Backing Up Your Files – What Exactly Is Carbonite?

When backing up important files from your computer, you are probably still using an external hard drive. That in itself is not bad, in fact, it’s highly recommended but it may not be enough. When there’s flood, fire or theft, your PC and backup drive could be lost. 

For good measure, it certainly won’t hurt to employ another solution to back up your important files.

For this reason, it might be a good idea to use a cloud-based backup service also known as an online backup service. In this post, we’re going to talk about Carbonite – one of the most popular online backup services available.

What Does The Carbonite Company Do?

Straight from the Carbonite’s About page:

“Carbonite offers all the tools necessary for protecting data from the most common forms of data loss, including ransomware, accidental deletions, hardware failures, and natural disasters. From automated computer backup to comprehensive protection for physical and virtual server environments, Carbonite ensures the accessibility and survivability of data for any system and any size business.”

Carbonite is one of the most recognizable names in the online backup field. The service is also known for being an easy-to-use online backup solution with a decent mobile app and good pricing plans. This online backup solution features an elegant user interface that is quite a breeze to use.

However, it doesn’t back everything up by default. Instead, the software selects which file you need to back up, then it’s all up to the user. Standard locations such as My Documents, etc. are successfully selected and in most cases, additional user input is not necessary.

How Carbonite Works For You:

Once you have signed up with the Carbonite service (or availed the free trial period), the first step is to download the software. From here, you will be guided by the wizard for the initial backup.

First, you will be asked to assign a nickname to the computer. Therefore, if you add another computer to your online backup account, you will know which system has the files that you want. The wizard will then give you the option to automatically choose which locations and files to include (such as documents, music, email, photos, etc.) and when to schedule the upload.

Should you go for the “Back Up Everything” option, you should know that the software offers no easy method to remove or deselect data from the online storage using the desktop software. Instead, the user needs to uncheck folders one by one via File Explorer.

This might seem like a cumbersome way to manage backups, but Carbonite’s File Explorer makes it better to back up files when compared to other exclusion-based services.

The desktop application also offers an Advanced option which lets you manually select which folders to include and when to schedule an upload.

This is the best way to fine-tune your experience with Carbonite instead of using the default options. If you avail of higher-level plans, you can back up an external hard drive. Premium plans also let you create a duplicate backup to your local storage, so you can recover files even without an internet connection.

Scheduling Backups And Security Checks

After the initial setup, you can choose when the backups will take place.

The default option is Continuous which should work for most people. The easiest way is to command the app to perform a backup once a day which works well for those who have a slower internet connection. You can also set Carbonite to stop uploading during certain hours. The Continuous mode will only upload new files and file changes but won’t wreak havoc on your connection.

However, it’s worth noting that the program only offers an “all or nothing” approach when it comes to backup schedules. If you are looking to schedule different folders at different times, you are out of luck. So it’s not as flexible as most people would have liked.

In terms of security, the program encrypts the data before being sent to its servers. By default, the encryption key will be managed by Carbonite. Should you prefer to lock down your files, you also have the option to use private encryption keys. This means that not even the employees of the software can access your files. On the downside, you won’t be able to recover your files in case the keys are lost.

Also, you will not be able to access your files via the web if you opt for private encryption keys.

So for the most basic purposes, it’s highly recommended that you settle with the managed-key option which is less restrictive but still fairly secure. For added security, you can set up two-factor authentication and security questions when making an account.

Before uploading, the final option is the ability to prevent the computer from sleeping during the backup process. This is important to keep in mind since the initial backup could take days, depending on the total size of files that you wish to back up.

Desktop Interface And OS Integration

As mentioned, Carbonite is fairly easy to use, thanks to its clever OS integration.

Photo credit

If you need to back up folders that the program doesn’t select, the local client integrates with the Windows operating system for file and folder selection. All you need to do is access the right-click context menu (Carbonite > Back this up) which is very easy and quite elegant.

The desktop program offers a clean interface that displays clear indications of the backup process. There are icons for accessing the settings, restoring files, and viewing files online.

During the upload process, the UI displays the current file that’s being uploaded along with the overall progress bar. There’s also the system tray icon that lets you launch the app and access certain options like Search and Restore data, Recover mode, and more.

While the user interface is very intuitive, we wish it offers more information during the upload process. Additionally, implementing more ways to select folders and files instead of the context menu would do wonders for improving the overall user experience. It’s also a bummer that there’s no quick way to delete items from the backup.

3 Pricing Plans For Carbonite

Carbonite offers three pricing plans which are all billed annually. The three plans are:

  • Carbonite Safe
  • Carbonite Safe Backup Pro
  • Carbonite Safe server backup

As with most backup services, longer subscriptions will get you better discounts. Take note that the prices below are only for one (1) computer. When signing up for the service, you will be given the option to add more computers and the total price will be adjusted in real-time.

1. Carbonite Safe Basic

The most basic plan will cost you $7​​​​1.99 for 1​​​​ year which makes it $6.00 /month. For 2 Years, it will cost you $136.78 ($5.70 /month) and 3 years for $194.37 ($5.40 /month).

The base plan offers unlimited cloud backup along with basic features like automatic cloud backup, remote file access, and 128-bit encryption. The Safe plan is actually a 3-tiered plan which includes the Basic, Plus, and Prime options. The Plus option costs $9.34 /month which adds an External hard drive and Automatic video backup to the basic plan. The Prime option includes everything from Basic and Plus and adds the Courier recovery service.

2. Carbonite Safe Backup Pro

The Backup Pro plan includes only one tier option which is Core. The plan costs $24 which amounts to $287.99 for a yearly subscription. A 2-year subscription costs $547.18 and a 3-year plan costs $777.57.

The plan is clearly aimed at backing up multiple computers. The Core plan lets you backup up to 25 computers and includes 250 GB of cloud storage. If you want to add more storage, it will cost you $99 per 100GB per year.

The Pro plan includes everything from Basic but it adds FERPA, GLBA & HIPAA support and Centralized management & admin controls.

3. Carbonite Safe Server Backup

The server backup plan includes two tiers which are Power and Unlimited.

Power costs $50 per month and can back up one server and up to 25 computers. This package includes 500GB of cloud backup. The Ultimate plan costs $83.34 and you can back up unlimited servers and up to 25 computers. It also comes with 500GB of cloud storage.

Adding more storage will cost you $99 / 100GB per year. It’s worth noting that the pricing for this plan is currently on sale as of this writing.

As you can see, Carbonite’s pricing plans are quite flexible but can be confusing as well. From personal use to business solutions, this cloud backup service can accommodate your needs.

Final Thoughts On Carbonite’s Services

Choosing a good online backup storage service can be difficult, especially considering the number of options out there.

If you wish to back up the files from your PC or to prepare for the occasional crisis, Carbonite is a very good choice. It’s very simple to use and offers a “set it and forget it” philosophy.

So have you used this online backup service before? What do you think of it? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

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