What It Is: Mozy is an online backup service that runs in the background on your computer, continously backing up your files to Mozy's servers. It works on Windows and Macs, and you can restore your files either by browsing to them through Mozy software, downloading them in batches from Mozy's site, or by having Mozy send you DVDs of your files. Mozy saved my bacon, and it's the best five bucks I've ever spent.
The Experience: The whole reason I wanted to write a series of unsolicited testimonials was because of my experience with Mozy. Mozy costs money even though it has free competitors. Mozy's software, when I started using it, was wonky and bogged down my machine. I didn't have a lot of confidence that the service was doing anything at all, and the company's web presence could be a lot more polished. Test restores of files were slow and I'd kind of even forgotten I was using it, after a few months.
And then one day my hard drive crashed, losing hundreds of gigs of files, many of which were unreplaceable. Mozy saved my ass, gave me back my files, and left me so happy that any shortcomings I'd noticed before were forgotten and then some. You should use this service.
Now, I use Macs and Windows machines, but the machine I use Mozy on was a PC running Vista. (I've heard the Mac Mozy client software is a little less polished.) Mozy runs as background software, with a straightforward interface that lets you pick what files or folders you want to back up, and then offers more advanced settings if you want to tweak things. The defaults are smart, and work right. And of course, unlike Time Machine or any other popular backup system, Mozy gives you an offsite backup of your data by its very design.
Mozy also works for restoring older versions of files, though I have no use for that functionality and have never tested it. More recent updates to the software have made my Mozy backups browsable as virtual drives, which means if I want to just restore a single lost (or corrupted) file, I can get it as easily as I could pull it off of a CD or Flash drive.
The Gotchas: Mozy's far from perfect, of course. There's the caveats I mentioned above, and the client software is clearly a little rough around the edges. It does weird things like always showing the percentage of backup time remaining for files that haven't been backed up, instead of the percentage of the overall job, which makes you feel like it's never doing anything.
What It Costs: The best $5 a month you've ever spent. If you sign up using my link to Mozy, we both get an extra 256MB of space. You can also put in the referral code "32M6CD" or my email address (email@example.com) when you sign up.
Recommended If You Like: Power outages, coffee spills, storage in the cloud, giving up on ever writing that Amazon S3 client you've been thinking about
This post is one of a series of unsolicited testimonials. Please view that introductory post for more background information.