Thursday, September 29, 2011

MozyPro Isn't So CozyTho (Feature Review)

I help small businesses with their IT needs and this last June I found myself replacing a very costly backup solution for a small law firm. At work I use Microsoft Data Protection Manager and sometimes Symantec Backup Exec, but both of those are overkill and not natively offsite, which was a requirement.  They have a Microsoft Small Business Server 2008 Premium server, and we needed a backup solution to handle the following things:
  1. SQL Server Database
  2. Exchange Server Database
  3. Files
  4. Offsite Backup

After some research and testing I ended up selecting MozyPro to replace the old backup solution because it's very cost effective at $7 per server and 50 cents per gigabyte per month, and it filled all of our requirements.  With approximately 85GB of data the total cost comes out to under $50/mo which is very manageable for the security of an offsite backup.  We started out backing up the majority of our data with it, using VSS for SQL and Exchange and file backups for the rest.

This is where we hit our first bump in the road.  If you select the VSS backup for exchange (which is the way to back it up), and you accidentally select the EDB itself for backup, then the backup will inexplicably fail over and over.  After a few hundred GB of failed attempts at uploading the database I called Mozy and they pointed this out.  Problem solved.  One would think if this were a problem they knew about they would fix  the software to prevent this from happening.  Apparently that would be too easy.

Fast forward to today where I'm finally getting around to testing the ability to restore all of that data to a different server in the event of disaster recovery.  Mozy provides 3 seperate methods to restore your data, direct download, archive, and by media restore.  The final recovery method is in the Mozy client on the protected server, but that's not the focus of this review.

"Direct Download" as they call it allows you to select your files, click direct download, and you install the mozy restore manager which will do the downloading starting within a couple minutes of clicking restore.  We restored 85GB in about 48 hours, although the restore manager client has a bug in it and will stop transferring files saying: "Stopped: need private key"
Mozy support provided me with a beta version of  the restore manager that picked up where the previous version had left off.  The restore speed is quite abysmal, the test was performed in a datacenter with a 100megabit connection.  Watching the progress bar it seemed to move around 200-300K/s much of the time.

Here is the graph of the connection, the restore started sunday night and finished tuesday night:

Archive is where it compresses all of your files and provides links to download them.  When restoring 85gb it took 22.5 hours for it to archive everything, and provided 89 seperate links to download the files.  There is no hierarchy so you need to know where each file goes.  All 128,000 of them.  Good luck!  Archive is better suited for downloading a single file, or a directory.  Archiving 1GB of data in 3 files takes around 30 minutes, although according to the timestamps it took 71 minutes, it only took about 30.

Media Restore is the final option.  In my case restoring 85GB of data it would cost $112.45, and apparently take 2-5 days for processing and then they overnight it to you on DVD's.  If you're in a hurry this isn't a very good option unless you have dialup.  Otherwise you should hopefully be able to download 85GB quicker than that.

The Good
The restore process using the restore manager put most of the files back where they were on the original file system.  The exchange backup worked as I expected it would.

The Bad (Why I Wouldn't Recommend Mozy)
When I went to test the restore of our data I started out restoring 85GB using the Direct Download / Restore Manager. I went to bed and the next morning the download had stopped saying I needed to enter my private key (what private key?).  I did a search and found others had this problem as well,, so I contacted support and they gave me a beta version of the client which solved the problem.  

Fast forward 36 hours and the restore is complete.  I went to restore the exchange database and it's in a dirty shutdown state which is fairly typical for backup software.  After I used eseutil to repair the database everything there worked fine, I was able to mount the database in a Recovery Storage group and use the powershell to restore mailboxes to a test account.  

Next up I needed to restore the SQL database.  Unfortunately the transaction log was in the restore folder, but the main database file, the MDF, isn't there.  I  found it in the error list in Mozy so I went and selected just the SQL database files using the web interface and redownloaded them.  After several attempts the restore manager gave up saying 3 of 3 files complete, but 2 failed:

Okay, no problem.  I went back and chose the archive option.  Thirty minutes later the web interface showed 1 of 3 files... the other 2 missing, and it says it had recovered 1 of 1 files... I started another chat session (I'm good at this by now), and the guy said odd, did something and half an hour later the archive download works.  I downloaded the files (at 300 to 600K/s), extracted them, went in to SQL Server Management Studio and attempted to attach the database.
For some reason the MDF and LDF files do not match, so the database can't be attached. 

Having failed so far I decided to do one last thing.  Attempt to restore the database on the production server using the VSS restore feature of the full Mozy client from the source server. Yep.  You guessed it.  That failed too.  Why wouldn't it?
I contacted Mozy again and the chat agent escalated this to Tier2 and informed me I should get a response in 24 to 48 hours.  When pressed about how long a response typically takes the answer was "it depends how busy they are", no kidding, thanks genius, that's very insightful.  It's a good thing I'm simply attempting to test the restore process because at this point I'm not certain that our SQL data is protected by Mozy.  If this were a real outage where we needed to restore from backups I would now be 72 hours in to the process, have encountered many errors in the Mozy system, and be expecting a 24 to 48 hour expected response time from a Mozy Tier2 technician.

The next day I bugged Mozy and said I was going to cancel service if I didn't get a response ASAP, 30 minutes later I had a new archive download to try, which actually worked!

As it turns out, the Mozy software does not always take a snapshot of the LDF (Transaction Log) and the MDF (Core Database) at the same time, and if the files aren't a matching set they are useless.

Here is a screenshot they provided showing the timestamps for each file.  I've highlighted each of the rows that resulted in a successful backup by taking a snapshot of both files at the same time.  The rest of the backups are useless.  Good job MozyPro!

Awesome.  I guess I won't be planning to use the Mozy backup software for SQL server anymore as it only works half of the time.  From now on I plan to use the built in SQL Backup, which will create a .bak file on the server, and then let Mozy upload the 1GB file every night.  It's not very efficient because it can't be a differential backup, but it's better safe than lose your data.

Mozy works well for file backups, and exchange backups, but I definitely wouldn't recommend them if you need to do any SQL backups.  As always, you should test your backup system, but given the questionable reliability of the Mozy backups I would recommend testing it several times over the course of a couple days or weeks.  Additionally, Mozy support is very slow to respond taking several hours to respond to any emails even after the Tier 2 tech has finally contacted you.

Test your backups.  DO NOT use Mozy if quick and easy access to your data is important to you.

Update 2/21/2013

I decided it was time to do another test restore to make sure everything was still going okay.  Not so surprisingly the website restore functionality still doesn't work.  It constantly says it does not detect the restore manager software even though it is installed.  Eventually I simply launched the restore manager by hand and logged in, and it started to restore the data.  *phew*.  

Performance seems to be different, it now manages 0-25megabit (on a 35megabit connection), and uses 3 simultaneous streams.  In 3 hours it downloaded 8,714 files for a total of 4.5GB, approximately 4megabit.  The tool gets stuck downloading files sometimes, so the download rate is jumpy.  The tool says it restored 170gb of 118gb (175,000 files), and then crashed.  Checking the size of the restored files reads 78GB, and the Exchange databases were not restored.  Ugh.  What the heck.

I figured after a year and a half my review would be outdated, but it appears as though Mozy still hasn't worked out all of the kinks.  Maybe in mid 2015 they will have gotten all of their stuff together. :)


  1. Wow. This is great info. What solution would you recommend for SMBs? We've been using Cloudberry Labs solution to back up to Amazon S3 but it is very slow so we're looking for another solution.

  2. Hi Ted,
    Honestly I don't have a good solution. We're trying to work through the problems with Mozy but it's been 2.5 weeks and the support staff is terrible. The guy that has my case doesn't work Monday/Tuesday, and he takes about a day to respond to a simple email. Many of the issues I have with them could simply be fixed with decent software on their part. If I were them I'd recommend they actually use their software to figure out what is wrong with it. Or hire me ;)

    I'm about to start searching for another provider, Mozy has used up all of my patience.

  3. I would recommend looking into i365/EVault as they have been in the industry longer and use SQL plug-ins vs. VSS to do the SQL backups. Good write up.

  4. Are you still using MozyPro?
    If so has the product and customer service improved at all over the last year?

    1. We are, i just posted an update to this. I assumed it probably had, but check the update i posted for the details... the short version is no, i still wouldn't recommend it.

  5. My hard drive on my mac bookPro crashed. I bought a new mac and tried for 4 days working with Mozy techs and every way I tried to download the 6.5 GB of data failed. I finally gave up and sent my hard drive to a lab that was able to extract the files. It was very expensive. I asked Mozy Pro for a refund and they ignored me.