BigMIND Home Review
BigMIND Home, a product from the same team behind Zoolz Backup, gives us a glimpse into the future of online backup. It offers AI-assisted facial recognition, scans files and more besides. The downside is that it can be a bit slow sometimes as its backend is provided by Glacier; read our full review for the details.
BigMIND Home by Zoolz is an online backup service produced by the makers of Zoolz Home Cloud Backup. In many ways, the service looks and works the same, but includes advanced features you won’t find with its sister service.
Formerly Zoolz Intelicloud, many of the features we’ll cover in this BigMIND review pass for cutting edge in the online backup space, including photo detection, facial recognition and high-definition streaming. BigMIND doesn’t come cheap, but there are worse deals out there (hello, MozyPro).
The most important thing to know about BigMIND is that it uses the cloud infrastructure of Amazon Glacier (read our Amazon Glacier review). Glacier is classified as cold storage, which is intended for archiving. That means cheap storage costs and fast upload speeds, but painfully slow download speeds.
You can work around those slow file retrievals by taking advantage of BigMIND’s hybrid backup feature, storing data both on local network drives and in the cloud, and building a rock-solid 3-2-1 backup plan in the process.
Keep reading to wrap your head around what BigMIND is all about, and whether it’s the smart choice for your backup needs. Read our best online backup guide for other options.
- Lots of features & option settings
- Strong security
- File, image & hybrid backup
- No attached storage space
- No mobile app
- Fast data uploads
- Private encryption
- Multi-threaded backup
- Block-level backup
- Backup by file type
- Continuous backup
- Photo recognition
- Decent pricing
- Shareable backup
- File versioning
- Mobile backup
- Hybrid backup
- Only up to 1TB
- Slow data recovery (Glacier)
- HD video only on Family Plus
BigMIND Home is similar to Zoolz Home, but in the way that little Mario is similar to Mario pumped up on magic mushrooms. That’s not to say that it stomps the competition (CloudBerry Backup says hello), but it owns a place in the upper echelon of consumer backup software.
As an online backup tool, the goal of BigMIND is to replicate your hard drive in the cloud so that you don’t lose your documents, photos, videos and other files when disaster strikes. BigMIND can backup by file type and file location, making it a cinch to create a comprehensive backup plan.
Depending on your subscription choice, you can backup three, nine or 15 computers. BigMIND can protect Android and iOS smartphone data, too, making it one of the few services with that capability (read our best online backup for mobile).
Mobile backup options include automatic uploads of photos, videos, documents, call logs, text messages and calendars. Apps have a search feature to find files quickly and can play HD and 4K videos. They can be used to share files of any size, too.
Hybrid backup is another option. BigMIND supports unlimited external and network drives. Having local copies of your backup means faster access to them, since downloading from the cloud, especially Amazon Glacier, can take time.
As a bonus, you can link BigMIND to Instagram, Facebook, Box, Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive to backup photos, videos and other data.
Backup can be set to run continuously or on a schedule. Features such as multi-threaded backup and block-level file copying help speed up the process, along with network-speed controls and a “turbo” feature that gives BigMIND priority over all software running on your computer.
Files are compressed to reduce the amount of space they take in the cloud, with compression supposedly being lossless.
BigMIND is capable of file versioning, meaning as file changes are made, previous copies of files are retained. That allows you to roll back files in case of accidental edits or file corruptions.
BigMIND keeps up to 10 previous file versions for home subscribers indefinitely. Versioning helps with ransomware protection, too. We’ll cover other aspects of security, including private encryption, later in this review.
BigMIND and Media
Once files are uploaded, you can share them with others, view images and even stream movies. The latter is something most of the competition can’t do. Unless you spring for the more expensive Family Plus plan, video streaming is standard definition, but that works well enough for the occasional break.
BigMIND has interesting photo features, including facial recognition and object detection. Once a photo is uploaded, BigMIND algorithms analyze people and things in that photo. For faces, it will group the photo with other photos that include the same face. Maybe the company should have called the service “BigBROTHER” instead of BigMIND, but it’s still cool.
BigMIND’s “things” algorithms log objects in your photos, such as hot dogs. Photos are then tagged based on those objects and searchable later, just in case you want to find all the snapshots you’ve ever taken of weiners.
The BigMIND AI will even attempt to describe your photo. For example, in the above photo, it sees a dog on a bench and labels the photo as “A.I. Description: a dog is sitting on a wooden bench.”
Overall, BigMIND not only has the features of an advanced online backup service, its media capabilities put most cloud storage providers to shame, including many of those in our best cloud storage for photos and videos review.
For those thinking about BigMIND, a free 5GB trial is available. There are minor limitations, such as support for only one external drive and no customer service, but it should be enough to get an idea whether a subscription is justified.
If the answer is yes, there are three plans to pick from: Personal, Family and Family Plus.
| Family Plus|
BigMIND Personal and Family must be paid on an annual basis. Family Plus can be paid for monthly or annually, though the longer subscription comes with no discount so there’s little point in signing up for it.
The $2.99 per month rate for BigMIND Personal isn’t bad, even for a meager 100GB of backup. For some users, that’s all they need, making paying for extra space pointless. That said, for $5 a month, you can get unlimited backup with Backblaze, but BigMIND has tricks that Backblaze doesn’t.
The 500GB plan for $6.99 a month will probably suit individuals better, seeing as most solid state drives range from 250GB to 500GB. As a family plan, you can share that storage with up to two others, though it’s questionable whether that’s enough for three people.
Family Plus boosts you to 1TB for $12.99 per month and is shareable with five users. For comparison, SpiderOak ONE gives you 2TB of storage for the same price, which can be used to backup unlimited computers, but not smartphones.
The short story is that while BigMIND doesn’t blow minds when it comes to cost, it isn’t a bad deal for the right person, especially those looking for both computer and mobile backup.
After you’ve signed up for BigMIND and logged in to the web interface, a pop-window with client download options will appear. They include downloads for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS. At that point, you can choose to integrate BigMIND with a handful of services, as well, including Instagram, Facebook, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive and OneDrive.
These options let you quickly backup photos, videos and other files from those services, which is a nice touch. Cloud storage service pCloud (read our pCloud review) has similar functionality. In any case, BigMIND may deserve mention in our how to backup social media article.
For our tests, we were mostly concerned with backing up desktop files, so we downloaded the Windows client, which took just 30 seconds (it’s an 11MB file). Once installed, a wizard will walk you through the setup process.
The installation takes another 30 seconds, after which you’ll need to login with the account credentials you created.
If you’ve used Zoolz Home, the client is identical, minus a few cosmetic differences and added features.
The client provides helpful information such as your current backup status, when the last backup ran, how many files are backed up and how many are pending. We wish it included how fast the backup is running in terms of megabits per second, though, so we could compare it to our internet connection to measure efficiency.
At the bottom of the client, a status bar will show you how much data you’re backing up and how much you have left, along with the expected “buy more storage” button.
BigMIND Web Interface
The BigMIND online user interface provides a nice overview of your account, which is especially helpful if you’re using the service for backing up multiple computers.
A dashboard shows how many devices are connected to BigMIND and how many are backing up. There’s a graph that shows backup activity over time and a pie chart that breaks down your backup by file type.
Those are cool features we haven’t seen elsewhere. An activity stream will keep you apprised of what’s happening on your account and a storage utilization graphic shows you where you are in relation to your backup capacity.
BigMIND online makes it easy to browse content you’ve sent to the cloud, as well. You can search for data by device or category.
If you prefer to access your files on the move, the Android and iOS apps have most of the same capabilities, including letting you listen to tunes, play videos and share files.
BigMIND gives you two options to create a backup plan: backup by file type or backup by location. The choice is nice, since many providers stick to one or the other.
BigMIND calls backup by file type “smart backup.” It lets you tick boxes beside items such as mail, documents, pictures and videos. Any files of those types will be automatically added to your backup plan, regardless of their location.
The issue with that approach is that BigMIND doesn’t provide bottomless backup like those providers in our best unlimited backup article. As such, you might be better off being more thoughtful when creating your backup plan.
If that’s the case, click the second tab, “my computer,” to mark folders in your file system for backup. In each folder, you can check or uncheck individual files.
If all that seems like too much effort, you can put BigMIND’s filter system to work. Filters let you include or exclude files based on file extensions. A few examples are .doc, .txt, .tmp and .sys.
Other options let you add a cap to the size of files that can be backed up and choose not to backup files older than a certain date.
Once your backup selections are made, you can set a schedule. BigMIND can run near real-time backup at intervals as low as five minutes, though it’s set to two hours by default.
You can increase backup intervals all the way up to 24 hours or set a fixed schedule. With a fixed schedule, you can pick between what hours backups will run and on what days. This is a useful feature for those who use resource-intensive programs that BigMIND might interfere with if it was constantly running in the background, though you sacrifice data protection with it.
During the setup process, you can enable hybrid backup. Hybrid backup means that you’ll be sending data to both a local storage device and Glacier. BigMIND supports unlimited external and network drives.
To restore files, click the blue “restore” box in the bottom right corner of the BigMIND desktop client.
A second client window will open, which will let you browse your stored folders and files and check those you wish to keep. There’s a “select all” option to complete a full restoration.
Near the bottom on the client, there’s a button that reads, “restore from another account.” That lets you access files backed up from other devices and is yet another innovative add-on most backup providers won’t give you.
Next, several restore options will be presented. You can restore files to their original or an alternative location and use multi-threaded downloading to speed things up, which is useful for dealing with Glacier.
Another option is to restore files based on a date range. You can also choose to replace existing files if they’re on your computer, replace them only if the backed up file is newer or just leave them alone.
Once completed, BigMIND will calculate the time it will take to restore your files and let you know when it’s done. Because it’s Glacier and designed for cold, rather than hot, storage, Amazon often waits three to five hours to even begin the restore. That makes BigMIND’s multi-threaded downloading feature a smart one. We’ll look at speed, next.
By default, BigMIND does not limit the amount of bandwidth used to upload files to Amazon Glacier. If you’d rather it did, you can manually enable throttling.
Throttle speeds can be as little as 128 kilobits per second to as high as 16 Mbps. We recommend not only sticking to maximum speed, but checking the “multithread upload” box to get things moving even faster.
Below that, there’s a checkbox for “enable presentation” mode that will slow down backup speed if you’re displaying presentations or, more likely, playing video games.
On the main client page, there’s an option to switch from “smart mode” to “turbo mode.” Smart mode automatically adjusts upload speeds based on user activity, while turbo mode consumes resources without consideration for its fellow programs.
We tried turbo mode and, sure enough, it had a negative impact on our ability to surf the internet and perform other activities.
For speed, expect fast upload times and slow download times. That is because BigMIND uses Amazon Glacier for backup, a cold storage service designed for long-term file archiving. In fact, file downloads from Glacier won’t even start for three to five hours. This is by design, with the payoff being cheaper storage costs.
If you can’t afford to wait this long, we suggest taking advantage of BigMIND’s hybrid feature to backup files to both the cloud and local devices. Retrieval from local devices is orders of magnitude faster. We still recommend uploading to the cloud, though, since local devices are prone to crashes, damage and other mishaps.
We performed upload and download tests using a 1GB file as we do with all backup providers. Tests were performed over a WiFi connection with 30 Mbps upload speeds and 160 Mbps download speeds.
|Speeds||Test One:||Test Two:||Average:|
By backup standards, a 30-minute upload for a gigabyte of data is excellent. Many other providers take much longer for reasons that are difficult to understand. Carbonite, for example, took over three hours to complete the same test.
The primary reason may be architecture. Amazon has a global network of data centers, while most value-based backup providers such as Carbonite or IDrive have one.
BigMIND is headquartered in London. The UK has stronger privacy laws than the U.S., which has had troubles in recent years including the National Security Agency’s PRISM project and sanctioned internet service provider spying. Whether those laws remain stronger as the U.K. edges toward leaving the EU remains to be seen.
In any case, it doesn’t matter since BigMIND uses Amazon servers to store data and many of those are based in the U.S., which puts data stored in those facilities under the jurisdiction of U.S. privacy law.
Files kept server-side in the Glacier server space managed by BigMIND are encrypted at rest with AES 256-bit. That’s the standard protocol used by most cloud services and would take an estimated billions of years to crack.
BigMIND does manage your encryption keys by default, meaning the company could decrypt your files if it wanted. It might do so while looking for pirated or otherwise illegal content, for example. If that’s a concern, you can opt in to private, end-to-end encryption as long as you do so while setting up your backup plan. Afterward is too late.
In that case, your password, which only you know, is used to generate encryption keys. That means nobody else can unscramble your files, which makes the earlier point about Amazon servers being based in the U.S. moot.
Because BigMIND wouldn’t know your password or be able to decrypt your files, you’d be out of luck if you forgot your password. The company wouldn’t be able to help you. With that in mind, it makes sense to store your password somewhere safe, such as a cloud password manager, though those can be breached, as well.
Files in transit are protected using transport layer security. Strangely, it seems you have to opt in to that protection by clicking “use SSL” under the “connection” tab in the desktop client settings menu.
One weakness of Zoolz Home is it doesn’t have an option for two-factor authentication. BigMIND Home takes care of that troubling issue.
You can enable it on the BigMIND website. The advantage is that if there’s a login for your account from an unfamiliar machine, an additional six-digit security code is required. To set up 2FA, scan the barcode shown using an approved 2FA app.
Approved apps include Google Authenticator, Duo Mobile, Amazon AWS MFA and, for smartphones using Windows, Authenticator. Only Google Authenticator made our list of best 2FA apps, but it’s a good one.
Regardless of whether you opt to use 2FA, we suggest taking steps create a strong password. Weak passwords are increasingly easy to steal or crack.
BigMIND Home has a great support website. On it, you’ll find access to a help center with support articles, tutorials and a few videos. More importantly, there are two contact options for both technical support and sales, in addition to a live chat option.
Email response times can be slow, but we did most of our testing on a trial account, which may be the reason why. Technically, freeloaders don’t get support at all. Personal and Family plan subscribers get standard support, while Family Plus subscribers get premium support.
There are phone numbers for the U.K. and international, too, but those are both earmarked for sales inquiries.
BigMIND Home is, in many ways, a stroke of genius by Zoolz, so it lives up to its ambitious name. First and foremost, it’s a capable backup service with fast upload speeds, which is a glaring weakness for most other backup providers.
Download speeds are great, but that’s the price you pay for storing files with Glacier. If you invest in an external drive and set up a hybrid backup solution, it shouldn’t be much of an issue. Western Digital MyCloud is a good option, though there are many capable network-attached storage devices that will work well with BigMIND.
Features of note include multi-threading, backup by file type, compression and mobile backup. BigMIND is more than a typical backup provider, though, thanks to advanced features such as facial and object recognition that rival the capabilities of Google. We also like the video playback features, even though we’d stick to Kodi.
Our only real complaint is that, given its family focus, there isn’t a 2TB or even 5TB backup subscription offered, preferably at a cost that won’t put a crimp on the Disneyland vacation plans.
Otherwise, we like what we see. Then again, it’s not like we haven’t missed the obvious before. Grab a free 5GB plan to try the service yourself and share your findings in the comments below. Thanks for reading.