New online data backup service Hybir challenges Mozy and Carbonite

Hybir comes out of beta with online PC backup that uses global data deduplication at the source among all customers, along with bare-metal restores. Will customers pay extra for it?

Hybir Inc. has just wrapped up a public beta of its Hybir Backup online PC data backup service, which it plans to make generally available in October to challenge established competitors such as EMC's Mozy and Carbonite.

Hybir claims it can perform backups and data restores or bare-metal restores more efficiently than competitors by using data deduplication among all customers on its network to make more effective use of bandwidth and reduce backup/restore times.

Mozy, Carbonite and other online data backup services perform data reduction either at the source before data crosses the wire or in the back-end repository. Hybir's approach is to use an inventory of cryptographic hashes for chunks of data within files on each PC, which are compared against a centrally stored inventory at the Hybir data center of all hashes already uploaded by all customers. Hybir then only pulls data segments attached to new hashes across the wire from workstations.

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Hybir CEO and founder Rasch Young said the service can also do the same thing in reverse by scanning the system for files that have been corrupted and restoring data as necessary instead of restoring an entire file, directory or drive. Because it backs up operating system and applications as well as user data, however, users can also perform a full bare-metal restore of their PC if necessary or roll back to previous system images. If a file has been changed since the last backup, Hybir will replace the newer version of the file with a renamed version and offer the user the ability to re-save the new version over its older counterpart.

"Some of these features aren't unheard of among backup tools in general," data backup expert W. Curtis Preston said. "But I think the combination is unique. I'm not aware of other cloud backup offerings that have all of these features together."

"It's an interesting story for sure," IDC analyst Steve Scully said. "They're a small startup that's been toiling away in obscurity for a while, but they could have something unique here, or at least a step ahead of some of the other guys."

Young said Hybir does other things differently than most consumer/SOHO online PC backup products. It performs scheduled, once-daily scans of the system rather than continuously backing up changes; it removes backups older than 30 days; and it covers Windows clients only, and not Macs.

Hybir is also more expensive than competitors such as Mozy and Carbonite. It charges $5 per month for 100 GB, $10 a month for 300 GB and $15 a month for 600 GB of data. Mozy, by contrast, charges $5 a month for MozyHome for unlimited capacity. Carbonite charges $54.95 for a one-year subscription and $130 for a three-year subscription.

Hybir plans to move upmarket eventually, potentially with an on-premise appliance that would let larger companies manage backup for their own network of remote workstations.

Preston said consumers may not go for the pricing premium in exchange for new features. "I think they may lose more customers with the tiered pricing than they gain in revenue," he said.

One early adopter said he feels the price is worthwhile, however. "I'm paying a total of $180 total per year for three machines, and I think it's a reasonable price for what it does," said Rob Buergesser of Denver, Colo., who first heard of Hybir through local technology education groups and participated in the beta beginning six months ago.

Buergesser said he's tried Carbonite but found performance slow over his home Internet connection. His first backup of his largest PC with Hybir took eight to nine hours, but his nightly incremental backups take about 15 minutes. "I send less than 2% of the data on my machine during incrementals," he said. "I've had it run at the same time as a virus scan without performance degradation."

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