Back in 2006, online backup services were barely even making a name in the industry. There was one name however that stood out: Carbonite. They were the first backup service that was strictly online whilst everyone else was still working on physical backup software/hardware. Online backup services didn't become a big thing until Google came out with the cloud and then everything changed.
Carbonite paved the path when they came out with their online backup service, and you can easily see that they have some of the main features many other services provide today. They have tight security to keep your data safe, they even let you put in a password so no one has access but you. You're also given many options for backing up your data from scheduled times to automatic.
Signing Up With Carbonite
It's easy to start an account with Carbonite. You begin with a typical online account creation, entering some basic information into fields. Then you download a 10MB file and configure the program on your computer, and you're ready to go in just a few minutes, unless your internet connection is super slow.
As the program sets up, you have the option to select automatic or advanced settings. With automatic, Carbonite backs up all your files automatically. If you choose advanced, you set up your own custom backup schedule and which files to store, as well as a personal encryption key.
Unlimited Storage Space
Carbonite offers several plans with a range of features at different price points, but the coolest feature of all is that every level comes with unlimited storage. You can store most file formats, but you will need to manually add video files, and individual files larger than 4GB, unless you elect to become a Prime subscriber, the highest level of service.
With automatic backup, once you set up the program you don't need to worry about performing backups as the program works it's magic in the background. Also, Carbonite scans your computer on an ongoing basis and uploads updated existing documents as well as new documents.
Share, Sync and Other Features
Carbonite was the first online backup service, but the competition beat them to offering sync and share features as part of cloud storage. Happily, Carbonite caught up and now offers a free sync & share app, keeping files up to date across all your devices including smartphones, laptops, desktops and tablets. As you update documents, the app ensures that updates are synced across all devices. It's great to have access to all your work no matter where you are, and on any device.
Upon opening the sync and share app, you see all the files you've added or updates in the past 30 days. You can access older files via a search tool. Sharing files from the app is easy; you can generate a link with a click and send it to family, friends, colleagues or clients via email, Facebook or Twitter.
Carbonite also features file versioning, where you can access old versions of files. You can return to the earlier version of the file or see when changes were made. With Carbonite you can access three months back of file versioning, longer that some of the competition allows. We note that this feature is only available to Windows users, and is not available on Macs.
Another great feature is file recovery. Users can retrieve files that have been deleted from their computer for up to 30 days. We've all made the error of tossing a file that we need later, so this is an outstanding feature.
Plans and Pricing
Carbonite's Basic plan runs $59.99 per year, and works on both Windows and Mac based computers. Subscribers get unlimited backup for a single computer, along with the free mobile app and customer support access. The Plus plan comes at $99.99 per year and you can also back up files from an external hard drive and use Carbonite's mirror image backup system. The mirror image feature allows you to make an exact copy of your computer and store it on an external hard drive (you provide the actual hard drive). The Plus works with Windows based computers, but not Max.
The Prime plan from Carbonite costs $149.99 per year and adds automatic video backups and a courier recovery service. It's also available only for Windows based computers.
Before signing up, you can take advantage of a 15-day free trial of the Basic subscription plan. You can't store music or video files until you pay for a plan, but you can use the service to see if you like it. There is no need to provide payment information to take advantage of the free trial.
Security with Carbonite
While your files are secure with Carbonite, their security protocols are not as tight as some of their competitors. Files are stored and encrypted with 128-bit SSL technology. The files are encrypted during transmission and while stored in the company's servers, but they are not encrypted client-side. This means they lack end-to-end encryption. Users are able to set their own encryption password, which Carbonite does not know. However, this feature is only available to PC/windows users, and restricts access to some, but not all, features.
You can reach Carbonite customer support via phone, live chat and email. The phone and chat hours are from 8:30 am to 9 pm EST. You can email them anytime but replies come during the customer support hours.
They also offer an online tool called Knowledge Base, an extensive guide for Carbonite users with video tutorials and a FAQs. It's a great resource in particular for new users, with tips on setting up your account and restoring files. These subjects are covered in detail with images supporting the text.
Verdict - Very Good
Carbonite lagged behind the curve in adding features like syncing and sharing, but they woke up and caught up with these industry standard features. Carbonite is a great cloud storage service for windows based computers, but if you are a Mac user, only their basic plan is available. Their full-featured plans are a bit pricey compared to the competition, but Carbonite does offer a user friendly, intuitive program that we can recommend, and their customer service is above average