Testing ElephantDrive for online backups

(update 2/21/09) Canceled my ElephantDrive account. See my comment below for a brief explanation. Nice folks, some good concepts, but not fully ready for primetime. Have gone with MyOtherDrive (testing blog here) and will be canceling Mozy by month-end.

(update 2/11/09 — see my comment about repeat uploads — posted as a comment to the blog entry — and not getting support feedback had a support email later in the day … dialogue begun)

(update 2/4/09) ElephantDrive finished the initial upload. Still no clue why it took so long, but it is trucking along very unobtrusively now. Not near the impact on the computer as Mozy had while it is checking for modifications or doing actual updates. Things I find now to be remarkable:

  1. Minimal impact on the computer. Works nicely in the background.
  2. Easy to drag and drop a file from computer to “My Trunk” online — use if there is a file that is not part of the normal backups, but you want it online.
  3. Easy to share a file – just highlight in My Trunk view and click SHARE button.
    1. However – there is no public share. Sharee (is that a word) has to have an ED account. My guess is the free account will do.
  4. Still not convinced the STOP button really works, or works all the time.
  5. The error reports are still quite cryptic except for the “file locked” which are ok.
  6. Love the “Your files” view and think I’ll like the online file explorer but have not tinkered with it much.

Now testing ElephantDrive — here is their blurb:

Unlimited online storage for your photos, music, video, documents, and all other valuable files you have! Pre-made categories and our simple wizard make sure that all your important data gets automatically backed up!

Learn more about plans for Home users

Plans start at $4.95/month  Learn More

via Online Backup, Online File Storage – Simple, secure, & affordable online backup & storage.

At the moment I’m running a backup under their 1gig free account but will probably do the $4.95 plan and test it thoroughly for a month, along with Mozy. Why am I considering changing? Because Mozy is slower and slower, and tends to really hog the machine. If you have a backup that starts and you need the computer, it takes over the machine during all of the prep work. Once the actual data transfer begins the throttle function works and you can resume your work. But that can be 1/2 hour or better (anecdotal — have not timed).

Initial info and impressions

  • Quick installation. Registration took 1 minute or less, no credit-card required.
  • Program installation after download took maybe 3 minutes.
  • Initial scan of the desk to detect files falling within the default categories took maybe 10-15 minutes (Mozy took an hour or more). This is on a drive where Mozy has been backing up 39GB of files. ElephantDrive (ED hereinafter) identified 46GB.
  • On a 6gig broadband connection it appears 1GB of files will take about 4 hours.
  • Has a nice report screen showing the backup in progress, file by file, with upload speeds. Mozy’s status screen is more cryptic.
  • Can access your “trunk” (i.e. your cluster of online data) with either the desktop client or via the web. The file explorer populates much faster than Mozy, but will need to see how that is once a full backup is completed.
  • Includes a file-sharing function.
  • Has an option to automatically throttle upload usage during set hours.
  • The impact on the computer, even when set to the fastest upload usage, is far less than with Mozy.
  • QUESTIONS & CONS
    • Open file backup available only in the Pro versions
    • Not sure about the scheduling — how often will this run and how controllable is it?
      • Double-click the BACKUPS button and configure for individual categories of files
    • Reports window cannot be resized, thus the columns cannot be adjusted so as to see essential info such as the complete path and filename.
    • Problem report is nonsensical: many lines of “It has been removed from the queue.” No explanation of WHAT has been removed or why.
    • Upload appears to stall if the computer goes into either screen saver mode or even just turning the screen off. Left at 6:45AM with about 965mb done, came back at 1:15PM to find only 1015mb done. It was left running all night and similarly appeared to have just stalled. Total now of 20 hrs 37 minutes and only 1015mb done on a 1gig upload connection.
      • It’s now Jan 31 and the initial upload is still not finished.  Here is my Total Progress screen:
        Progress screen
        Progress screen

        which to me doesn’t make a lot of sense. The elapsed time is clearly wrong and the time remaining is as well. The number of files may be about right. Is it 62% done of the initial load? Or of all the files, old and new, to be uploaded? I do note that the total files varies, apparently taking into account both files never uploaded and changed files (or pieces) to be refreshed.

      • (2/1/09) The progress of the initial load continues to be a mystery to me, witness this progress screen:
        Uploading progress
        Uploading progress

        where the transfer indicated now exceeds the size of the entire drive which I assume includes changed files + the remaining initial load. Look at the total number of files to be transferred and how it has lept. This change is in 24 hours.

    • The initial upload finally finished. This started on 1/19 and here is the result as of early 2/1/09: Initial load The first three categories had finished some days ago, but Video and Movie Clips on down just finished inthe last 24 hours or so.
    • There is no “pause” button. It is unclear what will happen with the “Stop Backup” button but here goes: file encrypting and transferring is continuing, presumably clearing out the queue. Button came back out as un-selected and transfers continue. Clicked the stop button again. “checking for modifications,” encrypting and transferring still occurring. No messages in either the transfers or problems report. It’s the STOP button — DOUBLE-click it and it pauses the uploading and click again to restart — program does not unload. (updated 1/21)
    • It can’t handle a file being deleted from the disc while it’s being uploaded. Program just stalls — can’t figure out what to do. Further: it may not have stalled. Just closed and re-opened the Reports window and another file is now being transferred.
    • There needs to be a way to adjust the speed of the backup with a simple slider without going through the routine of testing the speed of the link (Advanced|Network Settings).
    • The progress bar is confusing. It doesn’t show overall progress, just that during the current session, I think. See notes above on progress.
    • Throttle doesn’t really work. I’ve been clicking along at around 700Kb/ps, ran the Network Settings and set to next to lowest, still running same speed while using the computer.
      • Clicked stop button: continues upload of current file – that’s probably good.
      • Having trouble finishing that file — ed_progress4it was within bytes of finishing and now apparently has started over trying to finish that “re-sending” process. And why is it re-sending? That file has not been touched.
  • (update 2/2/09) The system as now (as of wee hours of 2/2) finished the initial upload of all of my categories. See ed_progress_currentthe screen shot here. I now observe a real thrashing of the drive while modifications are scanned for. It’ll be interesting during the day when I can watch what’s going on and see how the ongoing updates are handled.
    • Question: is the fact that this is a laptop that gets hibernated with some frequency possibly part of the explanation for the long initial upload? It doesn’t stay down long, but every day it’s hibernated enroute work, and again enroute back home. Otherwise it runs all the time and connected to the internet always.

Other systems I’m looking at

My Other Drive — which I’ve not yet installed or tried. It gets a lot of good reviews and also includes file-sharing so it’s worth looking at. Also apparently has a photo album capability — is it a Flickr replacement?