Buzz’s Blog: On Web 3.0 and the Semantic Web

Apr 2 2010   10:41PM GMT

More on ‘the Moron App’ called Mozy: What can go wrong with a web app

Roger King Roger King Profile: Roger King

In my last blog posting I detailed my frustrations with Mozy, the offsite backup utility. Rather than being a great example of what modern web apps can do, it appears to have server-based bugs, widely varying temporal behavior, and unstable client-server communication properties.

In short, it does not work – and I would strongly advise against buying it.

I reported in my last blog posting that my (paid) account on two Windows 7 machines was now working, after I had spent many hours playing with it. But I have to take that back now. It no longer works.

I have another (paid) account for two Snow Leopard machines, and it is a horrific failure on those.

Here are some thoughts on it, from the perspective of what can go wrong with a web app.

Server-based bugs.

This can be very frustrating – bugs that appear to be on the server side of the application, making it impossible for the user to fix things from their end. I have tried hard to experiment with every possible setting or piece of data that I can control from my end. This has been an exhaustive and exhausting process. I have done this sort of tinkering with many applications.

But unlike with the vast majority of web apps I have run, there seems to be nothing I can do to make Mozy work.

Widely-varying temporal behavior.

When you start Mozy up, it begins a long process of scanning the client machine’s drive and organizing the files it wants to upload. I assume it is also processing the files of mine that it has upstream. It gives some feedback as it moves from stage, but for me, at least, it simply spins forever. It seems to be working, but many days can go by, and it’s up to you to decide when to give up and stop it. And only very rarely does it actually upload any files.

Not knowing how much time to give it, and all the while letting it eat up cycles and memory, is more than frustrating. This application does more harm than good when it comes to managing your computer.

Unstable client-server communication.

The Mozy client-side program will sometimes, after minutes or hours or days of churning away, suddenly return an error message that says it could not communicate with the Mozy server.

Irrelevant help advice.

This is not a problem specific to web apps, but I figured I would mention it anyway.

I spent a lot of time pawing through the Mozy documentation, as well as Googling to see what other users are experiencing. It seems clear that I am not alone in my evaluation of Mozy. But I found nothing that appears to be useful for helping to get this app running properly.

A sucker.

I feel like a real chump for buying two paid accounts (each supposedly backing up two machines). Because I am an academic (professor of Computer Science), I will continue to monkey with it. That’s just how I am.

But the Mozy folks should be ashamed of themselves. A backup utility that is at best highly unpredictable is worthless.

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