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Carbonite

Est. $60 per year for unlimited storage
Reviewed
May 2014
by ConsumerSearch
Carbonite

Pros
  • Unlimited storage
  • Very easy to use
  • Unobtrusive automatic backup
Cons
  • No free version available
  • Must add larger files manually
  • No syncing or file sharing

Bottom line

Carbonite offers unlimited cloud storage starting at $60 per year per computer. Its software automatically backs up new or changed files on your computer, though large files (bigger than 4 GB) need to be uploaded manually. Carbonite earns a number of recommendations and awards from experts who say it's easy to use and a great choice for simple online backup.

Ease of use

One of the simplest online backup services. Reviewers say Carbonite, which is compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems, is one of the easiest cloud storage services to use. After a quick installation, you can choose specific files to store in the cloud or the Carbonite client will begin the backup process based on its default settings (Microsoft Office documents, music files, photos -- video must be checked in the basic plan). In addition, its file-marking system earns praise for its simplicity in checking a file's status. Each file and folder on a computer receives a small green dot in the corner if it's backed up or a yellow dot if backup is pending. Syncing is available via mobile apps for Android, iOS and BlackBerry devices.

Features

Version-control for Windows. Carbonite installs a software program on your computer that automatically backs up new or changed files, though files larger than 4 GB need to be uploaded manually. The program works only when your computer is idle, so there is less drag on system performance. Reviewers say the backup process generally doesn't adversely affect your computer's performance, although several experts note that the initial backup can be very slow if you have a lot of data. Windows users can access up to three months' worth of previous versions of files. Videos can be backed up on the basic plan but you must turn on video uploading in the software.

Plans

Prices are per computer. Carbonite's three-tiered plans may appear cheap on the surface, but each price is per computer. The Basic plan is available for both Windows and Mac computers at a cost of $60 per month per computer, with an unlimited amount of storage space. Windows users can upgrade to Plus (Est. $100 per year per computer) to access the ability to back up to an external hard drive and for mirror image backup, which includes all system and program files. Taking this one step further, Prime (Est. $150 per year per computer) offers automatic video backup and a courier recovery service, which sends your backed up files to you by regular mail if your computer crashes. This plan also eliminates the need to manually upload large files. Prime is available only for users in the United States, though. All customer service is U.S.-based.

Our Sources

1. About.com

Carbonite is named a "very solid company" and a "fantastic choice" by Tim Fisher in this short review. He notes that video backup can be turned on in basic plans (it's turned off by default) and its "unpopular throttling practices for new customers" is being phased out.

Review: 17 Unlimited Online Backup Plans, Tim Fisher, Updated May 2014

2. Lifehacker.com

Lifehacker.com reviewer Alan Henry names Carbonite one of the top cloud storage services because it "runs quietly in the background" with automatic backups of documents, music and email. He likes the Home Premier plan because it automatically backs up video files and recovers deleted files quickly.

Review: Five Best Cloud Storage Providers, Alan Henry, June 30, 2013

3. PCMag.com

PCMag.com's Michael Muchmore praises Carbonite's simple interface and cheap, unlimited storage. After you've uploaded 35 GB of data, though, the upload speed really slows down. In addition, its lack of file sharing, single PC limitations and hiccups with restoring files nets it an overall rating of just 3 stars out of 5.

Review: Carbonite 5.0, Michael Muchmore, March 29, 2012

4. Computerworld.com

Brian Nadel's dated review of Carbonite as part of this multi-service comparative roundup is generally positive, but Carbonite's inability to back up operating system files to its online servers is a major black mark in his eyes. He likes virtually everything else about the service, however, including its price.

Review: 5 Online Backup Services Keep Your Data Safe, Brian Nadel, Feb. 6, 2012

5. Gizmodo.com

Carbonite is named "best unlimited service" in this short comparative review of 16 cloud storage services. The company's unlimited cloud backup service for just $60 a year, and the fact that it works with PC, Mac, iOS and Android, makes it a pick in Gizmodo's review.

Review: The Best Cloud Storage Service, Eric Limera, March 22, 2013

6. Expert Reviews

Carbonite earns 4 stars out of 5 from Expert Reviews. The conclusion is that Carbonite is a good unlimited space, single-computer backup service that is easy to use. However, it doesn't offer as many features, such as file sharing, as its competitors.

Review: Carbonite Home (2012) Review, Kat Orphanides, June 10, 2012

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