Review: Carbonite Online Backup

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I have been given a one year Subscription for Carbonite Online Backup to review for Geek Brain Dump

 

I was given the Personal Prime plan, which gives you unlimited cloud storage for one home office or family computer. Yes, that is right, unlimited storage space, which means that you could backup your hole hard drive if you wanted to!

 

The Personal Prime plan also includes:

  • Automatic Cloud Backup (so does every personal plan)
  • US Based Support 7 days a week ( so does every personal plan)
  • Sync, Share and access file remotely with free apps (so does every personal plan)
  • External hard drive backup (so does the Personal Plus plan)
  • Mirror image backup (so does the Personal Plus plan)
  • Automatic video backup
  • Courier Recovery Service

Therefore I think it is a complete package, with everything one could want from a backup software. You can use it for backing up files both locally and on the cloud, how much more secure can it get? But it doesn’t stop there… Later on we will see what extra features I got, and I liked them a lot!

 

Installation and getting started

The first thing, had to be downloading and installing the product. No biggie, I suppose we all know how to download a file and how to start an installation process.  But I liked what I saw when I started the installation! You get to configure your backup in the installation, instead of going through a “next-next-next” process and then having to configure everything after the installation is finished.

And what can you configure? There are 3 steps in this process, or better said, there were 3 steps with the choices I made. I don’t know how it would be if you chose the default settings.

In the first step you get to choose between the “automatic” backup plan, which includes “documents, music, pictures, email and other important files in your windows user accounts. Does not backup files larger than 4gb, system files, application files, video”, and “advanced” backup which is the customization. I choose the “advanced” since I didn’t want my whole documents and music folders backed up, and I also wanted a few other files in other folders.

In the second step I got to choose between including the default files for backup or starting with nothing in my online back up. Again, since I didn’t want everything in my documents and music to be backed up i  choose to start with nothing.

Lastly, at the third step i got to choose between updating continuously or creating an online backup schedule. Here I did not really know what I wanted to go with, so I checked both to see how they work before I decide. I was surprised to see that creating a backup schedule was actually the reversed of what I am used to. Instead of choosing some hours during the day, or some days a week, to back up at that occasion, you choose when you do not want it to back up.  Can be very useful if you have certain hours when you work with your files and don’t want to have a background process trying to upload them to the cloud,  or you need your internet connection free of the traffic Carbonite Backup would use at certain hours or days. I do not have any such needs, and my files are neither many or constantly used, therefore I choose to update continuously.

Then I was surprised again, since the installation ended and Carbonite didn’t actually have me choose any files. So I did have it on my system, but for the time it was doing nothing. Of course, the software started automatically after the installation and notified me that my backup is empty and it told me how I can put files into my backup. Very simple procedure, just right-click the file or folder you want to back up, and now you have a “carbonite” selection there, which has a few selections it self, one of them being “back this up”, you just click on that, and Carbonite does everything for you.

 

Interface and Backup

While backing up those files, you get to see what file is being backed up at the moment, how many files have been backed up, what percentage of the back up is done and what storage space have been backed up.

carbintback(screenshot taken after the initial backup, at the initial backup you will also see a percentage bar)

Carbonite informs you that the initial back up might take a few days. For me, uploading 2.4gb it took some hours, didn’t really notice when it was done, but probably somewhere between 10 to 14 hours.  That means it used a minimal amount of my connections upload ability. 10 hours might sound like a long time, but we are talking about the first backup of the files, and having that done, while I play online games without noticing any difference on my connection. For me that is much better than having half the time but my connection all clogged up! Apparently the people over at Carbonite think the same way, and I am glad for it!

The second tab in the interface is the “restore” tab, which, as you can assume, gives you access to your files and the ability to restore whatever you want to.restoretabThe options you get is well-rounded and cover you for every situation i can think of. Whether you just want to see what you have backed up, if you want to restore specific files, or want to restore everything. You can even recover from a virus or get all your files to your new computer. But, notice that you can only back up one computer with the personal plans, therefore if you get a new computer or recover from a format etc, you have to go through a little process to change the computer Carbonite views as yours. Nothing difficult or time-consuming, but still there is a process.

Moving on, you have a settings tab, where you can change a few things. Most notably, the updating plan you have chosen while installing, or whether you will get some dots on the files you have associated with Carbonite. Some people really dislike this feature, and therefore it is good to be able to remove it, but i find it useful and helpful, so I will keep it! settingcarb

Then there is an Account tab where you can edit your information, see when your subscription expires etc. Other than editing your personal information i don’t see this tab like very useful since you get a “subscription valid until…” message on the top right of your window no matter which tab you are on.accountcarbAnd lastly there is a Help tab, where you can get access to videos that explain how to do some things, like how to access your files from the web or from a mobile device, how to restore your files and others. You also get a link to the Carbonite Support site.

 

The Pleasant Surprise

About a day after my initial backup had finished I received an email from Carbonite about accessing my file “Anytime, Anywhere”. It included links to iOs and android apps, and for a web-based restoring service. I though I would give the android app a try and see whether it would be helpful on my phone.

Once I downloaded it to my phone I got an email from carbonite. A very exciting email! Apparently I am one of the first to try some of the new mobile features. I don’t know how many or how few have access to this but in the email this was stated: “Welcome to Carbonite Mobile! We’ve selected you to be one of the first to try our new features.”

What features do I get? Let’s have a look…

mobilefeatures

So you get full access to your files but furthermore, you can back up your mobile, find your mobile, “capture” a thief, lock the device in case it is stolen and remove all your personal files so the thief cannot have access to them. But let’s get more into details!

You have complete access to your backed up files, just like you have from your computer or the web. Whether you want to browse, download or use the files, everything is possible! And not only that, you can also backup the files on your mobile device!

And then we go into the real interesting stuff!

How many times have you been looking for your phone, knowing it’s somewhere in the house and you just can’t find it? Personally not many, but it is a real issue for some people I know! And it gets worse if you don’t have any other phone around to call it, or even worse if it is on silent mode. Well, Carbonites  RING feature will still make a loud noise that will help you find it. A very annoying sound that is! Once it goes of you can stop the sound either through the web, where you set it off, or from the device itself, since you have found it.

Locate: Also very helpful in case you misplace stuff, but not in your house, or the device gets stolen. It gives you the location on google maps, and I have to tell you, I got scared when I tried it and saw just how specific it is. Clearly it uses the phones GPS, and I didn’t just get a rough position as I have seen on a few other apps… I switched it to satellite view, zoomed in as far as it went. The pinpoint must have been about 10 meters away from where the phone actually was, and the radius was about 15 meters.  If you are not sure whether you left your device, maybe in the car, or at work, this will definitely help you. With such precision it will even help you find where you have parked your car if your device is in it! And even in case it is stolen, this radius is small enough to easily find who has stolen it.

Lock: This one I did not try, it locks your phones screen with a pin number. Can be useful in case it is stolen, but I already have mine locked with a pattern and don’t see why i should use a third party locking system when the phone itself has a couple of options for it.

Capture:  This one is supposed to take a photo of the thief in case the device is stolen. In order for it to work though you need android version Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) or newer and have a front facing camera. My phone does not have a front facing camera and therefore I couldn’t try this feature. But still, it can be helpful if your device has a front facing camera, and android 4.0 or above, and it gets stolen, especially if combined with the location feature.

And lastly, Destroy.  I think this one is the most crucial! It deletes all the data stored on your device and returns it to factory settings. You still have access to your backed up files, but the thief cannot access any of your files. Of course, if used you cannot locate the device, capture a photo of the thief or lock the screen, therefore locking the screen might be better to start with. But if all else fails, it is a very good option to have. And sometimes, your files are more important than finding your device…

It’s a very solid group of features, designed to be helpful in any occasion, whether you want your files, your device or both to be safe.

 

Restoring

So now that all our files are backed up, we might want to access or restore some of them.

From our computer, we just have to open the Carbonite InfoCenter (the interface I described earlier), go to the restore tab and either search for our file by name, or enter a windows explorer window where you can see your files just as they are on your system, but you only see the backed up files. And in case you want everything restored, there is a button for that too. Very simple, easy and fast process. Restoring a single file was very fast, if you go for many i suppose it will depend on your internet connection.

From the website you get a big box for every device that you have backed up, in my case my laptop and my phone, in which you have buttons for accessing or restoring your files, just as easy as from the interface. Here, you even get a “share on facebook” button. Don’t see why I would go through carbonites website to do it, but still a nice addition, might help out some people for some reason.

From the android app you get boxes for every device, where you choose a device and whether you want to see the backed up files or the protection (in the case of the android device only). Again, as easy as it gets!

What I did not like about the restoring process, is that i could not access my mobile files, through the Carbonite InfoCenter. I though of this as a faster and easier way to get my photos on to my hard drive, but i cannot access them on my computer if I don’t go through the website. Still faster than what I am used too, but I don’t see why I can’t access my mobile files through the InfoCenter, while I can access my computer files on the android app.

 

Conclusion

Carbonite Online Backup is a very well rounded backup solution, giving you options for both cloud backup and local backup,on your own hard drives, but also including mobile features, and going over the top with them!  Using just some of the features included i feel absolutely sure for my files, and that is what you are after when getting a backup solution.

Before trying Carbonite i used a flash drive to back up the files that I felt were crucial. But only having the automatic updating makes everything very easier, with no time consumed at all. And unlimited cloud storage, gives me the change to have more files backed up, just in case.  But, where this plan shines, is the mobile features! The mobile app blew my mind and therefore I think you should really consider Carbonite if you are after a backup solution, or even think about it if you value your mobile devices and the files you store on them.

 

 

 

Author

Anastasios Barianos

Anastasios Barianos is a student in the field of IT, has an interest in a wide spectrum of IT, Computer Science and technology in general, but also in arts and other activities.

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1 Comment

  1. Tom Gorman August 9, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    I have used Carbonite almost from their inception as one of my back up locations. Carbonite has saved my butt many times, not to mention when my other means of backup had failed. For what it is worth I highly recommend it and would not do without it!

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