Zoolz Home Review – Easy to Use Cold Storage Cloud Back-Up

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.

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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.

Enter vexite1 and get 5% off when you upgrade to Zoolz Home Premium 100GB 

Features

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.

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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.

Security

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.

Storage Space

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.

Pricing

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.

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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.

Enter vexite1 and get 5% off when you upgrade to Zoolz Home Premium 100GB

Support

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.

Summary

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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVRZB5lJir8

Use my special coupon vexite2 to get 5% for Zoolz Business with 50 GB instant storage and 100 GB cold storage.

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App.net Free Account Available Now – Who Has an Invite?

App.net Free Account

At first I was surprised that you can already register an App.net free account when its goal from the beginning is to offer an ad-free service. It was made possible by offering premium paid-only service, at least initially.

Freemium model usually offset the cost of operations by displaying ads to non-paying users or by selling the data generated from the service to other business. There are many ways to carry out a freemium model so it does not mean App.net will start doing one of those things I mentioned.

So how does an ad-free network where users already pay $36 yearly or $5 monthly to use the service benefit with the new App.net freemium model?

Freemium is the way to go

You only pay the service because either it is so good and important or you need more features not available in the free plan.

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To understand the switch from premium to freemium model you have to go back and read this article from The Verge where it details how App.net expanded its current paid offerings by offering cloud storage on top of its social network. All paid packages now offers 10 Gb of cloud storage  since late January this year.

Even when you look back at the first project announcement App.net is heavily inspired by services with freemium model namely Github and Evernote.

How to register free App.net account?

In order to get the App.net free tier account you must have an invite first. Free tier account users are similar to paid accounts but limited to following 40 users, file storage is much smaller – 500 MB,  and the max upload file size is only 10 MB.

While some paid user may think of downgrading to free account this could make App.net more popular because now even paid users can lure more of their friends and family inside the social network without any obligation.

This will also benefit the community because only the trusted people will be invited greatly reducing the risk of spam. Also with the limitation of free account, spamming or nonsense rambling seems futile. As free users hit the limitation there is a likelihood someone will upgrade just like how Evernote and Dropbox users upgrade to paid plans.

I am not an App.net user yet but I am interested on the service since last year. This might be the best time to try it out. Who knows, I might get an invitation sooner or later. If you are in App.net already and have a free invite to spare, please contact me directly here.

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What You Need to Know About Cloud Storage

This article is a guest post from MSI-ECS, distributor of Trend Micro products.

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Back then, all your files were stored on hardware. Today, you store your photos on Facebook, Instagram, or Picasa. You even use your email as storage by sending yourself emails with attachments! You know that your files are out there, but where?

These files are in the cloud. The cloud is where you access services that help store, or run software applications anywhere in the world when needed. Imagine having infinite, secure storage for your backup data at a reasonable price. These are just some of the reasons why people are moving their data to the cloud.

The cloud can be used in different ways. Services like Dropbox, iCloud, and Box give you free limited storage with an option to pay for more. Some operating systems provide cloud backup and restore services in case your device crashes or is stolen, or your data somehow gets deleted. You can also communicate and mingle through the cloud! Networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have apps you can use. Other services include media storage and playback; banking and finance; and note-taking and bookmarking, among others.

There are many reasons to move to the cloud. Data backed up in the cloud means less hardware for you. There’s no need to update multiple copies anymore. It’s also easy to share your data in public, or even to a select few. Like they say, there’s an app for that!

It’s important to note that there are storms you have to brave in the cloud. It’s possible to lose your entire digital life in under an hour. You should be alert for threat campaigns, flaws in the system, additional costs, access woes, provider data leakage, the human factor, and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Dropbox users were once spammed because of third-party sites linked to the service.

Being proactive when it comes to cloud security can protect you from these storms. Always update your apps. App developers address service bugs and fix flaws through updates. Use cloud-based services that automatically encrypt data you upload like Trend Micro™ SafeSync™. Don’t click links or open attachments from suspicious-looking emails. Same goes for IMs and private messages on social networking sites. Use mobile security programs like the Trend Micro™ Mobile Security to block malicious apps. Change simple passwords into phrases that are hard for others to remember. Don’t recycle passwords or refer to popular media when creating new ones. Password managers like Trend Micro™ DirectPass™ allow you to use one master password for all your accounts. Back up you mobile data with services like Trend Micro™ Mobile Backup and Restore. This will come in handy when your device crashes or is stolen. These are just a few ways of finding the silver lining in the cloud.

To find out more on how you can keep your personal data safe in the cloud through the Trend Micro Digital Life E-guide, please visit “Files in Flight: What You Need to Know about Cloud Storage.”

Trend Micro security solutions are distributed in the Philippines thru MSI-ECS Phils Inc.  For more information, please contact [email protected]

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Infrastructure Secrets Behind Cloud Data Centers

This article is a guest post from MSI-ECS, distributor of APC products.

Unveiling infrastructure secrets behind the cloud

How power and cooling reliability issues can be avoided in cloud data centers?

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Thinking about the cloud? If so, be ready to recognize how cloud environments can impact data center power and cooling infrastructure. Virtualization is the technology engine behind cloud computing. Although virtualization is well understood from an IT equipment perspective, the effects of virtualization / cloud computing on the data center physical infrastructure are less understood. Some clear challenges exist that can impact systems uptime. The good news is that these challenges can be addressed by Schneider Electric™ solutions that are available today.

Challenge #1: Increased power densities

Areas of high density pose heat removal challenges. In cloud environments, virtualized servers are grouped in ways that can create “hot spots”. As a physical host is loaded up with more and more virtual machines, its CPU utilization increases, which means that more heat is produced. If the existing heat removal system is inadequate, downtime becomes a bigger threat. One solution is to spread the high density servers throughout the data center floor. However, increased floor space consumption, higher cabling costs, reduced electrical efficiency related to uncontained air paths, and the perception that half-filled racks waste rack space all could pose problems. The preferred solution is to move higher density equipment to a specific rack or row, separate from lower density equipment. This high density “pod” with dedicated heat removal (row-based cooling) and containment enables higher efficiency (shorter air paths), more predictability, and maximum density per rack. Pods and row based cooling solutions are available from Schneider Electric.

Challenge #2: Worse PUE

Virtualization can result in a significant decrease in server energy consumption. However if the power and cooling infrastructure is left in its pre-virtualization state, then power usage effectiveness (PUE) worsens. Since power is consumed by the power and cooling systems regardless of what the IT load is, when the IT load goes down (as it often does in the initial stages of virtualization), the power and cooling systems have, in effect, become oversized and less efficient. Scalable power and cooling solutions, available from Schneider Electric, can significantly reduce these inefficiencies by “rightsizing” to the new load.

Challenge #3: Increased risk of downtime

Loads within cloud data centers can vary in both time and location. Compared to a non-virtualized data center, a highly virtualized cloud-based data center will tend to experience larger load swings. Unless the cloud data center is incredibly well-planned and managed, load swings could be large enough to cause capacity-related reliability issues. This issue becomes too complex for a human to manage. Predictive management tools are a safe way to maintain an efficient, lean data center in a cloud environment. Tools such as the Schneider Electric StruxureWare™ for Data Centers suite work in real time with virtual machine managers to assure that power and cooling capacity can efficiently accommodate the dynamic loads.

Challenge #4: Unnecessary levels of redundancy

Cloud data centers are operated with a high level of IT fault-tolerance and this may reduce the need for power and cooling infrastructure redundancy. Matching of physical infrastructure redundancy to the fault-tolerant nature of a virtualized cloud environment is a form of rightsizing to further reduce energy consumption, capital costs, and fixed losses all while improving the data center PUE. Understanding the challenges that cloud computing can impose on data center physical infrastructure is an important first step in achieving the goal of a reliable, efficient and flexible data center.

For more information about high density pods, scalable power and cooling, and predictive management tools, go to www.apc.com. APC is distributed in the Philippines by MSI-ECS. For more product information, please contact [email protected] or +63-2688-3181.

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Buffalo CloudStation (CloudStor) Powered by PogoPlug

Buffalo CloudStor and CloudStation. What\’s the difference? Actually, they are the same. Buffalo CloudStation is also known as Buffalo CloudStor in some regions like North American.

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This is the first PogoPlug powered storage solution that I came across locally so if you always wish that you could buy a PogoPlug device, here\’s your chance now.

There are many reasons why you want to create a private cloud storage –filesharing, backup, remote access, mobility and more.

Please note that to take advantage of these products you need the internet and supporting softwares as it is based entirely on the PogoPlug service.

CloudStation (Single Bay) 1 TB and 2 TB SRP is PhP9,270 and PhP11, 160, respectively while CloudStation Pro Duo 2TB and 4TB is PhP19,380 and PhP23,250, respectively.

Check out the press release below for details.

Buffalo Takes Your Files to Cloud 9

Buffalo Technology has launched a storage solution specially designed for smartphones and tablets. The Buffalo CloudStation provides a place to securely store and share data for all Android phones / tablets, PC’s and iPhones / iPads, allowing you to access photos, videos, music, or documents anywhere in the world.

A plug and play device, CloudStation comes with everything one needs to get started with. Installation is an easy two-step process that invites users to plug the storage device into any Wi-Fi router then access Buffalo CloudStation’s website and click ‘activate’ to register the device.

It leverages the PogoPlug streaming service for photos — indeed professional photographers will be the first to appreciate the combo of storage and uploading service that Buffalo has brought. Buffalo CloudStation does not need any software for installation.

Buffalo CloudStation enables users to decide what, where and when to share data stored on the appliance. Similar to a hard drive that operates inside the computer, Buffalo CloudStation is accessible from the pc, Mac computers as well as browser from smartphone. And with Pogoplug apps for mobile devices (Apple / Android), users are only seconds away from their valued content.

The CloudStation comes with a 3 year limited warranty and available in two models: CloudStation (Single Bay) and CloudStation Pro Duo (Two Bay). CloudStation (Single Bay) 1 TB and 2 TB SRP is PhP9,270 and PhP11, 160, respectively while CloudStation Pro Duo 2TB and 4TB is PhP19,380 and PhP23,250, respectively. Buffalo is distributed in the Philippines by MSI-ECS. For product availability, pricing and technical infos, please email [email protected] or call (02) 688-3180 to 83.

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Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office

It is a win-win situation for Microsoft Office and Google Doc users as Google released a free plug-in for Microsoft Office that ties Google Docs to Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel. It is the result of Google acquisition of DocVerse.

Google Cloud Connect syncs Office documents, slides and spreadsheets to Google Doc and stores it in the cloud which enable online collaboration with other Google Doc users. In a way, Google Cloud Connect is a free alternative to Microsoft Sharepoint.
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Just like Sharepoint, it acts like backend for storing the changes in the document. The changes are not real-time, unlike in Google Docs, but if there are any changes in the document, you will be prompted to resolve the conflicts before saving. And just in case, there is a full revision history in the document where you can revert to earlier versions of the document in one click. You can find more details of the caveats in syncing documents here.

I was looking forward to take part in the testing this week but the demand was so high that I didn\’t get a chance to get into the early invitation.

My concern at the moment about syncing MS Office and Google Docs is about security. I wouldn\’t use this plug-in a highly confidential or sensitive document. Certain companies have policies on what you can upload on the web and what should stay within the intranet, so be careful on what document to sync.

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