your experiences. I had been using RoboCopy and an external drive that I rotate off-site.

  • http://twitter.com/krystanhonour krystan honour

    I’d like to point out that allthough having just switched to crashplan from mozy, it is only a fool who does not attempt test restores of backed up data, that is backup 101 in my book. nothing is 100% tolerant, i used to work in data backup and we had a 99.9% tolerance as corruption kills your company.. the reamaining .1% is usually not the fault of software.

  • http://www.adhost.dk/sogemaskineoptimering.shtml søgemaskineoptimering

    However, after almost 2 years of using Mozy I switched to Crashplan. Note that I stopped using Mozy at the end of 2009, so Mozy may have fixed or improved …

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for your feedback. I am currently using CrashPlan backup my file server, the computer of my mom and my sister’s computer. is a great online backup service if you need multiple computers to backup.

  • JRC

    I was using Carbonite for my Mac until OSX Lion came out and two days later Carbonite decides to let it’s Mac user know that, “Oh by the way, we’re not compatible with Lion and we don’t know when we will be”.  There is thing called Developer Preview, either Carbonite was too lazy or incompetent use it or (worse) they did use it and knew full well that their product was not going to work with it and intentinally waited until after the release to tell anyone about it.  I emailed them and after getting up the ladder a bit was able to get a full refund and I moved to Crashplan which I’m much happier with so far.  Carbonite was a system hog like Mozy and didn’t have nearly the level of customization that Crashplan has.  

  • http://www.handmaderesults.com Christinegierer

    I was wondering if Crash Plan users are still using Crash Plan?  Are you finding that restores are working perfectly?  I’m using Mozy now and my computer does tend to run slow.  I’m afraid of switching though.

    It would be a pain if it didn’t turn out to be reliable.  I like Mozy, but I want more speed, and the initial download took forever.  Weeks if I remember correctly.  I had to do it a few times too because Mozy stopped backing up a few times.

    I don’t want to go through the initial download all over again with Mozy if I decide to switch back.  (Also switching 3 computers, then switching back would be uber irritating.)

    Any updates?

  • Mozy Orphan

    Mozy is still horrible, absolutely horrible. If you ever have the misfortune of actually having to restore your data from them – God help you from putting a bullet in your head after 7 days of fighting their incompetent support idiots and faulty software and disconnecting servers which will continuously frustrate you to the point of just wanting to die rather than deal with Mozy ever again in your life.

    They suck more than any company I have ever dealt with and they make no apologies and there is no end to the hell they will put you through and never offer you a break of any kind. They are evil sadists who horde your data for purpose of tormenting you or extorting you for $250 just to escape their self created backup hell.

  • Anonymous

    thanks a lot for answering my question….
    it solved my problems…

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for sharing your experience! I really like your opinion! I will have a try Crashplan.

  • Haranoapon

    Online Storage & Online Backup by MiMedia. Not just another online storage solution,Online Photo Backup MiMedia brings you a totally new approach to backup, protect, access, enjoy & share your digital life

  • T KANG

    I too have found many issues w/ Carbonite.  I am a fan of crashplan.  I did NOT renew w/ Carbonite because it is a memory hog AND backs up very slow and throttling is a pain.  I have about 300 GB to backup.
    I am happy w/ crashplan so far. 

  • Adam

    Crash Plan worked great until I upgraded to CP + now it’s just waiting for connection… Support is woeful – directs to a FAQ which of course we’ve already tried. Wants to be Apple plug an dplay but itt;’s more like you need to be a C programmer… Stil waiting for a response form CP meantime now looking for an alternative reliable solution. Leave it alone for now I’d say – wasted days creating archive which is now redundant…. ho hum

  • Mike

    Crashplan is what we use and I am only partially happy. We continually get “destination unavailable” errors. Sometimes this will be an external drive issue other times, there does not seem to be a cause. I found this page while looking for an alternative to CP.

  • Frodo Baggins

    One problem with Crashplan: you can’t do a restore! It does not work! Crashplan inserts problematic characters in your file names, eg. “%”, and zips them. You cannon unzip the file after you download it. The backup “looks” great, but the restore does NOT work. Kind of a deal-breaker isn’t it?

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