Mozy or iDisk or DropBox .... ?

Hello everybody –

more and more I feel the need for a remote backup service, just in case my house burns down.

I signed up for the 60-day-test period of Apple’s iDisk and I have been a user for some time of DropBox’s free 2 GB. But 2 GB is by far not enough for me. I would need about the 20 GB that iDisk offers.

Before I commit myself and spend roundabout 70/80 Euros a year I would love to hear from other Scrivenites (???) what their experience with remote backup services are…

Thanking all of you in advance,


For the cost of two years or more of iDisk, you can get a little portable drive with many times the storage space and store it in a safety deposit box, with a trusted friend, or in a fire-proof media safe (though that would be more expensive). You don’t ever have to worry about Apple cancelling the service; security concerns with transmission and storage of your data; and since you can plug it right into your computer you get the speeds associated with hard drives, too.

I am also somewhat interested in this debate, there has been many post on the ways of backing up Scrivener projects, but not on which service to use (at least I have none which I have seen). I wanted to have access to all my files wherever I was and also sync between computers. I don’t believe Mozy or Carbonite do the sync or sharing as something like Dropbox, iDisk, or Live Mesh. Thus they really can’t be in the same category.

If you are just looking for backup then Mozy or Carbonite is the best deal, I think about $5/month for unlimited. If you want sync and sharing you need iDisk or Dropbox, I looked at Live Mesh but couldn’t get it to work properly after 20mins and said screw it. I also use the 2GB of Dropbox and tried the 60 day iDisk trial. What I found was the price for MobileMe was riduculess for what you get, a maximum of 19.70Gb for files and a pretty interface for calendar and other apple products. Sort of like great concept but lacks ability and features. Thus, just for file backup, sharing, and sync I think the 50Gb of Dropbox is a much better deal. If you want the iCal, addressbook, and other MobileMe sync I found an great app which does it for free called Fruux at

I also have read about the Amazon backup, but it is more of a fail safe not a common access for daily use.

One of the things to keep in mind is what you want to do.

If you occasionally want to make a backup (once per month or so), you’re probably better of with getting a separate drive and leaving that at a friends house (clearly labeled so their teenage daughter doesn’t accidentally use it to put her music on).

If you want to make backups more often (and I’m a little freaky, I get nervous when I can’t back up at least twice per day), you’re probably better off with some sort of ‘web disk’ (any service that you can access from your computer to backup to). I have only tried Dropbox myself, their free service, and it seems to work fine. I backup my writing, scripts and some other documents to it.
My other stuff gets backupped to my mac mini (from my macbook), which also creates frequent timemachine backups (as does the macbook) to an external drive. This won’t help much when my flat burns up, it will help a lot when either my laptop breaks or gets stolen or something, or one of my disks dies. I backup important documents with rsync to a few webdav-accounts so I won’t lose those yet. Still looking for the best solution for those 25gb of photos I have…

You’d also need to keep in mind that some of these backup-services are not in the same country and may have to follow different laws. This may or may not be an issue, you decide :wink:

Personally, I wouldn’t go for Mobile Me due to the limited space… You’ll always need more eventually…

I use BackJack and have been happy with it. It’s been a while since I did the comparison, but at that time it was less expensive and more secure than iDisk.


Thank you everybody for your kind replies.

I do have an external hard disk already (actually two) and I also do practice the “keeping it at a friend’s house” scheme.

But paranoid as I am I’m looking for something that backs up continuously and automatically to a remote server – just in case my two sons set the house on fire (I almost did with my parents’ house when I was their age).

I actually even like the idea of the server being very very far away, maybe somewhere in America. I am sometimes plaqued by the thought that Europe collapses (I know…I know) and what would happen to my writings then.

The reason why I tend towards iDisk is that Apple is such a big company and they surely (I hope) won’t go bankrupt soon. Whereas with DropBox or the others I am just not sure how long they will be around.


I don’t know about potential company collapse, but I have both DropBox and MobileMe/iDisk. In my experience, DropBox is to sports car as iDisk is to donkey-cart! For anything I want reasonable access to on both my computers, I use DropBox. iDisk is more of an archive for things I’m not too convinced I should delete completely, but which I don’t want hanging around. Keeping iDisk mirrored swallows up a vast amount of space on my hard disk unnecessarily; DropBox is very space efficient. To be honest, if it weren’t for the fact that hundreds of people rely on my .mac email address, I think I’d drop it. Scrivener stuff goes on DropBox in zipped format.

I also keep regular bootable back-ups of both my machines on external hard disks, but my paranoia extends no farther than that.


I don’t think you’ve been paying too much attention to US based companies lately. Most of them are using off shore data farms/support and we are probably closer to tech collapse than most of us here care to admit. There are a few small companies that I consider stable, but in my opinion none of the “big players” meet your safety criteria.

Here is what I might recommend to you.

  1. Buy an actual tape backup and mac backup software.
  2. Using the software schedule journal snaps and backups for every hour.
  3. Contract with a local data vault to courier and store your tape three times a week.
  4. Plan a 1 month archive of full backups.

This is basically a shortened data plan that us used by many facilities like banks, medical facilities and larger companies.

For the record you might want to rethink your paranoia. As a person with a legal responsibility for data backups you might be a little … over anxious. Then again, you may be the only sane one around.

Tapes are good. They last forever, they are awfully cheap for the amount of storage you get, are fairly durable (more so than drives) and modern tape drives are pretty fast. The deck will cost you a little if you choose to buy new, and might very well need to investigate making your computer SCSI capable (but again, eBay is stuffed with interface cards). Another alternative, if you are set on the 'net aspect is to buy a web site. There are a lot of hosts out there providing much better rates than Apple, and if you ever want a blog or something, you’ll have your own place to put it. Having your own email address can be nice, too.

I’ve used Mozy for about 12 months and find it excellent. However, I only use it to back up my documents (so only about 200Mb).

A word of caution about backing up to a “website” though. As someone who recently lost everything (lots of everything) due to a server crash with my host, unless you have a really, really expensive and ironclad hosting package, don’t depend on their backups. I lost 10 sites and the hosting company didn’t have any backups, nor were they the slightest bit concerned. Luckily, I had most of them backed up to my local computer, but still, it was a trauma.
Also, check your web hosting agreement. Most don’t allow file storage (other than the website files - chances are they won’t notice anything non-web related, but it’s not something to gamble with).

Thanks everybody for your helpful replies!!!

I have been using Mozy now for almost two years, and I am very satisfied.

But I only use Mozy for my really important documents (about 8,6 GB), not for all my photographs, because uploading all my photographs would cost too much time.

I also have a complete backup of everything on an external disk (hourly updated with Time Machine), and another complete backup on my laptop.

As for security, I’d say don’t store anything on any cloud service that you can’t afford to lose either by going out of business or hackers.

While either is probably unlikely, it’s still something to consider. That said, I could also argue that email such as gmail is cloud based and there might be security concerns there, too.

Do you have two Macs by chance? You could use something like ChronoSync between the machines in case one has a failure or say, your laptop is stolen. As for fire, I like Amber’s idea of a fire-proof safe. Maybe there, a good Super-Duper backup once a week is in order.

I’m dealing with this dilema myself. While I backup with Time Machine regularly, I don’t have a bootable copy or a disaster recover plan should something happen to the house or if a thief were to run off with my backup drive, too. There’s also the synch issue to throw into the mix. Lots to consider…

If you just care for your writings why not print them?
I think it was Final Draft which can print only the pages which have changed since the previous printout, maybe one could ask Keith to do something similar in Scrivener.
I know, I know, its not fancy, no high-tech involved, no excuse to buy new hardware’n’stuff.

But: more reliable than anything else, which includes AmberV’s beloved tapes.

Thanks everybody for your replies.

I opted for iDisk simply because I trust Apple more than other companies. I use DropBox (the free 2 GB) for the documents I am working on; once they are done I upload them to iDisk. Apart from iDisk and DropBox I also use TimeMachine plus the occasional DVD back-up. I do print out my manuscripts but only when they are done and are ready to go to the publisher.

Well – I am paranoid, I know. But writing is my life, and not just financially.

Thanks again everybody,


I just started a backup to Mozy, selecting just my Scrivener files (new user…just a few files) and it appears to be going on and on backing up everything on the thing…I unselected all the sets. What’s the deal?

Did you also unselect all the “files” and “folders” you don’t need? It’s bizarre in a way that it simultaneously looks at your backup sets in two ways.

I’m on month 6 of my first Mozy backup routine, only another half a year to go. Yes!

I can’t resist stepping into this discussion.

I use my computers for a lot more than my writing. Their primary use is in my real job, which entails all sorts of different things, including photography, database, bulk mailing, research and heavy document and email use. I work from home a lot, which means I have to communicate quickly and efficiently with staff, even when I’m on the road.

So … I use Mozy, Dropbox, and MobileMe, all three. Mobile Me keeps my two computers and my iPhone in synch so far as email, calendar and address book go. I can also use it for syncing documents and photos, but very seldom do. I have a couple of large databases archived on idisk “just in case” but not much else.

I use Dropbox to keep my iMac and Macbook in sync. This is important because I take the Macbook out and about almost every day. I carry it around like a purse. When I get odd moments, including when I’m tied down listening to endless debates and discussions, I pop it open and work on various things. Then, when I get home, I switch to the desktop. Dropbox makes this an easy process.

I use Mozy to backup my photos, music and audio files, and movies and visual presentations. Much – but not all – of this is work-related. It comes to around 180 gigs, which took a while to upload the first time, but is now not so bad. Needless to say, I don’t put all these files, or the software to deal with them, on my Macbook. It’s hard drive is nowhere near big enough for everything I have on the iMac.

I have the iMac set up with Time Machine and a desktop drive. Once in a while, I use Time Machine to back up the Macbook to a portable hard drive, but only every day or two; sometimes not even that often. Dropbox actually does a good job of backing up the things that matter on the Macbook, and once they’re on the iMac, they also get backed up with Time Machine.

I know all this sounds like a lot, but I nearly lost my job once over a crashed hard drive with no backups. I also have a high-stress job and I don’t need extra work, carting around drives between the MB and the iMac. This way, whichever one I have, the files I need are there.

It may sound expensive, but considering that my livelihood is riding on these machines, it’s a bargain.

Forgot to say: I have the 50g version of Mozy, and use most of it.

I use Dropbox for online backup + syncing my Mac Mini and my HP netbook.
I tried SugarSync for a while, but switched to Dropbox, having been mightily impressed with the ease of use and the great sync speed of Dropbox. I now pay for Dropbox Pro 50, plus their extra “Pack-rat” unlimited undo history.

Of course I also back up to an external HDD with Time Machine and SuperDuper (each on his own partition).