Carbonite Review

Executive Summary:

What’s good? Low price – $54.95/year for unlimited backup of your internal hard drive

What’s bad? Separate license required for each computer, must pay for year in advance

Recommendation? Safe and cheap no-frills online backup.  Carbonite vs Mozy = Mozy wins due to monthly payment instead of Carbonite’s year in advance. See our Mozy Review


Unlimited Backup only $4.95

In-depth Review…

Carbonite Review Online Function: What do Carbonite products do?

Carbonite online is software for backup of your files, pictures, and emails.  (CarbonitePro is their product for businesses and costs a lot more.)

This is the info on your internal hard drive they will automatically back up:

  1. Documents
  2. Photos
  3. Emails
  4. Settings
  5. Music

Carbonite Review – Price: How much does it cost?

The basic package is $54.95/year for unlimited data storage.   When Carbonite (or any online backup company) says “unlimited” storage keep in mind they are making certain assumptions that you won’t actually end-up storing that much.

While Carbonite will store what you send them – some customers have over a TB stored now – the default will not take care of the larger files.  You have to specify which files over 4 GB you want to backup, along with any videos you want backed up.

The reasons for making you take action to store larger files are obvious but it is a system that’s misleading and needs to be fixed.  Most people will never encounter this problem.

Also, Carbonite offers a 15 day free trial.  If you elect to continue with the service after the trial period, just pay at the prompt.  If you do nothing, Carbonite will keep your data for 10 days in case you change your mind then, delete it.

Carbonite Review – Safety: Is it safe?  What kind of data encryption do they use?

Encrypting your data protects it from prying eyes by turning it into “ones and zeroes” for transportation over the internet and eventual storage.

Carbonite uses what they call, “e-commerce” grade encryption from the time your data leaves your computer and a different type of encryption is used when it is actually stored on the online backup server.  Basically, all online backup companies are doing this now.  Your data is well protected with all major online backup services and this isn’t really a differentiator between services.

Carbonite vs Mozy Review: How are they different than the others out there and is it a better value for your money than other similar services?

Carbonite  requires an upfront payment for the year – we would rather see them charge by the month, like Mozy and IDrive, for example.

Use a coupon for a free month and going forward pay $54.95 for the next 12 months.

A Carbonite weakness is that if you have multiple computers, you have to get a separate license for each computer.

If you have multiple systems, or would like to use “file sharing”, it will be cheaper for you to go with of the more full-service options, like IDrive, or Livedrive, which offer data storage for all your computers for one price.  (based on the amount of data you are storing)

Carbonite Review – Versioning: How long will they store my files?

This is aspect of online backup called “versioning”.  This is how Carbonite describes their versioning; “Carbonite keeps old versions of your files for up to three months. It keeps one version of the file for each day of the past week, one version for each of the previous three weeks, and one version for each of the previous two months that the file has been backed up.”

When versioning matters: If you accidentally delete a file, you can go back in time and pick a previous version.

Of course, all online backup companies will drop you like yesterday’s newspaper if you stop paying them.

Carbonite Review – Online Ease of Use: How easy is it to set up and use?

It is easy to get started with Carbonite, just like all of the popular online backup providers. Just download the agent software and the backup proceeds (slowly), but smoothly from there.

Restoring records is easy, too. Their agent software lets you see all the files you have stored and you can click the restore function to download that version back to your hard drive.

One caveat: Whether you choose Carbonite or another company, online backups over broadband do take a loooong time!  My initial one took weeks to complete for about 22 GB.  But, that is an upload limitation imposed by internet service providers and not online backup services fault.

The good thing is, the agent software silently runs constantly in the background, doing its backup work.

Unfortunately, neither Carbonite, nor any of the other online backup service providers we have reviewed do a very good job of letting customers know what to expect unless you happen to know to ask.

The best way to get backed up fast initially is to leave your computer on overnight, so the backup can be done without having to compete with the work you do during the day.

Carbonite Review – Mac: Do they have a version for Mac?

Yes.  Carbonite Mac is new but comments have been very positive.  From the Carbonite website… “Available for Intel-based Macs with OS 10.4 (Tiger), 10.5 (Leopard) or 10.6 (Snow Leopard)”.

Carbonite Online Customer Service Review: How’s customer service?

Unfortunately, friendly customer service is a weakness.  They will interact with you over the phone, live chat, and email though, which is a positive – so, you have multiple ways to get your question answered.

Carbonite Online Summary:

Carbonite offers good, basic, no-frills online backup at a very good price.

Carbonite is a solid company that has been in business since 2006… and they are growing like a weed.  If you need to backup multiple computers, Carbonite for the home clearly isn’t the right product though. Also, see our Mozy Review

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