December 19, 2014

Back It Up Today With Hard Drive In The Cloud: Review of Carbonite

Storage space. We always seem to want more of it. There is always a shortage of storage space, in our homes, offices, and on our computers. So we buy external hard drives and create a daily and weekly backup plan. Not. Confess in the comments if you start your new year with thoughts of backing up all your data, on a regular basis, and then don’t do it. Even if you are not willing to confess, you will want to read this review about Carbonite and its online backup service. It may just save your small business from a big, big headache.

Carbonite is a remote, not on your premises, cloud-based hard drive. As you can see from the screenshot of their home page, they are laser-focused on making it easy to try it out. Pricing right on the splash page (home page) and two calls to action. That alone pushes it to the top of list, in my book. Make it easy, easy, easy on a small business owner and I’m seriously interested.

You can buy a large multi-terabyte external hard drive for around $120, give or take $20. It will be shiny and cool looking on your desk. But you will have to exercise serious discipline to back up your data each day or week. If you don’t think you’ll do it, spring for Carbonite and enable their automatic backup process. The “Home” option is for home offices and 1-2 person businesses, so if you fit that description, click “Try Home Free” first.

How it works:

When you sign up, you have to download a small application (8.7Mb) and install it. This small package enables the communication between your machine and Carbonite’s servers. The download, install, setup process took less than two minutes. Then the service asks you a few questions and if you want an automatic full backup or an “advanced” backup which allows you to select which folders and files to backup. But, they even make that super easy and have a “default” option to include standard folders like Documents, Pictures, etc.  I chose full manual as I’m really only testing their 15-day free trial, but I will say it looks very, very user friendly and compelling as a time-saver. With plans starting at $59 for one year, it may be one of the handful of services that I choose to buy for my company after my review.

Then, it asks you to choose a continuous backup (meaning consistent and regular) or if you want to choose a schedule that fits you. That’s the main thing to remember: Carbonite strives to really fit their service to your needs. That’s not a comment to make for a nice review; they really have thought about you and me in the tedious process of backing up data. It is impressive. Normally, i have a what I liked section and what I’d like to see improved. I can’t find anything to improve, except that it took me so long to test this service and alleviate my concerns about a failed future hard drive.

Now to the last point you might be thinking about — what do I do if I have to restore a file or folder or drive? You can look at the Carbonite drive as if it was a hard drive on your machine. You can choose to “restore” the drive, or just a folder, or even one file. You can restore that file in its original location or put it in a new folder on your desktop.

Learn more about Carbonite and how you can securely back up your small business computer hard drives.

9 Comments ▼

TJ McCue - Product Editor


TJ McCue TJ McCue served as Technology/Product Review Editor for Small Business Trends for many years and now contributes on 3D technologies. He is currently traveling the USA on the 3DRV roadtrip and writes at the Refine Digital blog.

9 Reactions

  1. I’m going to have to check this out. Storage and security are huge issues for any business, and this is an intriguing tool.

  2. I’m curious how the rising popularity of Dropbox would affect companies like Carbonite. Dropbox is free for the first 2 gigs of data and it allows coordinated access from many computers. It also automatically keeps a back-up copy in the cloud. I would be curious how the pricing plans for larger amounts of data compare.

  3. Great job, as usual, TJ.

    I’ve been using Carbonite for 4 years now.

    Thankfully.

    Their customer service rocks, and I never lose sleep with it running in the background.

    Or data.

    The Franchise King®

  4. Anyone tried this already? What do you think?

  5. I have used Carbonite for a few years and it has worked very well. I have not had to use it to restore anything but it is most reassuring to know if I have a problem I am covered. I also have an on-site hard drive I use with the Mac backup program. I just have one computer on the system and would highly recommend Carbonite.

  6. John and Dave do check out additional options and use more than one would be my advice. I am not one to register negative reports, just a heads up.

    After a couple of years of flawless automated backup…having access to my data has been (for me) a different story. I will be finding another backup process. Carbonite’s server, with my data on it has been down, for days…if not a week. Now it is reported back up, but their is a corrupted file preventing me from loading their software on my laptop, after my desktop crashed.

    Yes, customer service folks have been great, just no resolution. My case is now up to level 3 technical (stuff happens); but I wait for a phone call (solution?) almost a day later. Big disappointment as this is for my business, not a personal PC. Whatever you do, if it matters, don’t put all your eggs in the Carbonite basket.

  7. Thanks for the update/report Steve. I read your post about your experience. Sounds like we all need to take your latest post to heart and make sure we have some redundancies built into our own backup processes, regardless of the online backup solution we use. I actually do a hybrid as you suggest in your post. I mirror to an external drive from ioSafe ( http://www.iosafe.com ) and, until recently, I was using a combination of Google Docs and some other online storage sites. None had the automated backup feature/capability of Carbonite, which is very appealing. I’ve suffered multiple hard drive crashes over the years, unfortunately, given that I test a lot of different hardware and software and probably push the boundaries of what most SMB owners use. Some of my data sits on two different hard drives to be sure I can get to some data and get work done.

  8. I have used Carbonite for over 2 years and have used it to restore data twice. I was going to sign my husband’s computer up and he said no because he had an external backup. Did a cleanup about 5 weeks ago and lost everything. Got his empty computer back today and we will be including his on our contract. Tough lesson to learn.

  9. Carbonite is definitely one of the better back up solutions out there. I still can’t get past my aversion to relying on cloud based services. Especially for sensitive or confidential data. Those pieces are always backed up on local physical hard drives or flash drives designated for that purpose alone.

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