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Carbonite Review

carbonite logo

Carbonite was one of the first online backup services designed for regular people. It is easy to set up and use, it does backups automatically, and you get everything for one low price.

One of my personal favorite backup services, Carbonite is great for someone with a moderate amount of data to backup and wants everything to go smoothly and be easy to understand. You don’t need to be a “techie” to get started.

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Pros:

  • Very user-friendly.
  • Simple, affordable pricing.
  • Green dots tell you it’s backed up.

Cons:

  • No sync features.
  • No multiple computer policy.
  • Does not store unlimited file versions.

Overall Rating:

 

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Key Features

Carbonite is so easy to use that you might not appreciate all the things it does. So, I’ll point them out!

Automatic, Continuous Backup
This rocks! This feature is miles better than the scheduled backups offered by others. The saying “automatic backup” is thrown around a lot, but not everyone follows through. Carbonite does. (Certain services ‘automatically’ run your backups on a schedule, but that’s scheduled backup. With true automatic backups, any new or updated file gets backed up as soon as it’s created.)

Green Dots
One little thing I love is how easy it is to identify if a file is currently backed up or not. Carbonite adds a little dot to the file icons that shows you if the file is backed up, waiting to be backed up, or not scheduled to be backed up at all. Green dots mean files are backed up, yellow dots mean the files are currently waiting to be backed up, and the lack of a dot means the file isn’t selected to be backed up.

Note: In the Mac version, there’s a red dot that means a file is not selected for backup. See the screenshot which compares the dots between Windows and Mac OSX.

File Versioning
Carbonite supports file versioning, which means that multiple, older versions of files are kept available. You still need to be careful though, because it’s not exactly the same as what other backup services offer. Basically, if you remove any file from your hard drive, even accidentally, Carbonite only waits 30 days for you to replace it. After that, they delete that file from their servers, too.

This is what scares me about using Carbonite. What happens if I have a crisis and lose my data, but can’t get it all sorted out within that timeframe? I feel that if I’m still paying for my files to be backed up, they should remain backed up.

External Hard Drive Backup
A recently added feature is the ability to backup an external hard drive that’s connected to your computer. This is key for anyone who has lots of documents (photography enthusiasts for example) and not enough free space internally. [Note: This feature is available for HomePlus and HomePremier customers only.]

Mirror Image Backups
This is another new feature that really stands out. I think it’s a first among online backup services. Just to be clear, we’re not talking pictures – image backups involve creating a mirror image of your computer. This backup includes your operating system, programs, and files. Everything! Restoring one of these files puts your computer back to exactly how it was before whatever problem occurred. I used to have to use dedicated backup software to do this, but now it’s integrated right into Carbonite.

Carbonite has always been a great product that’s extremely user friendly, but heading into 2013, it is packed with even more advanced features. There are no gimmicks, just a great product.

Install and Setup Process

The download and install is easy. It will only take you a few minutes to configure everything. Literally just three minutes total! You don’t even have to restart your computer during the process.

For proper setup, all you have to do is choose which files and folders you want backed up. Alternatively, just choose the default settings and it’s even quicker. There’s no need to configure scheduled backups or anything like that, because Carbonite backs up automatically.

Want to make on-the-fly adjustments later? Just right-click on any file. Choose “Back this up” and Carbonite will back it up instantly, giving it high priority. Or choose “Don’t back up this type of file” – great if you accidentally started to backup your huge collection of pirated movies and it’s preventing important documents from being backed up in a timely fashion.

Restore

There are many options here for restoring your data.

The most obvious method is to restore backups from within My Computer. You’ll see a Carbonite Secure Backup drive listed below your local disk (typically the C drive.) Just double-click to open the drive, and you’ll find your files listed. Copy them right over to your hard drive.

Similarly, you can access your files through your web browser when logged-in to the Carbonite site.

If you’re in a rush, you can get a hard drive (loaded with your documents) shipped to you using Carbonite’s Courier Recovery Service. This saves a lot of time because it does not rely on the download speed of your internet connection. [Note that there is a fee for this on top of the regular yearly price, and it’s only for Prime-level customers in the US.]

Backup Space and Pricing Plans

Originally, there was just one plan. Today, however, Carbonite offers three different plans, so there is one for just about everyone.

That original plan lives on as the Basic plan. You pay $59.99 per computer and that covers you for the entire year. It gives you unlimited space and all the basic features.

Today, Carbonite has expanded with the Plus and Prime plans as well. Plus costs $99.99 per computer and gives you everything the Basic plan does but adds external hard drive backup and the full system, mirror image backups. Prime, for $149.99 per computer, does all that and also offers automatic video backup and the option to have your backed up files shipped to you for recovery (rather than having to download them.)

Keep in mind, each plan is only good for one computer. If you need to backup more than one computer, you’ll need to purchase a separate Carbonite subscription for each one. (In this case, a family plan from CrashPlan is going to be a better value.)

Security

Carbonite provides bank-level security for your backups.

Files are encrypted with 128-bit Blowfish encryption before they even leave your computer. They are transferred over to Carbonite’s secure data centers using Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology. There they are stored on enterprise-grade servers (which have significantly lower failure rates than those typically found in consumer PCs.) Proper redundancy is in place, which means they have backups of your backups.

These data centers have emergency backup generators on hand, biometric scanners to restrict access, and of course, the facilities are guarded around the clock 24/7/365.

Mobile Access

There’s a free Carbonite Access app for your iPhone (or other iOS device,) Android, or BlackBerry smartphone. This is part of Carbonite’s “Anytime, Anywhere Access” where they provide ways for you access your files anywhere at anytime (hence the name.) With the app you can browse through backups on your phone and even play music you have stored.

Final Verdict

Carbonite is a great service, certainly one of the best online backup options. The user-friendly set-up and use, instant backups, and unlimited storage space for one low price is hard to beat. It’s not for everyone, but if you want a no-hassle backup service, Carbonite is hard to beat.

Carbonite gets a big thumbs up from me. Check it out – you can get a free trial with no credit card required!

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Testing Out Carbonite Online Backup

carbonite logo

One of my good friends tipped me off to this service last month while the Carbonite company was finishing up some beta testing of the software. Having had a hard drive failure just a month before that, I checked out the software as soon as I heard about it!

With the option to do a free trial and not have to put in my credit card, I couldn’t pass it up. Plus, I had been seriously considering a remote backup service after losing data on more than one occasion. (I was sticking with backup DVDs to save some money.)

So when I thought about it, I was probably spending $5 a month with my current backup system, not counting all the time wasted! Carbonite was a no-brainer.

This is my personal experience using Carbonite!

Pros:

  • Unlimited storage space.
  • Near instant, automatic backups.
  • Just $59.00 a year.

Carbonite Software Downloading and Setup

After a quick download and about 3 minutes of setup time, Carbonite was working as promised. All I had to do was pick out which drives or folders on my computer I wanted it to backup, nothing more.

Here’s a screenshot of the control panel:

carbonite control panel

There is always a small Carbonite icon in the system tray, which will open up this control panel. Notice it’s in the process of backing up a picture of mine. It’s all automatic!

How It Works

The automatic backup works great. I’ve had no problems with it slowing down my connection speed, since it only transfers stuff when the computer is idle.

I have about 14 gigs of backups right now and haven’t had a problem. It just took a few days/nights for the initial backup. (Leave your pc online overnight, that helps.) Now it’s just a quick backup whenever I change a file or create a new file. Even better than the speed is that it takes ZERO effort on my part!

The value is truly incredible. Unlimited backups for one low price!

It’s real easy to see which files are backed up.

See those dots on the files? That tells you if Carbonite has backed up the files. There will be different colors depending on the file type and if it is backed up or is pending backup.

carbonite backup dot

It’s easy to change your backup preferences whenever you want, too. Picking out what to backup is simple. Just right-click on a file or folder, and you are presented with a menu like the one shown below.

Just go to the Carbonite option and choose whether or not to backup that file.

choose to backup file

Restoring Backups

Restoring stuff is a piece of cake. You can easily access everything from the “My Computer” window where Carbonite adds another drive, which is the remote storage with all your documents.

restore from carbonite

Clicking on that drive will open up a folder containing all your backed up documents. You can simply copy the files from there onto your computer.

Everything is pretty straight forward. I would have to agree that Carbonite is “backup for everyone” as their website says.

Everything is secure, too. Your data is encrypted before it leaves your computer. Only you have access to it. (Not even someone at Carbonite can get into it.)

Final Decision on Carbonite

What I liked about Carbonite:
Carbonite is simple, secure, and it offers the fastest backup experience I have had.

What I did not like about Carbonite:
What’s not to like?

 
 
Carbonite Review Wrap-Up:
Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by: Paul Ryan
Date of original review: June 8, 2006
Date last updated: November 19, 2014

 

This service gets my highest recommendation. When you consider price, ease of use, and functionality, nothing beats it. To be honest, there is nothing I dislike about it. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect, but you never know, it could be the perfect solution!

Go ahead and try it out. There’s no obligation since you don’t even have to enter your credit card information. You just enter your name and email and they let you download a trial version.

Download a FREE Trial of Carbonite (No credit card required!)

Carbonite website home page:

How the green, yellow, and red dots work:

Screenshot 3:

Screenshot 4:

Screenshot 5:

More screenshots will be uploaded soon.

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Carbonite
Overall rating: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by: Paul Ryan
Date of original review: June 8, 2006
Date last updated: November 19, 2014

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