Comcast will bundle online storage capacity from EMC's Mozy division with its broadband service and let residential subscribers share the content they store with friends -- or with the entire Internet.
With the new Secure Backup & Share feature, users of Comcast high-speed Internet automatically get 2GB of space in Mozy's data centers for backing up any data from their home computers. They can also buy 50GB for US$4.99 per month or $49.99 per year, or 200GB for $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year, the companies announced Thursday. The feature is available now.
Mozy has been offering cloud-based backup capacity to consumers and businesses for several years. Consumers can buy unlimited storage for $4.95 per month. But the new offering with Comcast marks the first time Mozy has let users share the data they have backed up, according to Vance Checketts, Mozy vice president of operations at EMC. The company hopes to extend this capability to its own service as well as to the Mozy-based backup services already offered by Vodafone and China Telecom.
For many consumers, a service such as Secure Backup & Share could be an obvious way to start protecting their data from disasters and hardware failures for the first time, said Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT.
"For most people, backup is something that they plan to get around to, like losing weight or eating right," King said. However, it's more critical than those users may think, he added. "Tens of thousands of hard drives crash on a weekly basis," he said. Ideally, consumers should also back up their data to a hard drive they own, both to have another copy for safety and because downloading 200GB of remotely backed-up content over a home broadband connection would take a long time, he added.
With the sharing feature, users could make any or all of the files they back up available to family, friends or the public. Theoretically, a user could copy 200GB of files onto Mozy and make them all searchable and available on the Internet, Mozy's Checketts said. In reality, users may designate some content as public but share the rest through invitations to specific authorized users, he said. Sharing is a natural extension to Mozy's backup service, and the business issues of adding it would be more significant than the technical ones, Checketts said.
However, it could be a big undertaking just for Mozy to support the Comcast service. If all of Comcast's roughly 15.9 million high-speed Internet subscribers simply took advantage of the 2GB of free storage, Mozy would need 30 petabytes of storage to accommodate them. Mozy already has more than 25 petabytes of data under management. The company beefed up its data centers in advance of the Comcast offering and can rapidly expand its capacity if needed through contracts with suppliers of bandwidth, storage space and other components, Checketts said.
Comcast subscribers can use Secure Backup & Share to back up data from an unlimited number of computers and can designate six other users, such as family members, to share the capacity. To start, they need to download a Windows software client -- Mac support is coming later this year, the company said. Through a personal Web site called Comcast Vault, users can allocate capacity to different computers, designate what files to back up and set up future incremental backups. Certain types of data, such as .exe files, can't be backed up with the service. Once the content has been uploaded to Mozy, it can be reached via any Web browser, including those on smartphones.
Mozy already offers backup services through Vodafone in Portugal, Germany, the U.K. and the Netherlands, and has scheduled rollouts in eight or nine more countries over the next several months, Checketts said. The Vodafone service can operate over the carrier's wireline broadband connections or its 3G (third-generation) wireless modems. China Telecom began offering a Mozy-based backup service to its wireline broadband subscribers last September.