Backbaze Backup claim to be “the world’s easiest cloud backup” and offer unlimited cloud backup for as little as $5 per computer per month. Backing up all of you files and external hard drives is enabled by default!
Zoolz BigMIND Home
Zoolz BigMIND Home is a step-up in the cloud storage world, not only does it provide a cloud storage service but also backup for multiple PCs and mobile devices alongside an intelligent AI service used for easily organising and finding files.
The AI in particular is a very useful service allowing, for example, photos to be categorised based on the people or objects the AI finds within them. This means you can easily search for files across all of your devices which are backed up and any cloud drives (such as Dropbox) which are integrated into the BigMIND account.
Pricing is competitive at just £2.49 / month for 100GB and up to 3 PCs are included per licence with bigger accounts available if required.
BigMIND sounds good so far, so let’s go and take a more detailed look!
- Great web interface, very easy to use and get started with
- Service combines PC & Smartphone backup and a cloud storage drive
- Stream videos straight from the BigMIND cloud to your device
- Integration with Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Facebook, Box etc.
- Simultaneously backup locally and to the cloud with Hybrid backups
- Great file sharing functionality (even on the free account!)
- Smartphone apps for iOS and Android
- desktop application for MacOS and Windows PCs
- Great value for larger plans (100GB is only £2.49/m)
- No zero knowledge encryption built-in
Signing up to Zoolz BigMIND
Getting started with the Zoolz BigMIND Home service is as simple as navigating to the sign-up page and then creating an account using an email address or an existing Google or Facebook account.
Once signed up for the free account you will instantly be granted the 1GB of free storage available to all free account holders, a great way to start trying out the service for yourself!
Installing and using the BigMIND Windows Client
Once signed-in to BigMIND one of the first things we are prompted to do is start backing up our first device, getting started here is easy thanks to the big blue prompt which, when clicked, will allow us to start downloading the client software.
Since this backup client is one of the main features of BigMIND I will be looking at it in this section and will then cover the rest of the web interface in more detail in the next.
At only 12MB the desktop client is appropriately sized and takes only a few moments to download, installation is easy thanks to the quick and simple installer which requires little input from the user.
Once the application is installed we can login and straight away start selecting what we need to backup, this is done with either a helpful “Smart Selection” screen, allowing whole areas of a PC to be included (e.g. all photos) or the file picker tool for selecting specific files and folders.
As can be seen above, the “Smart Selection” screen makes selecting all important files such as pictures, videos and documents really simple, it is also possible to easily exclude certain files and file types thanks to the “Auto Exclude” tool found towards the top right of the screen. This really is a great interface for file selection and allows users of all technical abilities to easily get a backup running quickly and easily, great work so far!
After selecting our files we are then greeted with a “Backup Settings” page before the backup can be saved and set into action.
As can be seen above, this settings screen groups together all of the main settings usually required when setting up a backup, this includes the scheduling (which can be as little as every 5mins) as well as bandwidth management for slower internet connections. The Hybrid+ feature can also be configured at this point allowing data to simultaneously be backed up to a local device (such as an external hard drive) as well as to the BigMIND cloud.
At this point the backup set will have been completed and the software will immediately begin protecting files with an initial backup before switching to the schedule of our choosing, this can easily be monitored (including information on when the next backup is due) using the BigMIND application dashboard.
Should we need to, at any point, run our backup manually this can be done by clicking “Run Now” from the main application menu found at the top right of the screen.
Unfortunately, one (small) thing which does appear to be missing is the ability to create several backup sets within the application. For example, if I wanted to backup my work files to my external hard drive every 5 mins but only to the cloud once at the end of every day this would not be possible as things currently stand. In some respects this is quite an advanced setup I have described and not really relevant for the majority of users, it would, however be nice to see the Hybrid+ feature extended so as to allow such a scenario in the future.
Looking a little deeper into the desktop application itself we can the home screen has three big buttons which make finding the key components of the application easy, theses are the “Data Selection”, “Settings” and “Restore” buttons as can be seen below.
The “Data Selection” button simply re-opens the file selection page we looked at a little earlier on, the “Settings” page, however, allows us to configure the application itself a little further. For example, under “Settings” we can edit (with more detail) the scheduling and bandwidth optimisation for the application, enable multi-threaded uploading (for faster backups) as well as switch on presentation mode which will pause backups whilst the PC is being used for playing video games or movies.
The Hybrid+ feature can also be optimised further in this page by setting up network locations (along with login details), filtering which files go the local devices and the ability to limit the size of the Hybrid backup set itself.
Finally, the restore functionality will, of course, allow us to restore any or all of the files already backed up. Restoring can be initiated using the big blue Restore button found on the home screen.
Once running, the restore tool will first allow us to first navigate our folder structure and select any or all files and folders to be restored, selecting the necessary files and clicking on “Next” will then allow us to configure the restore further.
As can be seen above, the restore option screen allows further configuration whereby we can select the date to restore the files from, whether to use the cloud or Hybrid+ storage location and whether or not to use the original file locations or restore to a new location. Once these options have been selected the restore operation can be run.
Overall, restoring worked well during my time testing BigMIND, not only is this process easy to perform but the restores themselves appeared to complete quickly as well. One thing which I do feel needs to be mentioned is that BigMIND only allows a maximum of 10 file revisions (old versions) to be backed up for its home users, regardless of how much free space is left in the account. This limitation does not exist under their business BigMIND offerings should you need more revisions to be kept!
A couple of final things to mention are that zero knowledge encryption does not feature in the BigMIND client application at all, this means if you require the additional security afforded by such encryption you will need to look else ware!
And finally, when BigMIND is install a “No-BigMIND” folder will be installed onto the desktop, any files and folders stored in this folder will never be included in a BigMIND backup. This is a nice addition as it makes clear how to keep certain files out of the BigMIND service if needed although this is not really relevant if choosing to manually select the files BigMIND will backup when configuring the software.
Using the BigMIND Web Interface
The BigMIND web interface is, at first glance, very impressive! Before getting into this section any further it is important to remember this service is actually made up of two distinct elements, the backup service itself (which we looked at earlier) and the cloud storage service which works in a similar way to other could drive storage services.
When logging into the web console we can see a dashboard containing information on how we are using our account (storage space remaining, last backup activity etc.) as well as the status of our backups at the top and a warning should the backup not have been run recently.
Clicking on “Discover” (from the left side menu) will take us to what is probably one of the most useful pages within BigMIND, from here we can browse the files found on any of our connected devices, the BigMIND cloud drive itself as well as see files stored on any connected cloud drives such as Dropbox.
Clicking on any device associated with the account on the left side menu (be it a backed up PC, integrated service such as Dropbox or the cloud drive itself) will load said device into what is an online file explorer allowing any files to be viewed. The big colourful buttons allow certain file types such as images, video and audio files to be easily filtered out and viewed separately across all devices and services available within the account. This might seem fairly standard at first, but remember we could have several devices and cloud drives added to the account so such a feature makes searching for, say, photographs across multiple entities at the same time quick and easy!
BigMIND also take this searching and filtering much further thanks to their very cleaver AI features, I will be looking at these in their own section a little further down in this review.
Looking to the top right of the screen we can see the settings menu for the logged in user, from this menu we can set up the BigMIND service itself including turning on multi-factor authentication (2FA), changing email addresses and passwords and managing connection settings.
Finally, another section of the web console which Zoolz have really got right is the reports section, again this is found using the left side menu which is available throughout the site.
As can be seen above, BigMIND offers us plenty of pre-written reports making the process of managing the account as easy as is possible. Never worry about running out of space or about which devices are connected to your account or using the most bandwidth as this information, plus much more, can be seen at a glance.
Integrating BigMIND with Dropbox
In the last section it was mentioned that files could be searched and filtered from multiple sources, thanks to the excellent integration options within BigMIND, these sources can include popular cloud providers like Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive plus a few other big names as well.
To get started with one of the most popular cloud storage services, Dropbox and integrate it into our BigMIND account we must start off on the “Discover” page. Once we are on this page we can click on the “Add Service” link towards the top left to begin.
Upon clicking this link to add a service a pop-up box will appear, this box lists all currently supported services which can be added into BigMIND, for this example I will choose the Dropbox button.
At this point the standard login box which is used for authentication from another application to Dropbox will appear, here we must login to our Dropbox account and then allow BigMIND access to our account to complete the authorisation.
Finally, after a few minutes, the integration will be complete and the Dropbox account can be accessed via its own link on the left side of the Discover page. We can also take advantage of the clever filtering tools to easily search and filter our Dropbox files alongside files from all other connected BigMIND devices.
BigMIND AI Video and Photo Tools
One of the most advanced features of BigMIND is the use of artificial intelligence to sort and categorise any data backed up using the service, this makes finding files based on certain criterion much simpler than ever before.
One such application of this technology is with facial and object recognition, you might have photographs of a certain person or object (such as a table) spread out over several different devices (smartphones, Dropbox, desktop PCs etc.) for which you might want to search for all in the same place.
As can be seen above, when using the “Discover” page we can click on either “Faces” or “Things” under the “A.I Actions” heading to get started with the AI features of BigMIND. When clicking into either of these you will see BigMIND has automatically started to auto-categorise certain files for you, as per the below you can see this in action with my first photo uploaded:
The tags which are automatically added for each AI photo in this case can be seen on the right of the screen, clicking on any of the tags will then filter out all applicable photos matching that specific tag. For example, below I have had a tag created for me called “Human” and it does indeed filter me out all photos with humans in them, amazing!
Whilst this really is a great addition to the service you should be aware this does mean you personal files are actively being analysed in order for this technology to work. Since BigMIND does not offer zero knowledge encryption on backed up files or any files at rest this could be a privacy concern for some.
Sharing Files with Zoolz BigMIND
When selecting one or more files on the Discover page we can elect to share share those files by clicking on the share icon which appears above any selected files like below:
Once clicked we will see the sharing box pop-up, from here we can start setting up our new share.
There are two methods to shares files, either by entering the email addresses of people to share with or by creating a special sharing link. Either method will have access to the advanced settings which allow any shared files to optionally be password protected or to have the link set to expire on a certain day. We can also elect to receive download notifications alerting us whenever a shared link is used.
Something else which needs to be pointed out is that Zoolz allow full use of these sharing features even on there free account! This is great to see as many other cloud storage companies force users to upgrade before anything other than the most basic link sharing functionality is available, well done Zoolz!
Using the BigMIND smartphone Apps
Finally, I will be having a look at the smartphone apps for the BigMIND service, far from just being a way of accessing a cloud drive these apps actually allow for the backing up of smartphones as well as providing access to all of the AI features found on the web based interface (which we looked at earlier).
When working with the Android app I found that installation was simple (as with most apps these days) and the app was ready to use in just a couple of minutes after granting the usual permissions allowing the app to access the phone.
Much as this is a great cloud storage and backup service combined, one of the main things missing is the option to have files encrypted before leaving user devices and being sent to the storage service. This encryption appears to be an option on some other Zoolz backup products but not the Zoolz BigMIND Home service.
Of course, this lack of zero knowledge encryption does not mean that the service is insecure in itself, but this would have been a great feature to have available. Even if this encryption is added as an optional feature, given that the AI features obviously wont work if only the account user knows the encryption key for their files it would still be nice to see it included.
With this encryption issue aside it is great to see multi-factor authentication (2FA) available on the account alongside the advanced link sharing features which we discussed earlier, both of these help keep files secure for those who regularly need to make files available to others.
Zoolz have a very useful support section featuring a detailed knowledge base and the ability to contact the support team via an online ticketing system or via live chat if required. All-in-all a very clear, easy to use and well laid out support system!
Zoolz offer a free BigMIND account (with 1GB of storage) alongside multiple Premium accounts providing up to a massive 1TB of cloud storage for as little as £9.99 per month.
The Koofr pricing (at time of writing) is:
1GB: 1 x User, 3x PCs, 2 x mobile devices (Free)
100GB: 1 x user, 3 x PCs, 3 x mobile devices (£2.49 / month)
500GB: 3 x users, 9 x PCs, 6 x mobile devices (£5.49 / month)
1TB: 5 users, 15 PCs, unlimited mobile devices (£9.99 / month)
During my time testing Zoolz BigMIND I was impressed by all of the features and functionality which is included, by combining a cloud drive with a backup application and some very cleaver AI functionality, BigMIND starts to become worth much more than the sum of these parts.
The backup client itself is by no means the most advanced and with, essentially, only one backup set allowed it is fair to say it has its limitations. It did, however, allow a backup to be configured and run very easily with the minimal of user intervention required thanks to the smart file selection tools and the ease of which scheduling and other related settings can be configured.
The web interface is also a pleasure to use and the integrated AI features and file explorer both combine to make finding files across multiple devices an easy task from anywhere, this is exactly how a cloud drive should work! Other things such as the integration with providers including Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and some others make this service even more useful and a great way for those using multiple devices and cloud drives to stay on top of their files.
Zoolz do offer 2FA on the account which gives piece of mind but one notable feature which is lacking is any form of built-in encryption (although this is available on other Zoolz products). Whilst not a deal breaker (and obviously not compatible with the AI functionality) I believe this would still be a nice option to have available on the <BigMIND Home> service.
All-in-all a very impressive service which is very reasonably priced given the number of devices supported per account and the storage quotas on offer, great work Zoolz!