Value your Privacy? Avoid Zoolz backup service

Cloud backup services are big business these days (just check out our sister website BestBackups to get an idea of how many companies have jumped on this particular bandwagon), and following Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations there is increasing demand for online data storage solutions that don’t either spy on your data for advertising purposes, hand it over to the NSA (or other government agency), or otherwise spy on the data stored there.

Zoolz, a company which boasts Microsoft, Dell, the BBC and the Washington Post as customers, is one such, promising users that,

Zoolz is designed to process and protect your data with zero knowledge and with the highest security, durability, and availability out there’, and ‘your files will be processed with zero knowledge and even if the company was held at gunpoint to release your data it will still be in its encrypted form.

It also promises end-to-end encryption,

Zoolz encrypts your files before they leave your machine, securely transfers your files, and stores them on encrypted servers using military grade 256 AES Encryption.

Well, a customer by the name of Ryan Gallagher had his Zoolz account cancelled after the company discovered some old .torrent files (not any actual infringing material) among his backed up data. The result was an immediate termination of his backup plan, with a one week timeframe to remove data from his account before it was deleted,

My account and all data (1.3TB) was nuked, they would not budge on deleting specific ‘prohibited file names’ saying they had no way to do it. It’s a complete waste of time and bandwidth.

Hidden away deep within Zoolz’s ToS Product Agreement is the following justification for this action,

‘If Metadata checking (i.e. file names) reveals that an account has content relating to video piracy, software piracy or any copyrighted data with the intent to distribute (i.e. torrents) the account will be immediately terminated.

Um - how exactly is ‘metadata checking’ (filenames, not actual data it should be stressed) in any way ‘zero knowledge’? It also means that when the data is being encrypted client-side, the software is sending this metadata to Zoolz!

When Geoff Akerlunk of the Backup Review website questioned Zoolz over the incident, the company actually accused him of supporting illegal behavior,

We are sad to see you side with illegal behavior, the torrents could mean that the user has the actual media files, and downloading any media file without any proof of ownership is considered illegal.

When TorrentFreak published a highly critical article on this subject, Zoolz responded with the following statement (a similar statement was sent to Akerlunk),

The flagging system is a deviation of the zero-knowledge policy only applicable to abusive home user accounts, not business users. It is completely automated at the time the abuser accesses the files from the web after entering the encryption password. The system will flag any account with suspicious bandwidth use, multiple access from different locations and will only scan for illegal filenames and not actual data. In rare cases the flagging system could generate false positive and we are currently working enhancing this and increasing the grace period. We have tens of thousands of home users who are happily using the system legally and the scanner has never been triggered on their accounts.

So the service is zero knowledge until Zoolz decides it isn’t? AVOID AVOID AVOID!!!!!

For information about using a VPN service for torrenting, take a look at our best VPN for torrent sites guide.

Written by: Douglas Crawford

Has worked for almost six years as senior staff writer and resident tech and VPN industry expert at ProPrivacy.com. Widely quoted on issues relating cybersecurity and digital privacy in the UK national press (The Independent & Daily Mail Online) and international technology publications such as Ars Technica.

26 Comments

George
on January 13, 2020
Reply
I have paid some time ago to the Zoolz fraudsters a fixed one-off amount for a lifetime subscription and today I received the following email: Hello We Will be Increasing Our Prices as of 1st February As with all things in life - change is inevitable. Due to the high demand for premium services, we are no longer offering basic plans to any of our Zoolz account holders, and as such we will be slightly increasing our prices. Our commitment to you For our lifetime account holders we will be asking you to pay a very nominal fee of only $1.50 per month. What do you get with the premium plan? - GDPR, privacy and security compliance enhancements - Updates to Windows and Mac agents - Enhanced speeds for backup and restore - Remote assistance sessions - 24-hour email support What to learn more about these innovative new features and how they will affect you? Click here Users will be able to retrieve their data until the new pricing plan is activated on February 1st. Users can subscribe to the new plan at any point, or retrieve their data and store it elsewhere. We are still fighting aggressively to minimize costs for our users as much as possible, and as hard as it is to increase our pricing and as hard of a decision it was to take, we are focused on continuous innovation. Upgrade Now If you have any questions please email (their email address) Regards The Zoolz Team I emailed them back that since this is an illegal practice, I demand to stay on my current plan for the lifetime subscription I paid them or get a refund. Otherwise, they will hear back from my lawyer.
Henri
on September 30, 2019
Reply
I wish I saw this news earlier. Not only it is not working but I install it, and everything went wrong until my computer crashed. Avoid it.
Jeff Smith
on March 2, 2018
Reply
Just installed zoolz but my AVG caught zoolz.exe trying to "modify/delete" a csv text document containing bitcoin addresses. They are apparently trying to make me deposit to a criminal's bitcoin wallet when I thought I was depositing to my own! VERY BAD for zoolz
Douglas Crawford replied to Jeff Smith
on March 5, 2018
Reply
Hi Jeff, Yikes! That is even worse behavior than discussed in this article. Yes - avoid Zoolz!!!
Ed
on November 24, 2017
Reply
BOYCOTT BOYCOTT BOYCOTT AND THEN BOYCOTT AGAIN ALL BUSINESSES LIKE ZOOZL WHICH MAKE FALSE PROMISES AND THEN BAIT AND SWITCH FORSAKING TOTALLY THEIR CUSTOMERS AND THE PROMISES THEY MADE TO THEM AS IF WE OWE THEM OUR BUSINESS. PAY NEVER IN ADVANCE BUNDLE OFFERS AND BIG PACKAGES FOR MORE MONTHS OF SUBSCRIPTIONS OR EVEN LIFETIME TYPES OF SCAM BUT TRY MONTH TO MONTH SERVICE WITH NO CONTRACT AND SEE HOW IT GOES SO YOU HAVE THE UPPER HAND ON THEM AND CANCEL SERVICE AND STOP ANYTIME GIVING THEM YOUR BUSINESS.

Write Your Own Comment

Your comment has been sent to the queue. It will appear shortly.

Your comment has been sent to the queue. It will appear shortly.

Your comment has been sent to the queue. It will appear shortly.

  Your comment has been sent to the queue. It will appear shortly.

We recommend you check out one of these alternatives:

Large brand with very good value, and a budget price

The fastest VPN we test, unblocks everything, with amazing service all round

Longtime top ranked VPN, with great price and speeds

One of the cheapest VPNs out there, but still a good service