I’m taking a look at Carbonite Backup as my next backup solution. In short, it seems almost perfect. (Almost – because there’s no Mac client although they say one will be coming in early 2007.)
I signed up for the free trial by entering an e-mail address and picking a password. Then I downloaded the software for installation. Right away it was clear Carbonite paid attention to details. Rather than a generic “How to download” screen it saw I was using Firefox and provided screen shots showing Firefox specific info. (Just to be sure I went into IE and sure enough, IE screen shots).
The install was easy, the only option in the installer was to change the install location. Before the install began I was warned a reboot would be needed although I didn’t need one. At the end of the installation I was asked what I wanted to back up:
- My Documents & Desktop
- Manually select backup later
- Just backup everything (documents and data)
The first option is the default and “strongly recommended” so I pick it. After the installation completes I’m brought to the tour page. There’s animated tours or you can read the info on a tour page,
Naturally, with unlimited storage at a flat rate there has to be limitations elsewhere. Here they are:
- Won’t back up external or network drives, only internals
- Doesn’t back up system files, executable and other program files. These files can be individually selected for backup. (Literally, you must select by file.)
- During the trial period music and videos aren’t backed up
- Files larger than 2GB aren’t backed up.
Broadband upload speeds are typically much slower than downloads so that first backup will probably take days. My upload connection is rated at 384kps. The My Documents directory on my Windows PC is a relatively small 350MB (after exclusions) and that does backup the first night without a problem.
I went to add a directory off the root of the drive and couldn’t. I wasn’t allowed to pick the directory. I move the directory to My Documents and it soon gets included in the backup. I can go up to the drive level and pick the entire drive. So far the sub-directories aren’t included but I also suspect they won’t be added until the current backup finishes or I reboot my PC which forces the backup to look for files before it starts again. For now I’m letting the backup run.
I’m now backing up about 10GB. My backup has been running about 38 hours and is 35% done. But this is based on the upload speed so our times will vary. I did some speed tests prior to starting the backup and again before resuming it after stopping it for the day. My tested speed was around 310kps. When the backup was running the utilization was around 240-260kps so it appears Carbonite uses slightly less than the available bandwidth. When I used the PC doing the backup the utilization dropped a bit. Carbonite does say it releases resources when your using the PC. I also accessed the Internet from my Mac and there was no noticeable impact, although my usage is usually on the download side of things rather than an upload that would compete with the backup.
- If you have EXE’s you want to back up be sure to select them. While backing up programs isn’t recommended (usually better to re-install) there might be EXE’s you want backed up. If you get software via download it’s usually a single EXE. You may need these if they are not readily available for future downloads. You may have purchased the software or you want to be sure the specific version is available for compatibility with your data files.
- The instructions make it sound like any directory can be selected for backing up by right-clicking on it and selecting “Back this up”. This hasn’t been my experience so far. Although it works for any file. I suspect once my entire C: drive is selected I’ll then be able to add or remove any directory.
- Carbonite will limit restores per month ” to avoid abuse”. This seems reasonable to limit their bandwidth costs. They do say they can be contacted to lift the limit in special situations.
- Carbonite will kp a file for 30 days after it’s deleted so it can be restored.
- Carbonite only keeps the latest version of a file, it does not keep historical version.
My Only Complaint
There software and website tone seems rally user friendly so I might tend to give them a break on the terms. I’m just really annoyed at what seems to be a general trend in licenses where vendors can do anything to your PC but are responsible for nothing. The tone of the terms seems to be in direct contrast to the tone they set for their service.
There are configuration options to “Allow Carbonite to collect program quality information” and to “Upgrade Automatically”, so these can be turned off. So it appears the programmers appear to have gotten the “be nice” message but the layers didn’t.
The Mozy terms of service state that they may or may not notify us of changes but do say they will attempt it my sending an e-mail address for the account.