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Carbonite has been around for a long time now and is likely the best know cloud backup service around. It is also one of the most heavily advertised, if you go to any tech blog, it’s highly likely at least one of the ads on display will be for Carbonite. They focus primarily on providing simplicity and unlimited backup space for Personal Plan users, and well supported premium backup features for Pro Plan and Server users. In our experience, their software and web interface have been very intuitive and among of the easiest to use. Alongside the web interface, Carbonite offers a desktop client, as well as apps for your smartphone (Android and iOS), which allow you to access your files on the go.
The Carbonite client software is available for both Mac and Windows. That being said, only the basic edition works on both platforms. The two premium editions will only work in Windows based environments. So depending on what platform your home or office is built on, this may or may not be a problem for you. Carbonite does offer a 15-day trail, without having to enter any credit card details, so you can give it a solid test run before turning over your hard earned cash. The Home Backup plan comes complete with unlimited storage, whilst the Pro and Server plans are equipped with 250GB and 500GB of storage, depending on the plan you choose. Additional storage packs are available, should you need them.
Carbonite offers three tiers: Personal, Pro, and Server. Each of these tiers has three plans to choose from, giving you a choice out of nine options to best suit your backup needs.
- Personal Plans
- Personal Basic: $59.99 per year/ per computer. Available for both Windows and Mac. Unlimited storage
- Personal Plus: $99.99 per year/ per computer. Available for Windows only. Unlimited storage with external hard drive backups and disk mirroring capabilities.
- Personal Prime: $149.99 per year/ per computer. Available for Windows only. All of the above, but with the addition of courier recovery service (they will courier your data to you on an external hard drive should a data disaster strike).
- Pro Plans
- Pro Basic: $269.99 per year. 250GB backup storage space. Unlimited computers, external hard drives and NAS devices. Available for both Windows and Mac with optional scheduled backup only on Windows. HIPAA Compliant. They’ll even walk you through the setup over the phone!
- Pro Plus: $499.99 per year. 250GB backup storage space with added Microsoft Windows servers support. Unlimited computers. Available for both Windows and Mac with optional scheduled backup only on Windows
- Pro Prime: $599.99 per year. 500GB backup storage space, with all of the advantages of the Pro Plus plan outlined above.
- 100GB add on storage packs can be purchased for $99.99/yr
- Multi-year pricing provides a 5% discount for 2 years, and a 10% discount for 3 years for all Pro plans.
- Server Plans
- Server Basic: $799.99 per year. 250GB backup storage space for Oracle, SQL, Exchange and other databases. Compatible with Windows file servers.
- Server Plus: $899.99 per year. 500GB bakcup storage space for Oracle, SQL, Exchange and other databases. Compatible with Windows file servers.
- Server Pro Bundle: $999.99 per year. 500GB bakcup storage space for Oracle, SQL, Exchange and other databases. Compatible with Windows file servers. Added backup for unlimited computers, external hard drives and NAS devices.
- 100GB add on storage packs can be purchased for $99.99/yr
- Multi-year pricing provides a 5% discount for 2 years, and a 10% discount for 3 years for all Server plans.
The pricing is competitive with other backup service providers. Some other providers do allow you to back up more than one computer, but most of them have limited storage or bandwidth caps. Carbonite will auto-renew your subscription unless you manually cancel it. All of their plans are available on a trial basis, requiring only an email address to sign up, which is a big plus side.
Carbonite has some sophisticated and powerful features, but they are wrapped in a very intuitive way. The user experience tends to be straight forward and entirely painless. Here are some of the features they offer.
For Carbonite Personal Plans
- Unlimited cloud space
- Scheduled as well as automated backups.
- External hard drive back up and disk imaging (Personal Plus and Personal Prime only).
- Online banking level encryption and security.
- Courier shipping of your files on a hard drive right to your door (Personal Prime customers in the US only)
- Access to your files via a web portal, desktop client, or smartphone (Windows is supported across all platforms, but OSX is only available on the Personal Basic plan).
- Up to 3 months worth of versioning.
- The ability to use your own encryption key, in case your industry requires it (or you’re just a geek like that).
- Select priority files for recovery.
- Access to your files from Web, iOS, Android and BlackBerry devices
- Super easy restoration
- 30 days deleted file retention
For Carbonite Pro Plans
- All features from the Personal plans
- Browser-based dashboard to monitor backup status for everyone’s computers in your company
- Support Windows Server 2003, 2008, 2011, Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, and Mac OSX 10.5 and above.
Carbonite keeps their user interface simple and easy to use. We’ve found the web interface to be intuitive and straightforward also.
Carbonite encrypts your data using 128-bit Blowfish encryption before it even leaves your computer, then uses SSL to transmit your data. In addition to that, their data centers have all of the bells and whistles we have come to expect. Temperature controlled server rooms, with uniteruptable power supplies (with backup generators that have guaranteed fuel contracts in the case of longer power outages), and security gaurds on watch 24/7. On top of all of that, all personnel access is tightly restricted using various biometric scanners. Additional layers of security such as electronic swipe cards and pin numbers are needed to access the servers for maintenance.
Carbonite also subject their data centers to rigorous internal standard independent audits using CPA firms. Carbonite is very open about their data security practices, for more information see their security white sheet on their website.
Carbonite has some excellent customer service solutions in place. Between 8:30am – 9pm EST you can contact them by phone, email or instant chat. They also have a comprehensive support section for self-troubleshooting, as well as a blog. If that’s not enough, they even offer a series of video tutorials. Real life customer feedback shows mixed responses to the quality of customer support, but remember, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”, so you’re always going to hear more from the few people who are experiencing problems than the thousands of people who are happy with the service. In our experience, customer support were pleasant and helpful.
When you click on “try it free“, you will get the option to choose between trying the Personal or the Pro & Server plans.
After that you just enter your email address and a password, plus an offer code (if you have one). No need for credit card details.
The software, being only 9.4mb, takes only a few seconds to download.
Upon starting the installation, you have to agree to a pretty standard EULA, nothing unusual here.
After this, you begin to customize Carbonite to suit your setup, firstly by selecting what type of system you are running it on.
Then Carbonite asks you to choose between Automatic or Advanced installations. For most people, Automatic will be the one to go for, but because we had specific folders we wanted to backup we chose advanced.
As part of the advanced options it lets you choose between starting with Carbonites recommended backups, or with no folders selected.
It then offers you the choice between scheduled backups or continuous backups. We prefer continuous backups, as it offers the most protection against loosing work. However, there are some instances in which you may prefer scheduled backups. You can always change this later on too.
For those in industries requiring it, this is where you can set up your extra protection by creating a private encryption key.
A splash screen then comes up with a short introductory video to Carbonite.
Now we’re up and running. If you had selected for Carbonite to automatically decide what it would backup, it will start doing so immediately.
If you would like to back up additional files or folders, or if like us you have decided to manually allocate which ones to backup, you can do that now by going into your file browser and simply right clicking on the file or folder, selecting “Carbonite” > “Back this up”. It’s really as simple as that.
Carbonite will start making a backup of it right away.
The desktop client lives in your task bar for ease of access.
Once your files are backed up, you can also access them through your web browser by signing into your account on the Carbonite homepage. You can manage various other aspects of your account here too.
As far as actual access to the files is concerned, the file browser is very good and easy to use. It even offers previews of what the files are and can display various bits of information about them.
Carbonite offers unlimited storage and some pretty solid features at its price point. If you are looking for a backup storage provider for home use or a small business. carbonite has got you covered – provided you work primarily in a Windows based environment. If you are a Mac user, our suggestion is to try elsewhere. As to why Carbonite doesn’t offer Mac software above the basic level we don’t know, but it will cost them at least some customers for sure. However, if you don’t need anything beyond the basic features, the Mac software is still very useable, so it may just work for you after all. Our only other gripe with Carbonite is that you can’t backup multiple computers from one account on the Personal plan. However, this can be solved by going on one of their pro plans, which will then also allow you to attach NAS devices, among several other advantages. Overall, we feel that Carbonite is a solid choice for many users needing simple and unlimited backups.Visit Site »
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