Cloud backup drama: Mozy kicks Carbonite after ASA's had a go
Ad body smacked it for 'unlimited' claims, but what is Mozy on about?
Cloud backup service vendor Carbonite recently had its knuckles rapped by the UK's Advertising Standards Authority for misleading punters by saying its cloud backup service is "unlimited". Now EMC-backed Mozy, a Carbonite competitor which doesn't offer unlimited backup data amounts, has waded in to the fray.
The ASA quoted a Carbonite online ad which said: "Carbonite offers unlimited online backup storage. You can back up as much as you want with no limits on storage capacity."
The ASA noted that data uploads of more than 200GB resulted in lower bandwidth, making the backup take longer. It asked Carbonite for clarification but got no response. The ad body sniffed that it "was concerned by Carbonite Inc's lack of response and apparent disregard for the [ASA] Code." The complaint was upheld.
I don't see it. Yes, the ASA got slighted by a lack of response, but to say that unlimited backup "with no limits on storage capacity" misleads because it implies a constant backup bandwidth speed seems to me to be arse about face. Yes, it may be sneaky, but it's fair to other users as no one user could hog the available bandwidth and, to state the obvious, no one could think for a moment that bandwidth is unlimited.
Now cloudy backup rival Mozy – which doesn't offer unlimited backup data amounts – has added its two cents' worth. Claire Galbois-Alcaix, Mozy's senior marketing manager, says the Carbonite case gives the industry a bad name:
The danger is that people are burned by a claim that turns out not to be true and are put off using the services altogether, when something like online backup is really crucial. ‘Unlimited’ is an easy concept for vendors to sell: people want the peace of mind from never having to think about what they’re sending to the cloud.
But they’re being sold a false sense of security because data caps will take them by surprise when they hit them without even knowing they’re there - or find that their data, or the company hosting it, isn’t there when they want it back."
But Carbonite isn't imposing a data cap.
Galbois-Alcaix continues: "We all know that data generation is exploding and that the volumes of data that people are storing and transporting is growing geometrically. Drive prices are decreasing – but the costs of power to keep them spinning and cool is increasing. And more drives means more power, more people to manage them and bigger data centres to store them in."
She adds: "Online storage and backup companies have to make a choice between capping data use and maintaining service levels, cutting costs and putting data in jeopardy, or making a loss and ultimately going out of business."
That's a nice soundbite, but Carbonite isn't capping data use. It may in the future – who knows – but it isn't now. It's throttling bandwidth speed to prevent a single data hog unfairly affecting other users of its service. To say that cloud backup vendors have to impose a data cap or go out of business is not fair. In fact Carbonite is growing fast; revenues grew 41 per cent to $22.1m between the second 2012 quarter and the year-ago quarter. The net loss was $4.2m, compared to $4.7m a year ago – so it's not forecasting profitability yet.
Mozy, which had an unlimited backup plan but stopped it, is now offering fee-based backup services based on data amounts.
Mozy's financial results aren't revealed by owner VMware, itself majority-owned by EMC which bought Mozy in 2007. ®
Re: ASA is NOT Right JP19!
At first I agreed with you; then I looked into what the limits are. If you've uploaded over 200GB then you're capped to 100kbps after that (kiloBITS). 200GB isn't that much these days - let's say you've got a few years of digital video and photos, plus a music collection, that could easily be 200GB. Now let's say you've been to the Olympics, filled a couple of 4GB cards with more photos, and want to get them backed up - you're looking at about a week to back up 8GB. Unthrottled, it'd be in the region of maybe an hour (on an Infinity line, obvs).
If you're a keen photographer, or you're backing up stuff from a few cameras, you could easily be looking at a month or more to back up your data, and all that time you're going to be accumulating new data to back up - it could conceivably never finish; what's the point of a backup service if it never actually backs up your data?
Re: ASA is NOT Right JP19!
100kb/s - are you shitting me?
Backing up a full 2TB drive would take around 5 years assuming the drive manages to survive that long.
It seems my all you can eat using a single chopstick analogy was being generous.
Re: ASA is NOT Right JP19!
This is a very valid point.. I use this service and have 10years worth of photos that I back up. The initial backup will take an eternity once it hits 200GB. But once I get there and only incrementally adding data to it GB per week, this data will never be uploaded in time - unless I leave my PC on 24/7 which isn't great for the environment is it. At the moment, I am paying for a service that I cannon use!
A better and more suitable business model is to impose a monthly cap of say 10GB per month, and once this is achieved, then you will get throttled. This way the light users who have over 200GB on initial data don't get penalized.
ASA are completely in the right on this one.