10 reasons why you should use Mozy for your computer backups

Mozy Backups
There are a lot of backup services out there on the internet so I thought I’d do a quick writeup of my favorite. Here are 10 reasons why you should use Mozy Unlimited Backup for your computer backups.

  1. Ease of use – Their software is easy to setup. After the inital setup, there is zero effort required by you for your backups to function. If you do need to restore a single file, it’s easy: just browse to it in your backup list and restore it. If you need to restore all of your files, you can grab a zip file of all your files from their website.
  2. Cost – If you have less than 2GB of files to backup, the service is free. From 2GB and up, the service is $4.95/month. That’s right, for $4.95/month, you can backup unlimited files (on a single computer.)
  3. Cross platform – Works on both Windows and Mac (and I heard they’ll have a Linux version someday, but I’m not getting my hopes up.)
  4. Security – All communication is done over SSL (just like your banking websites.) In addition to that, your files are encrypted prior to being sent over the internet (and are stored encrypted.) If you’re extra paranoid like me, you can even use your own key to encrypt the files. But beware if you use your own key it will be required to restore files – even Mozy won’t be able to help you restore files without your key.
  5. Past file versions – Let’s say you butchered some changes to a file and wanted to get back the version you had 3 days ago. With Mozy you can do that!
  6. Doesn’t slow down your computer – The resources used by Mozy are small and you can custom configure them even further so that it will run when your computer is idle. I prefer to schedule backups to run in the middle of the night so they can use all of my internet bandwidth to get the backups done quickly (I leave my computers on all the time.)
  7. Block-level incremental backups – Don’t doze off at the techno-jargon. This is particularly useful if you are backing up your huge Outlook .pst file (or any larges file that you may have.) Any time you receive an email, that huge file is modified. Other online backup services will require that the entire file be uploaded during a backup. With Mozy only the changes to the file are uploaded, thus decreasing backup time and bandwidth usage.
  8. Durable company – Mozy is owned by a very large data storage company (EMC is worth approx.$20B.) They’re not going away any time soon.
  9. Your hard drive is going to die – When it comes to hard drives, failure isn’t a matter of if, but when. That external hard drive you’re using for backups right now is going to fail. If your house burns down, it will die a horrible death at the same time as the hard drive in your computer. You need your data backed up offsite.
  10. My mother uses it – She’s been using it for over a year now, and if Mozy is good enough for her, isn’t it good enough for you?

Failure to simplify

A while back, we purchased an all-in-one remote to simplify the use of our TV/VCR/DVD/PVR/Sound system. I thought it was great. Yesterday, I was greeted by this paper on our stove with instructions for our babysitter.

So it turns out instead of reducing the complexity of our system, I now have a vessel of concentrated complexity in the form of a remote. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to simplify such a system for the non-geek?

Remove the lint from your hard drive

Salt RockWell, not really. But let me explain. I hoard data…a lot of data. I have a hard time deleting anything if there’s the slightest chance that I might want it later (downloads, docs, scripts, etc…)
I’ve done a pretty good job keeping a copy of things on my home server. In fact, I usually have a few copies of things on that server and quite often, duplicate files. Anyway, a while ago, I came across a tool called fslint.
fslint is a Linux utility that will search through your drive and help you clean up files. In my case, I wanted to remove all duplicate files in one of my directories on this server. It has a ton of options, the ones I use most are: 1) delete duplicate files and 2) hard-link duplicate files. I’m not going to go into details on the differences between the two, but they both free up space used by duplicate files.
The last time I ran it on one of the directories I wanted to clean out, the disk use of that directory decreased from 2.3GB to 578MB. That’s less than 1/4th the amount of space I was using before!
If you have a Linux system that’s starting to run out of space, lint may be a tool that can help you!

It’s official, Comcast is messing with your internet traffic

This is interesting timing for this article to come out about Comcast blocking traffic.

Comcast is messing with TCP handshakes

Just yesterday, one of my clients contacting me saying that everyone in their office couldn’t get email. I manage the server which hosts their email. I quickly checked my email to see if it worked for me (it did.)
Eventually in the troubleshooting process, I had them hit the website which resides on the same server. No dice. I have quick access to 2 other systems which use Comcast, so I logged in and tried connecting. One worked, one didn’t. I also got reports of some sites not working from other people on Comcast connections yesterday.

In analyzing the problem, I found that connections weren’t being established from these “problem” locations. The filtering was happening with the handshake. A 3 step handshake goes like this:

  1. Computer1: “Hello, Computer2 are you there?”
  2. Computer2: “I’m here. Computer1 are you there?”
  3. Computer1: “I’m here.”

Then things start to run over the connection. Here is a more technical description of TCP connections. Yesterday I watched the network traffic coming and going from my server and found that Comcast was filtering step 2 so that the first reply never got back. What a bunch of jerks.

I’m guessing that the cause of this is that their peer-to-peer filtering monster that went out of control and started blocking legitimate traffic (I don’t run any P2P software on any of my networks.)

I signed up for an Internet connection, not a Comcast-filtered Internet connection. I wish I had other options where I live. I’m rooting for Utopia and will research my ISP options thoroughly if we ever move to a different house.

Organizing files by date with perl

Organize over 4200 files in 2.5 seconds!
I have taken a ton of photos since I got my new camera last December (4265 files, to be exact) and decided that I need to sort through and organize. I have them stored on my server at home and accessible from my iBook (which has Adobe CS2 on it.) When viewing that directory in Adobe Bridge, the laptop chugs and chugs and never seems to be able to catch up with generating all 4265 previews/thumbnails. So I decided to reorganize the photos into smaller, more manageable directories.
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