Carbonite Review

A Full Review of Carbonite, an Cloud Backup Service

Screenshot of the Carbonite logo
© Carbonite, Inc.

Carbonite is one of the world's most popular cloud backup services, and for good reason.

All of their backup plans are unlimited and come with a lot of features, putting Carbonite near the top of my list of unlimited cloud backup plans.

Carbonite has been around since 2006 and has a massive customer base, making this company one of the more established among cloud backup providers.

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Keep reading for details on Carbonite's backup plans, updated pricing information, and a complete list of features. My extensive Carbonite Tour should also give you a better idea about how Carbonite works.

Carbonite Plans & Costs

Valid September 2017

Carbonite offers three Personal plans, in one year or greater terms, all designed for home computers or small businesses without servers.

As with most cloud backup services, the longer your subscription, the greater your monthly savings.

Carbonite Personal Basic

Carbonite Personal Basic grants you unlimited storage space for your backed up files.

Here's how Personal Basic is priced: 1 Year: $59.99 ($5.00 /month); 2 Years: $113.99 ($4.75 /month); 3 Years $161.99 ($4.50 /month).

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Carbonite Personal Plus

Carbonite's Personal Plus gives you an unlimited amount of storage just like their Basic plan but adds support for backing up external hard drives as well as the ability to locally back up a complete system image of your computer.

The Personal Plus plan is priced like this: 1 Year: $74.99 ($6.25 /month); 2 Years: $189.99 ($7.92 /month); 3 Years $269.99 ($7.50 /month).

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Carbonite Personal Prime

Like the two smaller plans, Carbonite's Personal Prime gives you unlimited storage for your data.

Beyond the features in Basic and Plus, Prime adds automatic video backup as well as courier recovery service in case of a major loss.

Those Personal Prime extras bring the price up a bit: 1 Year: $149.99 ($12.50 /month); 2 Years: $284.99 ($11.87 /month); 3 Years $404.99 ($11.25 /month).

Sign Up for Carbonite Personal Prime

See my Unlimited Cloud Backup Plan Prices comparison table to see how Carbonite's unlimited plan pricing compare to their competitors.

If one of the Carbonite Personal plans sounds like it might be a good fit, you can try the service for 15 days without any commitment.

Unlike some other backup services, however, Carbonite does not offer a 100% free cloud backup plan. If you only have a small amount of data to keep backed up, check out my List of Free Cloud Backup Plans for several, infinitely less expensive options.

Carbonite also sells a number of business-class cloud backup plans. If you have servers to back up or you need something you can centrally manage, know that Carbonite tops my Business Cloud Backup list so be sure to check that out.

Carbonite Features

Like all cloud backup services, Carbonite does a large initial backup and then automatically and continuously keeps your new and changed data backed up.

Beyond that, you'll get these features with your Carbonite Personal subscription:

File Size LimitsNo, but files over 4 GB must be manually added to the backup
File Type RestrictionsNo, but video files must be added manually if not on the Prime plan
Fair Use LimitsNo
Bandwidth ThrottlingNo
Operating System SupportWindows (all versions) and macOS
Native 64-bit SoftwareYes
Mobile AppsiOS and Android
File AccessDesktop program and web app
Transfer Encryption128-bit
Storage Encryption128-bit
Private Encryption KeyYes, optional
File VersioningLimited, 30 days
Mirror Image BackupYes, but locally only, and in the Plus and Prime plans only
Backup LevelsDrive, folder, and file level
Backup From Mapped DriveNo
Backup From External DriveYes, in the Plus and Prime plans
Continuous Backup (≤ 1 min)Yes
Backup FrequencyContinuous (≤ 1 min) through 24 hours
Idle Backup OptionYes
Bandwidth ControlSimple
Offline Backup Option(s)No
Offline Restore Option(s)Yes, but only with the Prime plan
Local Backup Option(s)No
Locked/Open File SupportYes
Backup Set Option(s)No
Integrated Player/ViewerYes
File SharingYes
Multi-Device SyncingYes
Backup Status AlertsEmail, plus others
Data Center LocationsNorth America
Inactive Account RetentionAs long as the subscription is active, the data will remain
Support OptionsPhone, email, chat, and self-support

See my Cloud Backup Comparison Chart for more on how Carbonite compares to some of my other favorite cloud backup services.

My Experience With Carbonite

I know that choosing the right cloud backup service can be tough - they either all seem the same or they all seem different, depending on your perspective.

Carbonite, however, is one of those services that I find very easy to recommend to many others. You'll have no trouble using it no matter your technology or computer skills. Not only that, it lets you backup all your important stuff without charging you an arm and a leg.

Keep reading for more about what I like and don't about using Carbonite for cloud backup:

What I Like:

Some cloud backup services offer just one plan, which I personally prefer. However, a range of options isn't always a bad thing either, especially if you want options - and many people do. That's one reason I like Carbonite - it has three different plans, all of which are reasonably priced considering you're allowed to backup an unlimited amount.

Something else I like is how easy backing up your files to Carbonite is. Since this is the most important thing you do when backing up, it's good that they've made it really easy.

Instead of having to browse through the program to pick which folders and files you want to back up, you just locate them on your computer like you'd do normally. Just right-clicking them and choose to add them to your backup plan.

Files that are already backed up are easily identifiable, as are ones that aren't being backed up, by a small colored dot on the file's icon.

My initial backup with Carbonite went very well, with a backup time on par with most other services. What you experience will depend a lot on whatever bandwidth is available to you over this time period. See How Long Will the Initial Backup Take? for some more discussion on this.

Something else I appreciated with Carbonite is just how simple restoring your data is to do. For obvious reasons, I think restore should be as easy as possible and Carbonite definitely makes it a breeze.

To restore files, just browse through them online, backed up files directly through the program as if they still existed on your computer, even if you've deleted them. Because you get 30 days of file versioning, Carbonite makes it simple to restore a specific version of a file from a different time or day.

Restoring is also supported by a browser, too, so you can actually download your backed up files to a different computer if you wanted to.

One more thing I like is that Carbonite not only lets you backup your files automatically when changes are detected, like I mentioned above, but you can, if you want, change the schedule to run just once per day or during a particular time frame.

So, for example, you could choose to run backups only at night, when you're not using your computer. It's not common to see a slow computer or congested Internet connection when backing up continuously. However, if you do, this is a nice option to have.

See Will My Internet Be Slow If I'm Backing Up All The Time? for more on this.

What I Don't Like:

Something I found frustrating while using Carbonite was that it didn't back up all the files in the folders I selected for backup because, by default, it backs up only certain file types. This might not be a big deal if you only had pictures and documents to back up but otherwise might be a problem.

However, you can easily change this option by right-clicking the file type you want to back up and then selecting to always back up those types of files.

In Carbonite's case, the reason all file types aren't backed up automatically is to avoid causing issues if you were to restore all your files to a new computer. For example, excluding EXE files is probably smart because of those potential issues.

Something else I don't like about Carbonite is that you can't define how much bandwidth the program is allowed to use for uploading and downloading your files. There's a simple option you can enable that restricts network usage, but there isn't a specific set of advanced options like I like to see.

My Final Thoughts on Carbonite

Carbonite is a good choice if you're in a position where you don't need to back up external drives, meaning their lowest-tier plan, a relatively inexpensive one at that, is perfect for you.

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If you're not quite sure whether you should choose Carbonite as your backup solution, see my reviews of Backblaze and SOS Online Backup. Both services are ones I recommend regularly, in addition to Carbonite. You may find that feature you can't live without in one of their plans.