Header Ads

Breaking News

Carbonite - Review 2021 - PCMag India

Carbonite is one of the easiest online backup services to use, but it doesn’t lead the pack when it comes to features or value. For example, it requires a separate license—for which you pay a separate fee—for each computer and restricts external and network drive backups to premium accounts. Unlike many similar services, Carbonite doesn’t let you share files from your online storage and does not include mobile apps for backing up files from your phone. Carbonite works fine for basic backup needs, but that’s not enough to differentiate itself in this crowded category.

How Much Does Carbonite Cost?

Carbonite’s pricing is straightforward. For $71.99 per year, the Basic plan gets you unlimited backup space for one PC or Mac. The Plus upgrade option ($111.99 per year) adds the ability to back up external drives and automatically upload videos. You have to do that second task manually with Basic plans.

The Prime plan ($149.99) reduces the cost of the courier recovery service, in which Carbonite ships you a copy of your data on an external drive. This is important for when your hard drive is destroyed or if you don’t have the time or bandwidth to download hundreds of gigabytes of restored files. For Prime customers, the courier service costs $9.99, with the option to add expedited shipping for $19.99. For Basic and Plus users, a courier service request costs $99.99, which includes expedited shipping. There are additional fees for not returning cords or drives. Both IDrive (one free per year and $59.95 for every additional request) and Backblaze (free, if you return the drive) offer similar disaster recovery services, but do not charge nearly as much for that option at equivalent tiers of service.

You should look elsewhere if you need licenses for multiple computers, as Carbonite requires you to pay the full subscription price for each additional computer. Carbonite’s Core subscription level ($287.99 per year) supports up to 25 computers, but includes only 250GB of space. Each 100GB storage increment adds $100 per year to the cost.

Covering only one PC for the base price is not uncommon, but IDrive offers 2TB of combined storage for as many computers and mobile devices as you like for about the same price ($69.95 per year). Backblaze’s unlimited storage plan for a single computer is similar to Carbonite’s, but costs less, at $60 per year. Carbonite offers a free 15-day trial (with no credit card needed), but there’s no permanent, low-storage free plan like those of IDrive or OpenDrive, both of which have free 5GB plans.

Carbonite has apps for Windows and macOS computers, but it no longer offers mobile apps. IDrive and Livedrive are among those online backup services that offer mobile apps.

(Editors’ Note: Livedrive is owned by j2 Global, the parent company of PCMag’s publisher, Ziff Davis.)

Security and Privacy

Carbonite says that it encrypts your files “before they leave your computer and encrypts them again during transit to one of our data centers using 128-bit Blowfish encryption. Your files remain encrypted on our servers, which are housed in data centers that are guarded 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

Carbonite Desktop App

You can either maintain a private encryption key locally (Windows-only) or let Carbonite manage it instead. With the Private Key option, you are the only person who can decrypt your backup. On the other hand, if you lose that private encryption key, Carbonite has no way of helping you recover your backup. If you opt for the private encryption key method, you cannot use the Carbonite web interface or the courier recovery service. If you allow Carbonite to maintain your encryption key, these restrictions do not apply.

We like that Carbonite lets you set up two-factor authentication during the account-creation process and requires you to choose security questions. IDrive, Backblaze, and OpenDrive all offer two-factor authentication for web logins, too.

Carbonite’s privacy policy is long, but it clearly breaks down what information the service collects. Notably, Carbonite says “it does not engage in such activity based on our current understanding of the definition of sell.” For reference, Carbonite is based in Boston, MA in the US.

Getting Started With Carbonite

After downloading Carbonite’s software, the first step is to choose a nickname for the computer. That way, if you add other computers to your account, you know which one has the files you want. Carbonite then offers to automatically choose what to include (documents, photos, email, and music) and when to schedule the uploads. If you decide to go for the Back Up Everything option, there’s no easy way to deselect or remove data from online storage within the desktop application. Instead, you need to manually uncheck folders individually from Windows’ File Explorer. This is a roundabout way to manage backups, but the File Explorer integration makes it marginally better than Backblaze’s exclusion-based backup selection.

The Advanced option lets you choose which folders to back up and the upload schedule. You can use it to fine-tune Carbonite’s default selections or to start from scratch. If you spring for the Plus or Prime plan, you can back up a connected external drive (only one, mind you). You also pick between the aforementioned encryption-key settings here.

Next, it’s time to choose when backups should occur—continuously (which we prefer) or once per day. If your internet connection isn’t the strongest, you may prefer the latter option, though there is the option to set Carbonite to not upload during your busy hours. The Continuous option only uploads file changes and new files, however, so it shouldn’t tax your connection too much in day-to-day use. We’d like to see additional options for setting hourly or weekly backup settings, as well.

Keep in mind that Carbonite employs an all-or-nothing approach to scheduling, so you can’t schedule different backup sets to upload at different times or with different settings. Acronis True Image gives you the option to specify per-folder backup options, which we prefer.

Your final options before Carbonite starts preparing and uploading your data are to have the service prevent your PC from sleeping during a backup and to add any files not covered automatically—videos, program files, and files larger than 4GB.

Carbonite integrates with Window’s File Explorer, but not macOS’s Finder. The software adds a red dot if a file’s waiting to be backed up, a half-filled-in dot for folders in progress, and a green one if it’s uploaded to Carbonite’s servers. Right-click on any file on your drive to add or remove it from the backup set. Carbonite also adds a virtual drive to your PC, where you can browse all the files in your backup and view any that are pending for upload. Right-clicking on any file allows you to restore previous versions of it or immediately back it up ahead of any scheduled backups. IDrive and SpiderOak One offer similar File Explorer integration.

Carbonite does not offer any disk-imaging options. IDrive and Acronis True Image both include this capability. A disk image is a full copy of your hard drive that lets you re-create the system in the event of a catastrophic failure.

Desktop Interface

We tested the software on Windows 10 and like the clean interface and clear indications of the backup process, even if it doesn’t offer as much information as it could. After going through the initial setup, the main screen shows the status of the current backup process. There are icons for accessing backup settings, viewing your backup online, and restoring files. You need to log in to Carbonite’s site to manage things such as payments and subscriptions.

Carbonite Backup Options

During upload, Carbonite’s interface shows you the current file in the upload queue, along with an overall progress bar. A system tray icon lets you launch the main Carbonite application, Search and Restore data, or enter Recover mode. The Settings tab allows you to turn off the Explorer dots, change the backup set and schedule, and reduce bandwidth usage, though there aren’t any fine-tuned options for bandwidth control as there are with Backblaze. You can also manually pause or restart the backup process. If you don’t uncheck the Include Carbonite’s default file types option, you may find that Carbonite re-selects all of your user folders for backup each time you start up the program, which is annoying.

We wish there were another way to select folders and files on Windows to add to the backup, rather than just right-clicking them in the File Explorer. Carbonite’s Mac software has a file-tree system built into the desktop application, so we’re not sure why that didn’t make it over to the Windows version. There’s also no quick way to delete items from a backup. After you deselect a file from backing up with Carbonite or delete it from the virtual drive, it takes up to 72 hours for that file to disappear from online storage.

Web Interface

Carbonite’s web interface looks clean, with clear menus and elements, but sometimes there are slight delays when moving between sections. Once you click into your backup device, the main view shows a sortable file tree and a quick search box, as well as a side menu for accessing account settings and support pages. The file tree is intuitive and it’s easy to move through the file hierarchy of your backups, although there appears to be a delay between when the desktop says files are backed up and when they appear on the web.

Carbonite Web Interface

To download a file, you just click on the blue download icon to the right of the filename. Carbonite does not include any file sharing capabilities, so you can’t create a direct link to a file or extend editing access, as Acronis True Image or OpenDrive allow.

Account settings in the web interface are pretty straightforward. You can set up SMS-based two-factor verification and edit the security questions, for when you need to change your password. Carbonite’s help pages are clear and helpful. The knowledge base is easy to search and provides video walkthroughs for many entries. Users can also easily manage subscriptions from this interface.

Restoring Files

Carbonite’s desktop app makes it easy to restore files. There’s a prominent Get My Files Back button, which lets you choose between grabbing specific files (including specific versions) and downloading everything from your current online backup. When you search for files to restore, you have the option to replace them in their original location or download them to a new folder. One problem we have with Carbonite is that if you delete a file on the backed-up PC (different than removing it from the backup set) the service only keeps the file for 30 days.

Carbonite Restore Options

Carbonite saves multiple versions of files as you edit and save them. Versions are kept for a bit longer than deleted files—three months. However, you’re limited to 12 versions. Carbonite correctly backed up several versions of a text document in testing. For comparison, SpiderOak One keeps an unlimited number of versions forever and OpenDrive saves up to the last 99 versions of files for as long as your account is active.

When you do a full restore to a new machine with Carbonite, you lose the ability to back up the original PC, since the base subscription only covers one PC. If you don’t want to pay for another license, just save all the files to a separate folder. A search box in the Restore window lets you specify particular folders and data you need first. Carbonite estimates how long the restore will take and makes already-processed files available at any time during the restoration.

Carbonite’s Backup Speed

For performance testing, we timed how long it took Carbonite to upload three separate 1GB file sets and took the median. We used a home Ethernet connection (16Mbps upload) for testing since we did not have access to PCMag’s corporate network due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Our test device was a Dell Inspiron tower running Windows 10 with a 256GB SSD and 32GB RAM. Given variances in available bandwidth and computer resources, your results may differ from ours.

Online Backup Upload Speed Test Results

Carbonite completed the test in a median time of 15:34 (minutes:seconds), which was a better result than most services. IDrive took the top spot in our tests, finishing the upload in a median time of 12:29 and ElephantDrive was not too far behind that with a result of 12:44. Carbonite was about seven minutes quicker than NovaBackup (22:14). Online backup speed is not the most important metric you should use to compare online backup services, but faster upload speeds can certainly make the process more convenient.

Easy, Unlimited Online Backup

If you just want to back up your PC files to prepare for the occasional crisis, Carbonite is a decent choice. It has a good interface and embraces the set-it -and-forget-it philosophy with unlimited storage, but it is expensive if you want to back up multiple computers. Carbonite also lacks sharing features and a mobile app for backing up data from your phone. You’re better off with one of the PCMag Editors’ Choice online backup services, such as IDrive for its excellent value or Acronis True Image for its impressive combination of backup and security features.

If you prefer to keep your backups offline, check out our roundups of the best local backup software and external hard drives to see your best options.

Source Link

No comments