Carbonite Online Backup review

Not the most fully featured service, but the only one that makes backup a complete no-brainer

Stuart Andrews
17 Aug 2010
Price when reviewed 

Despite competition from the new breed of cloud storage services, straight online backup services still provide the most effective means of keeping a safe copy of your files in a remote location. And our current favourite, Carbonite, hasn't stood still since we last reviewed it. For instance, mobile apps for Blackberry and iPhone now allow users to browse, view and email files stored on Carbonite from their mobiles, proving that the company isn't afraid to learn new tricks.

However, Carbonite's touchstone remains simplicity. Sign up to the service, download and install the client application, and with a minimum of configuration, you're covered. A system of green and yellow dots on the folder and file icons in Windows and Windows Explorer gives you a quick view of what is and isn't safeguarded, and you can add new items to your backup set just by right-clicking.

Carbonite Online Backup

The Carbonite client works quietly in the background, spotting when files are changed and uploading just the modified data to the backup set; in our tests, it regularly uploaded amended files within two minutes of saving. The performance impact on PC and internet speeds is minimal, and you can set internet usage to low priority should you need to. Carbonite has also become faster since we last tried it. Where the initial backup used to take much longer than on rival services, the 6hrs 37 mins it took to upload 1GB of test data was competitive, as was the 37 minutes it took to restore 500GB of photos.

Previously, it was only possible to restore files using the client, but it's now possible to restore individual items through a web-based interface. Sadly, this is slow and clunky, and the Windows Explorer-style view isn't exactly quick to refresh. Carbonite's support for versioning is also behind Mozy or iDrive, with limited access to previous versions of files.

At £41.95 per year for unlimited backup of one PC, Carbonite offers excellent value, provided you don't have multiple systems on the go. Business and power users, therefore, should consider the new Pro service, which offers backup for unlimited numbers of PCs, with the price dependent purely on capacity used. For $10 per month, 20GB might easily cover the essential files of a small business. Data is secured using 128-bit SSL for transfer and 448-bit Blowfish encryption for your files.

Other services are catching up with Carbonite for ease-of-use, while outpacing it in terms of features. If, however, you want pain-free - even brain-free - online backup, Carbonite remains the way to go.


Software subcategoryOnline backup

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported?yes
Operating system Windows XP supported?yes

Read more about