Carbonite Review (up to 10% off Business Plans)

Carbonite is a secure, automatic, and affordable online backup service.  You may recognize Carbonite from radio ads, at least that’s where I first heard about them.  Carbonite claims to have “a plan for every business and a price for every budget,” and it can backup everything from precious family photos to servers required to run your business.

Is Carbonite a service you should consider using?  I’ll take a look at how it performs in this in-depth review.

Carbonite logo

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  • Unlimited cloud backups
  • Can create a local backup
  • Mirror image backup to restore entire OS
  • U.S.-based phone tech support


  • Files over 4 GB not automatically backed up
  • Video files not automatically backed up, except on Prime plan

The Bottom Line

Carbonite is easy to use and comes with good tech support, but it won’t automatically backup videos or large files.

Plans and Pricing

Carbonite’s personal plans are for photos, music, and home office files.  Each plan backs up an unlimited amount of data to the cloud.

Basic Plan

  • $59.99/year per computer
  • Unlimited storage space
  • U.S.-based, 7 day per week support
  • Windows or Mac

Plus Plan

  • $99.99/year per computer
  • External hard drive backup
  • Mirror image backup (backs up entire drive, including OS)
  • Includes all features of Basic plan
  • Windows only

Prime Plan

  • $149.99/year per computer
  • Automatic video backup
  • Courier recovery service
  • Includes all features of Basic and Pro plans
  • Windows only

Carbonite offers a 5% discount for paying 2 years in advance, or 10% for paying 3 years in advance.

In addition to the personal plans, Carbonite has Pro and Server plans to backup business files (each with their own Basic, Plus, and Prime plans).  The Pro plans are HIPAA compliant and suitable for healthcare records.  The business plans can also backup NAS devices, while the personal plans cannot.  The Server plans can backup databases and live applications.

Back up your entire business securely online for just $269.99/year.  Get up to 10% Off when you purchase multiple years.

Installation and Setup

Carbonite automatically selects photos, documents, email, and music for your initial backup.  You can add more file types manually by right clicking on them and selecting “Carbonite > Back this up.”  Videos, executable files, files larger than 4GB, and external hard drives are not automatically backed up.  Videos are automatically backed up with the Prime plan, however.

The Carbonite InfoCenter

Carbonite’s InfoCenter is where you see the status of your backup, restore files, and change settings.  By default files are backed up continuously, but you can click “Back up now” if you want to run a backup immediately.

Carbonite InfoCenter

The Carbonite InfoCenter.

Carbonite Settings

From the Settings tab you can change the backup schedule.

  • Back up continuously (recommended)
  • Back up once a day
  • Do not back up during certain hours

One handy feature is the ability to show dots on your files and folders, to let you know if they’re backed up or not.  If you see a green dot, it’s backed up.  If you see an orange dot, it’s scheduled for backup (but not backed up yet).

Potential Problems

I encountered a couple problems when using Carbonite.

Even though Carbonite claims to backup files continuously, some of my files were “pending backup” up to 5 hours in advance.  That’s way too long to be continuous.

Also, some files in my “AppData” system folder wouldn’t back up, putting them in a perpetual “pending backup” status.  I solved this buy removing this folder from my backup, but it made me uneasy since it seemed to interfere with my scheduled backup.

Update: Newer versions of Carbonite have fixed these issues.

Restoring Files with Carbonite

Carbonite gives you plenty of options for restoring files.  You can search for files in your backups, browse your backups, and restore all files at once.

Restoring files

Restoring a deleted file in Carbonite.

Carbonite features a courier recovery service, which will mail your backup to you for a $9.99 fee (many competing services charge $100 or more).  There are a couple catches.  Your backup can’t be using a personal encryption key.  It also can’t be used for financial information, healthcare records, or other sensitive data since the data is sent in unencrypted format.

The Carbonite Backup Drive

Carbonite puts a drive on your computer, so you can view your cloud files right from Windows Explorer.

I found this useful for restoring previous versions, which can be done with a simple right-click.

Carbonite Mobile

The Carbonite mobile app is a complete backup solution.  With it you can:

  • View backed up files
  • Backup photos and videos on your mobile device
  • Protect your device from loss or theft
  • Remotely wipe your device

If your phone is stolen, the app can take a photo of the thief and upload it to your account.  You can also remotely lock the screen and set a PIN.  It can also sound the ringer on a lost phone, or locate it via GPS.

Sync and Share

Carbonite Sync and Share is separate software you can install (in addition to the Carbonite desktop software) that allows you to sync files across devices.  You can also use it to share files with others, either through Facebook or email.


In my speed tests, Carbonite uploaded my files at 3.1 Mbps (megabits per second), which is about 33 gigabytes per day.  When downloading my files from Carbonite’s servers, my speed averaged 4.7 Mbps.

For reference, my ISPs connection speeds are 8 Mbps upload, and 30 Mbps download.


Carbonite is very secure.  It encrypts all your files using 128-bit Blowfish encryption, and then uses a 128-bit SSL tunnel to transfer files to their data centers.  Additionally, you can use your own encryption key.

Carbonite is also HIPAA certified, so it can be used to backup healthcare records.


Carbonite offers U.S.-based tech support for all customers, 7 days a week.  You can call, email, or start a live chat to get answers to problems.  Their website also features video tutorials, guides, and a searchable knowledgebase.

Should You Use Carbonite?

Until Carbonite automatically backs up video files, and files over 4GB, I can’t recommend it.  Many other backup services don’t have these kinds of restrictions.

However, Carbonite does offer a lot of features, including file syncing and sharing, which may be useful for business users.  I was particularly impressed with their mobile app, so if backing up your phone is important you may also want to consider it.

More Screenshots


Product Name Carbonite
Version 5.5.3
Operating Systems WindowMac
Storage Unlimited
Monthly Price $5
Average Upload Speed 3.1 Mbps (8 Mbps connection)
Average Download Speed 4.7 Mbps (30 Mbps connection)

General Features

Free Trial yes
Free Online Storage no
Mobile Apps Android, iOS
Bandwidth Controls yes
NAS Support yes

Backup Features

File Versioning yes
Keep Deleted Files 30 Days
Back Up to Local Drive yes

Sync and Share Features

File Sync no
Selective Sync no
Public File Sharing yes
Collaborative Invites no


Encrypted Storage yes
Encrypted Transfer yes
Personal Encryption yes
Zero-knowledge Encryption yes
Two-factor Authentication no


Phone Support yes
Email Support yes
24/7 Support no
Live Chat yes


Data Center Location(s)

Geoff Akerlund

Geoff Akerlund

Geoff Akerlund is the founder and editor-in-chief of He enjoys attending music festivals, whitewater kayaking on the American River, and board game nights in his free time.

Geoff Akerlund


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  • SailorJK


    I may have learned about the following additional, new concerns re: Carbonite (and perhaps other back-up services):

    I need to move to a new laptop (WIN-Vista to WIN-7); I have about 46 GB
    of data; Carbonite backup thinks I have about 51 GB. I considered using
    Carbonite ‘transfer’ but started to investigate manual (via flash-drive) transfer and then have Carbonite ‘fill-in’ any missing files.

    1) Carbonite does not consistently do the ‘auto-delete’ after thirty days.
    Several months ago I reorganized some folders & files by moving them around (mostly photos, but also documents). Carbonite still has the files & folders recorded in the ‘old’ location along with the new location – to the tune of over 6 GB!! These items have a notation in the Carbonite B/U directory that states “Right-click to restore latest backup copy (Original file [or folder] deleted)”.
    2) I want to do the ‘manual’ backup since it would be faster than letting Carbonite do it plus there is the risk of ISP ‘throttling’ and/or add’l charges for using that amount of bandwidth (I am uessing that transferring that amount of data means DAYS for 46 GB; longer if Carbonite perhaps transfers 51 GB).

    I have had a couple conversations with different Carbonite support personnel. The information provided has been inconsistent.
    – I was never really given an answer to the issue of ‘retained’ old files and folders and why that happened and how Carbonite might ‘fix’ it. Instead I was told to ‘fish thru’ the Carbonite directory, select each item so noted and change the status to ‘do not backup’ (tedious at best).
    – Initially I was told that doing my planned ‘manual’ backup (mentioned above) would work. On the call that just ended I was told it likely would not work since there are ‘hidden’ file identifiers (used by Microsoft OS?) that are used as identifiers by Carbonite. Those identifiers will likely be different between computers., so Carbonite would do the full copying anyway. Neither I nor Carbonite has any control over those identifiers.
    – Bottom line the suggestion was to do the manual copy (hoping that I ‘capture’ all the data) and then change the subscription (stop the backup on the old laptop and start it on the new one).


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    • Hi Jim. Thanks for the heads up! Not removing deleted files after 30 days sounds like a huge headache if someone were to restore files. I think your best bet is to delete the backup like they said and create a new one, and hope that will solve it. With any luck it’s an isolated bug.

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  • kynao

    Carbonite does external drive support but no NAS Backup

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    • This is true for the personal plans. NAS backup is supported on the business plans (sorry if that wasn’t clear in my review).

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