News in the tech world yesterday said that EMC bought a small Utah company called Mozy for $76 million. Mozy is owned by a guy named Josh Coates, and although I’ve never met him personally, I feel a certain kinship with him because both of us hang out in the same Linux user’s group and occasionally post messages there.

His company provides a simple data backup solution so you can take files from your Windows computer and store them online somewhere, then pull them back if something ever goes horribly wrong on your system. It’s not a complicated concept, but one that’s surprisingly hard to do well.

When I heard the news of the buyout, I thought to myself, “Hey, I could’ve done something like that!”

Then I thought, “Hey, wait a minute– I already did something like that!”

About five years ago I wrote a little software package that did exactly what Mozy does. It ran on a Windows system and you could tell it what parts of your hard drive you wanted to back up to the remote server (which happened to be my server, over at BitRelay). It wasn’t pretty, and it didn’t have some of the features I’m sure Mozy has, but in the end it did basically the same thing.

Clearly I was ahead of my time. Online data storage only got “big” in the last few years, so when I wrote my little program I had a hard time convincing anyone to use it. Moreover, I wanted to charge a few bucks a month for the backups (because I’m paying for the disk space and bandwidth) and most people will only use the internet if it’s free.

In the end, this whole situation made me think. I’m not the world’s greatest entrepreneur, and most of the ideas I have for web applications or whatever aren’t earth-shatteringly original. But now I’m thinking about what I might do that could land me in the same spot as Josh.