For SMB owners, the benefits of cloud backup are hard to dispute. The advantages of being able to access stored content from any device and the security of hardened data centers means less worry about managing critical content and more time focusing on profit margins. More debatable is selecting the best cloud backup tool for your business.

One of the most critical components to that selection is, of course, storage space. Do you need 100GB or 1TB? What about a year from now? Does your choice give your business room to grow? Unlimited backup solutions, the focus of this article, remove these questions from the table. While all of that sounds great, unlimited backup solutions aren’t for everyone.

To illustrate this point, we’ll use Carbonite as an example, a popular vendor that happens to provide both unlimited backup plans and capped plans built for SMB scalability. The goal is to provide our business-owning readers with a little perspective on their own cloud backup search so they can decide if an unlimited backup solution really makes sense for them.  

If you’d just like to know more about Carbonite, make sure to read our full Carbonite review.

Carbonite Unlimited Backup Plans

When we ranked Carbonite as our 2017 choice for best online backup for small businesses, we had in mind its office plans. As a business owner, you can make good use of Carbonite’s personal plans, too. In fact, for some business owners, that might be the smarter move.

That’s because Carbonite is one of a handful of personal backup tools that offers consumers unlimited backup for their computers.

PlanBasicPlusPrime
Price Plan
$ 71 99yearly
$ 111 99yearly
$ 149 99yearly
Storage Unlimited GB Unlimited GB Unlimited GB
Details

Doesn't include external hard drives.

Includes external hard drive backup and automatic video backup.

Includes courier service.

While any buffet fan will tell you the word “unlimited” practically sells itself, what’s true of bites isn’t necessarily true of bytes. To make the best decision for your businesses success, it helps to know precisely what bottomless backup means for you. Ultimately, it really comes down to three key benefits: easier backups, more complete backups and more time to run your business.

Easier Backups

With capped backup solutions like IDrive (full IDrive review), you need to manage the backup process manually. That involves searching through your file system and tagging folders you want to backup.

While you can tag folders at a higher level, such as your user folder, if you’re dealing with large amounts of data and limited space, you may need to be more selective than that. That can lead to both accidentally overlooking and having to deliberately forego backing up some content. Many unlimited backup tools, including Backblaze and Carbonite (but not CrashPlan), remove the need to self-manage what you store and what you don’t store, because there’s no need.

Taking advantage of its ability to store as much data as you need stored, Carbonite automatically scans your hard drive, finds everything it thinks should be backed up and gets to work copying it to a remote data center. All you need to do is download the software and hit the start button.

More Complete Backups

Because unlimited backups have the advantage of storing everything, it also means that if your hard drive crashes, any rebuild is going to be more complete. We mentioned that Carbonite scans and backs up automatically. When it does so, it does so thoroughly, tagging and copying files commonly used by SMBs.

The list includes:

  • Microsoft Office files: Word, Excel, Powerpoint
  • Email files: Outlook, Thunderbird, IncrediMail, Windows Live Mail
  • Financial data files: i.e., Quicken or QuickBooks files

Image and music files are also backed up, while automatic backup of video files requires a Carbonite Personal Prime subscription. The files we mentioned are just a fraction of what Carbonite will protect for you. That said, there are some files Carbonite doesn’t backup, including system files.

If you prefer to backup everything, consider a backup service that offers image-based backup. Carbonite Personal Plus and Personal Prime plans used to, but have just recently decided to discontinue that capability. Check out our 2017 list of best image-based backup and cloning solutions for some service ideas.

More Time to Run Your Business

The kind of automatic, all-encompassing approach that unlimited backup services like Carbonite can offer means that you don’t have to spend time designing a backup plan. Additionally, as you add new files and folders to your computer, you don’t have to remember to alter that backup plan. This makes Carbonite a true set-and-forget tool.

If you happen to be a business owner short on time, that may be the biggest advantage of all. It means you can focus on building your brand, making your products, servicing your clients or whatever it is that you really need to focus on for success, rather than making sure your business doesn’t go up in smoke along with your hard drive.

The Problem with Unlimited Backup for SMBs: Money

Decreasing the amount of time you need to spend managing your backup while simultaneously decreasing the likelihood that you overlook a file is a tough benefit to dismiss in favor of another backup solution. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. The biggest problem for SMBs in opting for an unlimited backup solution is cost.

While Carbonite Personal plans represent a fantastic deal for backing up a single computer, if you’ve got multiple employee machines to protect, the bottom line can multiply fast. To lessen those expenses, Carbonite has another set of backup plans designed specifically for business users. The service nixes unlimited backup but adds unlimited computers, external hard drives and NAS backup systems.

 CorePowerUltimate
Annual Cost$269.99$599.99$999.99
Included Storage250GB500GB500GB
Additional Storage$99 per 100GB$99 per 100GB$99 per 100GB
Computer backupUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Server backupNoneOneUnlimited

Carbonite Power and Carbonite Ultimate also include server backup.  

Of course, 250GB isn’t much to work with. But, by keeping the base storage low and letting business users add 100GB of shared backspace for $99 annually, Carbonite adds the advantage of scalability and price flexibility. That’s something you don’t get with unlimited backup, even unlimited backup plans specifically built for businesses.

Conclusion

If you’re running a one-person business or only have two or three employees, unlimited backup likely represents the best value, so long as the solution you choose incorporates automated protection of all essential file types. For that, we like Carbonite, with a user experience that could get much more friendly.

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On the other hand, if you’ve got multiple computers and servers to backup, chances are you’re going to roll up your sleeves and spend some time managing your backup plan manually.

For more information on Carbonite, be sure to check out our reviews:

That’s all for now! As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts and comments below. Thanks for reading.

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