Tag Archives | Backup

Iomega’s SuperHero Has Feet of Clay

Backing up an iPhone, in case you hadn’t noticed, is a hassle. You do the job via iTunes, but it’s not a particularly intuitive experience, nor one that’s as automated as it should be. (The syncing that happens automatically when you connect an iPhone via USB falls very short of a full backup.) Unless you’re a lot more careful than I am about protecting your data, you probably don’t back up your iPhone as often as you should.

Enter Iomega’s SuperHero, which I wrote about when it was announced at CES in January. It’s an iPhone charging dock–it also works with the current version of the iPod Touch–that aims to make backup so easy that you’ll actually do it. Or contact and photo backup, at least–the SuperHero can’t protect apps, e-mail, calendars, and other items because Apple provides no way for third-party products to get at this data. Iomega provided a unit to me for review.

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Mozy's New Pricing is a Small Price Hike, or a Big Price Hike, or a Price Cut, Depending on How You Look at It

Online backup kingpin Mozy built its business in part on an appealing, cheap-sounding offer: You could back up as much data to the cloud as you wanted for $4.99 a month. On Monday, it announced plans to move to new pricing plans that involve both higher prices and fixed storage limits. But depending on how you use the service, the revised options could cost you a little more or a lot more–or might save you money.

Now there are two MozyHome plans: You can pay $5.99 a month for up to 50GB of backup space for one PC, or $9.99 a month for up to 125GB of space for three PCs. (In both cases, there are discounts if you sign up for a year or two years at a time.) You can add additional computers and/or extra 20GB blocks of storage for $2 a month apiece. For new customers, the pricing takes effect immediately; existing ones get keep the old prices until March 1st, and those who bought service in chunks of a year or more won’t see an increase until their current block of time runs out.

For most Mozy customers, the new pricing works out to a price hike of a buck a month, or twenty percent. For a minority of users who backed up immense amounts of data, it’ll be an increase so huge as to make the service unaffordable, which may be the idea. (Storing a terabyte of data–which some people did–will now cost almost $100 a month.) For anyone who wants to use Mozy with three PCs and can make do with a total of 125GB of space, however, the new pricing is a third cheaper than the old “unlimited” plan, since it would have required three separate $4.99 plans.

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CES 2011: Iomega Does iPhone Backup, Boxee, and the "Personal Cloud"

Venerable storage company Iomega has made its CES announcements. They include a unique new iPhone/iPod Touch dock, two TV boxes that are the first ones to run the Boxee software since D-Link’s original Boxee Box, and Web-enabled updates to its network storage products.

Waitaminnit–what is a storage company like Iomega doing making an iPhone dock? Well, its new SuperHero is a storage device: The $69.99 gizmo packs a 4GB SD card. And when you use it with Iomega’s iPhone app, it’ll back up your contacts and photos as you charge your phone. (If you’ve got more than 4GB of stuff, you can swap out the included SD card and insert one of your own.) If you lose your data–or lose your phone, period, and get a new one–you can use the Iomega app to restore the data.

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SugarSync Does Attachments, Expands Storage Space

In theory, e-mail attachments are the very worst way to distribute files (or just move them from one of your computers to another). They choke e-mail servers with redundant bytes, are hard to keep track of, and often fail to work at all. In reality, though, there’s something about the human brain that makes us like attachments.

So SugarSync, the nifty synching/backup/sharing service for Windows PCs, Macs, and phones, now lets you send files into SugarSync by e-mailing them to a special e-mail address. The basic idea isn’t new: Flickr, for instance, has a similar feature that lets you e-mail photos to your Flickr account. But SugarSync’s implementation is particularly useful: Once you’ve e-mailed a file into SugarSync, you can sync it to multiple computers, view it on your phone, share it with other people, or just leave it in the cloud for safekeeping. Basically, it lets you satisfy your brain’s love of attachments without suffering any of the downsides.

In addition, SugarSync is rolling out a new high-end plan that provides 500GB of space for $39.99 a month or $399.99 a year. (SugarSync pricing begins at free, for a 2GB account; there are also 30GB, 60GB, 100GB, and 250GB options.) The company’s CEO, Laura Yecies, told me that customers had asked for more storage.

The new plan offers a per-gigabyte discount off the price of the 250GB plan, which costs $24.99 a month or $249.99 a year. It’s still not dirt-cheap: Google’s slowly-evolving online storage service will give you a terabyte for $256 a year. But Google’s offering lacks most of the features that make SugarSync, well, SugarSync, including the sophisticated synching options and smartphone apps.


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Symform: A Peer-to-Peer Take on Backup

Symform LogoI’m still in the audience at the DEMOFall conference, and still taking in demonstrations of new products and services. One of the cooler ideas this morning is Symform, a small-business remote-backup service. Technically, it’s utterly unlike services such as Mozy and Carbonite: Those services store everything in massive server farms, but Symform is farm-free–it uses peer-to-peer technology to store backups on the PCs of other Symform users. If you wanna back up 10GB of data, for instance, you agree to devote 10GB of disk space to other folks’ backups–and to leave your computer on 80 percent of the time.

Does that sound like it involves big questions about availability and security? Well, a lot of obstacles leaped to mind as I heard the Symform people explain what they’d come up with. But they say that they break everything up into tiny chunks, encrypt it, and distribute it among multiple computers in a redundant fashion–in theory, at least, your data will be protected from snooping eyes (such as those of the people whose computers store it) and will be there when you need it. It’s kind of like a private, secure BitTorrent for your own data; I’m still wrestling with the whole concept of storing confidential data on the computers of random strangers, but it’s an interesting idea on a technical level. (Symform is pitching it as, among other things, a greener approach to disaster recovery–those massive server farms cost a fortune to build, and consume massive amounts of energy.)

Symform is aiming its service at small businesses, and plans to sell it through the independent IT professionals who small companies tend to call on for help; it’ll charge the IT pros about $15 per month, and let them decide how much they charge their customers. At the moment it’s for Windows users only, but the company says it hopes to release a Mac version at some point.

So would you trust your data to a peer-to-peer network?


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How to Save the PC, or at Least Your Bacon

Save the PCTechRepublic’s Jason Hiner has a post up with the provocative title “How to Save the PC,” including a reader petition aimed at Microsoft and Apple. From the name, I thought it involved a strategy for keeping traditional PCs relevant in an era of powerful phones and an almost-omnipresent Internet. But Jason’s crusade is both less lofty and very sensible: He thinks that Windows and OS X should invisibly partition hard disks into separate sections for the operating system, user settings, and user documents and other data, thereby helping to shield irreplaceable  stuff from damage and making it easier to get back up and running if you have an OS catastrophe.

Makes sense to me. I’ve always been surprised that operating-system companies in general haven’t put way more emphasis on features designed to protect data–Time Machine, the flagship feature of Apple’s OS X 10.5 Leopard being a notable exception. Microsoft has an amazingly long history of providing Windows backup apps that are unsatisfactory in one way or another: The one in Windows 7 is much better than Windows Vista’s, but only the version in higher-end editions of Win 7 can back up to a network drive. Which seems a little like a car company cheaping out on the airbags in its least pricey cars.

It’s not just OS companies, though. I use Photoshop more than any traditional app that isn’t a browser. The whole point of the program is to create deeply sophisticated documents, ones that can be mighty hard to recreate from scratch. And Photoshop is bursting at the seams with features–but there’s no way to auto-save your work, a simple option that would make it really, really hard to lose your work when Photoshop crashes. (Which it does, at least on my Mac.)

In the world of Web-based apps such as Google Docs and Zoho and Microsoft’s upcoming Office Web Apps, seamless, automatic backup of everything is the default way of doing things. Can anyone explain to me why it’s not that way everywhere there’s software–with versioning and unlimited undo so you can restore your documents to exactly the state you desire?


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Secrets of Managing your Flip Video Collection

[David Spark (@dspark) is a veteran tech journalist and the founder of Spark Media Solutions, a storytelling production company that specializes in live event production. He also blogs and does a daily radio report for Green 960 and 910 KNEW in San Francisco at Spark Minute.]

Flip MinoIf you use a Flip video camera like I do, (here’s a photo of my Mino HD with a design of my company logo on it) you probably also have quite a collection of videos that are being managed with their video management software. If you have the old Flip Video software, you should upgrade to the new FlipShare software for free. It does much better management of your videos and it’s considerably faster.

But when I installed the FlipShare program it moved all my videos! The “My Flip Video Library” is still there and all the folders I created in the Flip Video program are there as well, but all the videos are gone. All that’s left in each folder is a video that says, “The videos which were previously located in this folder have been imported into the NEW FlipShare software. To view or edit your videos, open the new software.”

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