Zoolz Online Backup Service Review

A Full Review of Zoolz, an Online Backup Service

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Zoolz is an online backup service that lets you upload all types of files and of any size, assuming you don't go over your maximum allowed backup space, that is.

Two plans are offered by Zoolz that offer 1,000 GB or more. However, every new user gets a trial version of the plan for free that allows 5 GB of space.

There are, however, some limitations that you should understand before you purchase one of these plans.

More on those below.

Sign Up for Zoolz

Continue reading my review of Zoolz for all the details on the plans they sell, a pretty extensive list of the features they offer, and some comments I have about the service after trying them out.

See my Zoolz Tour for a really detailed look at how their cloud backup service works.

Zoolz Plans & Costs

Valid July 2017

Both of the Zoolz Home plans must be purchased by the year (which means you have to pay for 12 months at a time).

Zoolz Family

1 TB of backup space is allowed with the Zoolz Family plan and up to 5 computers are supported on the same account. It costs around $69.99 /year but you have to pay by the month, which is $5.83 /month.

Sign up for Zoolz Family

Zoolz Heavy

4 TB of backup space is available under the Zoolz Heavy plan. This plan supports 5 computers and costs $20.83 /month, which comes to just under $249.99 /year.

Sign up for Zoolz Heavy

Zoolz can be downloaded for free here.

It acts as a trial version, so it expires 14 days after you sign up. Going this route gives you only 5 GB of storage, but all the features are the same as the full plans. This is a great way to test out how the software, website, and mobile app work before committing to a yearly subscription.

See my list of Free Online Backup Plans for some backup services that are truly free and don't ever expire.

Zoolz also has business plans that you can purchase which come with support for unlimited users and servers, instant restores, web uploads, server backup, file sharing, mobile video/music streaming, and other features. You can read a little more about them in my list of Business Online Backup Services.

Zoolz Features

A backup service should be amazing at their core job: to always make it a priority that your files are being backed up as often as possible. Fortunately, Zoolz automatically monitors your files for changes and can start backups as often as every 5 minutes without any intervention on your part.

Below are a number of features found in most other backup services along with more on how well, or not well, they're supported in one of the Zoolz Home plans:

File Size LimitsNo
File Type RestrictionsYes, but you're able to lift the restrictions
Fair Use LimitsNo
Bandwidth ThrottlingNo
Operating System SupportWindows 10/8/7/Vista/XP, Server 2003/2008/2012, macOS
Native 64-bit SoftwareNo
Mobile AppsAndroid and iOS
File AccessDesktop software, mobile apps, and web app
Transfer Encryption256-bit AES
Storage Encryption256-bit AES
Private Encryption KeyYes, optional
File VersioningYes, limited to 10 versions per file
Mirror Image BackupNo
Backup LevelsDrive, folder, and file
Backup from Mapped DriveYes
Backup from External DriveYes
Continuous Backup (≤ 1 min)No
Backup FrequencyManually, hourly, daily, weekly, & every 5/15/30 min
Idle Backup OptionNo
Bandwidth ControlYes
Offline Backup Option(s)No, only with Zoolz Business
Offline Restore Option(s)No
Local Backup Option(s)Yes
Locked/Open File SupportYes, but only for file types you explicitly define
Backup Set Option(s)Yes
Integrated Player/ViewerNo, only with Zoolz Business
File SharingNo, only with Zoolz Business
Multi-Device SyncingNo
Backup Status AlertsNo, only with Zoolz Business
Data Center LocationsUS and UK
Inactive Account RetentionData will remain so long as the plan is being paid for
Support OptionsEmail, self help, phone, and remote access

My Experience With Zoolz

Zoolz definitely doesn't have the cheapest backup plans out there, but there are plenty of things that set it apart from other backup services in terms of features... which is sometimes a good thing, but not always.

What I Like:

All of the Zoolz Home plans use Cold Storage to store your files, which is in opposition to Instant Storage (which is available through Zoolz Business only). Files stored this way are designed to be kept forever, which means even if you delete a file from your computer, it will not be removed from your backups unless you explicitly trash them from the web app.

However, Cold Storage has some drawbacks (see below) when compared to Instant Storage. See this comparison table on the Zoolz site for more that.

Hybrid+ is a feature you can enable in the desktop program that will back up your files to a hard drive on your computer in addition to your online account. The process happens automatically and you have complete control over the file types that are backed up locally, where the files are stored, and how much disk space Hybrid+ is allowed to use.

One reason to use Hybrid+ is if you're wanting to restore a file but don't have an Internet connection. If your Hybrid+ location is accessible, and the files you want to restore are located there, you don't even have to have an Internet connection to get your files back.

The Hybrid+ files can be stored on the local drive, an external one, or even over your local network.

Backing up your files is really easy with Zoolz because you have two ways to pick them. You can choose a category, like Bookmarks or Videos, to have all of those types of files backed up, as well as select the exact hard drives, folders, and files that you want included, giving you precise control over what you upload.

Context menu options can be enabled so you can also back up your files from the Windows Explorer right-click menu.

I was able to back up my files to Zoolz using both of these methods and at no time did I experience any problems, neither with my overall computer performance nor with bandwidth usage.

Your results will likely vary depending on your particular internet connection and system resources. See How Long Will the Initial Backup Take? for some more on this.

Here are some other notes I took when using Zoolz that you might find helpful:

  • There are tons of tutorials and FAQ at Zoolz Wiki that is freely available to go through
  • Your files can be restored from both the desktop software and the web app
  • There's no limit on the size of files you can restore when using the desktop client
  • Files restored with the desktop program can be automatically restored to the same folder where they originally existed, or you can choose a custom location
  • Multiple file restores made through the web app are downloaded in a single ZIP file
  • Some folders are automatically excluded from backups, but you can override this by removing the exclusions
  • Zoolz lets you build filters that will skip over backing up files of your choice, like files that have a certain extension or name, files that are larger than the size you define, and files that are older than the date you specify
  • Bandwidth options let you limit the upload speed and optionally only throttle the bandwidth during a certain time frame
  • Editing and creating new files will be reproduced in your account when the next backup is launched, but renaming and deleting files will be detected automatically and be reflected in your account nearly instantaneously
  • The thumbnails for JPG and RAW image files can be viewed in the web app and the mobile app even though you can't immediately download the full files out of Cold Storage
  • "Presentation Mode" is an option you can enable to automatically have all backups paused while you're playing games and watching movies
  • Bandwidth is conserved with support for de-duplication, which means duplicate files won't be uploaded; Zoolz will instead copy the existing file from your account to make the duplicate instead of uploading it again from your computer
  • Zoolz can use the Volume Shadow Copy service to back up open and locked files, but only for the file types you tell it to monitor
  • Deleted files are red in the web app and clear in the desktop app so it's easy to tell which ones no longer exist on your computer
  • Multithreading can be enabled in Zoolz's settings to speed up backups; enabling this allows a larger number of files to be uploaded at once
  • A list of "Block Level Extensions" can be built so Zoolz will break up those types of files into small blocks, and then upload only the blocks that were changed instead of backing up the whole file, which uses unnecessary bandwidth
  • Premium Support is available for the Zoolz Family plan only, which offers priority response times, phone support, and remote session support
  • Instant Vault storage can be added to any plan for around $15 for each 20 GB. However, the more you add, the cheaper the additional storage is, per gigabyte (e.g. 100 GB extra is around $50)

What I Don't Like:

By far, the biggest drawback with Zoolz is that files backed up using Cold Storage take 3-5 hours to restore. On top of that, if using the web app, you can only restore 1 GB of your data within a 24 hour period. This makes restoring all your files out of Cold Storage take a really long time - much longer than any other backup service I've used.

When restoring files from Cold Storage using the web app, you'll get an email with the download link. Restoring from the desktop app starts automatically.

Something else that bothers me about this is that if you're using the desktop app to restore your files, given that the process takes 3 hours at minimum, you can't choose to restore anything else during that time because the Zoolz Restore utility is busy waiting on the other files to restore.

One workaround for this, however, is to use the web app to restore additional files while waiting on the others to finish processing.

In addition to the above, you can't restore one file from one folder and another file from a different folder both at the same time. Zoolz will not let you restore anything but the files contained within one folder or the folders contained within one drive.

As you can imagine, it could take a very long time to restore your files with Zoolz. Because of this, it's recommended you use the Hybrid+ feature if you think you'll be restoring files often and if you have the available storage for it.

Using Hybrid+ will completely bypass the wait time of the Cold Storage restore because Zoolz will check that folder for the file first before attempting to access it from Cold Storage.

Some backup services will let you make an unlimited number of changes to your files and have all of those versions of the files backed up and stored on your account. This is a great idea because you can rest assured that any change you make to your data isn't a permanent change - they can always be undone by restoring an older version.

With Zoolz, however, only 10 of these file versions are stored. This means once you've made the 11th change to a file, the very first iteration of it is destroyed from your account and unavailable for restore.

Something else to realize about these plans offered by Zoolz is that they are relatively expensive when you compare them to the prices offered by similar backup services. For example, SOS Online Backup lets you store an unlimited amount of files and will keep an unlimited number of file versions (Zoolz keeps 10), and costs around 1/4 of the price of the big, but not-unlimited, Zoolz Heavy.

Here are some other things I don't like about Zoolz:

  • The mobile app can only stream files that were backed up to Instant Storage, which means the Zoolz Home plans can only see a file's name, size, date, and JPG thumbnail (because they back up to Cold Storage)
  • The Zoolz Home plans are unable to opt for Instant Storage for faster restores (only the business-class plans can)

Zoolz Small Print

Rules and restrictions imposed by Zoolz that aren't easily accessible on the website, but are still very much enforced, can be found tucked away in Zoolz's Terms.

Here are several things you should be aware of before creating an account:

  • Zoolz has the right to modify, suspend, or discontinue its services without providing you with any notice (though they will use reasonable efforts to do so)
  • If you avoid renewing your paid or trial account, if your account expires, or if it's terminated, Zoolz reserves the right to automatically delete all your backed up data
  • If you cancel your Zoolz account, your personal data may be kept in their backup records
  • Credit card information is the only personal data that's disclosed to third parties and that's done only to process your payments
  • Your IP address may be recorded when backing up data
  • Zoolz doesn't view any data that you back up, but they will disclose your information in compliance with a government request
  • You agree that you won't use Zoolz to transmit any malicious or harmful computer code
  • Zoolz will terminate any account that uploads or stores files that are infringing on copyrights held by third parties

My Final Thoughts on Zoolz

Frankly, and probably already obviously, Zoolz isn't my favorite service. Other services offer better prices, even for unlimited backup plans.

That said, maybe there's a feature or two that really speaks to your situation. In that case, Zoolz might be the best fit for you.

Sign Up for Zoolz

I have full reviews of other backup services you may be more interested in, like Backblaze, CrashPlan, or SugarSync.