Zoolz Home Free & Premium
Zoolz comes in 3 different editions – Zoolz Home Free, Zoolz Home Premium and Zoolz Business. Both Home Premium and Business editions comes in several pricing packages. In this review I will focus on Zoolz Home editions, Free and Premium.
Although not as popular as other mainstream cloud backup services, Zoolz is a product of Genie9 that has offered back up services to home and businesses users for a long time already. Other products of Genie9 includes Genie Backup Manager, Genie Timeline and G Cloud Backup for Android.
Zoolz uses only the best cloud storage available so it uses Amazon AWS Glacier for cold storage technology. To make the deal sweeter, Zoolz is offering 100 GB FREE storage for the first 1,000,000 users and whoever gets it will be able to use the free storage for a lifetime.
All editions of Zoolz come with modern encryption method for both file transfer and storage. I will discuss the security details later on. Take note that for all Home versions, restore time takes 3-5 hours after initiation due to the nature of cold storage technology.
You can refer to the comparison table below to see the difference between Zoolz Business, Home Premium and Home Free.
Home Free version only allows backup interval of 45 minutes but premium allows more frequent scan interval — as frequent as every 5 minutes. It also allows setting scheduled backups and full scan interval, as well as scheduled backup by date. Premium supports file type, file size and date filters.
In Home Premium, you can also throttle upload bandwidth and set when the throttling schedule will apply. Two more modes are added in Premium as well — presentation mode which pauses backup while displaying presentation, playing games or watching movies, and battery saving mode which saves battery when your laptop is running on batteries by reducing the resources required by Zoolz client app to reduce power consumption. It will completely stop and only monitor changes if the battery level is critical. You can also allow Zoolz Home Premium to only upload files when using specific connection. For instance, you can prevent Zoolz from backing up if you are connected to 3G/4G connection.
Business version has all the premium features with additional business features such as file sharing, direct upload to Zoolz website, backup policies, server backup, adding users with bulk upload tool and smart selections. Smart selection is one important features for business users because it offers pre-configured selection of most important items on your computer and it makes backing up important data easier. For example, selecting “email” will ensure that all .pst files are backed up. Selecting “Office Files” will scan all .doc, .docx, .ppt, .pptx, .xls, .xlsx and other recognizable Microsoft Office suite files.
Although not mentioned in the comparison table Zoolz can also back-up external and network drives.
Ease of Use
I find Zoolz surprisingly easy to use. In less than 5 minutes you can download Zoolz installer, install the Windows client, run it and start your back up immediately. Below is a slideshow of the entire sign up process and getting started with Zoolz Home.
RAW and image preview is supported so Zoolz is also pegged as a back-up solution for photographers. There are very few cloud services that offer RAW support so if you are a photographer and you wish to back-up RAW and be able to preview them as well, Zoolz is one of the best out there.
Working on Zoolz Windows client is very intuitive and it kinds of reminds me the Windows 8 interface. It supports Windows XP SP3 and more recent release of Windows including Windows 8. It also supports Windows servers and both 32-bit and 64-bit platforms. At the moment Mac is not supported but Zoolz will support it in the near future.
Zoolz offers free mobile app called Zoolz Go. According to Zoolz technical support, the mobile app is intended for Zoolz Business only but I am able to use it in my Zoolz Home account. Take note that you can’t do anything with the files if you are only using cold storage which the only option available for Zoolz Home. You could view the files but to fully use the mobile app you need to get instant storage which is only available for Business users.
Web access is not as robust as Dropbox, Box or Skydrive and it does not offer any integration with 3rd party services yet. You can open documents and certain files with Google docs but other than that there are no immediate integration with other cloud backup solutions. Navigating the website could be confusing sometimes because it is easy to forget the tabs for Home and Business is different but once you are logged in, the interface is consistent and easy to understand.
Zoolz Home Free is only limited to 1 user but you can use up to two computers. This an added value if you wish to move or restore an old machine backup to a new computer. You don’t need to transfer the license or worry about extra fee at all. If you need to issue multiple user access you need to upgrade to premium for additional user access.
In terms of reliability, Genie9 is in the backup business for more than 13 years already so you should feel more confident knowing that they have been around even before the cloud bandwagon started.
Zoolz security is using top-notch military grade encryption. I think that some of the security layer is redundant but that is good news for extra paranoid users.
Zoolz website and client software is hardened against hacking attacks. Amazon S3 uses AES-256 server-side encryption and the actual files are encrypted with military grade 256-AES encryption, too. Transfers are secured using SSL and the only time files are decrypted is only on authorized machines.
Zoolz is very generous in providing free storage space. Take advantage of the free 100 GB storage now and worry about upgrading later. I think it is a good strategy knowing that most users who will outgrow the free 100 GB storage will likely upgrade to paid Zoolz packages.
Cold Storage technology is cheap. While there is an obvious advantage in value but it trades off restore time speed. The actual upload and download of files is as quick as any other services but the duration to prepare restoration is much slower compared to instant cloud storage services.
I have plotted the storage to pricing ratio of popular cloud backup services. Anything above the diagonal line is deemed to have more value per dollar spent. Take note that I did not include services with unlimited back-up storage because it will skew the graph too much even if I set a theoretical limit. In order to compare relative pricing per GB, I used Dropbox Free/Pro, Skydrive, Box Business and Google Drive.
The area of the circles are directly proportional to the number of users per account. The smallest circle is equals to 1 user per account.
Zoolz Home Premium starts at $19.92 per year with 100 GB storage. As you can see, Zoolz Home is able to offer more competitive pricing than any paid services from Google Drive, Skydrive, Dropbox Pro and Box Business.
I already mentioned the restore speed trade off but I doubt many users will be crashing their computers everyday. Therefore, for budget conscious consumers, Zoolz Home gives greater value than most popular cloud storage solution mentioned.
Zoolz seems to be consistent with the support structure of Genie9. You can always contact the sales hotline but there is no 24/7 hotline for technical support. What you get is a well documented and updated help center wiki as well as email forms that are routed to sales and technical support group. In most situations I can find what I need from the help center. Given that Zoolz is easy of use, there is very little reason to call Zoolz for technical support. Google Drive, Dropbox Pro and Box do not offer voice support as well but if you compare Zoolz to customer-centric cloud back-up companies you start to wonder why they don’t offer telephone hotline.
I have tested the technical support form and the technical support team is able answer my inquiries in about 30 minutes. I did not test the consistency but I am happy that support is very responsive.
To wrap this up, Zoolz Home Free is a steal if you are after cost-effective solution for personal computer back-up. You also get the free 100 GB storage if you are one of the first 1 million registered user. Using cold storage technology Zoolz is able to offer cheaper price per GB without sacrificing security and ease of use. Zoolz is using Amazon Glacier for cold storage technology so it is very reliable. Users should not be discouraged with the delayed restoration period if the purpose of the back-up is for archiving only. This is great for artists, photographers and videographers who wish to keep a safe and secured copy of their work in the cloud. It is definitely a must-try service for cloud storage enthusiasts alike.
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