Mozy Releases Mac Version of Online Backup Service

MozyHome for Mac, a program that backs up your personal files online, went into full production today after a long period in beta testing. For several weeks now, I’ve been using the service—which, for the moment, represents one of the only ways everyday computer users can tap into the emerging “cloud computing” phenomenon—and I’ve found it to be an easy and nearly foolproof way to avoid losing data in the event of theft, hardware meltdown, or some other disaster.

MozyHome is a service of Mozy, which is based in Salt Lake City and is part of the Cloud Infrastructure and Services Division at Hopkinton, MA-based EMC (NYSE: EMC). If you want to back up 2 gigabytes of data or less, the service is free. But for $4.95 per month, MozyHome allows you to back up an unlimited amount of data, which flows up into the cloud (i.e., Mozy’s secure storage servers) over a broadband connection while you use your computer for other tasks. It’s the first unlimited online backup service that works with the Mac operating system.

Vance Checketts, chief operating officer at Mozy, stopped by Xconomy’s offices last week to fill us in about the production release, which he says will be followed sometime this summer by Mac versions of MozyPro and MozyEnterprise, the business versions of the company’s service. All three versions have been available for Windows computers for some time (MozyEnterprise was the most recent addition, in January). But getting them working on Mac OS X has presented some unique challenges, according to Checketts.

“We hear different things from our Mac users than we do from our Windows users,” he says. “Storage requirements for the Mac users are higher. People tend to have more rich media on their Macs. And the way Macs store mail, in thousands of individual files rather than the single Outlook files on Windows, is something we weren’t optimized for before. So in some ways it’s a more challenging platform for us, which is part of the reason we’ve taken more time to deliver this product.”

While the end user license agreement for MozyHome technically limits users to backing up personal, non-business-related files, many people (myself included) are already using it for both work and personal backup. Checketts says the company isn’t particularly worried about that. “We’d rather have you as a user than turn you away and say, ‘Sorry, come back when the business product is available,'” he says.

The company intends to fully embrace enterprise Mac users as soon as it can. “We’re seeing that in higher education, K-12, graphic design, industrial design, writers, anyone in a production-type environment, there is an increasing number of Macs out there,” says Checketts. “The most frequently asked question about MozyHome for Mac is, ‘Cool, but what about the business version?'” (Enterprise versions of the Mozy’s service, in case you’re wondering, allow IT administrators to configure which files on each employee’s computer get backed up, and how often.)

MozyHome isn’t the only online backup solution for home computers. Boston-based Carbonite, for example, offers unlimited online storage for $49.95 a year. Like Mozy’s software, Carbonite works in the background, uploading all of your sensitive files over a period of days the first time you use it, then doing incremental backups, uploading only the material on your hard drive that has changed since the last backup. But unlike MozyHome, Carbonite isn’t yet available for Macs. (Technology reporter and columnist Hiawatha Bray has a nice point-by-point comparison of MozyHome and Carbonite in their Windows incarnations in today’s Boston Globe.)

Checketts says Mozy currently enjoys an interesting position within EMC. It’s the only part of the company offering a true cloud computing service to either home users or businesses, and is therefore leading the company’s cloud infrastructure design efforts. “Mozy is the on-ramp,” Checketts says. “We’ll get customers into the cloud through Mozy and a few other options, and once they’re in the cloud, we’ll be able to lots of other great things with their data. Meanwhile, we’ve built out this infrastructure that the whole company can interoperate on.”

Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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