Zoolz is a cloud backup solution which competes in the same market as services like CrashPlan. It also has some overlap with ZipCloud, a cloud backup provider that we reviewed a few weeks ago. However, Zoolz is designed for large corporations where multiple users (or entire departments) are required to backup and store files in one cloud location.
Pricing is split in two. Users must choose between Instant Storage and Cold Storage. Instant Storage costs $16/month per 100 GB, and Cold Storage costs $3/month per 100 GB.
- Instant Storage is effectively the cloud backup service you’d recognise from services like ZipCloud and Mozy. Files are stored in the cloud and can be accessed and restored on demand.
- Cold Storage is Zoolz’ answer to traditional backups: storage of files which may be archived but rarely used. Zoolz stresses that its Cold Storage backups are cheaper than ‘on-site backups’ (in order words, a tape drive or traditional backup method). Cold Storage is much cheaper than Instant Storage, as you’ll have noticed, but files cannot be retrieved instantly. Users must wait up to five hours for their chosen file to be made available, making it no more or less efficient than traditional backups.
New users receive a trial account with 50 GB storage and unlimited users. The free trial expires after 14 days of use.
How Zoolz Works
The Zoolz website provides a ‘quick’ 15-point introduction to the service, although the description of each benefit is pretty impenetrable. In short, Zoolz does not impose limits on connection speeds or file sizes, although there is an overall storage limit for the account. Files are securely encrypted, and the service can be used by multiple clients worldwide. The administrator user can split space between users so that space is efficiently allocated.
The website claims that all devices are supported, but unfortunately I found this to be untrue. This is a Windows-only service at the moment. As such, I was unable to trial it on my Mac. This is the graphic that greeted me when I went to download the client for Mac:
The service can handle both user and server accounts. Note that ‘servers’ in this case means Windows servers. Again, there is no software client for Linux or Mac servers.
Backups are performed on a pre-set schedule, and only changed files are backed up. Users can alter backup frequency depending on bandwidth and hardware availability. For example, when a laptop computer is being used for presentation, or is running on its battery power, Zoolz can automatically scale back on processing power.
Storage and Backups
Zoolz uses Amazon’s AWS service to store data. If you follow tech news websites, you’ll probably be aware of several high-profile outages at Amazon’s cloud data centres which have taken out websites like Instagram, Netflix, Dropbox and Reddit. By using AWS, Zoolz’ availability therefore hinges on Amazon’s availability, which has been fairly patchy over the last 18 months.
On the plus side, Amazon’s servers offer strong encryption and failover capabilities – in theory, at least.
Users with masses of data can skip the upload process and send their backup media to Zoolz who will upload it to the Amazon cloud on their behalf. Zoolz says that users can do this multiple times; as far as I can tell, there is no extra charge for this service.
Through the admin area, the administrator can see the account bandwidth usage, the location of users backing up to their account, and they can access all of the files that have been uploaded to date. Individual users can log in and review their own uploads but cannot access uploads from other users within the same company.
You might have already noticed that Zoolz looks very much like Microsoft SkyDrive. It has a Metro-like interface throughout.
Users are invited to back up via email; they can also be added directly or via CSV upload.
The administrator – in other words, the help desk or service desk in most cases – is responsible for administrating all users in the organisation, and must suspend users, reset passwords and add users’ computers through the admin area. This allows finer control over the backup process, but in a large organisation, this could be a demanding task for a busy help desk technician.
Administrators can also hook Zoolz up to a Windows server and use policies to control how backups are created. This might include filtering out files using wildcards, throttling usage for users(s) or globally excluding files which do not need to be backed up.
In the web interface, Policies determine the frequency of backups and allow files to be dealt with differently, depending on file type and other criteria.
Once a file has been uploaded, users can view files via mobile devices or edit them in Google Docs. Zoolz also shows preview thumbnails of images for easy review. Files can be shared with collaborators, as you would expect, providing they are backed up using Instant Storage. If you use Cold Storage, files cannot be shared.
Note that Zoolz does not provide the ability to drag and drop files into a backup or sync folder. If you want this kind of backup capability, you’ll need to choose something like Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft SkyDrive, either instead of Zoolz or as an add-on service.
On the Zoolz website, there’s an impressive client list: Oracle, Rolls-Royce, Microsoft and Dell are the four that stuck out immediately. I found that quite surprising since I found some of the text very difficult to understand; it didn’t strike me as a service which was particularly well-established.
I would personally be quite wary of relying on Amazon AWS as a complete corporate backup solution. For truly essential, business critical data, it may not be wise to put all of your data onto Amazon’s servers when the consequences of potential downtime are so severe. Companies would also need to weigh up the attractive pricing for Cold Storage vs the inconvenience of waiting more than half of a working day for a file to be restored.
The website is very keen to stress there’s a client for every device, yet when I went to download the Mac client, it simply didn’t exist. It’s quite misleading to encourage people to sign up when the software only really supports one platform. Nevertheless, for Windows users and large organisations, Zoolz is very well-priced, particularly as far as Cold Storage goes.
I’m not sure smaller companies would have the resources to administrate every single user through Zoolz. But as enterprises become more used to the cloud, services like this will find their feet. Unfortunately, for non-Windows or mixed platform users, Zoolz isn’t a viable option for the time being anyway.
Category: Initial Reviews
About the AuthorClaire Broadley is a technical author and SEO copywriter. She reviews cloud applications and SaaS products for Rated Cloud.
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