Update August 2014: In light of Zoolz checking filenames on customer accounts, I no longer recommend it.
Update March 2015: Unlimited storage has been discontinued.
Zoolz is an online backup service that promises secure, unlimited, lifetime storage for your files. It does this using “Cold Storage” – low cost storage provided by Amazon Glacier. Basically, it trades retrieval speed for ginormous amounts of space. So you can store lots of data, but you can’t download it very fast. Zoolz also offers “instant storage”, which lets you download files faster, but also costs more.
Unlike other online backup services, Zoolz stores your files forever – long after they’re deleted from your computer. Zoolz also has an easy to use desktop interface, as well as other features which I’ll cover in this review.
- Unlimited storage space
- Only $3/month
- Fast backups
- Stores files forever
- Easy to use interface
- Slow restores; takes 3-5 hours to prepare files for download
- Windows only
The Bottom Line
If you don’t mind waiting up to 5 hours to restore your files, Zoolz offers great online backup features at a low price.
Intro to Zoolz
How to Get Zoolz
To get Zoolz, you’ll need to download the free trial from their website. After installing the software, you can create a free 50GB trial account using your email. The whole process is fairly easy and shouldn’t take more than a couple minutes. The free trial lasts for 15 days, after which you can decide to upgrade.
Zoolz Plans and Pricing
Zoolz has both business plans and consumer (home) plans, as well as fixed price-per-GB pricing and an “unlimited” plan. Zoolz also has separate prices for (slow) cold storage and (fast) instant storage. That’s a lot to choose from! I will explain everything below.
The Zools unlimited plan is for home users only, so business users will need to stick to the fixed GB plans. The unlimited plan costs $36 per year ($3/month) for each computer you want to backup. If you pay for 2 years in advance it’s $60 ($2.50/month), or $120 for 5 years ($2/month). The unlimited plan is only available with cold storage, while instant storage costs $8/year for each 50GB of space.
The unlimited plan includes:
- Unlimited lifetime storage
- Support for backing up internal, external, and network drives
For business users, Zoolz offers a whopping 1TB of space for only $25/month. That comes with support for unlimited users and unlimited servers. There’s a great comparison table on the Zoolz wiki that goes over the differences between the Home and Business plans, if you’re interested.
Zoolz will ask you to select what data to backup. I chose to backup my user folder (C:\Users\Geoff) but you can backup anything you like, including data on other drives.
Before running your backup you’ll be given a chance to modify a few settings:
- Scheduling (default: every 2 hours)
- Bandwidth throttling
- Hybrid+ cloud and local backup
After setting it up, Zoolz will start backing up your data based on the schedule you set.
Zoolz also supports backing up NAS devices and external hard drives, but only on the Plus, Family, and Heavy plans.
Restoring Files (get ready to wait)
An online backup service is no good if you can’t restore files from it. Fortunately, Zoolz makes restoring your data easy. You can restore data from the desktop software by clicking the Restore button, or through the web interface.
On the downside, Zoolz makes you wait hours to prepare your files for download. This wait might be too much for some, in which case there are other online backup services out there. However, for archival purposes where you don’t need the data right away (such as photographers), Zoolz is great.
Zoolz stores your backed up files forever, so if you delete a file on your computer it will remain on Zoolz servers for the lifetime of your account. It also stores up to 10 versions of each file.
In my speed tests, Zoolz was able to backup about 40 gigabytes per day. That’s pretty fast, assuming your internet connection can keep up.
Restore speeds are slow with Zoolz, since it makes you wait up to 5 hours while preparing your files for download from cold storage. It took a full 5 hours to prepare my files for restore.
By default, Zoolz protects your data using 256-bit AES encryption. Files are encrypted on your machine, then transferred over SSL, and finally stored encrypted on Zoolz servers.
For additional security, you have the option to use your own encryption passphrase/key. This would ensure only you are able to decrypt your data, although if you forget your passphrase there’s no way to recover it.
Zoolz has several performance modes, including smart mode and turbo mode to adjust the speed of your backup and its impact on your processor usage.
Hybrid+ lets you simultaneously backup to a local drive while Zoolz uploads your data to the cloud. What if you have more data than you can fit on a local hard drive? No problem. Zoolz lets you limit the size of your Hybrid+ drive.
Zoolz has a file viewer app for Android and iPhone. However, it won’t do you much good if you’re trying to view Cold Storage files. You have to download those through the web interface or desktop app.
RAW Image Support
Zoolz is great for photographers because it lets you preview the RAW files you have backed up.
Zoolz promises to reply to tech support emails within 24 hours. I submitted a support ticket and was responded to in about 12 hours (on a Saturday). So tech support is pretty good. Zoolz also has a help center where you can find answers to frequently asked questions.
|Average Upload Speed||3.9 Mbps (5 Mbps connection)|
|Average Download Speed||Slow (uses Amazon Glacier)|
|Free Online Storage|
|Mobile Apps||Android, iOS|
|Keep Deleted Files||Forever|
|Back Up to Local Drive|
Sync and Share Features
|Public File Sharing|
|Data Center Location(s)|