As a company that has been serving customers since 2005, Carbonite is certainly one of the most experienced online backup providers in the industry. The company offers three different home plans from which to choose, as well as two plans geared specifically for business users, making it possible for every user to find exactly the plan he or she is looking for. Unlike many of its competitors, Carbonite doesn’t offer any short term online backup options. Instead, its packages can be purchased for one, two or three years, each of which will provide users with the secure knowledge that their computer (or computers) will never be under-protected.
One of the most convenient features offered by Carbonite is unlimited backup which comes standard with all Home plans. Additionally, Carbonite offers automatic backups of most file types, including documents, photos, emails and music files. Only videos and files over 4GB are not automatically backed up, and these files can also be backed up manually without an additional charge. Carbonite also allows for scheduled backups, providing users with the ability to have a backup when they need it most. It’s important to mention this service is available for Windows users only, and is not compatible with Macs.
Additional features of significance include:
- Ability to schedule backups as desired
- File accessibility from any computer or mobile device
- 2 month bonus for college students
- Extensive file versioning capabilities allow for up to one version of a file saved each day for a week, or one version per week for 3 weeks
- Ability to specify which files should be recovered first in the event of an emergency
- Creation of a mirror image of the user’s computer hard drive upon request
- Option to request a copy of all files by mail (for Home Premier customers)
- Backup of external hard drives (for Home Premier and Home Plus customers)
- Carbonite Business plan available for users looking to back up more than 3 computers
Ease of Use
Using Carbonite was a generally pleasant experience, and should be simple even for those who aren’t technically inclined. The installation process took under five minutes, and the control panel had an intelligible right side navigation that displayed with a large font size and an uncluttered design, making usage of the dashboard entirely intuitive. What we found especially useful was that the system told us how long each backup would take, and how many files remained in the backup. We also appreciated the ability to restore specific files and to halt the backup or run a backup as necessary, critical tasks which were extremely easy to find within the control panel.
Carbonite offers a free 15 day trial which backups up most, if not all of the user’s files, as compared with the free trials offered by many of the other top online backup providers which back up only a select few files during the trial period. Though we didn’t test the Home Premier plan which includes the ability to receive a copy of your hard drive in the mail, we would consider this to be an extremely convenient service and we have every reason to assume that it would work as smoothly and efficiently as the rest of the Carbonite process.
Carbonite Backup in Progress
Home Carbonite users can choose between three competitively-priced plans; the Home, Home Plus and Home Premier plans. All plans offer unlimited storage and the same convenient features, but the Home Plus plan includes external hard drive backup and mirror image backup, while the Home Premier plan includes automatic backup of videos and the company’s courier recovery service. Business users can opt for either the standard Business plan or the Business Premier plan. Every Carbonite home plan offers backup services for one computer, and is available for a yearly plan only. The basic Home plan costs $59.99/year. The Home Plus plan costs $99.99/year, and the Home Premier plan costs $149.99/year. Considered on a monthly basis, the costs of these plans are slightly lower than the prices of other online backup services, and are certainly worth considering for users willing to make a year’s commitment.
Carbonite uses 128-bit Blowfish encryption and transmits all of its files via SSL (secure socket layer) technology, which the company notes is the same grade of technology used by banks and other high-level institutions. The company also uses multiple disk drives to store every user’s data so that if one fails there will be no breaks in the backup of critical files. All Carbonite data centers are temperature-controlled and subject to the highest levels of security access to ensure that no unauthorized persons can have access to any private information.
Carbonite is one of the only online backup providers with a company phone number listed on its website, where users can direct inquiries. The company also offers email support and provides different email addresses for business and home users, which should serve to streamline the support process and to make sure that all inquiries are addressed quickly and by the proper department.
Carbonite is an online backup service that provides maximal flexibility for users by providing the choice of continual backup or scheduled backups, as well as the backup of most files rather than just the user’s most frequently changed files. Unlimited backup with every plan makes Carbonite a good option for anyone with music, photos or video files, and its easy-to-use interface was clearly designed to make the service convenient for customers at all technical levels.