Carbonite Review: Online Cloud Backup
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|Excellent and comprehensive online backup with easy remote file access, exclusive discount|
Carbonite is a comprehensive and robust online backup service that will keep your important files backed up with a minimum of fuss and virtually no interference. It's all controlled by a simple program that runs invisibly in the background. In fact, the recent release of Carbonite 4.0, makes the whole process even easier. They've simplified the setup and given you more options for restoring your files. But before we get much more into restoring files, let's talk about backing things up.
As with all online backup services, the initial backup will take a while. Depending on your Internet connection speed and the amount of data on your hard drive, it could take a day or more. Your computer is completely usable during this time, but you'll need to keep it on and connected. Subsequent backups will take less time as Carbonite will only need to save new files and previously backed-up files that have changed.
By default, Carbonite backs up your documents, email, photos, and music. We like that Carbonite takes care of emails automatically, since many online backup services don't, requiring the user to manually locate these files and add them to a backup schedule. However, it won't back up files larger than 4GB unless you tell it to.
Home Plus & Home Premier Plan
Before, Carbonite lacked the ability to backup external hard drives. Now users who get the HomePlus or HomePremier plan can backup all of their external drives with the unlimited backup space that Carbonite provides. These plans also include a Mirror Image feature, creating a local copy of your computer's hard drive. Mirror Image backs up your operating system and programs, as well as your files and folders, to an external hard drive. Unfortunately, these features are not available with the basic Home Plan. HomePremier users can also get the new Courier Recovery feature. With this add-on, users can receive a copy of their backup shipped to their home or office. HomePremier also does automatic video backups, whereas users have to do this manually with the other two plans. Note that these two new plans are only available to PC users.
Restore & Remote File Access
In the event of a crash or any other data loss, you simply use the downloadable Carbonite InfoCenter to restore your lost data. But Carbonite's usefulness goes beyond disaster recovery. While we generally talk about an online backup service as a remedy for catastrophic data loss, there's another feature users will love and use much more often, and that's versioning. Carbonite will automatically save up to twelve versions of every file you back up. This allows you to roll back to a previous iteration of any file to recover lost changes. It's like the ultimate "undo." Anyone who's ever made unalterable changes to a large text or graphics file will recognize the value in this feature.
TUTORIAL: How to Restore Your Computer with Carbonite for the PC
At NextAdvisor, we get a number of questions from users about whether or not they can use Carbonite to migrate their files to a brand new PC, and we'd like to think that Carbonite's listened. That functionality is now standard with Carbonite 4.0; a new restore option promises to put all your files in just the right place on your new system.
Carbonite can also be used to access your files from any computer that has an Internet connection. Simply log in to the remote access section of carbonite.com and you'll see all your files, just as you would if you were looking at your hard drive (minus the programs). It's a good feature, and it's one you'll find with many online backup services, although it's not as evolved as it is in a product like SugarSync. You can't, for instance, use it to securely share files with others. They're for your eyes only. A small knock against an otherwise great service.
Carbonite's latest addition to their online backup service is their new syncing technology Currents. The Currents add-on works like a cloud storage system, allowing for the access and updating of stored files from any location across multiple devices. Currents is currently available on both Mac and PC, as well as the iPhone and Android phones. The desktop and mobile apps have a very intuitive design, making them extremely easy to setup and use.
One of the best features of Currents is its ability to continually save any changes made to documents, keeping the file up to date at all times. Currents also keeps a 30 day backup of all files and their changes. This way, if a mistake is made or a file becomes lost or corrupted, you have the ability to rollback to a previous version. The Currents service will not be installed when initially setting up the Carbonite backup system; users need to go to labs.carbonite.com to try out the service for free.
In regard to HIPAA compliance: Online backup services cannot legally state that they are officially HIPAA compliant. However, Carbonite contains all of the security features to protect data that is transmitted to and from their servers. Carbonite follows strict guidelines to meet factors that go into HIPAA compliance. If you want to know what HIPAA is, please visit our FAQ page.
Carbonite offers unlimited storage for a single computer for $59.99 per year (after discount), roughly $4.99 per month. Two- and three-year subscriptions can bring the price down to an equivalent of $4.35 per month. Unlimited backup is a great deal, but note that Carbonite limits you to backing up a single computer. If you'd like to backup multiple computers, you need to purchase a subscription for every computer you need to backup. As we mentioned above, Carbonite has introduced the HomePlus Plan and HomePremier Plan to their arsenal. Check out the pricing options for these more advanced plans:
For pure online backup, Carbonite is a great bargain. While it may not have all the fancy features other online backup providers have, the setup is simple, fuss free, and comprehensive. The user interface (see screen shot at left) is likewise simple and easy to use. You'll just set it and forget it—until the day you need to restore your files.
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I have a small insurance agency and have five computers that are networked, can I use this program to backup each computer?
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My Carbonite account expired in June 2013. Would Carbonite still have a copy of my last backup?
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Thank you for your question and interest in Carbonite online backup. Yes, the Carbonite backup system is supported on Windows 8 as well as other...