Is Backify (512GB backup for free) also for real?

UPDATE 16 Nov 2011:
Message from Backify:

Dear Peter Forret,
First of all, we would like to thank you for using Backify. We hope you really liked our service and enjoyed using it. We regret to inform you that we can not provide free backup services anymore. All free Backify accounts will be closed on November 22, 2011. In order to prevent your account from deletion, please login into your account and update your Billing Details.

Message from LiveDrive:

We would also like to advise you that we have received a number of complaints about BACKIFY.COM from their customers and from industry organizations. We would like to advise you not to provide any credit card information to BACKIFY.COM. If you have provided credit card information to BACKIFY.COM then we would suggest contacting your card provider and informing them that your card may be used fraudulently. If BACKIFY.COM have charged your card for services not provided you should contact your card provider and ask them to initiate a chargeback procedure.

——————-

I just read the announcement today of a very strong data backup offer: backify.com lets you use 512GB of backup space for free. If you compare that to the competition: Dropbox and Mozy give you 2GB for free, OpenDrive, SugarSync and Box.net have a 5GB free account, although the latter has upped this to 50GB recently, when Apple also announced its 5GB free iCloud offering. Microsoft Live SkyDrive used to be the biggest free offer: 25GB (but no way to upgrade). So how can one company offer more than 20 times that space, and still not charge?

There are a couple of things that made me doubtful.

  • Too good to be true: a previously unknown company (Google will try to correct a search on their name to Backupify, because the first mentioning of the company was yesterday) comes and offers you something HUGE for FREE. Hmmm. Where’s the catch?
  • Business model doesn’t make sense: if you offer any John Doe 512 GB, you can count on a lot of data coming in. There will always be some guys that will try to use all of it. You need thousands of terabytes, and those don’t come for free. You could use Amazon S3 or Microsoft Azure, but they will charge you $0.10 to $0.15 per month/GB. There is a freemium model for storage, but the sweet spot seems to be: anything above 5 – 25 GB should be paid for.
  • No believable team: maybe this company has developed a new, revolutionary technology to make storage 10 times cheaper, but then they would show off their exceptional team. There would be a CTO or Chief Scientist with 30+ experience in data storage and some exotic patents in ‘redundant sub-particle holographic storage‘ or so. Here: nothing.
  • Look and feel: their page looks like it was made with a standard template and cheap stock photography. Like they couldn’t afford a decent web agency.
  • Empty company blog: that was a big red flag: they point to an empty blogspot as their ‘company blog’. This definitely smells like a scam.

So I started to dig deeper: what company is mentioned in the Terms & Conditions and the Privacy Statement? They talk about ‘Backify Internet Ltd’, but who knows if that company really exists. The address is interesting: it’s a Canadian one “Surrey, BC, Canada V3T 5L2″, that is shared with 2 other companies: AptiQuant and atCheap. AptiQuant has come in the news some months ago with the article “Is Internet Explorer For The Dumb?“. It was a hoax study (which was admitted afterwards), and the official explanation was that it was an effort “to create awareness about the incompatibilities of IE versions 6.0 to 8.0“. My thoughts: it was meant to drive traffic to the atCheap site, a comparison shopping site. Who is behind both companies? One person, Tarandeep Gill. And what was just added to that AptiQuant site? A link to Backify, free online backup. I checked the registration of the Backify domain: it’s the same guy. He registered the site in Feb 2009

So what does the Backify site actually offer? I downloaded the client, and here is the thing: it is not a ‘Backify’ client, it is a LiveDrive client (for Windows). LifeDrive is a UK company, started by ex-FastHosts people, notably founder Andrew Michael, who cashed £46mio or 72 mio $ when he sold his company. Also in the team (although non-executive) : Nicholas Cowell, brother of Simon ‘Idol’ Cowell, and a very rich UK real-estate entrepreneur. So these people do have cash, and, so it seems, a working product at pretty much the same prices as Backify is offering, except: they don’t have a 512GB for free offering, they only have a backup trial for 2 weeks! The Windows client works, you can upload files with it, and the files are actually stored at LiveDrive (I checked). The web interface doesn’t mention that I’m on a temporary plan. So LiveDrive seems to deliver.

So what is my hunch: Backify (or Tarandeep) is just a reseller for LiveDrive, he pays 60$/month to get a Backify rebranded white-label online backup service, and LiveDrive runs the actual service. Noteworthy: neither the Terms of Use or the Privacy Statement mention the Livedrive company or product. Is the ’512GB for free’ Backify offer actually the LiveDrive ‘Unlimited backup trial, free for 14 days‘, and so will it stop after 2 weeks? It’s either that, or Tarandeep has cut a better deal (“let me offer a crazy amount of storage for free forever“), which would be quite an accomplishment. Is it another stunt to drive traffic to atCheap (there are no links on the Backify site yet)? Is he branching out to a new niche? Time will tell. One thing is for sure: his press release has gotten huge coverage. And everyone seems to think Backify is a legit company.

TL;DR: Is “512GB for free forever” also for real? My gut feeling says: no. Don’t put all your eggs in that basket.

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17 Responses to Is Backify (512GB backup for free) also for real?

  1. Thanks for checking this. I thought it sounded to good to be true, especially if they don’t have an iPad/iPhone app.

  2. http://www.livedrive.com/ForResellers

    Backup accounts are free
    As a Livedrive reseller, Backup accounts are free! For just the fixed monthly fee of $59.95 per month you can create as many Livedrive Backup accounts as you’d like, with no charge per account. Livedrive Backup accounts make a fantastic value-add to any of your existing services.

  3. Seriously. I downloaded this installed on my mac, the following day I cant even access my files anymore.

    They’re a scam. I can’t believe I fell for this.

  4. Check out http://www.beecloud.eu. They offer the same thing and are also a LiveDrive reseller.

  5. I’m not sure if it actually could be true, but as far as I understand, the Livedrive reseller site (http://www.livedrive.com/ForResellers) says that they won’t charge anything for the backup accounts “sold” by the reseller. So Backify may be paying 540€/year for the reseller license and 800€/year for white labeling, but other than that, there shouldn’t be any additional cost for each free backup account they offer and if they manage to sell just 30 512GB briefcases, the costs are already covered. The question is, if Livedrive can handle their part of the deal.

  6. Well, I differ you in many ways. Yes, it’s a reseller, but then it’s very robust business plan. For $60 of investment, it can attract more paid customer that not only covers the cost but make their investment profitable.
    As far as trial account go, Reseller accounts have the ability to create unlimited user accounts with unlimited storage. Simple facts to make their things work for profitable business.
    Read reseller details here:
    http://www.livedrive.com/ForResellers/Features

  7. I noticed they’re a LiveDrive reseller before seeing this article when I incorrectly typed a subdomain.

    See: http://wrongsubdomain.backify.com

  8. hhhhmmmm, Uh, they DO have an iOS app that works as well as if not better than other similar app’s. So it’s a reseller… who cares? They obviously struck a sweet deal with Livedrive and are having a go at it. It’s a background backup that appears to do everything it claims. Will they raise the prices or lower the huge space allotments? Probably, but which of the competitors hasn’t, or even came close to these spec’s when they were initially offered – NONE. For $60 for a year of UnLimited backup and 512GB sync storage, on unlimited machines – I’ll take that any day !

  9. I knew it! Thanks for taking all the time and effort to investigate. I just hope nobody falls for that (possible) scam.

  10. Pingback: Backify – 512GB of free cloud backup? | Dan Walkes

  11. Thanks for the article. I’m wondering if it may be LiveDrive’s reseller plans that might be too good to be true and if we will be seeing more Backify.com’s sprouting up soon based on LiveDrive. See my review at http://www.ddubtech.com/2011/10/backify-512gb-of-free-cloud-backup/

  12. Pingback: Backify – Providing 512GB of free online backup | TEK4

  13. Good analysis. Did you hear that they have already announced they are stopping giving away the 512GB free accounts? They released the news this morning, which probably means they posted the news release on Saturday. I mention it here:

    http://www.onlinebackupdeals.com/livedrive/backify-to-stop-offering-free-accounts/

    Nothing like trying to scam people. Hopefully that is the last we will hear from them.

  14. Backify is a Livedrive reseller… So what? There is nothing wrong with reselling services provided you have the ability to support your customers properly.
    This is where most resellers fall down. We have seen it in the past with webhosting resellers and I’m pretty sure we will see it in the future with cloud services.
    I have been successfully utilising Livedrive’s Network since 2010 and it is most definitely not a scam. What I would say though is that I am not particularly comfortable with ‘pop-up’ shops coming along and giving the product away for free. That said if they are willing to offer proper support to these free accounts then where is the problem? The customer gets a great deal on a good product.

  15. I really don’t understand why this would be a scam. It’s runned on the secure livedrive and it’s free. So maybe this is a limited offer or maybe it’s a way to get aquatinted with live drive in the hope we would upgrade to a paid account. If marketing techniques ate a scam, I really don’t know in what world we live.

  16. I signed up 2 days ago and it is still downloading my files. After reading some articles about this new company possibly being a scam I unchecked everything so it would stop downloading (supposedly), my hard drive keeps spinning once is a while for no reason still. I logged onto the website and there is no way to delete what you downloaded. I tried the link they sent when I joined and Google doesn’t even recognize it to sign in. I would wait to download anything until proven to be a good company.

  17. Interesting stuff.

    I’ve been active in the network/internet enabled data storage field and these type of practices are worrying indeed.

    Didn’t you recently buy a Synology NAS system because in context of consumer-sided data warehousing, I advise you to check your network configuration and ensure it is set up appropriately, isolating the NAS system from your WAN-connected systems or similar devices with wan access so that your NAS only receives interrupt requests generated within the LAN.

    Why? Anyone could access your NAS device and use it for storage purposes, including commercial.

    It has frequently come to my attention that these practices are what several companies participate in, some in context of “the cloud” hype, others simply in the name of multipoint & multilocation data backup & storage but either way they’re using storage devices that are not theirs to be used.

    I wouldn’t necessarily consider this to be the case with this company but I thought it was worth to be noted.

    Regards,
    Koen VdB