With multiple data centers across the United States and over 7 years of experience in the online backup world, it's no surprise that Carbonite has been recognized as a leader in the industry both by technology analysts and users worldwide. Launched in 2005, Carbonite is proud to be one of the top online backup services based on American soil, and it maintains its corporate headquarters in Boston, and its customer support team in Lewiston, ME. Check out the Carbonite review below to learn about the company's full range of offerings and to decide if Carbonite can meet your backup needs.
Carbonite's pricing is on the lower end of the scale as compared with its competitors, which is a significant advantage for budget-conscious consumers. Carbonite plans are available on a one-year contract only, as opposed to other companies that offer both monthly contracts and pricing available for up to five years. Carbonite's three residential plans for a single computer are priced as follows:
Secondary computers registered to the same user account are eligible for a 5% discount per computer.
Small business users can also take advantage of Carbonite's reasonable pricing by selecting either the Business for $229/year for unlimited computers and up to 250GB of storage space or the BusinessPremier plan for $599/year for unlimited computers with up to 500GB of storage space. Non-profit organizations can also contact the Carbonite team to receive special pricing.
The company also offers a free 2 week trial for both the home plan and the small business package.
Though Carbonite's website is visually attractive and rather straightforward, the simplicity serves mostly to highlight that Carbonite lacks most of the bells and whistles offered by its competitors. The company's focus seems to be on keeping things simple, rather than complicating the storage process with extra features. While this may be enticing to consumers new to the world of online backup, we were distressed to see that file versioning, streaming of music and movies and collaborative tools were all absent from the company's feature list. Despite the features noticeably missing from Carbonite's feature list, there were some features worth mentioning, most notably the ability to backup information from the user's external hard drive as well as straight from their computer.
Another noteworthy feature we discovered in our Carbonite review is the ability to create an exact copy (termed by Carbonite as a mirror copy) of the user's entire operating system and all of its programs and files, so that the user's data is secured in the strongest possible way. This feature is available only in the HomePlus and HomePremier plans.
Also available for HomePlus and HomePremier customers only is the ability to get a copy of their backup shipped to them in the event of a hardware malfunction, technical problem or any reason he or she may need the data to be recovered and retrieved as quickly as possible. Shipping fees do apply, but the peace of mind provided by this service is likely worth any imposed shipping fees.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that Carbonite is one of the only top online backup services that offers unlimited backup in its most basic plan, enabling users to back up all of their files without having to carefully select the most important ones for backup.
As mentioned before, Carbonite offers home users unlimited storage, and business users can choose between plans with 250GB of storage and 500GB of storage. If this sounds a bit confusing, you're not alone. A peek at the Carbonite terms of service shows that users who use excessive bandwidth as determined by the company will have their accounts suspended. While this is unlikely to occur for any home user utilizing the service to save standard computer files, it's important to know if you plan to backup unusually heavy files.
Ease of Use
Registering for and downloading Carbonite's online backup software was extremely easy, and the company provided a step-by-step visual guide during the download process, which is helpful and also offered by other top backup services such as JustCloud and MyPC Backup.
The download about 2 minutes, which was longer than other services took, but not too painful. Once the software was downloaded we were instructed to personalize our subscription, something we didn't have to do with any other services, but a feature we thought was surprisingly charming.
We also had the option to choose between an automatic backup of files chosen by Carbonite or an advanced backup with files that we chose independently. To be honest, we didn't really understand the appeal of having Carbonite choose our files to be backed up - we figured it would be safer to select the files we wanted to secure. The following step, however, explained that Carbonite's default service automatically backs up document, videos and music files, which did make us feel a bit better.
Interestingly, Carbonite informed us that the first backup could take 1-2 days or longer, something that no other online backup services told us. Again, this information was somewhat comforting, but slightly concerning as all of the other services we tested took a few hours at most.
Once the backup began, the system told us how many files remained in the queue to backup, but it didn't actually mention how long the process would take.
On the whole, we found the setup process easy, and we also found it easy to use Carbonite. It should be noted that we had a bit of technical trouble while the scan was running, but were able to solve the problem with the help of the customer support team, and we aren't entirely sure if the problem was related to Carbonite. We truly appreciated the way backed up files had a small sign to let us know they were secured, and how the no-nonsense side navigation made it easy for us to restore our data and execute all desired tasks.
Carbonite uses 128-bit Blowfish encryption and transmits all client files via SSL (secure socket layer) technology, both of which are designed to provide users with the ultimate peace of mind. (Interested consumers may want to know that most other leading online backup providers use 256 AES encryption technology). The company also makes note of its highly stable data centers which are kept under the strictest security systems including access via biometric scanners and electronic keycards. The data centers are also supplied with backup generators so that even technical or electric outages will not cause a user's data to be lost.
One of the most impressive offerings provided by Carbonite is remote assistance that is available via the company's online chat support. Likewise, we noticed that the company offers phone support, a perk which is generally not offered by online backup providers. Both of these services are available 7 days a week from 9:30am-9pm EST. We called Carbonite at 1:43pm EST on a Monday afternoon and were connected with a courteous and knowledgeable representative in under 1 minute.
Emails can be submitted to Carbonite via their online form. We submitted a query at 1:46pm EST on a Monday and did not receive a response by the time of this writing (the following Thursday). When we pressed submit we were presented with some reading material from the company's help desk which was similar to our question and was designed to help us find the answer independently. We found this to be quite useful, if not slightly irrelevant.
- Excellent customer support via phone, chat and remote access
- Ability to backup the user's hard drive
- Unlimited storage space
- Competitively priced
- No real syncing feature
- No file versioning