Reviews - Cloud Backup

Carbonite Review

carbonite review

For both home and small business, Carbonite offers reliable backup services with fast file restore, although some users remain unhappy with some of their features and ...



Carbonite Inc. is a Boston company that’s faced a fair share of controversies over the years. Carbonite initially offered backups with “unlimited” space for a flat price, revolutionizing the market. However, their claims were questionable at best. Fortunately, they’ve since stepped up their game and improved their product. The company’s mission is to provide an affordable, reliable, secure and easy-to-use solution for the mainstream computer user.

  • Low price for unlimited storage space
  • Ease of use
  • Extended wait times with Customer Support
  • Files kept for limited time
  • Manual selection of certain backup files
  • Program compatibility issues

Access: (Rating: 8/10)

Carbonite’s Remote Access allows access to archives from any device with an Internet connection and web browser, even if the Carbonite client software isn’t installed. According to the company, users log onto Carbonite’s website and choose the “Remote Access” option. From there, they can securely download files from their backup.

Remote File Access is not intended as a complete restore option. Instead, look at this as an option for those times that you’re away from the computer but need to access files. It’s the quickest way to get those urgent files without transferring a Carbonite subscription to another PC or Mac. The software uses a password tied to the user’s email account to gain access to the Carbonite data centre, but is keyed to the PCs serial number in case a user loses their password. A license transfer is required prior to doing a true restore of data to a different computer.

Thanks to Remote Access, Carbonite users can access their files from tablets, smartphones, PCs, Macs, and even Linux machines.

Backup: (Rating: 8/10)

With Carbonite’s new HomePlus or HomePremier plans, users can now backup files from an external hard drive. Also, with the same plans, users have the ability to backup files to an external hard drive. You can rest assured that the data won't be lost because you'll have a hard copy, the originals, and the copy stored on the Cloud. The mirror image backup copies operating system files, programs, and all of user files. The local backup is beneficial if you need to do a full restore, saving vast amounts of time.

Carbonite advertised their services as unlimited until the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) of the United Kingdom helpfully pointed out that throttling bandwidth to unusable speeds after 200GB is hardly unlimited. In 2013, Carbonite stated that they removed the cap. It’s hard to look past half a decade of false advertising, though.

Restore: (Rating: 8/10)

Carbonite users can restore all files, individual folders, or individual files. The service can restore up to 10 Mbps, which results in a possible 100GB per day. The program can’t restore while a computer is in sleep or hibernation mode. In general, the restoration process seems straightforward, but the number of tutorials and videos Carbonite has on the subject indicates customers sometimes struggle with this feature.
Furthermore, Carbonite can keep up to 12 versions of each file. Deleted files are permanently deleted 30 days after removal.

Access: (Rating: 6/10)

Carbonite isn’t built to easily share files with others. The main software program doesn’t have any features that expedite the sharing process. However, there is a side program called Carbonite Sync and Share. The good news is that it allows Carbonite users to easily sync their files with other devices. The bad news is that including the word “Share” in a program’s name doesn’t mean it plays well with others. The program syncs files to all connected devices, and if other users have a Carbonite account, you can share the files or folders to their accounts. If they don’t have an account, you can send a private link.

Share: (Rating: 0/10)

Carbonite does not offer any options for file, folder or link sharing at this time.

Sync: (Rating: 4/10)

The company has a separate program for syncing features. Its Sync and Share interface allows users to edit and view files remotely, in addition to sharing them across Android, Apple, Mac, and PC devices.

Security: (Rating: 8/10)

Like any reputable backup service, Carbonite uses bank-level security. They also have a guarded facility with backup generators and uninterruptible power supplies. So, on top of being secure, Carbonite strives to have uptown similar to hosting companies.

Help & Support: (Rating: 6/10)

Carbonite has some of the best support options we’ve seen. You can reach them any day of the week by phone, live chat, and email. However their support staff is less than helpful when you can get ahold of them – long waits and ineffective support staff. They also have video tutorials, how-tos, and other documentation. In fact, sometimes their help documents seem like overkill.


Storage Space








Idle Backup

Local Backup help

Help and Support


Live Chat


Social Media

Online Tutorials


Knowledge Base


Full Restore

Restore Individual Files

Request Hard Copy help

Version History: 90 help


Link Sharing

Automatic Sync

Other Features

NAS Drive Support

External Drive Support


Geo-Redundant Storage help

Hardened Facilities help

Encrypted File Transfer

Encrypted File Storage





IOS Iphone/Ipad


Carbonite Pricing

Home: $59.99/year per computer

HomePlus: $99.99/year per computer

HomePremier: $149.00/year per computer

Unlimited Storage. No Refunds on yearly plans.

What We Like about Carbonite

Low price for unlimited storage space: For the low price of $59 annually, Carbonite customers get a simple and safe backup service with unlimited storage for precious files.

Ease of use: Carbonite is easy to setup and use. The installation is fast and simple, and the backup process is easy to follow. Even when Carbonite is hard at work, it uses little processing power and memory. Carbonite works automatically in the background to keep your backup up-to-date without interfering with your computer’s performance. However, if you need to update the backup right away, select ‘Backup ASAP’ on the View Status tab. Any new and changed files will be uploaded to your backup immediately.

Support for External Drives: With Carbonite’s new HomePlus or HomePremier plans you can now backup files and folders from one external hard drive.

Mirror Image Backup: Also with Carbonite’s new HomePlus or HomePremier plans you have the ability to backup your files to an external hard drive(you have to furnish the hard drive, of course). This gives you double the security knowing that you have both a locally stored version, as well as your off-site backup, should you need either. The mirror image backup will backup your operating system files, programs, and all of your user files. The local backup can be a huge benefit if you need to do a full restore – saving you vast amounts of time, over going to the cloud to get every file. The mirror image backup will backup your operating system files, programs, and all of your user files.

Courier Recovery Service: If you purchase Carbonite’s HomePremier Plan you will now have the option of having your files put on a drive and shipped to you. Anyone with large amounts of data will find that this is an extremely useful option to have. Again, it will drastically reduce your restore time.

What we Don't Like About Carbonite

Extended wait times with Customer Support: Many customers complain about long wait times when trying to contact the standard customer support. To combat this, Carbonite offers a “priority support” option for $19.95/year, which gives expedited access to telephone representatives.

Files kept for limited time: Carbonite keeps a deleted file in your backup for 30 days from the time of deletion or, if you are a trial customer, until 15 days after your trial has expired; whichever is shorter.

Manual selection of certain backup files: Carbonite doesn’t automatically backup executable files, system files, temporary files, or individual files greater than 4GB. During the free trial, audio (such as MP3s and iTunes music) and video files aren’t backed up by default. Some users complain that they lost valuable files after their computers crashed because they assumed the files were backed up when in fact they weren’t.

When you pay for a subscription, remember that Carbonite’s automatic backup function will only work for documents, photos, music files, email, and settings. Videos, programs files, and large individual files need to be selected for backup. After completing this, they’re automatically backed up from that point forward.

Program compatibility issues: Certain programs are known to interfere with the operation of Carbonite, such as Kaspersky Internet Security v7.0, CyberSieve 2.4.1, CyberSieve 2.6 CitiVan, MBNA ShopSafe and Discover Deskshop (created by Orbiscom). Carbonite has announced that they’re working with the makers of these software products to resolve the compatibility issues.

How to Backup with Carbonite

Choosing Your Backup: When you install Carbonite, you will have two options for backup: Automatic and Advanced. Carbonite recommends their Automatic backup and prompts you to select your C:\Documents extension in order to automatically backup all documents, photos, etc. If you choose to go with the Advanced mode, you will then have to manually select what files, folders, etc. get backed up. Last, you will need to choose how often you want your files backed up on the Carbonite servers.

Selecting Individual Files: If there is an individual file you wish to backup, you can locate the file, right click, then select “Back This Up”. Carbonite will then automatically put a yellow dot next to the file, letting you know the backup is pending. The pending indicator will remain in place for 10 minutes – ensuring no changes are made before the backup begins. Any changes after the file is backed up will not be re-backed up until 24 hours later.

How to Restore Using Carbonite

Restoring Individual Files and Folders: If you know the name of the file or folder you wish to backup, go to the Backup Drive. You can select the file or folder, then select to restore it to the original location or a new location. If you are not sure the name of the file, you can do a search in the Carbonite system to find it. Select the files and folders you with to restore manually, then select OK.

Restoring All Files: If you need to restore all files, go to the Restore Manager on your Carbonite Software. If you no longer have Carbonite on your device, you will need to download that first. The Restore Manager will walk you through the process step-by-step to restore all files back on to your device.

5.7 Total Score

Carbonite has some compatibility issues, but the service is cheap at a mere $59 for 12 months. Despite some of its better features, like their super fast file restore, many customers are unsatisfied with the service. Still, it's a reasonably reliable backup service with a lot of support from big names like Lenovo and Microsoft.

Help and Support
  • Low price for unlimited storage space
  • Ease of use
  • Extended wait times with Customer Support
  • Files kept for limited time
  • Manual selection of certain backup files
  • Program compatibility issues

Lynn is the founder and chief editor at She is responsible for strategy and business development. Her background is in software development, marketing, and project management. She loves camping, traveling, and all things soccer related. She has been married for over 30 years to one great guy and has two adult children. Lynn is also the human companion to two cats - Jynx and Spanky. She is based in Minnesota, USA.

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