By September 4, 2011

Dolly Drive review

dolly-drive I can guess, before I even ask the question what the answer will be and it send shivers down my spine.

Do you back up your Mac?

Many years ago, I managed to lose all the data I held on my computer. Never again. Ever since this happened I have always carried out regular backups. Both on external hard drives, partitions and CD/DVD’s. Obsessed? Slightly.

I was over the moon when Apple introduced TimeMachine, a back up solution anyone could use without even knowing it. TimeMachine ran in the background and kept backups of individual files as well as the whole computer. If you lost a file, you could simply restore it. Have a HDD failure, swap it out and restore form TimeMachine. Bliss.

The main issue for me, was the fact I needed to plug in an external drive to my MacBook Pro if I wanted it to work in the way Apple designed TimeMachine. This was not an ideal solution for me so I went on the search. I was recommended to the Drobo solution. This, with 3rd party software, would back up my computer whenever I was at home over my local network. This solution was in place and working like a dream for a few years. That was until Apple decided OSX Lion would kill the method used. My Drobo also received an end of life notice leaving me to find another solution.

I’ve been uploading my files to cloud based services for a while now and this provides me with access to all of my files no matter where I am. I very rarely use another computer, but having the files in the cloud meant I was protected from hardware failure. As a result, I started to look at online back up solutions. There are a number of very good back up solutions but none of these met my requirements, nor could I use TimeMachine.

This is where Dolly Drive came to the rescue.

Dolly Drive, whilst a backup solution offers a unique feature. TimeMachine backups, in the cloud.

UK Internet upload speeds do need a very hard slap in the face, but Dolly Drive was looking like the perfect solution for my requirements.

When you sign up for an account with Dolly Drive, you are offered two grid storage locations. Rome in Italy, for the Europeans and a US based location for the rest of the world. As I’m in the UK, I choose the European location for my backups. Plans start at ?5 per month for 50GB of storage space (I’ll cover the plans in full shortly). Every month, you are also provided with an additional 5GB of free space.

Once you have subscribed, you’ll be able to download the Dolly Drive software.

Installation is simple and once installed you simply sign in to your Dolly Drive account with your username and password. For the simplest way to manage your account, once sign in, you can use the default TimeMachine application found in System Preferences. Don’t forget to exclude larger files, or those you don’t want backed up. Large files will eat in to your monthly allowance.

I started with a clean install of Mac OSX Lion and found I needed around 7GB to be backed up. This is where I set the back up to commence and went to bed. As I mentioned before a fast UK internet upload speed is something to be desired. All uploads to the Dolly Drive servers are encrypted.

The back up did take several hours to complete, but this was not Dolly Drives issue. In the US, they do offer a service that will allow you to post them a HDD with your data and they will apply it to your account.

Once the first back up has been completed, you can either set to the TimeMachine default of hourly backups or select manual back ups. As my upload speed isn’t the fasted I decided to select the manual back up. I do this every day, usually towards the end of the day. Some people may find this an issue, so simply leave it to the automatic hourly back ups.

If you require additional space, simply upgrade your account online with Dolly Drive. Downgrading is also as simple. Dolly Drive do not have any long term contracts. Simply cancel at any point if you are not happy. Though I doubt that will be the case.

This may sound confusing to those who have not used TimeMachine before, but fear not, Dolly Drive offer a set up service. Simply contact them and they will guide you through the set up. The Dolly-On-One service connects you to a member of the support staff who will request a screen share with you. They will show you exactly how to get the most out of your new Dolly Drive account. Best of all, this service is absolutely free.

Another feature of Dolly Drive is the ‘Clone’ option found within the Dolly Drive application. This is a fantastic addition to TimeMachine as it will create a bootable recover image of your Mac, similar to SuperDuper. The benefits of the Dolly Drive clone is simple. Should your machine fail, install the clone, connect to TimeMachine via Dolly Drive and restore those last few modified files since the clone was created. You can also schedule how often a clone is created. This is perfect for those who have a limited download cap, or those who want a slightly quicker restore solution.

I’ve been using Dolly Drive for the past few days on my OSX Lion install and I’m currently using the latest Beta of Dolly Drive (1.4). I’ve not come across any significant application issues, but have failed to connect to the Dolly Drive server a couple of times. This is something you will need to keep your eye on, but could also be down to the beta software I am using.

A few features that would make Dolly Drive even better would be the ability to change the frequency of back ups, say every 6, 12 and 24 hours and a single account for multiple computers.

The current pricing for the European grid is:

  • €5.00 per month – 50 GB
  • €7.50 per month – 100 GB
  • €20.00 per month – 500 GB
  • €30.00 per month – 750 GB
  • €35.00 per month – 1 TB
  • €55.00 per month – 2 TB

Dolly Drive definitely gets the thumbs up and a service I would happily recommend.

Dolly Drive demo

Disclosure: Dolly Drive provided me with a free 10GB account for the purpose of review.


Review by: Danny

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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