Freelance writers – and indeed, any business which makes use of a computer to store digital records, project files or any other type of business information – should have a strict backup policy in place to protect them from any potential loss due to equipment failure, theft or destruction in a fire or flood. While each of those scenarios might seem extreme, a solid backup plan can really reduce stress and improve business continuity should any of these situations come to pass.
For the past several years, I have used a combination of external hard drives and remote online storage solutions to fill my backup needs. I added the remote online element because I do not currently have a reliable method for rotating external hard drive backups in and out of my home – a must for ensuring adequate data protection. After all, you don’t want a fire wiping out both your home PC and your backups at the same time.
I elected to use Mozy, an online backup service that would automatically encrypt files that I specified from my work computer, copy them onto their servers and then store them for me indefinitely for a low monthly rate. While Mozy’s software was not perfect, the “set it and forget it” style of service, combined with its affordable pricing for unlimited amounts of data was very appealing.
Unfortunately, Mozy recently changed the terms of its unlimited data backup plan – and by changed, I mean completely eliminated this option. While the company is obviously free to alter the terms of the services that it offers at any point, the way Mozy positioned and announced its policy shift offered an almost textbook example of how not to interact with an established customer base – particularly one which makes extensive use of social media and online communities.
There are several lessons to be learned from Mozy’s handling of its service changes. The first is don’t make statements that alienate customers. When Mozy eliminated its unlimited storage backup plan, it replaced it with a 50 gigabyte plan at the unlimited plan’s price point. The company publicly stated that 90 percent of its customers used less than 50 gig of backup space, and went on to insinuate that the remaining 10 percent were a drain on its resources that it could no longer afford to sustain. Anyone who chose to remain with Mozy and use more than 50 gigabytes of space would have to pay a multiple of their original rate due to surcharges and other plan changes.
Important points to take from Mozy’s public posture relating to these statements:
- It is not the fault of its customers if Mozy cannot adequately fund its operations using its existing business model.
- In the same vein, painting the 10 percent of customers who used more than 50 gigabytes of backup storage as somehow parasitic, despite the fact that the service was offering unlimited storage up to this point, is essentially an insult to this part of the installed user base.
- There are several other companies offering unlimited online backup services – Mozy was not the only game in town. Disparaging a subset of its customers who can move to competitors and enjoy similar pricing and service delivery is an excellent way to create a dark online cloud over a brand’s reputation.