Update circa 2013: I’ve been using Carbonite for several years now and have had a chance to experience the software a bit more intimately as there have been several cases where I wanted to restore files. However, recently I reformatted my hard drive and my Outlook PST file that I had backed up became corrupt. The file contained about 15 years of emails and I spent hours researching how to repair it, investigating various recovery methods including the scanpst.exe tool (didn’t work) and even went to the extreme of getting some advice from Microsoft Support (yes, they do answer the phone).
I was on the verge of trying either a third party repair tool for $100+ or a local data recovery service when about that time I remembered that I had installed Carbonite. Luckily the file had been backed up automatically by Carbonite and I was able to restore it and only lose about a weeks worth of email. Plenty better than 15 years I would say. I know there are other popular backup tools that work great and I’m not saying Carbonite is superior. My bias is toward getting something in place that backs up important files while running in the background and not interfering with gaming.
I have been wanting to test and write a Carbonite backup software review for quite a while. I’ve heard a lot of buzz about this online backup service for the common PC user and kept waiting for it to fade away. But, it didn’t.
Another reason I wanted to try Carbonite was because I desperately need a backup service for my PC. Carbonite is for Windows, by the way. Promise me you won’t laugh at me for my previous software backup “process.” I certainly deserve it.
- Manually select files on my PC
- Copy them to a CD or DVD
- Physically take the backed up data CD/DVD to another location
- Rinse and repeat every 6 months
Sad, huh? This doesn’t work for obvious reasons.
A small business owner recently told me that he hired an IT company to come in and configure his computers for automatic backup. He probably owns 1 to 3 machines. I believe he said is paying them around $200 per month to setup and manage this task. He referred me to the contact at the IT company and we scheduled a visit. Ironically (and thankfully), the technician called me at the last minute to cancel the appointment. He said that his wife was having a baby and asked if we could reschedule later. He never called back.
After a year or so of continued nervousness over losing my data, I finally signed up for Carbonite backup today. I used their free trial that lasts for 15 days and doesn’t require a credit card. The service costs $54.95 per year and doesn’t seem to put any limitations on the amount of files that can be uploaded.
The first thing I noticed in Carbonite’s marketing was the emphasis on “simple” and “automatic” terms. I want simple. Automatic is find as long as I have control over when backups are performed. I don’t want Carbonite to start backing up my files when I am about the business of defeating an opponent in an online multiplayer game!
Installing Carbonite Backup
Installion was indeed simple with these 3 steps.
- “Run” the File Download
After clicking “Install Now”, click “Run” on the File Download window.
- “Run” the Setup Software
After the file downloads, click “Run” to start installing.
- Finish the Installation
The Installer will automatically open when the download is complete.
The next thing thing was to walk through a few screens courtesy of the Carbonite Backup wizard. One of the options was to manage encryption manually or let the software do it automatically, the recommended option.
Selecting files to Back up
The next step is to select the files for Carbonite to back up. This is done conveniently through a Windows context menu. Color coded dots indicate whether the file or folder has been backed up yet.
This is a screen shot of the actual program as it backs up my files.
I have to say that using the Carbonite software to backup my files online was indeed simple as claimed. It was automatic and required very little brain activity. I guess backing things up should be a pretty brainless task. The scheduling feature enabled me to set up times for running the software that didn’t conflict with my PC gaming activities. Using Carbonite Backup was a lot faster, easier and safer than my previous method of backing up to discs every 6 months and storing them at another location. It seems that others share a similar view:
“Carbonite is the closest to perfection we’ve seen so far” – TechCrunch
What do you think?