Mozy – Online Backup. Great, Except For Restoring iPhoto & Aperture 3

Dear Mozy,

First let me say how thrilled I was when I first learned about you and your online backup services, I especially liked the part where I could get 2GB free and expand it with 0.5GB for each friend I referred – a great way to start out with your service.

I also liked your layout and simplicity – both on the website and in the Mac client. It just seemed to work well, very easy and flawless. It didn’t take me long before I was so hooked on you, that I purchased a 1 month subscription at $5 to get unlimited backup space and really test out your service before I made a final commitment to you as my offsite backup.

It took me less than 20 hours to backup my 55GB Aperture 3 photo library which was one of the main things I wanted to backup offsite, along with other minor data. A reasonable speed, considering that subsequent backups, after the initial backup, would be much faster since they are incremental.

At this time I had already referred several friends, co-workers and blog readers to you, Mozy.

Then, for some reason, you decided to let me down. I knew that, before I was able to trust you completely as my offsite backup service, I would need to do a successful restore – and that’s the one area where you really let me down. Using the in-client restore method meant I had to restore all 55GB in one stretch, there’s no way to resume a restore. Since my Aperture 3 photo library is likely to grow over time, this could end up becoming maybe 100GB in a year or two. That’s a lot of data to download in one stretch. I still haven’t decided on a “library structure” where I could divide my Aperture 3 library into smaller libraries, but I don’t want to limit myself into smaller libraries because my backup service doesn’t do a good enough job at the restore part.

As per suggestion from your support, which by the way, always seem to respond within a day and often helpful, I tried to do a web restore instead. First, it took your website around 45 minutes to prepare my download, then it took another 4-5 hours before all my 55GB were ready for download. I could, however, begin to download files before then. I say files, because my 55GB was split into 31 smaller .DMG files that I had to download individually using a web browser.

Trying to download the first 3 files, worth around 1.7 GB each, I learned that restoring them would become really cumbersome. Either I had to find/purchase an application that would allow me to “copy and merge” files and folders automatically, or I had to manually drag and drop folders to merge them together. Here’s what you’re doing to my files, Mozy…

So I download “Restore 1.dmg” which contains the following folders: “Folder A” and “Folder B”. Then I download “Restore 2.dmg” which also holds a “Folder B” with some files in it, but also “Folder C” and “Folder D”. Dragging out “Folder B” from “Restore 1.dmg” is no problem. But when I want to drag out “Folder B” from “Restore 2”, Mac OS X asks if I want to replace – not merge. My only solution is to enter the restored “Folder B” to manually drag the contents over and avoid replacing the folder – the real problem occurs if there are more subfolders. It just gets even trickier and there’s a high risk of forgetting something or messing up.

That’s just not good enough, Mozy.

Unfortunately I’ve read about similar problems on other blogs as well, after I started researching it, here and here, for example.

On the plus side, Mozy, you seem like a pretty good online backup service if I didn’t have too many GB’s of data or if I had a really good folder structure, which Aperture 3, iPhoto etc. doesn’t have – and frankly, it doesn’t need to, since humans are not supposed to poke around in them. Mozy also supports “backup sets”, making it really easy to take backups, of for example  Address Book, iCal calendar, Bookmarks etc – and they are very easy to restore again, since the amount of data is not in the range of several GB’s (in fact, usually only a few MB’s).

That’s why I’m leaving you, Mozy. At least with my important data. I’ll still be using your Mozy 2GB free service to back up less important files from my Mac Mini media center. It was a pleasure doing business with you but I’m happy that we can end our relationship already, and not when I some day really really really need to do a restore and find out how cumbersome it is.


In my search for an alternative to Mozy, I’ve tried Backblaze, iDrive, Keepit and CrashPlan. I didn’t try Arq or Jungle Disk as they use the more expensive Amason S3 and Rackspace datacenters for storage, but they seem like good services too. So far, CrashPlan is my favorite and I’m currently testing it out, I’ve read multiple places about people taking the switch from Mozy to CrashPlan (or BackBlaze, if you prefer their “exclusion”-based model). I will do another blog post once I’ve decided if CrashPlan is the online backup service I’ll be using from now on. It will have to pass a restore test though (it has passed my smaller tests without problems and it even supports “resume” for both backups and restores, in-client).

HAVE YOU SIGNED UP WITH MOZY? If you have signed up with Mozy based on my previous recommendations, I’m sorry if I might have wasted your time (and money). Please, before it’s too late, try to do a restore of your most important data, to make sure that it suits your needs (be sure to restore it to a different location on your hard drive, so you don’t overwrite your live data). If it works as expected, great, I’m sure you will remain happy with Mozy. Otherwise, I encourage you to take your data elsewhere and also do a few backup/restore tests there, to make sure your data is easily accessible when it matters.

Remember, a backup of your data on an external drive is not really a backup. What will happen to your external drive in case of a break-in or a fire? If you really care about your data, you also need to store it offsite, encrypted of course.

31 thoughts on “Mozy – Online Backup. Great, Except For Restoring iPhoto & Aperture 3”

  1. Pingback: BloggingJunkie
  2. Pingback: Karen Woodham
  3. I glad I didn’t sign up from your previous recommendation, good job I follow you blog and read it, to see this 😉
    .-= Karen´s last blog ..Shock Of Vandalism And The Police Involved! =-.

    • Hi Karen. Well, depending on your backup needs, Mozy might very well be fine for you. As I wrote, I use it for my media center computer and it works fine there, because there’s not a lot of data to restore, should it be necessary.

  4. Did you actually send this to Mozy? Man, what a great read, you shot ’em down so diplomatically. 😉

    I’ve thought of using an online backup service before but haven’t done anything about it yet. I have been using Flickr to some extent but those photos all have a watermark on them so it’s not really a good option unless I stop using the watermark. An interesting conundrum wouldn’t you say?
    .-= Sire´s last blog ..Giving MyLikes The Thumbs Up =-.

    • Hi Sire. No I didn’t send this to Mozy. I told them I was working on a blog post on how to use Mozy for Aperture 3 backup but as it turnes out, their service wasn’t up for it. Unfortunately. Mozy is one of those companies that I actually like and really wanted to use, but they failed me in one area where it’s not acceptable.

      If you have a Flickr PRO account (they cost almost nothing!), you can upload your photos to Flickr in large sizes and just have privacy settings set to only you can view them. But I don’t think Flickr accept RAW images, so you would have to upload them as JPG.

  5. I upgraded to a PRO account once I ran out of space in the free version. I’ve known about the privacy setting and have used it a couple of times but have never thought about using it as a backup for my photos.

    Still, it was a great read even though it was a long post 😉
    .-= Sire´s last blog ..Does Your Blog Provide Value To Your Readers? =-.

  6. I recently signed up for Mozy as well and have my Aperture 3 library backed up. I am now nervous based on your post. One thing I will mention that may solve this issue, is to use a “referenced” library rather than a “managed” library. A referenced library is nothing more than a folder structure with a much smaller “managed” part (the database). I would think that Mozy could handle that just fine…

    I also recently moved from a referenced to managed library, now I’m thinking I’d better switch back to make sure my raw files are backed up for easy restore.


    • Hi Paul,

      I’m glad I made you nervous, because it’s really important that you try to do a successful restore of your most important data, before you trust *any* backup service with it 🙂

      If you have Aperture 3 backed up, it’s likely you will face the same issues as I did – unlessy your library is either smaller than mine or you have a faster Internet connection, so you can do the in-client restore without being interrupted. Then everything should run smooth.

      I don’t know exactly what the difference will be in terms of “restoring with Mozy” if you have a managed or a referenced library in Aperture 3, but I wouldn’t go ‘referenced’ unless you’re an advanced user. I prefer to trust Aperture with my library and not fiddling around with the needed library files. Backing up only the database (in a referenced library) is not going to help you much when you need to do a restore, and all your master files are gone 🙂

      What I would really recommend you do, is to try and do a restore to simulate that you lost your data and need it back. Don’t restore to the same destination so you end up overwriting your actual data, of course 🙂 If everything works for you, then great! If not, consider some of the other services out there – right now I’m having good experiences with CrashPlan, my initial tests were succesful and now I’ve started backing up my entire 55GB Aperture 3 library.
      .-= Klaus @ TechPatio´s last blog ..Facebook Simplifies Privacy Settings [Video] =-.

  7. Hi Klaus,

    I’m the author of Arq. Amazon just announced a 33% cheaper storage option ($.10/GB per month), so storing your 55GB library in S3 would be about $5.50/month. Using S3 has some other benefits too: uploads and downloads are very fast, you maintain control over your data (it stays in your S3 account, encrypted), and Amazon is unlikely to go out of business soon (large public company).

    Also, Arq correctly backs up and restores all Mac “metadata” (all the bits of data aside from the actual file contents). CrashPlan restores most of it, but not all. Specifically, CrashPlan doesn’t restore hardlinks correctly (so it can’t backup/restore Time Machine backups correctly, for instance). CrashPlan also doesn’t restore “Finder flags” correctly; important “Finder flags” include the “hide the filename extension” bit, and the “bundle” bit (makes your Aperture library look like a single file in the Finder). Here’s more info on the restore results:

    Also, Arq is a Mac-native app (not a Java app like CrashPlan) so it has the Mac look-and-feel you’d expect. You can drag-and-drop from your backup to the Finder to immediately begin restoring, for example. And Arq will wait patiently during restore if your network connection goes away, or you switch networks, or your computer goes to sleep; it resumes when the network comes back.

    I hope you give it a try! It has a 30-day trial, and here’s a coupon for 20% off an Arq license through end of June 2010 if you (or your readers) decide to buy:

    • Hi Stefan – thanks for your long and resourceful comment 🙂

      I did take a look at Arq but I found the S3 pricing to be quite confusing and I wasn’t too fancy about trusting my data with what would probably be a single developer (you?) and his ability to “keep up the good work”, compared to a team of developers with e.g. CrashPlan. I’m not saying you’re going to abandon the project, but as a Mac user, you surely have also experienced great software being abandoned 🙂 VisualHub, CocoaMySQL, iClip etc…

      The other thing is “trust”, which is probably as important as the actual backup. I don’t know you and I haven’t read anything to go AGAINST you. I haven’t read much to be honest, but what I did come across, was only positive – but the same goes for CrashPlan (especially when compared to Mozy).

      To be honest, I’m not worried about CrashPlan shutting down their datacentre etc. I consider my online backup to be “last line of defense”, so if the company shuts down, oh well, I find another and do the backup there. Chances of my Mac drive crashing while my two external backups crashes too (TimeMachine and SuperDuper) – and the online backup company shutting down at the same time – well, very little 🙂

      As for restoring with CrashPlan. I did find that when restoring my Aperture library bundle, that it did in fact arrive as a bundle and not as a folder. Maybe CrashPlan changed something since you tested? More info on supported metadata with CrashPlan on Mac:

      I know that one shouldn’t hold back with online backup whether it’s $5 or $10 a month, both are cheap compared to losing your data, but with S3 I feel that I don’t know exactly what my total cost will be. Yes I might be able to estimate initial backup transfer and storage needed, but after that, I find it a bit confusing as to how much space I will actually need (I guess this depends on versions?) and the data transfer needed as well.

      Last, do you have a link to that 33% cheaper storage announcement? I would love to read more and also find out if it applies to Europe.

      Sorry for the long reply. I appreciate you coming here and recommending your product, though 🙂

  8. > found the S3 pricing to be quite confusing

    I agree, the S3 pricing page is not user-friendly. The main cost is storage
    ($.10/GB per month for “Reduced Redundancy Storage (RRS)” 99.99% durable). Data transfer in
    is free until June 30. Then it’s $.10/GB. Data transfer out is 1GB free, then
    $.15/GB. The per-request costs are insignificant.

    With Arq you choose a maximum storage cost and Arq will delete old backup
    versions to stay under that cost (keeping at least 1 version of course, even if
    it’s over budget).

    So if you have, say, 50GB backed up and it changes 10% every month, that’s $5.50/month.

    > I wasn’t too fancy about trusting my data with what would probably be a single developer (you?)

    I understand this as well, and it’s why I released an open-source utility for
    restoring from your Arq backups:

    Also, I’m in this for the long haul; my business is profitable; I don’t have
    another job; this is all I do!

    When it comes to trust, my goal is to be the most honest and responsive
    independent software vendor ever. You can read my blog to get a better idea of
    my communication level: or my Twitter
    stream at

    I just did a thorough analysis of CrashPlan’s restore accuracy and documented
    the results here:

    Overall, CrashPlan does pretty well at restoring. However, it doesn’t restore
    symbolic-link ownership correctly, though its authors claim it does. And it
    doesn’t restore extended attributes at all.

    I wrote a post describing all the forms of Mac metadata along with some
    examples of why extended attributes and other metadata may be important:

    I’d love your feedback on it!
    Thanks for reading!
    – Stefan

    • Hi Stefan,

      I just finished reading your two posts and I don’t think you’re wrong in your statements and/or I’m not going to try to prove you wrong, cause I have no where near that kind of knowledge as you do 🙂

      I do believe, however, that CrashPlan will be just fine for most backup purposes except for a “full system backup/restore”, because of the metadata issues. As to backing up Aperture/iPhoto library, I don’t think CrashPlan will be a problem, as well as backing up Evernote folder, Address Book, Calendars etc.

      I don’t question your level of communication – so far it’s been awesome (here, your blog and twitter). Thumbs up!

      So, today I did try to sign up with S3 and I uploaded 1.5GB Aperture TEST library while at work. I came home and tried to restore and found it to go pretty slow at less than 100kb/s, only 1/10th of what my connection is capable of downloading. So not better than CP. I can’t comment on upload speeds as both S3 and CP are able to take whatever I throw at them with our limited upload speeds here in Malta (1mbit usually).

      Unfortunately – and this is big one I’m afraid – I don’t see any way you could possible offer your customers to buy/rent an external drive with their backup data to have shipped to them. CP does this as reasonable prices if you need to restore soooo many GB’s that it would take a long time over the Internet. This is a good “backup to the backup”, I think.

      Last, I kinda miss a “pause” button in your application. I also miss a few more options as to throttling network send limit, like to throttle between certain hours of the day and/or when user is active or not active (your ‘interactively’ option might work here).

      It’s possible the answer to this question is on your blog: But is it possible to pause a restore and resume it later?

  9. Thanks for trying it! 🙂
    A pause feature is pretty high priority on the product roadmap. The “automatic transfer rate” in the preferences will slow down uploads when you’re using your network connection. You can also set a fixed transfer rate (“throttle”).

    Support for AWS Import/Export is also coming:

    When Arq supports AWS Import/Export you’ll be able to back up using Arq to a USB drive and send it to Amazon, to speed up your initial backup. Similarly, you’ll be able to send a drive to Amazon and they’ll send it back with your backup data for rapid restoring.

    • Sounds good with the pause button – and also the S3 external drive backup/restore, that’s something I believe could be important to many.

      How about pausing a restore, that’s not currently possible?

      Could you explain a bit more on the automatic transfer rate. Now a days the connection is used pretty much all the time. If not for surf then for streaming, does that mean Arq will upload slowly because the connection is used prett much all the time? Does Arq test the upload speed to have an idea what maximum is, in order to optimize the “automatic transfer rate”?

      Thanks 🙂

      Ps. Any idea when new features will be released or is that a secret? 🙂

  10. Pausing a restore isn’t currently possible. You’re the first to ask for that. I’ll put it on the list.

    The automatic transfer rate works like this: if download traffic becomes a significant part of overall (up and down) traffic, Arq throttles back its upload rate. Depending on the shape of the download traffic, Arq may ramp back up to full upload speed fairly quickly or more slowly, or not at all for a while if download rate is really heavy. Also it only works according to network throughput on your computer, so if you’re sharing a network connection with others, it’d be more polite to set a fixed transfer rate.

    Regarding timing of new features: I don’t want to make any promises I can’t keep! But I’m working hard on a bunch of Arq features.

    • I’m surprised no one else has asked for the ability to pause a restore. That’s part of the reason I stopped using Mozy, because it’s simply not always possible to download 50-100GB in one stretch without something might come up. I suppose your users either restore smaller portions of data (such as not an Aperture library 🙂 ) or they have very fast Internet connections?

      I should probably consider taking another look at Arq once your next major update has occured 🙂

  11. There’s no pause feature on the restore (yet), but the restore is robust. If your internet connection goes away or you switch to a different network or you put your computer to sleep, the restore resumes where it left off.

  12. Klaus, I would like to commend you for a well presented and a very informative post on Mozy’s services. I’ve been using a free account for almost a year but have now consumed the 2gb. I’m looking for better and cheaper alternatives since I’m not very particular when it comes to features. I’ve found this site (check the link above) and i was wondering if it will be a nice backup service to use for everyday-none-complicated needs.

    • Hi online backup,

      I removed your link for the following reasons:

      1) Apparently you missed the “USE A REAL NAME”-red text above this comment field, and your name is not “online backup”.

      2) It looks like a big coincidence that you put those words, “online backup” and link to a site that deals with exactly that (basing your SEO on linkbacks from blog comments is not going to get you very far).

      3) If the two points above are true, then it’s a very cheesy attempt on advertisement 🙂 But feel free to contact me if you’d like to purchase some ad spots or a pay me to review your backup site.

  13. Thanks for sharing this with us. It had a lot of great information regarding mozy. I think Mozy is a great online backup provider. They come with a lot of great features.

      • You should have just replaced his Mozy aff – with one of your own!

        Nice review – I have been going back and forth on online backups for about a year now – and instead of cloud – I have two 160G external drives and one 1T drive to hold both the 160’s, plus more.

        Obviously I am looking at online again – any update on an updated blog post (as mentioned)? Thanks.

        • Hi Tom. Yes, I should do that updated post soon, I know 🙂

          But the conclusion is: CrashPlan.

          I’m still very satisfied with CrashPlan and I’m now using it on multiple Mac’s and even a few PC’s as well. Most of them with online backup to CrashPlan Central but also one of them use it only to backup locally to an external drive.

  14. i had use quite a lot of remote backup softwares and i still think that mozy is good as it is a set and forget program and it just backup ur files constantly which i need..

    on the part of restoring 50-100 gb files i agree that its slightly slower than some other products but if u factor in the non negligible cpu usage when it is doing a backup i think its worth it

    p.s. if u need promotional codes, u can visit my site to check out for the latest promo
    there is a $15 off mozyhome unlimited promo going on now if u sign a 2 year plan and this gives u a total of 6 months free mozy unlimited


  15. You can backup your files online, but why not store your files online from the beginning?

    The cloud has become a lot more powerful with Cloud Storage and Cloud IT Solution 5.0. It is far more than just storage or backup. Not only you can backup files to the cloud, you can also move your entire file server, FTP server, email server, web server and backup system to the cloud. You can create sub-users and sub-groups; you can set different user roles; share different folders to different users with different permissions. For a small business, Cloud-based storage, backup, sharing and Cloud IT Solution can save you a lot of cost, while offering better, more secure and reliable services that can be accessed from anywhere. is one of the first few companies offering such cloud based services. It is now offering the version 5.0 Cloud Storage and Cloud IT Solution. For more info, please visit: DriveHQ basic service is free.

  16. Dans le même style, Dotspirit propose un stockage en ligne de 250Go.
    La grande différence est que DotSpirit est 100% en ligne, contrairement à Mozy ou il faut installer un soft.

  17. I’m curious to hear what solution you’re using now. I’m using Mozy now and I can’t wait to switch when my annual subscription is up. Actually, I’ve been using Dropbox as well. My backups keep freezing and I have to contact them at least once every two months to fix it. In the meantime, I put together a list of alternatives at

  18. Thanks for recommending CrashPlan. I have been trying a variety of different services and they have all been so difficult to use. Trying out the free trial for CrashPlan and so far so good now!

  19. I am checking out online backups and stumbled on your very informative blog. I am not much of a techie and want a program that will automatically back-up my data and then even more importantly, restore my computer or a new computer to pre-crash condition. Is your recomendation still CrashPlan?

    • Hi Tim,

      Yes, I’ve been using CrashPlan since then, and I’m a very happy customer. They also just released an Android and iPhone app (free) which you can use to restore your files to your phone if there’s a file you’ve backed up, which you happen to need on-the-go.

      CrashPlan’s “BackupSets” is a very nice feature too, so I have 3 backupsets myself, one that goes to CrashPlan Central in the cloud, and two that goes to external drives.


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