Online backup services

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Carbonite Review

Reviewer: Stephen Qualtrough
Developer: Carbonite
Overall rating:
Price: $5.58

Carbonite is awarded best buy

Review summary

Good points

 Unlimited storage & bandwidth

 Data is encrypted before it leaves your computer

 Easy to set up

 Comprehensive customer support

Bad points

 Only annual subscriptions available

 Doesn’t backup external hard drives

Our verdict

The combination of unlimited storage space, high levels of security and ease of use makes Carbonite the perfect choice for backing up your files.

Full review

Carbonite by Opentext is a trusted name in online backup, backing up over 150 million new files each week – the company provides all you need to feel confident that your data is secure and private. We looked into Carbonite to find out what exactly makes it number one.


Provide an email address and a password to set up a free trial with Carbonite. If you decide to go forward, Carbonite is quick and easy to install. Once Carbonite is installed it integrates neatly with your desktop.

Carbonite will ask you if you want to choose your own encryption key. An encryption key is a powerful extra layer of security, but remember that if you lose your encryption key there is no way you will be able to get it back and you will lose all of your data.

An initial backup typically takes between 2 - 5 days, although it does depend upon the amount of data on your computer. Once Carbonite has made its initial copy, it will continually monitor your computer and backup any new or modified folders and files. It performs this process silently in the background without interfering with your work.


The initial backup will begin once the installation is complete. Carbonite automatically scans your computer to make an inventory of what needs to be backed up.

There are plenty of backup scheduling options. You can let the program automatically decide when to back-up your files or you can choose a specific daily time or a particular day or time of the week. You can choose whether you want data backed up automatically (each time you change it) or manually.

During automatic back-ups we experienced no problems with Carbonite slowing down our internet connection speed, because it only transfers data when your computer is idle.

Carbonite backs up everything you have in your Documents and Settings or Users folder, including photos, email, music and data from applications like Quicken and Money. Carbonite does not automatically backup system files, video files or files over 4GB in size. You can manually add these to the backup, however, but you can’t add temporary files.

If your internet connection drops during backup, Carbonite will inform you that the connection has been stopped. Once the internet connection is re-established Carbonite picks up from where it left off, which is great because it avoids the frustration of having to start the process again from the beginning.

Carbonite does not backup external hard drives, which is somewhat frustrating as we can imagine there are plenty of people who would want to backup their USB drives.


It’s easy to restore your files. You can choose either to restore everything or individual files. It takes only a few seconds to restore individual files, but restoring all of your data would take a few days. Although you may consider this to be frustrating it’s a small price to pay compared to losing all your data for good.

If you wish, you can choose to restore your files to a different location on your hard drive. If you have your computer stolen or it crashes beyond repair, you can recover your data to a new computer from the Carbonite website – a great safety net especially if you tend to carry your laptop with you to various places.


You’ve obviously got to be certain that the backup service you use is ultra-secure, and that it protects the privacy of your data. Carbonite encrypts your data before it is transferred to Carbonite’s remote backup center, using secure technology that is also used by financial institutions. Carbonite cannot see any of the data in your files.

Add in a guarded, climate-controlled data center, battery backup, an uninterruptible power supply and Carbonite’s own generators which have a guaranteed fuel contract and, save global meltdown, your data is safe and available to you at all times.


Another handy feature offered by Carbonite is the remote access option. If you forget your presentation and you’re already at an important meeting, or you want to show your family the vacation photos but they’re on your home PC, you can access your files through the Carbonite website. You can also access you files using a Carbonite mobile app for iPhone.

Ease of use

The Carbonite interface is clean and user-friendly. There is a clever color-coded data system that allows you to see the backup status of your files and folders at a glance. For example, a green dot means that a file is backed up while a yellow dot means the file is scheduled to be backed up. We found the color-coding really helpful, but if you find the system annoying or distracting you can turn it off.

Carbonite intuitive, well-thought-out design features such as the color-coded file and folder system make the system easy to use. If you aren't particularly computer literate you'll still find it easy to backup your data.

Help & support

Carbonite offered the best support customer support out of all the online backup solutions we tested. Telephone support is free and available during office hours. We found the support team helpful and friendly. Immediate help is available for an extra fee. Email and live chat support is also available.


Carbonite’s approach to security is commendable as your data is always kept encrypted in both transfer and storage. Carbonite is completely automatic, but it gives you the option of manual backups. And you don’t need to worry about how much data you are transferring as storage is unlimited.

Carbonite offers a free 15-day trial.

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See our side-by-side comparisons and in-depth reviews

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4. Dropbox
5. Box
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7. iBackup