CrashPlan vs Carbonite: head-to-head review

CrashPlan vs CarboniteCrashPlan and Carbonite are two of the biggest online backup services out there.  They both provide unlimited cloud storage to backup and protect your computer files.  They also have similar pricing and features.

So which one should you choose?  I’ll take a look at them both in this head-to-head comparison.

Ease of Use

Winner: CrashPlan

Both Carbonite and CrashPlan are very easy to use.  With each of them, you install the software, and it immediately starts backing up your data to the cloud.  The backups are automatic, so you don’t have to schedule them.  Restoring files is also easy.  You can restore files from the desktop software or from the web interface provided by either of these services.

However, I thought CrashPlan was slightly easier.  It doesn’t limit the files that are backed up, whereas Carbonite won’t automatically backup files over 4GB, or video files (unless you sign up for the Prime plan).  These files must be manually selected for Carbonite to back them up.  CrashPlan requires less work in that sense.

Features

Winner: Tie

CrashPlan and Carbonite share many of the same features, but they also have a few differences.  They are two of the few online backup services let you make local backups.  This means your backups can be stored not only in the cloud, but also on an external hard drive.

Both CrashPlan and Carbonite have the following features:

  • Unlimited cloud backups
  • Backup to local destinations
  • Bandwidth controls
  • File versioning

Features specific to Carbonite are:

  • Mirror image backup; backup your entire hard drive, including OS
  • File syncing and sharing

While features specific to CrashPlan are:

  • Backup to a friend’s computer
  • Backup external drives (Carbonite can do this, but only with the Prime plan)

As you can see, they’re very similar with a few minor differences.

Price

Winner: CrashPlan (barely)

CrashPlan and Carbonite have similar pricing.  Carbonite’s most basic plan is $59.99/year per computer, whereas CrashPlan is $59.99/year per computer, with a monthly plan also available.

You can get discounts if you choose a 2-year or 3-year plan with Carbonite, or a 2-year or 4-year plan with CrashPlan.  Carbonite does not offer any family plans, while CrashPlan’s family plan offers savings for 2-10 computers.

So if you’re looking to backup many computers, CrashPlan can save you a lot of money.

Speed

Winner: CrashPlan

CrashPlan soars past Carbonite in my most recent speed tests.

CrashPlan backed up my data at 8 megabits per second (Mbps), maxing out my internet connection in the process.  Carbonite backed up data at only 3.1 Mbps.

When restoring my files, CrashPlan clocked in at 14 Mbps versus Carbonite’s 4.7 Mbps.

Operating Systems

Winner: CrashPlan

CrashPlan supports more operating systems, with desktop software available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Carbonite only supports Windows and Mac.  Also, only the Basic plan supports Mac.  The Plus and Prime plans will only work on Windows.

Mobile Apps

Winner: Tie

Both services have mobile apps that let you access your backed up files on-the-go.  CrashPlan’s app supports more platforms, while Carbonite’s app has slightly more features.  So this one is a tie.

CrashPlan supports Android, iOS, Windows phone, and Kindle.  Carbonite only supports Android and iOS.

However, Carbonite has the ability to locate your lost phone, sound the ringer, and remotely wipe data.  Carbonite can also backup photos and videos on your phone, whereas CrashPlan cannot.

Security

Winner: Tie

Both online backup services are very secure.

CrashPlan and Carbonite encrypt your files before, during, and after transfer to their servers.  You can also use a personal encryption key with either service, ensuring that your files can only be decrypted by you.

There are some slight differences in the types of encryption used.  CrashPlan uses 448-bit encryption while Carbonite uses 128-bit encryption.  But for practical purposes, both of these encryption methods are equally secure.

Support

Winner: Tie

Both CrashPlan and Carbonite have fantastic tech support.  They offer phone, email, and live chat support 7 days per week.  Their websites also have searchable knowledgebases, so you can easily find answers to common questions.

CrashPlan vs Carbonite: Which should you choose?

CrashPlan is the clear winner, in my opinion.  It’s easier to use and has less restrictions on the types of files that are backed up.  CrashPlan can also backup your USB drives, without paying extra.

Get CrashPlan at www.crashplan.com

Get Carbonite at www.carbonite.com

Update Dec. 2014: Added new CrashPlan speed tests.

Geoff Akerlund

Geoff Akerlund

Geoff Akerlund is the founder and editor-in-chief of BackupReview.com. He is a cloud fanatic and regularly reviews online backup services. He believes backups should be easy, affordable, and automatic.

Geoff Akerlund

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  • ePatient_Dave

    Geoff, thanks for this. I’m a many-year Carbonite user who, after 18 months on the Mac, is switching to Crashplan. The reason isn’t listed here: my tests (and a guru friend’s) established that Carbonite is what was killing my Air’s battery. Like, cutting battery life in half. Have you seen that?

    The odd thing is that Carbonite doesn’t appeapr in the Mac battery widget’s “apps using significant energy” list. My guru too wonders how this could be – “maybe it’s doing it with some Linux daemon.”

    Anyway, have you seen this? It’s easy to test – unplug and check 10-15 minutes of battery drop with Carbonite running and Carbonite paused.

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    • ePatient_Dave

      (Assuming this symptom isn’t limited to my computer, I have to wonder why they don’t have an option “Pause when unplugged.”)

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    • I haven’t heard of that, and I don’t have a Macbook to test, but some quick searching turns up this: Anyone having the issue with CarboniteDaemon that’s killing battery life on MacBooks?. It might be due to Carbonite scanning running programs to backup. Hard to believe they haven’t fixed it yet (the post is 2 years old).

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      • ePatient_Dave

        Thanks again, Geoff. I wonder if the issue is that they don’t have many Mac users, and those who do haven’t figured this out.

        Meanwhile, AppleCare doesn’t help much because (as the local tech told me) they don’t touch software, period: if their hardware tests say the hardware’s okay, then I don’t have a problem that they’ll touch. AND one of the Genius guys told me they’d noticed I had some thing called Kryptonite running, and they don’t know what it is. I wonder (seriously) which part of Steve Jobs’ famous “insanely great” this fits under. (Really.) I mean, this cost me more than a year of misery.

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      • ePatient_Dave

        I found that setting and switched off scanning of that folder. It helped a bit, but nowhere near the whole problem. If I get time I’ll try to do more careful tests.

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        • Good to know, thanks.

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  • Woodennickel

    Been back and forth between the two them. Currently with crashplan, but it sure seem to be a memory hog. Right now using 650mb of memory… I don’t recall Carbonite ever being like that.

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    • Thanks for the comment Woodennickel.

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    • Agreed. At first I liked the service, but the software is attrociously coded. The developers should be embarrassed for the ridiculous amount of memory used. They’ve known about the issue for years and continue to do nothing about it. Never saw a backup program need a 1Gig+ allocation and tons of CPU cycles.

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  • Bill

    WARNING: Carbonite does not backup very important files that you put in your Mac Home directory. I called a tech support person after I couldn’t find some of my files and they told me the only files it doesn’t backup are video files. Not true. I’ve since learned there are over 100 file types that Carbonite doesn’t backup. Some of them very important.

    I made the mistake of paying for 2 years of service instead of just one. I asked for a refund and they refused saying it was past the 30 day trial period. I’ve also seen other reviews that say they automatically charge your credit card again when your service expires. That person had trouble getting a refund too until they finally had to contact the Better Business Bureau.

    Do your research and you’ll find better alternatives such as iDrive or CrashPlan. Also look at all the other bad reviews for Carbonite and if that doesn’t scare you, nothing will.

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