Meet Chuck

Chuck once had a very nasty accident with a back-up hard drive and whole lot of critical data. So now he backs up his data online. That has the added bonus of allowing him to access his data wherever he is in the world — and Chuck gets around. And he can synchronise it across machines.

A review of Carbonite online backup software

March 16, 2010

If you’ve decided it’s time to invest in online backup software, then you’ll already know there are number of options available to you. One of the best known is Carbonite which has been available for Windows for sometime and last year became available on Mac OS X.

I took advantage of Carbonite’s free trial to give the service a test run. Carbonite charges you an annual fee once you’ve decided to extend your subscription beyond the trial period. This is different to some other online backup services which charge you according to the amount of data you upload — there’s no limit to the amount of data you can backup with Carbonite.

Carbonite in use

Once you’ve installed the application, which is quick and easy to do, the online backup software automatically starts to copy everything except system files, applications, and individual files over 4GB in size. In the Mac version I tested, it was easy to change this and have it backup whichever files I chose.

Carbonite makes it very easy to see which files have been backed up and when others are scheduled to be backed up.

Carbonite encrypts every file you upload to its servers twice to protect your data from prying eyes, and keeps them encrypted for as long as they are stored on its servers. It’s very easy to monitor the progress of a backup, pause it, or reduce its priority so that it consumes fewer system resources. In the Mac version, this is done either in a System Preferences pane or from a menu bar item.

Carbonite makes it very easy to see which files have been backed up and when others are scheduled to be backed up, and restoring files is simply a matter of pressing the Restore button and navigating to the files and folders you want to restore. In the WIndows version, restoring is even easier, as Carbonite creates a virtual disk image on your desktop. It would be great to see that implemented on the Mac version.

In my test I backed up 32GB of data. That took several hours, spread over a couple of working days. However I didn’t notice any hit on processor cycles or on internet bandwidth. And I didn’t notice further incremental backups taking place at all. If you do feel that Carbonite is taking up too much bandwidth, however, you can lower its priority so that it only runs when you’re not doing anything on your PC or Mac.

At $55 a year or $100 for two years, Carbonite online backup software is an excellent investment. It protects your data from potential catastrophe while at the same time removing from you the responsibility of remembering to back up your data.

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