Carbonite is an online backup service that offers unlimited backup space for home and business users. Available for Windows and Mac users, Carbonite is one of the best-known online backup services. Since its launch in 2005, the service has received excellent press coverage and numerous awards.

How it works

Carbonite is designed for simplicity and ease of use. To set up the backup, users install the Carbonite application on their computers, which then runs in the background, permanently monitoring the file system for any changes. When a file is created or modified, Carbonite uploads the new version to the cloud.

The company behind Carbonite makes a point out of the security of the system – all files are encrypted client-side and transmitted over an encrypted connection to the company’s secure data centers. This is an especially important feature for businesses that deal with confidential or private data.

Carbonite has received a lot of praising for its easy to use and intuitive interface. Even non-technical users easily install and configure the application, without too much hassle. Once the application is installed, you can almost forget about it – it runs quietly in the background, automatically uploading your files to the cloud.

Backup all your files with Carbonite

By default, Carbonite automatically backs up user-generated files that are smaller than 4GB in size. This includes all types of documents, spreadsheets, photos, emails, setting files and emails. Executable files, video files, and files that are larger than 4GB can be manually backed up.

The application makes it easy to spot which files have been backed up and which haven’t. A system of color-coded dots indicates the status of the file – backed up, queued for backup, or not selected for backup.

Carbonite saves several versions of your files in the cloud, based on a versioning scheme. For example, when working on a quarterly report, Carbonite will save a new version of the file each day. If, for any reason, you need to restore a previous version of your document, you can just log in to Carbonite, select the version that you need, and get it back. This feature can prove a real life-saver, especially when working with important business files.

Restoring your files

File restoring is simple – in the main interface of Carbonite, go to the Restore Manager and let three-step wizard guide you. First, select which files you want to restore; you can choose all your files or the files from a specific user account. You can prioritize the restore order, so you can have that important PowerPoint presentation in time for the big meeting. Next, hit restore and wait for the files to download. Finally, you should verify that everything was restored correctly.

 

You can restore your files from any computer or even from your smartphone, by logging in to Carbonite.com. The Web interface is easy to use and works similarly to the Restore Manager from the PC application.

Carbonite limitations

No online backup system is perfect. Carbonite has a few limitations that may determine certain users to choose competing services.

A complaint that many users have is the slow backup and restore speed for large amounts of data. If you back up more than 200 GB of data, the upload speed is limited by Carbonite, so it can take days to back up all the files from a full hard-disk. Similarly, the restore speed is limited, so if you need to download a lot of data, make sure to prioritize the important files.

Another limitation of Carbonite is the lack of support for external hard-drives and networked-attached storage (NAS) for the home use plan. However, the small businesses plans do support this feature.

Carbonite pricing

For home users, Carbonite is among the most affordable online backup services, with prices starting at $59 per year. This flat annual fee lets you use the Carbonite service on one computer. Unlike some competing services, Carbonite does not have a tiered pricing scheme – $59 gives you access to as much space as you need.

The two Business plans include respectively 250 GB and 500 GB backup storage space. If you need to save more data, you can opt for one of the add-ons available for a flat fee. Business plans let you back up external hard drives, provide a recovery-by-email option and business-level support. The Business Premier plan, available at $599 per year, allows companies to back up Windows Server machines.

No matter what plan you choose, you can try Carbonite for free for two weeks for the home plan or four weeks for the business plans. No credit card is required.

The bottom line

Carbonite is probably the most easy to use online backup service and one of the most affordable on the market. Once you set up Carbonite on your computer, you can basically forget about it. The service will automatically save your important files in the cloud, without any effort from your side.

Despite its few limitations, Carbonite is highly-recommended for users that want hassle-free, efficient online back up.