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. Carbonite offers unlimited storage starting at about $60 per year, and it installs a software program onto your computer that automatically backs up new or changed files, though large files (bigger than 4 GB) need to be uploaded manually. The program works when your computer is idle so there is less drag on system performance. Reviewers say the backup process is unobtrusive, although several experts note that the initial backup can be very slow if you have a lot of data.
The file-marking system gets especially high marks because it provides an easy way to check a file's status. Each file and folder on your computer receives a small green dot in the corner if it's backed up; a yellow dot indicates the backup is pending, and no dot means the file is not backed up. Carbonite is compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems. Stored files can also be viewed via mobile apps available for Android, iOS and BlackBerry devices.
Carbonite also offers local backup services in the form of two Windows PC-only subscription tiers, Carbonite HomePlus (*Est. $100 per year per PC) and Carbonite HomePremier (*Est. $150 per year for unlimited storage). Each allows you to create a mirror image of your PC's hard drive -- complete with operating system and critical system files -- on an external hard drive. (The OS and system files can't be backed-up online, however.) The plans also include the ability to back up files stored on a single external hard drive, and HomePremier adds the option to have your backup files delivered to you on physical media such as DVDs or an external hard drive, although shipping charges still apply. HomePremier also eliminates the need to manually upload large files.
Carbonite is reviewed by a number of sources, but the best details come from NotebookReview.com, Computerworld.com and MacFormat. These sources conduct comparative tests, which make it easy to see how Carbonite stacks up against the competition. PCMag.com, PC Pro, NextAdvisor.com and Expert Reviews also have lengthy analysis accompanied by ratings.
Brian Nadel's 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 low price.
Review: 6 reliable online backup services for your Mac, Brian Nadel, Feb. 6, 2012
2. Mac Format
MacFormat magazine, which is available online at Britain's TechRadar.com, evaluates six online backup services, including Carbonite. Carbonite gets a generally positive review, although it scores lower on several criteria than some of its main competitors.
Review: 6 of the Best Online Backup Services for Mac, Christopher Brennan, Feb. 18, 2011
PCMag.com's Michael Muchmore praises Carbonite's simple interface and cheap, unlimited storage. But its lack of file sharing, single PC limitations and hiccups with restoring files nets it an overall rating of 3 stars out of 5.
Review: Carbonite 5.0, Michael Muchmore, March 29, 2012
NextAdvisor.com is one of the few sources to review Carbonite's new HomePlus and HomePremier plans, but they fail to evaluate the plans' value for the price. The relative lack of bells and whistles is noted, but the editors say that, "For pure online backup, Carbonite is a great bargain."
Review: Carbonite Review: Online Cloud Backup, Editors of NextAdvisor.com
5. Expert Reviews (U.K.)
Carbonite earns 4 stars out of 5 from Expert Reviews. The intuitive interface and low prices earn kudos. Kat Orphanides says "If all you want is simple and secure backups, it's perfect," but notes that other services offer more features that users may want.
Review: Carbonite Online Backup Review, Kat Orphanides, Sept. 9, 2011
NotebookReview.com ranks Carbonite second in its group test of five online backup services, although the pricing details are incorrect in this somewhat aging review. Charles Jefferies says it's worth a recommendation, but he doesn't like that some files (including anything over 4 GB) must be added manually.
Review: Carbonite Online Backup Review 2010, Charles P. Jefferies, Aug. 24, 2010
7. PC Pro
Carbonite receives a Recommended award from PC Pro. While Stuart Andrews says Carbonite lacks some features found in other online backup services, he finds it the easiest to use. He would like to see more robust file versioning.
Review: Carbonite Online Backup Review, Stuart Andrews, Aug. 17, 2010
Carbonite is one of the online backup services briefly mentioned in this look at the various methods for backing up valuable computer information. Despite being updated recently, the prices listed are outdated.
Review: Computer Backup Systems, Editors of ConsumerReports.org