Reviewed Apr 19, 2011
Last Updated Jan 24, 2013
Carbonite rated 2.85 stars based on 67 votes
Carbonite online backup is one of the best known cloud backup services on the market today. But just because they're well-known, does it mean they're the best solution?
Since we launched Carbonite in 2005, we've backed up nearly 200 billion files. Today we back up more than 300 million files every day. More importantly, we have restored over 7 billion files that would have been lost forever without us.
Almost 70% of the people who try Carbonite purchase a subscription within the first two weeks. 78% of our Carbonite Home customers say that they would recommend Carbonite to a friend or family member.
Carbonite makes getting started backing up your data online easy. The installation process is simple, after giving your computer a name (useful if you have multiple computers in the same account) and choosing the type of computer you're backing up (Desktop, Laptop, or Server), you can then have Carbonite automatically complete the set-up process (including which files to backup, when to backup, and how to encrypt the data (128-bit Blowfish encryption is standard)) or choose these options yourself.
Carbonite also, at this time, informs you of what types of files are not automatically backed up, which include videos, executable files, and files larger than 4GB. These files can be manually selected, and Carbonite shows you how.
Also, the installer tells you that files on your external hard drives will not be backed up, unless you're subscribed to the HomePlus or HomePremier version of Carbonite.
Finally, Carbonite explains how you can tell if a file is backed up, based on the dot icon overlay in Windows or the Mac OS.
Note: During your free trial period, Carbonite does not automatically select your music or video files. When you upgrade to the paid subscription your music and short video files are added to the backup (if they were previously selected).
The settings tab within the Carbonite InfoCenter allows you to specify the backup schedule (continuously (recommended), once per day, or only certain different hours).
Additionally, you can choose whether or not you want the colored dots showing you what's backed up (and what's not), what files you'd like to backup, and how much bandwidth you want your uploads to use.
Backing up your data with Carbonite is straightforward - there's not much to do here, except you have the option to freeze your backup, which is useful if you're trying to do something else online (like chatting on Skype) and your backup is taking up too much bandwidth.
You can see your Carbonite backup running, and how many files are left to backup. There's a quick link for "How long will this take?", which directs users to this help file. However, its important to note that Carbonite throttles (or limits) your upload speeds.
For the first 200 GB of data, you're limited to 2 mbps (megabits per second). After that, you're limited to just 100 kbps (kilobits per second).
To figure out how long your backup will take,
try our Carbonite Upload Speed Calculator
Carbonite uses colored dots as an overlay on your files, so you can quickly see what files are backed up and which are not.
To add a file to the backup set, just right-click and choose Carbonite > Back this up.
If you need to restore data, you have a few options. You can either search for the file you need, browse your backup, or just restore everything.
Carbonite creates a virtual drive, the Carbonite Backup Drive, which shows you your backed up files and files that are pending backup. You can browse this drive, and your backed up files, just like navigating your own local computer.
Carbonite keeps old versions of your files for up to three months. However, it does not keep every single version over three months. One version of the file is kept for each day of the past week, plus one version for each week (of the previous three weeks) and one version per month (of the previous two months). Confused? This graphic will help:
If you happen to delete a file from your computer, you have 30 days to restore it, before it's deleted from Carbonite's servers. Remember, Carbonite is online backup, not online storage.
Carbonite also throttles your download speeds, although not as much as when uploading data. Restores transfer data at 10 mbps, allowing you to download up to 100 GB per day.
Carbonite offers many support options, including getting started tutorials, videos, and how-to guides.
If Carbonite's online support doesn't solve your problem, they offer live chat, Remote assistance, phone and email support
Carbonite has three home-user products:
Backup not just your documents, but your applications and operating system as well to a local hard drive. Mirror Image Backup is available to HomePlus and HomePremier customers.
Carbonite's mobile app allows you to browse, view, and share the files backed up to your Carbonite account. In addition, the app for Android & iOS (iPhone, iPad) backs up your photos & videos and the Android app allows you to protect your phone if it is lost or stolen.
Files from your Carbonite backup can be shared with others, but only via the mobile apps. Oddly enough, you cannot share a file from your desktop: you need to go to the mobile app to share a file from your desktop.
Carbonite has one of the few unlimited online backup services available today, although upload speeds are limited. However, they are transparent about this fact, so you know what you're getting into.
As far as mainstream cloud backup services go, Carbonite is the one you'll see most often. For a limited time, Carbonite is running a Refer A Friend Program and by clicking here you can earn a $20 Amazon.com gift card when you subscribe to Carbonite Home. Read the Official Rules for details