Carbonite Safe Review
Carbonite Safe Backup provides a quick, simple and cost effective way to get your PC backed up with very little fuss! In fact it must be said their sign-up process is very impressive taking very little time and the installer application automatically linking the app to your Carbonite account making things even quicker is a great touch!
All plans offer unlimited storage (with a few restrictions) and at as little as $6/month for a single PC Carbonite is priced very competitively with other, similar cloud offerings and provides good value for money in this respect.
- Well designed and very easy to set-up software
- Choice of automatic or manual backup set creation
- Real-time (continuous) backup
- “Status dots” make checking the status of your backups quick and easy
- Powerful scheduling options (e.g. run once per hour)
- Performs file level backups only (upgraded versions do allow image backups)
- Must use web interface for smaller restore operations
- Full restores can be done within the app
- Option to use a personal encryption key (or let Carbonite manage it for you)
- Limited retention periods (12 versions or 30 days for deleted files)
- External hard drives are excluded (available in upgraded plans)
- Large files must be added to backup set manually (4GB+)
- Video files must be added to backup set manually
As I mentioned earlier signing-up and installing Carbonite really is a quick and straightforward process meaning you can have you PC backing up your important files to the cloud in no time! Simply fill in the online sign-up form, download the special installer (linked to your account) and set the installer going.
Installation during my testing took only a couple of minutes to complete, during the process Carbonite gives you the choice of deciding what files get backed up and how often the backups run (including real-time, continuous backup). You can manually set either or allow Carbonite to automatically select the files and run the backups continuously which are both the default settings.
Additionally, during the install you can optionally set-up a private encryption key of your own or elect to let Carbonite manage this for you. NB if you set up your own key make sure you don’t forget it as Carbonite wont be able to re-set it and data recovery will be impossible without it!
Assuming you have chosen the default methods allowing Carbonite to manage which files are backed up using a continuous (real time) schedule the application will start backing up as soon as the install has completed. As mentioned earlier the installer is automatically linked to your Carbonite account so there is no need to login again at this point.
Whilst the default settings, automatically selecting your user documents and desktop folder will probably be enough for the majority of users you can edit the backup set later on should you wish to via the settings page.
Once in the settings page Carbonite makes it easy to add or remove more files to the backup as well as move to or from an automatic backup to instead using a backup schedule, for example backing up once per hour.
A couple of important things to note with the entry level “Carbonite Safe” package which I am testing here is that it excludes the backup of external hard drives, these can be included but will require upgrading to a higher level of Carbonite subscription! Also be aware any files larger that 4GB must be manually added to your backup on this plan as must any video files, neither of these entities will be backed up automatically!
Restoring with Carbonite is again a fairly simple process with access to selected files or an entire backup set easily reachable via the application itself or via the Carbonite web console.
Within the app itself only a full restore can be performed, this means downloading all backed-up files for the particular PC. Once downloaded you can request the application puts these files in a single folder on the desktop or restores the individual files to their original locations on your PC!
Using the web based recovery console to recover selected files first requires logging into the Carbonite website with your Carbonite account, from here you will be able to see your PC(s) and an overview of the PCs backup status.
If you need to, for example, select a single file for recovery you would click on “view files” next to the selected PC in the web console and then select the files you wish to recover.
Whilst there aren’t many other features to mention (Carbonite is a very no-frills application focused on file backup) something which does need to be mentioned is the backup retention policy.
You can read the full policy here (Click Here) but to summarise Carbonite ultimetly only keeps up to 12 versions of a file and any deleted files will only be available for recovery for a maximum of 30 days!
Carbonite Safe allows users to specify there own encryption key using 128-bit encryption or allow Carbonite to manage this for them automatically (256bit encryption is available on upgraded packages).
Carbonite have clearly put a lot of effort into maintaining a good online knowledge base should basic support be needed using the application. In addition to this Carbonite offer 24/7 live chat and phone support, excellent!
Carbonite Safe starts at $6 per PC / per month.
In general Carbonite Safe performs well as an online backup tool, installing and configuring your first backup can be achieved in only a few minutes and everything seemed to work well during my testing. It is also great to see Carbonite are clearly taking support seriously offering a well maintained knowledge base plus phone, email and live chat support to their customers 24 hours per day.
Whilst my overall impression is this would make a good backup choice for someone wanting more of a “set and forget” backup solution it should be noted there are, in my opinion, some issues with how they have set-up their entry-level offering:
Firstly any video files or files over 4GB in size must be manually selected for backup! Whilst I understand providers must manage their own storage provisioning I think this the wrong way to “save space” owing to the fact many users wont be aware of this caveat (it is not really made very clear when signing-up).
Secondly, excluding external hard drives form the entry level plan is again not made clear and could potentially catch many users out, more so owing to the automatic selection of files which is the default setting in the application (and no warning that externals drives WONT be included at this point in the set-up).
All-in-all, with these issues accounted for this is still a good solution and at a fair price but I would like to see Carbonite remove these aforementioned restrictions and help make this product a true competitor for the likes of Backblaze and Crashplan!