In a digital world, we are accustomed to storing our “life” on our computers. Pictures of family, documents for work and music collections that can house thousands of songs are all common place on most of our PCs.
What happens when you lose your data? What if you have a power surge or spill coffee on your computer. What do you do then? If all your data disappears, how can you get it back? If you’re not using a viable backup solution the answer is simple, you don’t.
Online backup solutions eliminate the dependency of local hardware and provide a redundant environment for your data. Cloud backup solutions are a great choice for protection and peace of mind. There are several solutions out there and choosing the right one can be a daunting task. In this article we take a comparative look at Carbonite and Mozy. Both offer similar online backup services. So which one is the better deal? Let's find out.
Features – Winner: Mozy
First, let’s take a look at what Carbonite has to offer. There are a few levels of service to choose from, so the features are a little different when comparing the two. The home / home office plan is the least expensive option and offers automatic continuous backups, local file and folder backups, web and mobile access as well as support via phone, email or live chat.
Carbonite Home can back up most files except .exe, .dll, temporary files, OS files, hidden files, external drive files and anything over 4 GB (automatically). You can individually add large files to your backup by right-clicking on them and selecting “Back this up” from the Carbonite menu. There is also a list of exclusions for root program files on the C: drive listed on the website.
The Small Business plan includes all of the above plus external hard drive backups, dashboard management, Windows server backups, hard drive recovery by mail and prioritized support features.
Small Business also backs up most files, but there are a few exceptions. Any file over 1 TB (automatically), .exe, .dll and select root files are not supported. As with the home version, there is a manual option to add larger files to a backup set.
What really stands out between these two options is the ability to back up external hard drives. If you are using the home / home business plan, you are only able to back up data that is stored on your local (internal) hard drives. I am not sure why this is set up this way. It does seem inconvenient and could cause problems for those that use extra drives.
Besides the additional drive support, the Small Business plan offers a more business-friendly environment with its use of a web based dashboard. This allows an administrator to have complete control over multiple backup sets in one easy to navigate window.
Both Carbonite plans offer continuous backup features. This means there are no gaps in data backups. Traditional backup methods adhere to a schedule; Carbonite eliminates that philosophy by scanning and backing up files in a real time environment.
Like its competitor, Mozy also has two levels of service, MozyHome and MozyPro. MozyHome is geared towards the average user or home business owner that is not looking for advanced features. MozyPro is geared towards businesses.
When looking at the home version, there are a few advantages that Mozy has over Carbonite. First and foremost, Mozy can back up external drives. Mozy also offers a feature called 2x protect. This allows you to back up your data to the cloud and to an external drive from the same backup set.
MozyHome can back up most types of files. OS specific files such as pagefile, prefetch and .exe files are not supported. The website does not specify a file size limit. However, it does mention that your limitation is only applicable to the amount of storage space you have purchased.
MozyPro offers backup capabilities for opened or locked files as well as SQL Exchange and network drive support. Once a base image is created, incremental backups are used to save on storage space. Backups are run in increments so the real time backup scanning is not as proficient as Carbonite's option. MozyPro does offer support for backing up .exe files.
When it comes to features, these two programs are pretty evenly matched. The key feature that separates Mozy is its ability to support external drive backups without paying for a more expensive plan. This decreases the limitations of the program and therefore earns a victory in this category.
Ease of Setup – Winner: Carbonite
Installing Carbonite is a straightforward process. Once you register your email and create a password via their website, you download and install a 7 MB installation package. Once the installation starts, you are prompted to choose if your computer is a desktop, laptop or server. From this, Carbonite knows how to associate the computer with your user account.
Next, Carbonite prompts for an automatic selection list or you can choose to set up your own custom list of files that will be backed up. Once you make your choice, Carbonite presents some quick tips on using the program. This was a nice touch and will help most users who are new to this type of program.
Once finished, it opens the installed software program and automatically starts your backup to the cloud. There are options to fully customize your settings and all options via the software interface are clearly labeled so they are easy to navigate. By browsing to https://account.carbonite.com/Account/Logon you have complete access to your online storage space from any PC or Mac. The web interface is also straightforward and simple to use. There is a free trial so you can test the software before you buy it.
Mozy uses a more secure, albeit more cumbersome process. When you register on Mozy’s website, you are asked for your email address. Once all appropriate fields are completed and submitted, Mozy sends a confirmation email. It is this email that allows you access to the installation package.
After clicking on the link in the confirmation email, you are directed to a page that offers installation options for Mac OS and Windows. The Windows installer is 9 MB while the two options for Mac OS are 17.4 MB and 21.6 MB.
Clicking next through all of the prompts will install the program. Once it is installed, it asks you to verify your login credentials. I understand the need for security and while some may welcome these repetitive steps, I found it a bit annoying that I had to verify who I was three times.
The complete process took about ten minutes on a Windows 7 Professional PC. This is about six minutes more than Carbonite's install. Once the program is open, you can choose your backup selections either by file path or file type.
Mozy's layout is a little different than Carbonite's, but I found it in no way confusing or hard to navigate. As with Carbonite, the backup starts automatically. Navigating to https://secure.mozy.com/login will allow you to access your cloud storage over the internet. Mozy does offer a trail version, so feel free to test it out before making your decision.
For this round, both setups are easy and should pose little to no confusion for most computer users. But I give the nod to Carbonite for ease of setup over Mozy because of Mozy's over-zealous identity verification. I am not sure why Mozy requires you to verify yourself three times during the installation process. But it increased the installation time considerably. Score one for Carbonite in this department.
Performance – Winner: Carbonite
Next to cost, speed is one of the most important aspects of cloud computing. All online interactions ultimately depend on your bandwidth speed. So the question is, if given the same network speed does one work faster than the other? Let’s take a look and find out.
All tests were done with a connection speed of 10.3 Mbps down and .75 up. These speeds were consistent throughout testing both options.
Carbonite’s website says that on average most people can expect to back up 3-4 GB per day for an initial backup. From there backup speeds are increased because differential backups are used.
To test Carbonite, I backed up sets of data consisting of different file types that totaled 10 MB. I did this five times and averaged the results. I found that it takes Carbonite roughly 3 minutes to upload 10 MB worth of data for the initial backup.
I then added 2 MB of data to the backup sets and ran them again. I found that it took just over 1 minute to run the differential backups. This time was consistent on all five tests. This was a surprise to me as I thought it would take a little longer given the upload speed I was working with. Carbonite exceeded my expectations with how fast it worked.
Mozy states on its website, “For a typical system on a typical broadband line, and if you continue working on your computer during the backup, Mozy backs up data at the rate of about 2-4 GB per day. If left undisturbed on a fast connection, however, you can back up over 9 GB in a single day. You may experience faster or slower speeds depending on your connection.” They also mention that initial backup sets will take a long time. Backups after that are differential in nature, so they are almost un-noticeable to the end user.
I ran the same test on Mozy and measured 5 minutes for the initial 10 MB backup and 2 minutes for the 2 MB incremental backup.
The table below summarizes the results and the win clearly goes to Carbonite.
|Initial 10 MB Backup||3||5|
|Incremental 2 MB||1||2|
Sharing – Winner: Tie
There are not many options for file sharing in Carbonite. Although you have the ability to log in from any PC to access your data, there are no Facebook or email file restore options that I could find via their website or product descriptions. You can, however, download a file and then email (or compress it and email) it if need be.
Files can be restored and sent via email with the Small Business plan. You can also use the backup manager interface to restore files to another computer. Beyond these options, there is not a lot to choose from in this category.
Mozy is also not intended to be a file sharing service and restore options are similar to Carbonite's. Mozy allows you to email a file from within its application, but there is no option for file restore or sharing to social media websites.
Both products focus on cloud backup service and not on file sharing. This round is a tie.
Accessibility – Winner: Carbonite
Carbonite boasts several different ways to get your data from the cloud. The website states that you can gain access from any web browser on any internet connected PC and from your iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry or Android smart phones and tablets. Although I have not tested all available options, I can confirm that IE9, Firefox 6.0 and the iPhone app work well.
If you’re using a smartphone or tablet app, you have the ability to listen to your music on top of gaining access to your files. All interfaces are intuitive and very easy to navigate. Most users should have no issue with the layout and restore features.
Not to be outdone, Mozy also caters to the masses with complete support for Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2000 (32 bit and 64 bit editions) as well as Mac OS X 10.6, 10.5 and 10.4. There is also an iphone/ipad app available for any device running iOS 4.0 or higher. Android devices running version 2.0 or newer can also take advantage of the mobile app. I was not able to find any information on web browser limitations, so complete browser support is up in the air.
The winner of this round is Carbonite by a nose due to its BlackBerry support.
Security – Winner: Tie
Carbonite states it encrypts your files before they leave your computer, with 128-bit Blowfish encryption and then transmits your data over a secure socket layer (SSL) connection. Users do have the option to create their own encryption key if desired. This is the same data security technology used to protect online banking and e-commerce transactions.
Once your files are received at the data centers they are stored (still encrypted) on enterprise-grade redundant disk arrays. These are setup in RAID 6 configurations that offer optimum failover protection. All data centers are monitored 24 hours a day 365 days a year to insure uptime and prompt technical response.
Mozy’s support forum does a decent job in describing the encryption techniques that it uses. 448 Blowfish encryption automatically encrypts your data before it is sent to the data centers. You also have the option to opt out of this automatic security feature and employ your own 256 bit AES encryption via a custom password option.
If you choose to personalize your encryption key, you will have to assume some risk. Once you decide to use a personal key and opt for the 256 bit AES encryption, Mozy has no way of storing or retrieving your password. This means that if you lose it or forget it, you will not be able to access or decrypt your files.
Regardless of what local encryption protocol you use, all transfers are sent to the data centers via a secure socket layer (SSL) connection. As with most cloud storage centers, all servers are monitored and protected through redundant disk arrays. Physical security is also provided through continual monitoring, fire protection and systems built to handle a 7.5 magnitude earthquake. In doing this, Mozy provides local, transport and storage protection.
Both programs offer multiple security layers and physical data center protection. In this comparison, both are equally matched.
Pricing – Winner: Carbonite
Carbonite Home offers unlimited backup storage space for only $59 per computer per year (keep in mind only internal drives are supported, so expanding on the unlimited storage available is, well, still limited). This is a very competitive price point for this type of service.
Carbonite Business is a little more complicated. You can purchase 250 GB for $229 or 500 GB for $599 annually. Additional storage space can be added; 50 GB for $46 or 100 GB for $89 a year. When compared to other programs that are available, this is a somewhat expensive service given the limitations in backing up certain files.
MozyHome enters the market with a few different options. 50 GB a month will cost $5.99 a month or roughly $72 a year. The more spacious option allows for 125 GB of storage at $9.99 a month, or approximately $120 a year.
MozyPro takes a slightly different approach by charging for licensing and data usage. Desktop licenses cost $3.95 per month and server licenses run $6.95 per month. Additionally all data that is backed up is charged at 50 cents per GB. For larger companies, this can add up very quickly. As with Carbonite, this product can become very expensive and has a somewhat higher price point when compared to some other backup options out there.
The table below compares the costs for the Home and Business versions of each service for one desktop client for one year. For both Home and Business versions, Carbonite clearly takes the win.
|Carbonite Business||250 GB||$229|
|MozyPro||250 GB||$47.40 (license)
Bottom Line – Winner: Carbonite
And the winner is Carbonite. Even though the home version does not back up external drives, Carbonite has the clear advantage in ease of setup, performance, and sharing capabilities. Although the results are clear, I have to admit, I thought Mozy had the advantage when I first started this comparison. To my surprise, Carbonite has several advantages over Mozy when compared head to head.
|Ease of Setup||X|
I would recommend either service as they are both proven, established cloud backup solutions. If you are looking for a home solution that allows backups outside of just local drives, Mozy would be an excellent choice. If that is not a primary concern, I would have to recommend Carbonite.