Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A review on Carbonite

After listening to commercials for Carbonite on talk radio and TV I was sufficiently hyped. I had prior experience with a hard drive meltdown and knew I lived on borrowed time. I back up my computer... sort of.

I have an external drive that started out primarily as a backup and quickly became a repository of files that would no longer fit on my main hard drive. Periodically I back up to disk, but given the size of my files it's a major operation so I have a tendency to put it off.

I do websites and am a host reseller with a large company. They offered a free backup using Carbonite the last time I visited so I said "what the heck, I'm past due". Especially since twice I'd lost all my emails due to overloading the system I guess --- corrupt file and wham, I lost a thousand or so emails each time.

The free trial was size limited and I quickly discovered it didn't even touch my main drive. They offered a nice discount to go full boat, so click, charge and voila I was using Carbonite to back up my system.

The second day after my initial backup onto Carbonite I had an email meltdown and was able to go into the system and recover my emails. Sweet.

I liked that and for once my timing on things worked just fine.

However, all is not rosy when it comes to Carbonite. Here are the problems I've found...

First, they only back up your main drive, not the external. For most people that's probably fine. However, for me, aside from my emails, I have migrated to keeping a vast amount of my data on the external drive.

Carbonite offers an upgraded pricing structure which allows you to back up the external drive. It is cost prohibitive for me. When I had them look at my system and give a price quote, I'd be paying them $250 a month. Yes, a month, not a year. I decided I could buy another external drive and forgo that expense. In fact, I could buy an external drive a month and come out cheaper.

The other thing which is a major, major pain to me is that Carbonite slows my system to the point where I'm ready to yank out my hair. I finally set it up so that it backs up during my lunch hour and from midnight until 9 a.m. I am taking a chance that I'll lose stuff during the day-time hours while I'm working, but I still have my speed.

Lest you think I'm being silly, I can tell you exactly when Carbonite kicks in... sometimes I have to shut down my system and reboot as it locks things up.

Is it worth it? Well, for what I'm paying, yes. I decided it was worth the cost just to be able to grab my emails if the system wonked out on my again. I get close to a thousand emails a day, sometimes more. Most are used on various websites so they're my work lifeblood.

I'd also say that it's probably worth it for the average person, even at non-discounted rates. Especially if you're the kind of person who never or rarely backs things up. Those photos (which I keep on my external drive) need to be saved. Many of us have important work files that need to be saved, too.

Me? I take zillions of photos for my news sites and I also do movies and videos that take up huge amounts of space. I am stuck with having to figure out a way to back them up without using Carbonite.

I don't begrudge Carbonite's way of doing business. They have to make money. I checked out Mozy and while they price differently, I still can't justify the cost. I suggest you look at both. I encourage you to make sure you are backing up your important files somehow, some way, whether it's an online back up system or via two, yes two, external hard drives. External hard drives go back just like your main drive. You need a back up of your back up.
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