What is Carbonite?
Carbonite is an online backup provider that offers unlimited storage for a reasonable price. However, when it comes to features, the scarcity will be haunting for those who have used other such online storage and backup solutions. Also, the horrible speeds combined with sparse control over the backup process does not make Carbonite an excellent choice for those who are looking for a feature-rich solution.
Now that you know what Carbonite is, let us go through the review in details and find out what this online backup has to offer.
Let us start with the advantages and disadvantages.
The Pros and Cons of Carbonite
- Carbonite is easy to use and comes with an amazingly simple user interface.
- You get unlimited storage space, making it an ideal solution if you have many files to backup, especially large video & audio files.
- Security features are great.
- They put a lot of weight on user privacy and upholds the same.
- The pricing structure is quite reasonable considering that you can get unlimited storage.
- They offer a great courier service for emergencies.
- They have an intuitive backup flagging system.
- The service has limited features.
- The option for manual backup is absent.
- The degree of control you get is sparse.
- Download speeds are terrible.
- There are no mobile apps to work with.
Carbonite Features at a Glance
Carbonite has clients available for both Windows and Mac systems. If you are on Linux, you are out of luck.
Also, if you are looking for a way to access your backups on the go, Carbonite will disappoint you. They do not have an Android or an iOS app. In fact, they do not have any mobile app.
Carbonite supports both scheduled and continuous backups. You can make the desktop client exclude certain hours of the day from backup. This exclusion mechanism is particularly helpful when you need your entire bandwidth for other tasks.
Carbonite has a block-level algorithm working for taking backups. This algorithm detects changes in certain files and then upload only the portion that has changed instead of uploading the entire file all over again. This saves both time and resources.
Carbonite supports versioning, which means that you can retrieve older versions of your files. However, there is a limit. The service will retain only 12 most recent versions of your files.
Also, just in case you delete files from your computer, Carbonite will keep those files on their servers for 30 days before removing the files.
Courier Recovery Service
If you are a US resident, Carbonite will offer to courier you an external hard drive with your data loaded on it. This service is not free, but it is indeed a thoughtful and useful feature.
Limited Speed Throttling
Carbonite has a feature of speed throttling, but that is quite limited. The feature is called “reduce Carbonite’s Internet usage.” When you enable this feature, the amount of bandwidth that the Carbonite client will use gets limited. The only problem is that you cannot define the bandwidth allocation.
Features Missing in Carbonite
No Image-Based Backup
Carbonite will not allow you to create a copy of your entire system. If you want to create an image of your entire system and back it up, IDrive will be a good option to work with.
No Multi-Threading and Hybrid Backup
Carbonite will upload one file at a time. There is no multi-threading in which multiple files can be uploaded at once. There is no hybrid backup solution. A hybrid backup is where both local and server backups are created. Unfortunately, Carbonite will create only online backup.
No Mobile Backups
Carbonite does not have mobile applications, which means that you cannot backup your mobile devices. If you are a type of person who deals with important data through your mobile device, the lack of this feature will give you a pinch.
Security Features of Carbonite
It Uses SSL
Carbonite uses SSL to protect in-transit data. SSL is essential to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks. In-transit data is encrypted using AES 128-bit encryption.
At Rest Encryption
Your data stored on Carbonite servers will be encrypted using AES 128-bit encryption. While AES 256-bit is a stronger encryption, the 128-bit also does an excellent job. However, I would personally prefer it to be 256-bit encryption.
Encryption Key Management
Carbonite will allow you to manage your encryption key, or you can decide to allow Carbonite to manage it on your behalf. If you decide to manage the key yourself, the courier service will not work. Also, if you decide to manage your encryption key, you need to ensure that the key is safe. If you lose the key, you cannot access your data stored on Carbonite servers.
Carbonite supports two-factor authentication, which is a great option as it adds an additional layer of security. A two-factor authentication will produce a short-lived verification code on your mobile (using authenticator apps like Authy, Google Authenticator, etc.).
The code remains active for only 60 seconds. To access Carbonite account, you need to have physical access to your mobile device. Someone trying to get unauthorized access to your Carbonite account will need that code. Without your mobile, such access is impossible.
Secure Data Centers
Carbonite’s data centers are very secured. They have measures in place to prevent data loss caused by natural disasters. They have features like climate control, on-site generators, etc. to prevent data loss. They have also implemented physical security measures to prevent unauthorized access to their servers. Biometric scanners, 24/7 monitoring, CCTV coverage – everything is present.
Ease of Use
How easy or difficult is it to use Carbonite? Of course, you will never want to indulge with a service that is overly complicated and does not provide an easy interface.
You start by registering your account with Carbonite and then download the desktop client. Once registration is complete, the application installer will download automatically. The installer file is 16.5 MB in size.
Once you download the installer file, click on it to begin installation. Once the installation is over, it will immediately start backing up your files.
This is how it looks:
You can click on the Settings & Controls link below the computer icon to pull up the settings area. It looks like this:
You can decide when everything is backed up. You can even restrict the internet usage of Carbonite. You can even hit the pause button to pause the backup process.
This is how the interface looks like when you hit the pause button:
When you hit the pause button, you can determine the duration for which the backup process will be paused. Once that time elapses, the backup process will resume by itself.
You can access the backed-up files from Carbonite server by clicking on the “View My Backup” link below the cloud icon on the app interface.
Clicking on the link will take you directly to Carbonite’s web interface where you need to login.
If you are logging in for the first time, it will ask you to provide your full name. It will also ask you to set up two-factor authentication and a few security questions.
Once you proceed, you will see this screen:
You may notice that they are offering Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus. That is offered only with certain plans. For instance, the trial that I used for this review was for the Carbonite Safe Pro which included the AntiVirus program.
On this screen, when you click on View Files, the interface will take you to the computer files that are backed up. You can see this screen:
If you have multiple computers attached to your plan, you can see the list of all computers. Clicking on each computer name will show you the files that have been backed up.
In addition to all these, the application also creates a virtual drive on your computer that you can find from “This PC” segment.
Clicking on that drive will show you two folders. One will show you all the files that have been backed up and the other will show the files that are yet to be backed up.
Carbonite also nicely integrates with your computer allowing you to backup specific files and folders by right-clicking on them and then selecting Carbonite >> Back this up.
Similarly, you can restore individual files directly from the Carbonite Backup Drive on your computer by right-clicking on a file or a folder and then selecting “restore.”
What I did not like about Carbonite is that there is no way to completely shut down the application on your computer. By closing the application window, you only minimize it to the system tray.
If you right-click on the icon in system tray, you do not get any exit option:
You can, however, kill the program from task manager. That is not a desirable trait!
Overall, the interface is extremely simple to use and there is nothing too complicated to bog you down.
In the case of online backup providers, security is often a part its privacy. For instance, the ability to control and manage your encryption key speaks a lot about Carbonite’s commitment to user privacy. If you decide to manage your encryption key Carbonite will not be able to access your files and it will not be able to hand over your files and documents to the authorities even if they demanded.
Apart from that Carbonite is fully compliant with GDPR – the European privacy policies. If you decide to go for one of their Server plans or if you settle for their Safe Pro plan, it will also be HIPAA compliant.
Since Carbonite’s data servers are in the US – a country which is a founding member of the Five Eyes and quite infamous for its PATRIOT Act – I will always recommend that you keep full control of your encryption key. However, if you have nothing to hide or if you do not care about authorities accessing your files and folders, you may allow Carbonite to manage your encryption key.
Good thing is that Carbonite clearly states which information it stores and how it uses that information. The good thing is that Carbonite does not have a history of any privacy scandals.
Carbonite offers different plans to choose from. All plans come with unlimited storage and yearly billing (calculated on a monthly rate).
Those plans are:
Carbonite Safe Basic: One year plan at $6 a month.
Carbonite Safe Plus: One year plan at $9.33 a month.
Carbonite Safe Prime: One year plan at $12.50 a month.
You get the option for selecting a two-year or a three-year plan.
The Safe Plus plan will allow you to backup external hard drive, and it will automatically backup videos. You will also get the Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus. The Safe Prime plan will give you everything you get in the Plus tier plus courier recovery service.
However, that is not all. They have different backup plans available for business computer backups starting from $24 a month. They also have server backup plans and servers + computers backup plans starting from $50 a month.
What I did not like is the way they represented their pricing plans on their website. It is quite hard to navigate through and understand what is going on.
Carbonite Customer Service
Carbonite offers support through phone, chat, and email. If you want to talk to them directly or in real time through chat, they have specific business hours within which they will respond. Here are time slots:
Monday through Friday: 2:00 AM to 7:00 PM EST.
Saturday: 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM EST
Sunday: 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM EST
You can send emails to them and expect a reply within 24 hours. They also have a thorough knowledge base available where you can get solutions to your basic problems.
Carbonite is a good and reliable cloud backup solution. However, there are shortcomings that might deter people to using the service. That does not mean people are not using Carbonite. They are! In fact, Carbonite has a million customers (that is what they say).
The most horrible part of Carbonite is the slow upload and download speed. But if that isn’t a big problem for you, you can rely on Carbonite considering that it has powerful security features and puts a lot of focus on user privacy.