June 23 2007

Carbonite Backup

I think I have found my dream backup method… finally.

Couple weeks ago, I heard about a backup service I was unfamiliar with named (link takes you to a free trial page). The basic premise is you download the software, tell it which files you want to backup by right-clicking them, and walk away. That’s it. Approximately ten minutes after you select a file, the software will automatically encrypt the file(s) and upload them to the Carbonite servers.

Now, say you’re doing your entire My Documents folder, and the next day you open a spread sheet up, revise it, and close out. Again, ten minutes after you close it out, up it goes to the servers.

The Pros:
Automatic – Once you pick the files, it truly is automatic, it does the work for you with no effort on your part. One of the biggest reason people never backup their files is too much work.

Colored Icon Marks – The files you pick for backup get color coded dots on them in Windows Explorer. Yellow for waiting, green for backed up. Parent folders get a blue dot telling you at least one file inside the folder is being backed up.

Unlimited Storage – Who knows if this is true or not, but they claim the space is unlimited.

Price – $49.95 a year… yes… a year. $89.95 if you buy two years. I signed up only for one year so far.

There are some cons I’ve found, so let’s be fair and mention those:

The Cons:
Speed – The initial upload took forever. Why, I have no idea, but it is only about 1gb per day. I fear when I finally go to move my music folders, we’re talking weeks.

No Versioning – I think they are working on this, but it’s not done yet. For those unfamiliar with versioning, that is saving multiple versions of the same file, so you don’t over-write it.

No support for external drives – Right now, it’s only working with internal drives, but sometime this summer they are supposed to add support for external hard drives and network drives.

Yes, there are cons, but for $49.95 a year, it was worth it just to backup my My Documents folder really. I figure anything beyond that is a bonus to me. So, give the free trial a look, it last for 15 days, the only thing you can’t do during that time is backup video or audio files, everything else is fine.

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  • james

    I have used Carbonite Back Up for some months now; when it goes wrong, and it does, Carbonite support take a long time coming back to you and the answer seems to be you have to start your back up again from scratch. You are correct, this takes a heck of a long time.

    Another problem is that the back up is slow, so your back up is always out of synch by some hours with any changes. Frankly, when my subscription runs out I will not bother to renew it – better to buy a second external disk!

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  • Robert W Spencer

    Carbonite customer service is a misnomer. They either can’t or don’t read e-mail. Very slow response and the answer doesn’t make sense to the question. I will also not be renewing unless they make a GREAT case for me to continue. Will let you know.

  • Jason

    There's a Carbonite offer code at for people interested in using Carbonite online backup.

  • Steve

    Carbonite is not unlimited – they throttle your speeds when you upload "too much". Do a search around and you'll see.