OT – Mozy, Backblaze and my race to the bottom …

Welcome back. I know it’s been a while, so I thought I’d try something different and do more of a thinky thing about my personal use of cloud backup. Strap yourselves in, because I don’t usually give my opinion on things, so this might just get really wild. Or not.

[Disclaimer: Backblaze haven’t paid for nor asked for my opinion. And Mozy have done nothing particularly heinous either. This is just my experience and opinion. What works for me mightn’t work for you.]

I’m about 2GB away from backing up the last 30GB of my holiday photos from Europe. As such, it seems like a perfect time to announce to my three loyal readers that I’ve switched my home cloud backup product from MozyHome to Backblaze. I’ve been running MozyHome on my Mac since 2009, and was generally happy with the performance and the product. It did some weird things at times, but Mozy support were generally pretty helpful, particularly when I took to my blog to rant about them. This is a good example of their support staff going beyond the call of duty. I even felt okay about their price structure change, although I don’t think it was very well handled with existing customers. In the meantime, I’d been looking at various home-brew NAS solutions and came across the Backblaze storage pod stuff (version 2 and 3 designs are here too). I’m no fan of them hippy startups, but there was something about Backblaze that got me interested. Not that my perpetually tolerant family would really put up with me building a storage pod for home use, but I liked that I could access the plans if I wanted to. So I kept researching, and tried out the client. And looked at the price.

And there you have it, my personal race to the bottom. I am the reason we have so much crap stuff in the world. I am the consumer who wants fast and quality for cheap. And that’s what I get with Backblaze. And it’s what I had for a while with MozyHome. And I imagine (without any evidence to back it up) that I would have had it with MozyHome to this day if Decho weren’t swallowed up by EMC. But here’s the hilarious thing: I’m on an ADSL1 internet connection. And I get about 300Kbps upload. If I’m lucky. And if nothing else is happening between my house and the exchange. Let me just clarify that it takes quite some time to get 220GB “to the cloud” when you have that kind of connection. Hell, I had a 13Mbps/13Mbps synchronous connection at my hotel in Korea on my way back from Europe. So here’s where I get thinky. Firstly, major tech companies doing “cloud” backup aren’t necessarily thinking about suburbanites in Australia when they’re talking about what their products can do. And that’s okay, because they’re going to make a lot more money off the enterprise than they will off me. But am I in the minority? Is everyone else sitting on fat connections to the internet? Or are they just not pushing as much data up there? I mean, I haven’t even considered sending my home videos to the cloud yet. That’s another few hundred GB. My friend has access to the NBN – maybe I could take my computer to her house and just let it seed the data for a week (month?) or so? Maybe I wouldn’t have this problem if I didn’t have a family and an insatiable desire to keep every photo I ever took of my kids?

In any case, here’s my enhancement request for Backblaze. Let me send you a hard drive of my stuff to manually seed in your data centre. I’ll pay the shipping to the US. I’ll even fill out the stupid forms and show my ID. You can keep the drive. In the same way you offer a recovery service where I can order a hard drive of my data from you, let me do the reverse. Please. Pretty please. Because some of us don’t have fat pipes but we still have data we want to protect.

Okay, maybe it wasn’t as thinky as we’d all hoped. I should probably also point out that my race to the bottom is on price, not quality.

Mozy avoids further tirades – uses personal touch …

So my hat goes off to the Mozy support and marketing people – they are extremely good at turning a PR debacle into a positive customer experience. After my little rant about credit card issues and surly response to the patient frontline support person (Steve), I was contacted by Mozy’s UK Support people via Twitter asking for my number so we could talk it over. In the meantime, the L1 support technician had gotten back to me via a case update to say that it was a Mozy issue and they were looking into it further.

Then at 11pm last night a nice support manager from Mozy UK (Ireland) named Damien rang me to discuss the issue and apologise for any inconvenience caused. He’d manually sorted out my account and I was all good to go. The short of it was that one server wasn’t talking to another and that’s why the system was doing rude things with my account.

I think the point here is that I wasn’t frustrated with the Mozy product’s performance this time round, but with the system-generated e-mails that seemed to ignore my responses. I give extra credit to Mozy for the quick response, multiple methods of communication, and the icing on the cake was a phone call and follow up e-mail. It’s not often that we get to air our frustrations and have someone respond personally to say that they’re on it and they’re sorting it out.

MozyHome cloudfail …

So Mozy opened a support case to let me know that my account has been disabled. Bad move.

So I figured I’d tell them what I thought.

I didn’t think I was being too mean. I’ve updated my CC details again, but I expect that this adventure is only just beginning.

Really Mozy? But I gave you my details 3 times already …

Mozy has decided to threaten my account with suspension, because they keep losing my credit card details, and I keep putting them in.

I think someone’s going to get a rude e-mail soon …

Mozy – that’s funny …

A few days ago I got an e-mail from Mozy. For those of you keeping score at home I had some serious tantrums late last year regarding some issues I had with the Mozy Home client for my Mac. Things have been generally stable since then. So imagine my excitement when this e-mail came through.

Seriously? “Rest assured that your data is safe; the hiccup only affected payment details”. Wow. Stuff happens and all, but, wow …

Mozy don’t tempt me!

Although I’ve often found that putting the boot into hapless tech support staff rarely gets to the root of the problem …

mozy_survey

Mozy Survey

Mozy almost working again …

My whining about MozyHome was picked up over at IT News and various related news outlets, so maybe someone will pay attention. Although judging by the last e-mail I received from Mozy support, I don’t think this is really the case.

from<support@mozy.com>
to dan@penguinpunk.net

date Mon, Nov 23, 2009 at 9:31 PM
subject [#JGN-287396]: Mozy backups

“Hi there,

We still have not heard back from you. We will be archiving your ticket at this time. If you still need assistance, you can reply to this e-mail, and we will be happy to continue the trouble shooting process.

Thanks
xxxxx
Mozy Support”

So now their e-mail isn’t working either? Pfft, according to the client there’s only another 2GB or so to upload and things will be back to normal. And after a short period of 10 days or so, I’ll get some clean backups again. If I sound jaded, it’s only because I am …

Mozy, this is kind of funny now …

I think I was right about just leaving Mozy alone for a while, because the following ridiculous exchanges have started happening.

I got this on 20/11/2009 @ 11:26 AM Australian time:

Hi Dan,

We have not yet heard back from you, and are curious to know to the current status of your issue.

If you are unable to reply, we will archive your ticket after 2 days. If you wish to resume the ticket, please simply reply back to this e-mail and we will be happy to assist you.

Thanks

xxxxxx

Mozy Support”

My response 15 minutes later:

“xxxxxx,

I wrote back a little while ago and was advised that the data is “re-associating” on the server-side. Unfortunately I can’t tell you how well this is going because I’m getting Client Error 15 – which according to your site doesn’t really exist. http://mozy.com/error/ClientError15?ver=1.5.2.1&key=(null)

So if you want my honest opinion, I don’t think it’s going well.

Thanks

Dan”

Then I get this gem over night (4:53 AM my time):

“Hi xxxxx,

Thanks for your email. I apologize for the inconvenience caused to you.

I would request you to select all your data and run a backup. Before uploading any file into Mozy, it will check to see if the files are already existing or if it is a new file.

In case you need clarification or further assistance, please email me and I will be glad to help.

Thanks for using Mozy Support!

xxxxxx

Mozy Support”

Well, that’s great. Here’s how it’s going so far.

Backup Status

I’m guessing this wasn’t the result we were after.

Whoops indeed Mozy …

Something goes wrong every now and then. So I think maybe it’s just best if I forget about Mozy for a week or two. Maybe then it will all be magically great again. This is today’s excitement …

Whoops

Mozy’s Response

So a nice person at Mozy sent me the following e-mail, and I think commented in one of my earlier posts as well. To wit:

“Dan,
I read your recent blog posts about the Mozy issue you’ve hit and wanted to apologize to you. Our support team did not give you a good answer about what was happening. I understand why you must be exasperated.
 
We recently starting experiencing an usually high amount of volume of data center traffic that prevented the Mozy client from adequately identifying files that were previously backed up. As a result, Mozy is sending third or fourth copies of the same files to our data centers.
 
Our development team is working right now to address the issue and expects to have this fixed soon. But I want you to know that we have not lost any of your information. In fact, to restore your files, just click the date options in the restore window and go back a day or week. You’ll see the files you previously backed up are there.
 
Does that help? 

Devin Knighton
Public Relations
Mozy”

I haven’t had time to reply to thank Mozy for getting back to me. While I understand that bugs happen – heck, most of my blog discusses workarounds to software bugs – I guess I’m feeling somewhat disturbed by the fact that this has happened. Sure, I can, as Mozy has pointed out, recover data from a day before things “went wrong” (my words, not theirs’), but that doesn’t really help me recover my inbox from a more recent date. While my MozyHome client is wasting time trying to sift through the data that is already there, I’m not entirely sure that new stuff is being uploaded first. Fortunately, I use Time Machine for local backups and MozyHome is my Plan B or C for data recovery. So I’m not too worried. But I take my data’s safety seriously, and I can’t help but feel that a service I’ve paid a sum of money for has let me down, in the same sense that when my satellite provider gives me crap reception or pushes out a firmware update to the box with no warning and I miss a show. It’s not the end of the world, and recovery is usually simple given enough patience, but somehow the fragility of the systems we’ve come to rely on daily becomes all too apparent.

For an additional giggle, Beth at Tech Target is on the case. So if nothing else someone besides my 14 faithful subscribers might read about this as well.