Review of Carbonite Online Synchronization Tool

Overview and History

Carbonite is based in Boston, MA and they first offered their online backup service in the first half of 2006. At the time of writing they backup and protect in excess of over 2 billion files for most modern countries. They were founded in 2005 by David Friend and Jeff Flowers. Carbonite is a simple, secure online backup service for casual home users, students, home office users, business travelers, etc. For < $5 each month, Carbonite secures all the vital information on your desktop (digital photos, tunes, docs and other valuable files) when your desktop is connected to the Internet. Carbonite is extremely easy to set up and use, needing practically no ongoing user configuration. There online backup solution is designed to instantly backup altered data from your PC whenever it is attached to the internet.

Feature Set

Security

Carbonite security is satisfyingly reliable. Transfers back and forth from your Desktop and their servers is encrypted with 3DES – which is very strong – and once on their servers your files are encrypted using Blowfish 448bit – it gets no better than that. Physically your data is held on 2 latest technology facilities in Massachusetts that provide carefully temperature- controlled rooms, reserve generators, restricted personnel access, and many other features to protect the security and integrity of your information.

Backup Features

When initially setup Carbonite backs up the ‘My Documents and Settings’ folders but this can simply be amended with the desktop software. There is no maximum to the amount of data that can be saved, therefore you can manage as many or as few files as you want. Archiving will start when your computer is not busy, thus preventing drain on resources or bandwidth. Alternatively, you can set the backup scheduler to archive when you want. Carbonite does not support backup of network or external drives. In our tests it needed thirty seven minutes to save 2Gb of files with a standard 8mbps internet line whilst sending and receiving other traffic on the internet. Carbonite offers a continuous backup facility which means that files are archived as soon as they are changed. Therefore you do not need to rely on scheduling archiving and making sure your desktop is on when the scheduled time comes.

Nevertheless, if scheduling is what you wish, the PC client does have that option also. The backup progress can be monitored by an included progress bar. You can also add files and folders to the archive schedule by right-clicking. The Carbonite service gives a ‘virtual drive letter’ where you can see which files have been backed up and which are waiting for archive. The client also adds colored dots on files to show whether they are archived, awaiting backup or not included in the archive set. The PC version allows unlimited ‘file versioning’ for three months. There are as well no limits on the size of individual files or the amount of data that you can archive. However, it is important to remember that the initial archive time required is more than that required after you are up and running and your first backup is complete.

Restore Features

Information  recovery  can be started from either the software or the web site and can be recovered to either their original location, another location on the laptop they were originally backup up on or to the web site. On the PC edition, file  recovery  can also be managed by right-clicking a file or folder. In addition there is a search option so you can locate files to restore that match a specific filename or filename pattern.

Control and Analysis

The web site Allows central administration for all clients being archived. The CPU and bandwidth usage can be throttled between high and low. Reports are generated to show what is backed up.

Interface

To use Carbonite you will need to setup the Carbonite Client Software on each device that is to be archived. But, once setup, all backups can be controlled from a central admin portal. Multiple devices can be managed with a single account, however, multi-account administration isn’t supported. After the client is up and running, it permits access to a virtual drive letter that is used to view the status of archived folders and to restore folders. The system tray icon starts off yellow – this indicates that the initial backup is being performed. Once the initial backup is done, the tray icon turns green. The client software is clear and great to use. The internet portal is similarly straightforward. The program is intended to be set-and-forget so the options are not filled with lots of options but rather are set up to allow you to choose what and when you want to archive and then leave the program to just do it.

Device Support

There is support for PC and MAC. There is an iPhone, iTouch, iPad and BlackBerry apps but these only allow you to view archived files, not actually archive your device. You can attach files from the backup set in emails. An unlimited amount of devices – MAC or PC – can be backed up.

Limitations

Network drives and external drives cannot be backed up There is no block level incremental backup ability Carbonite is a user archive program, so it can not archive server databases such as SQL server, Exchange server. Open or in use files cannot be archived until they are no longer being used. Whole machine backup is not supported. Proxy server support is not available.

File Sharing and Collaboration

Files and folders can be shared privately via the web site and different access rights can be configured on individual files and folders. No public file sharing or collaboration features.

Synchronization

Loads of computers can be synchronized with each other and with the central web portal.

Web 2.0 Integration

None.

Customer Support

Phone support is available as an optional extra at a cost of $19.99 a year. Below is a list of the free support offered: Live Chat, Email Support, Email web form, Online Documentation, FAQs and knowledgebase Blog, Free Trial: There is a free 15 day trial available.

Ease Of Use

Carbonite is extremely easy to setup and use, just download the client package and run it. There is audio help that teaches the complete process and you can start backing up your data in no time at all. The fifteen day – no credit card required – trial absolutely no risk in trying Carbonite out. Once configured all you need to do is right-click on a file or folder to add it to your archive.

Cost

  • Initial setup Cost – Free 15 day trial
  • Monthly charge – Not applicable
  • Annual Charge – $54.99
  • Initial allowed storage amount – unlimited
  • Cost of additional storage – no charge
  • Cost of additional devices / PCs / users – Unlimited device but one account per user
  • Referral Program – 3 months free subscription for each referral that signs up after their free trial
  • E-billing facility – yes

There are no large scale service plans available, yet, there is a professional edition of Carbonite available at carbonitepro.com which is designed for Business use.

Hidden cost: Telephone support costs $19.99 per year.

Conclusion

Carbonite offers a easy to use secure method to backup your information from either PCs or MACs. The unlimited storage for a fixed cost provides for simple budgeting and takes away the need to constantly manage how much information you are archiving. The Carbonite Online Backup solution is very well protected and the support is very good. If you want a easy archive solution then this is a really good choice. The lack of file sharing, synchronization and collaboration is a definite gap in the product but if you do not need these features then this is a really excellent product.



Source by Stephen M McGovern

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