Comcast offers data sharing, backups

By Hiawatha Bray
Globe Staff / February 18, 2010

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Even as it rebrands and upgrades its broadband products, Comcast Corp. is rolling out a new product that will allow subscribers to back up and share all of their data - pictures, files, video - on the Internet.

Comcast Secure Backup & Share will be powered by Mozy, a subsidiary of EMC Corp., the giant data storage company headquartered in Hopkinton. It will allow Comcast’s 16 million broadband customers to store their most precious data automatically on remote servers, as a defense against computer breakdowns or theft.

Mozy already sells a popular consumer service that backs up unlimited amounts of data from home computers for $4.95 a month per machine. The Comcast service won’t offer unlimited storage. Customers will get 50 gigabytes of storage for $4.99 a month, or 200 gigs for $9.99 a month.

But Comcast will provide something extra by letting users share some files with friends, business colleagues, or family members over the Internet. A subscriber will be able to create personalized Web addresses, where he or she can post links to photos, videos, and documents.

“You can have personalized, invitation-only sharing sites for each of those different audiences,’’ said Vance Checketts, Mozy’s vice president of operations.

Checketts said the service could become an alternative to popular photo-sharing sites like Flickr, used by millions to show photos to friends and relatives. But he added that Mozy hopes to cooperate with social-media sites like Flickr and Facebook. For instance, someone might use the Comcast-Mozy service to store photos, but run a piece of software to display the stored photos on Flickr. This would attract more data storage revenue for Mozy, while slashing Flickr’s data storage bill.

“We would take out a huge portion of their costs,’’ Checketts said.

“It’s an interesting concept,’’ said Lauren Whitehouse, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford. “You do start to lose track of what you put out there. Knowing that it all exists in one place and you can share it with those other sites makes it easier to manage.’’

David Friend, chief executive of Carbonite Inc., of Boston - it’s Mozy’s leading rival in the online data backup business - said his company has a similar deal to resell its backup service to customers of Cablevision Systems Corp. But Friend said he has soured on making any more deals for Carbonite to resell its services under another company’s brand. “It’s slow, and it’s a big distraction,’’ Friend said. “More importantly, it doesn’t build our brand.’’

Friend said he’d only be interested in working with companies that would co-market data backup under the Carbonite label. He added that Carbonite plans to offer a file-sharing capability to match Mozy’s, but that the company is in no hurry. “It’s hard enough to get people to understand online backup right now,’’ he said.

The new Comcast-Mozy service is available immediately. It comes as Comcast is in the midst of a campaign to rebrand the company’s Internet, cable TV, and telephone services under the name Xfinity. Comcast is also upgrading its high-speed Internet service to offer residential customers speeds as high as 100 megabits per second.

Hiawatha Bray can be reached at