I wondered where Carbonite came from. I mean, what exactly is Carbonite? According to Wikipedia, it's a “fictional ionic compound of the Star Wars galaxy the full properties of which have never been satisfactorily defined.” Well, I guess I still don't know what Carbonite is. Perhaps a second cousin of Kryptonite, but I digress…
Carbonite, from Boston-based Carbonite, Inc., is a sleek online backup solution that allows you to effortlessly backup all of your critical files to Carbonite's servers. It's available in Mac and PC versions, allows you a free test drive before you commit to actually buying, and, despite its profoundly ambiguous name, works very well indeed.
BackupSoftwareReviews.com downloaded the trial version of Carbonite, and ran it through its paces. Like all our reviews, we've evaluated it in terms of ease of use, performance, and functionality. You can purchase Carbonite by clicking here.
An annual license is competitively priced at $54.95.
In order to download and install Carbonite Backup Software trial version, you need to provide your email address and create a password from the company's web site. After telling them where you heard of them, the site refreshes with install instructions, which are easy and straight forward:
Clicking Install Now initiates the process. The setup program is an extremely lightweight 3.2 MB, by the way.
Selecting Advanced Setup from the Setup screen allows you to designate whether you would like to manage your own encryption key. For all but the most sophisticated users, you should select the default, which allows Carbonite to manage this business.
Installation takes less than one minute, after which you are prompted to perform an online backup of your My Documents folder and system settings. You can choose to either do that or select different folders for backup later. We encountered no problems whatsoever during setup. A verification email is sent to you upon your installation of the product.
No credit card is required for using the 15-day trial version, a considerate, non-intrusive policy on Carbonite's part. However, your backups will be removed from the Carbonite servers shortly after your trial period expires if you do not choose to purchase a license.
Ease of Use
There is something almost maternal about Carbonite. After the install is completed, a woman's voice audio clip plays that describes your options.
We selected an online backup of My Documents and Settings. The whole process is integrated within the step-by-step wizard design that launches once Carbonite is up and running, and is literally effortless to run.
The following screen opens to track your backup status:
Be forewarned that the first online backup is slow, and may take an entire day to complete. This is a rather typical characteristic of all online backup tools, although Carbonite was demonstrably slower than Mozy for its first backup.
While a backup is being performed, the lock icon displays yellow in your system tray; upon completion, it turns green.
All in all, Carbonite is very simple to use. A very intuitive and cleanly designed interface and totally transparent operation earns The Carbonite Online Backup Software high marks in this category.
How It Works
Carbonite's operations are all done from its Info Center screen. We found its uncluttered layout and navigation buttons quite intuitive to use.
The View Status window (displayed above) shows the status of all your backups. The Restore Status tab allows you to select files for restore, or to view all those available from the Carbonite server.
The Set Options window displays general configuration preferences, and automatic backup scheduling options.
Have a question about what an option is used for? Just roll your cursor over the question icon and you'll get a description instantly:
The Restore Files view allows you to designate specific backup files to restore or to globally restore all backup files, or to simply look at the files that have been backed up.
Carbonite's sleek design is much more intuitive than Mozy's, although its number of configuration options is comparatively limited. So it's an apples and oranges type of deal: more options and less intuitive, or vice versa. That is a subjective call for you, depending on the degree of functionality you require.
Carbonite's beauty lay in the graceful way it insulates the file backup process from the user. On this count it is a more refined product than Mozy. However, its initial online backup times are incredibly slow, and its maximum capacity is no more than three GBs per day. While three GBs per day should be okay for most, beware if you are uploading a lot of music or video files, as you might cap out. Mozy has more industrial strength in this department to be sure, but it ultimately is a question if you need the extra horsepower. Overall Carbonite should suffice for most home users, although you wouldn't use Carbonite to backup 100 PCs on a corporate network, but inowhere does it claim that you should.
Customer Support is available from the Info Center screen:
A searchable knowledge base is provided, which details most functional issues.
Basic step-by-step tutorials also are included for the most general backup tasks. Each of these is fairly vanilla, but as Carbonite is clearly geared toward home users, it more than suffices except for the most unusual circumstances.
The only facility available for directly contacting Carbonite technical support is through email. We contacted them about how to cancel a download and received a response within three hours, not immediate but within acceptable standards.
This contrasts with Mozy's 24/7 telephone support, integrated instant messaging, and email. Unlimited priority support is available for an additional $19.95 a year, an overhead cost one must consider before entering into an annual contract.
Carbonite's customer support is not its strong suit, but again because of its ease of use, most users just won't require it.
In conclusion, we give Carbonite a three rating. While it worked flawlessly in our testing, its features set, slow initial file backup, and mediocre customer support weights against it.
Carbonite by Carbonite, Inc.
Reviewed by backupreviewsadmin
October 31, 2009
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