Carbonite Cloud Service
Carbonite Cloud Service is a name that is easily recognizable in the cloud world. Having been around for 11 years, they have fine-tuned a lot of their features and offer an overall decent yet basic product. They have “Personal”, “Pro” and “Server” plans to meet individual, family and business needs. Their storage space is unlimited and one can choose a tiered level of features based on plan price. While this sounds good on the surface, there are some negatives. Their limited Mac support is disappointing, only one computer can be registered per personal plan without extra costs, and their sharing and sync features take a lot of work and setup to be able to use. It is also hard to overlook the plethora of negative reviews from former Carbonite users found abundantly on the web due to various issues.
Carbonite’s desktop software is well designed and easy to follow. The wizard allows you to choose an advanced option to customize your backup process, or an automatic option to have Carbonite do it for you. The automatic feature only backs up your documents, photos, music, and emails. In order to be able to back up videos, files larger than 4GB or any other types, you must manually select them by right-clicking the file on your desktop, which can be tedious and time consuming. The user interface itself is clean and fairly easy to navigate. Even the most casual user should be able to use it without problems. You are able to schedule your backups, which is a great, but not in the customizable ways we have seen elsewhere. Minimal account information can be viewed in the desktop app, but logging into the website is required for more. The layout does have an easy to spot “backup” button and a “restore” button that should cause no trouble for novice users. Android, iPhone and Blackberry applications are available for your mobile devices, and they do allow backups to be performed with little effort.
If you want to sync or share files, you can do so with Carbonite. They recently began offering these options, but you are required to install a separate application, so they are not yet offering back up, syncing and sharing features in one application. For the average user, this is incredibly frustrating, not to mention time consuming, having to switch between software applications to perform each task. We also found the secondary software to be slow on our Android tablet.
One very disappointing thing about Carbonite is the fact that each plan only allows one computer to be backed up. If you want the family computer to be backed up, in addition to your work machine, you will have to purchase another plan at full price. This is not at all cost efficient for most people. “Basic” plans start at 59.99 a year and include unlimited storage, automatic backups, 7 day a week support and the sync and sharing features mentioned earlier that are available through secondary apps. The “Plus” plan goes for 99.99 and includes all of the same features as the basic plan, plus external hard drive backup and mirror image backup. The ability to perform a mirror image backup is great and seemed to function well with our trial. Personal plans go up from there. One major downfall with the personal plans is that Mac support is available only on the “Basic” plan. So if you’re a Mac user and desire more, you’re not going to get it with Carbonite. On the business front, both the “Pro” and “Server” level packages offer various features that businesses and offices could definitely utilize. HIPAA compliance, external and NAS devices and Windows file servers, just to name a few.
As far as security goes, Carbonite does a good job. Backed up files are encrypted with 128-bit Blowfish encryption during rest and transferred through 128-bit SSL to their data centers. One great benefit of Carbonite is the fact that you can either use Carbonite’s 1024-bit encryption key or manage your own. This is a way to add an extra level of personalized security to your backup experience. Servers are located in secure data centers and are protected with gated perimeter access, on site 24/7 staffed security, and also security cameras inside and outside of all buildings.
We experienced fast uploads speeds with Carbonite. 1 GB took about 40 minutes to complete which was more than adequate. We were unable to determine exactly where their servers are located, so speeds could vary if you are further away or have lackluster ISP speeds. Not a great deal of outages have been reported that we could find. One of the bigger concerns is the amount of complaints that customers have put out. There are a great deal about support staff helpfulness and general wait times to even be connected. Customers also seem to be unhappy with the “Automatic Backup” feature, stating that it overlooks files it is supposed to detect. We didn’t experience any problems with this, at least none that we immediately noticed, in our short tests.
Overall, Carbonite is mediocre but functional. It offers some good features but none that are state of the art or unable to be found elsewhere. Limited Mac support is a real deal breaker, as is the need to install separate applications to share or sync your data. Plan prices are okay, but there are too many other options that offer a lot more features for your money. This fact could make it difficult for a consumer to narrow down what Carbonite plan would best fit their needs while also accommodating tighter budgets. Being that only one computer can be backed up per personal plan is something that could also hurt your wallet. Their security is on point and we were impressed with the upload speeds that we experienced. We find Carbonite to be a solid backup solution, but not the best product or value available by any means when compared to the other top choices available out there today.
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