It's seven years since my last major data loss, when my sole hard drive (all 3.2Gb of it) bit the dust, taking almost all my worldly data with it, barring a few vital files that I'd diligently backed up regularly onto 1.44Mb floppy. I know this date for sure as my email archive starts abruptly on 25th February 2000 - all my premillenial ramblings are lost to humanity forever!

Now, these days of course, all our photographs and music collections are stored in digital form, so it's far more important to keep regular backups (but at around 8Mb per RAW photo and 3Mb per AAC file, the humble floppy has long since become useless for this purpose!). So, I've been reviewing my backup strategy recently...

A couple of years ago I made the effort to back up all my files to a dozen or so DVD-Rs for storage "off-site" (i.e. at work). This was a laborious and boring task, and not one I've felt like repeating since.

Last year I bought a 320Gb Western Digital MyBook, which is a really nice piece of kit - I'm using the Firewire interface, and particularly appreciate the way it powers down when the PC is turned off. I used SyncToy on a daily basis to back up all my files to this external drive, and this worked pretty well for a while.

Recently, though, this solution started to break down, for three reasons:

  1. I've been buying ever more music, taking ever more photos, and installing ever more MS software (such as the gargantuan Orcas beta 1), causing my primary hard disk to become almost full.
  2. To improve the performance of my system, I wanted to start using the MyBook to hold all my data files, leaving the primary disk for the OS and programs.
  3. Although the files were backed up, the backups were in the same physical location as the originals, so offering no protection from thieves or natural disasters.

So, I've been searching for a way of automating backup of my files to a remote location, and I'm pleased to report that I found it in the form of Mozy.com - for a meagre $4.95 (£2.50) per month, I can automatically and continuously upload an unlimited amount of files to their servers. It really is pretty slick, the incremental backups are even clever enough to only upload the portion of an Outlook .PST file that has changed.

Thus far I've uploaded around 5Gb of data (important files and a chunk of our photos). It'll take a few days longer for all the photos to complete uploading, then I might set it the not-inconsiderable task of backing up my entire music collection. Well, what are unlimited broadband connections for? >

Restores also appear to be simple - there's a web interface allowing you to find previous versions of any file, alternatively for an additional fee you can arrange for DVDs of backed-up files to be mailed to you. But the easiest way of restoring a file is through the tight integration with Windows Explorer, where Mozy Remote Backup is shown as just another device on your computer.

I hope that my seven-year run of no data loss continues for many years longer, and I never find myself in need of the backups that I'm now continuously trickling up to Mozy's servers, but it's a reassuring safety net to have.

PS - Hey, doesn't the Mozy logo look uncannily like the Orange logo?  Hmmm...