By John Reynolds
July 6, 2013
Quick verdict for those who don’t have time to read
Carbonite has been around for years; long before some of the relative newcomers to the remote cloud storage field. While Carbonite is a solid file solution for most customers, it misses on some of the features the other remote backup companies provide (see JustCloud). The free 15-day trial, and low monthly price for unlimited storage, more than make up for its few failures.
Who Needs Carbonite?
Carbonite is perfect for casual users who have a laptop or personal computer full of pictures, important files or school term papers that need to be stored on an outside file system. Hard drives crash and laptops are stolen with astonishing regularity. Carbonite walks new users through its automatic online backup system. The user does not have to individually pick and choose which files are uploaded to Carbonite.
With the automatic backup, Carbonite will allow users to pick a download schedule, and it will run in the background slowly loading up all the files from the user’s computer. Unfortunately, there are file size limits. Users unaware of the limits might be in for a surprise. Videos have to be uploaded manually, and files above 4GB are not allowed, which could be a problem for some movie videos.
If you have a movie collection, this might become a problem. Not only do you have to individually upload each movie, some of those movies will exceed the 4GB allowance.
- Automatic online backup
- scheduling options
- no files above 4GB
- bandwidth restrictions
Carbonite, founded in 2005, was created when David Friend’s daughter and a friend lost important documents. His daughter lost a term paper, and his friend lost her laptop along with years of baby photos. Neither of them had backed up the important files.
Carbonite’s User Interface – Intuitive or Not?
The interface is simple enough for users unfamiliar with data storage. Each tab gives an overview of its function along with prompting from the system. New users shouldn’t get lost or confused with the easy to use tab system.
You’ll need to pick a schedule for your system to run the backup process. At the prompt, choose automatic if you want Carbonite to pick and choose the files to backup.
Beware, this is where you’ll run into problems with movie files. Pick this option knowing full-well that you’ll have to manually upload videos later. The advanced choice will let you choose the files you want individually. This is where you’ll need to choose those movie files.
After choosing automatic, the next screen will tell you that photos, music and documents have been chosen for backup. This can be deceptive since not all files might have been selected. Clicking will bring up another menu where you can choose more files to be uploaded.
This will give users an overview of the backup process, and where the files are in that process. Customers can find out how many files still haven’t been done, and how long it will take to upload them. When it might take days to download hundreds of files, having a visual way to track the upload process is valuable.
The restore tab is where users will take back their uploaded files. If their hard drive is lost or stolen, the restore tab is where to find those files to download to a new computer.
Like the process used to backup files, Carbonite will walk users through the process of restoring files. The files can be restored individually through a manual process, so that files that were lost can be easily replaced without having to go through the whole download process. Users can browse for files in the browse tab.
If all files need restoring, the process has to be automated. Restoring over 100GBs can be extremely slow. Files required instantly can be restored using a manual method, so if a term paper is due or a business file is needed, it’s quicker to restore those files individually.
Users get to choose between three home plans with Carbonite. The first is a basic plan which provides backup for important files like documents, photos and music. The second choice called HomePlus give customers online backup, but also includes backing up the operating system and other applications on the computer. The third is HomePremier. Customers with HomePremier who lose important files can have the backup shipped to their home on a hard drive.
These options give you flexibility when making your choice. Most home PC users who store important documents on their computer like baby photos, school or work papers and financial documents should obtain the basic service. The HomePremier service is extremely convenient for those that don’t have time to download all their files, which could take days. In the time it takes for downloading, the backup hard drive will already be delivered.
There are two business choices. The first is the Business Plan, which includes unlimited computers but limits the file storage to 250 GB. Business Premier also has an unlimited computer option, but its file limits are 500 GB.
This feature is especially helpful for users that forget important files on their home computer and need to access the file while at work or on the road. Photos and files can be accessed and saved directly from a smart phone to the Carbonite backup. If you’ve ever walked into a meeting without a financial report; forgotten presentation notes; or gotten halfway to a destination before remembering a key photo for a meeting, you’ll need this mobile app.
For a home PC user who has never backed up their computer, this is the perfect way to get started. The free trial and low, monthly cost make Carbonite a smart choice. Users get unlimited storage for $59.99 per year with the basic plan. Less than $5 a month for unlimited data storage, automatic backup and access anywhere from an internet connection. The mobile app gives customer’s flexibility.
Carbonite’s flaws are in the fact that it doesn’t sync a user’s devices, which means there is no way to file share between a desktop computer and a laptop. With many file synching software available for free, this shouldn’t be a deterrent to buying Carbonite’s backup file system. It can be combined with other software.
The limits on bandwidth can make backup slow. Customers should be prepared for it to take some time to get files on to Carbonite’s servers. It can take days to backup a home computer, but the process can be automated to backup only during computer down times; at night or during the day when the computer isn’t in use.