If you’re looking for a solution that’s going to help you backup your business computers and you’re considering Carbonite Safe Backup Pro, you’re in the right place. During this review, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at it.
Carbonite has another product called “Carbonite Safe,” and although the name is confusingly similar, the products aren’t the same. Carbonite Safe is a product version that offers unlimited backup for home users who don’t have many computers. If you’ve stumbled here looking for the home version, refer to our Carbonite review for more information about it.
On the other hand, Carbonite Safe Backup Pro lets you backup unlimited computers, external drives and NAS devices. There are also subscription plans available that include Windows Server backup.
The bad part, however, will likely make those readers who are mindful of their finances look elsewhere. Carbonite’s pricing soars past its rivals, and the good part of it isn’t enough to justify paying that price. If you’re looking for an equally capable solution, but one that won’t thin your wallet so much, read our best online backup for small business roundup.
On top of that, versioning doesn’t work on Mac, there’s no mobile backup, the download speed is slow and the encryption algorithm isn’t the industry-standard one.
That was the short of it, but keep reading if you want to get the details of how Carbonite performs. If you’re thinking you need a different solution, though, read our business online backup reviews for alternatives. Otherwise, we’re going to start with Carbonite’s features.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Backup unlimited computers
- Backup NAS & servers
- Remote file access
- Good versioning policy
- Award-winning support
- Decent security features
- Very expensive price plans
- Slow file download speeds
- Limited deleted-file retention
- No versioning for Mac
- Non-standard encryption algorithm
- Bare-bones mobile app
Alternatives for Carbonite Backup Safe Pro
Carbonite Safe Backup Pro has most of the features you’d expect of a solid online backup solution for businesses. That includes automated backup for computers, external hard drives and NAS devices , as well as physical and virtual servers.
You can learn about NAS in our what is NAS piece. For other non-business services that offer NAS, read our best online backup for NAS roundup.
With a Carbonite Safe Backup Pro Core plan, you can backup unlimited computers, external drives and NAS devices. To backup servers, you will need to use the “Power” or “Ultimate” subscription plan, which includes Carbonite Safe Server Backup. We detail all plans in the pricing section below.
Note that you need to connect your external drives and NAS devices every 30 or 60 days to keep Carbonite from removing them from your backup.
We’re assuming that Carbonite Safe Backup Pro users have a limit of 60 days, based on its provided table. If you delete your files using Carbonite software, though, Carbonite will remove your files after 72 hours.
Carbonite works on Windows and Mac, but not Linux. If you have Linux computers to protect, IDrive for Business has you covered, and you can read more about it in our IDrive for Business review. For alternative ideas, read our best online backup for Linux article.
Safe Server Backup
Carbonite Safe Server Backup supports:
- Linux Server
- Windows Server
- Microsoft SQL Server
- Microsoft Exchange Server
- Microsoft SharePoint Server
- Oracle Server
VMWare isn’t supported, though. Safe Server Backup also includes bare-metal image backup, which lets you create an image of your computer or server. Plus, Safe Server Backup lets you backup to both your disks and the cloud, which means you get the benefits of hybrid backup. You can learn how to set it up in our hybrid backup setup guide for SMBs.
In short, hybrid backup is helpful because it creates another level of protection for your files and speeds up their restoration because it’s faster to restore from a local device than from the cloud. Plus, hybrid backup is necessary to implement the 3-2-1 backup rule, and we recommend that you do so.
Carbonite also includes basic features that we like to see offered by online backup services. That includes versioning, but not for the Mac client.
Versioning is useful because it lets you roll back unwanted file changes and file corruptions. It’s also a tool that helps combat ransomware, which is an increasingly common problem for businesses.
Carbonite’s versioning policy is somewhat complex, but it always retains at least three copies of your files. On top of that, it keeps one file version for each of the previous seven days, one for each of the previous three weeks and one for each of the previous two months.
Carbonite also keeps deleted files, but only for 60 days, which is a bit disappointing considering that there are services that keep them for longer or indefinitely. One such service is Acronis Backup, and you can read more about it in our Acronis Backup review.
If you don’t want to restore files via the internet and potentially wait a long time, you can use Carbonite’s Courier Recovery service to get your data shipped to you. Safe Backup Pro users also get access to its expedited version.
Other key features include private encryption, continuous backup, backup scheduling and block-level file copying to speed uploads along. There’s no way to backup data from your mobile, though. If you want that, again, refer to IDrive for Business or our best online backup for mobile roundup. For more on business backup, visit our business backup library.
Carbonite Safe Backup Pro Overview
|External Drive Backup|
|Mobile Device Backup|
|Block-Level File Copying|
|Courier Recovery Service|
|Mobile App Access|
|Deleted File Retention|
|Set User Roles|
|Set Business Backup Rules|
|Access User Backup|
|Monitor Connected Devices|
|Encryption Protocol||Blowfish 128-bit|
|Hardened Data Centers|
|Proxy Server Settings|
|Live Chat Support|
Unlike Carbonite Safe, Carbonite Safe Backup Pro doesn’t offer an unlimited backup plan. Instead, you get backup space depending on the plan, which you can expand by 100GB for $99 per year, up to 10TB.
- Protects 25 computers/devices (additional backup costs 100GB/$99)
- Protects 25 computers/devices + one server (additional backup costs 100GB/$99)
- Protects 25 computers/devices + unlimited servers (additional backup costs 100GB/$99)
You can use all three plans to backup unlimited computers, external drives and NAS devices. Plus, all plans feature expedited courier recovery service, automatic video backup and HIPAA compliance.
The core plan doesn’t let you backup servers, but the other two plans do. With the Power plan, you can backup a single virtual or physical server, while the Ultimate plan extends that to unlimited servers. You can compare the plans here.
All plans require you to pay for a year in advance. You can get a five-percent discount if you sign up for two years or 10 percent if you sign up for three. Regardless of what you choose, you’re still paying a hefty sum. Because of that, you should make use of Carbonite’s free 30-day trial to see if what you’re getting is worth your dollars.
That said, it’s obvious that Carbonite is more expensive than its rivals. IDrive, for example, charges $74.62 per year for 250GB with unlimited computers and includes support for server backup. That’s more than $200 less per year than Carbonite. Getting 2TB with Carbonite will cost you more than $2,000, but With IDrive, you get 2.5TB for $599.62.
CrashPlan for Small Businesses and Backblaze for Business are also cost-effective alternatives. CrashPlan provides you with unlimited backup for a single computer for $10 per month, while Backblaze does the same for $6. Read more about them in our CrashPlans for Small Business and Backblaze for Business reviews. Overall, if you’re looking to pay less and get more, Carbonite isn’t the best option.
Ease of Use
Similar to most other online backup solutions that have managed to rise above the rest, Carbonite presents a generally polished experience that shouldn’t give you issues when setting up your backup.
Once you’ve created an account with Carbonite, the first step is to download the client from the website and install it on the computer or server whose hard drive you want to backup.
The installation takes only a couple of minutes, and you don’t have to tinker with Carbonite anymore if you don’t need to. That’s because Carbonite automatically selects files for backup based on type.
Carbonite Safe Backup Pro uses the same desktop client as Carbonite Safe, which might raise a few issues for business users. The business version doesn’t provide unlimited backup space, so you might quickly run out of it thanks to the automatic selection.
To avoid that happening, you have to turn off automatic backup from “advanced settings” prior to completing the installation.
The desktop app is simple and shows all of the necessary information at a glance. The default view shows the status of your backup, and it provides links that open settings, access your restore and initiate the restore process.
If you choose to restore everything, you will be guided through the process by the desktop client. Otherwise, the web client will launch whether you choose to select files for restore or access them. We’ll talk more about the backup and restoration process in the next section.
The web client is simple, clear and shows all your protected computers, servers and users at the bottom of the screen for an easier overview. From there, you can manage backup policies, such as requiring users to backup their user folder.
There are also options to invite users and other administrators to backup their computers to help you out. Plus, you can deploy Carbonite to many computers in a single action.
Besides that, you can exclude backup of certain file types, which makes it easier to manage your limited backup space, making sure it doesn’t get filled with things you don’t care about.
Carbonite also has apps for Android and iOS that let you access files backed up from your computer. You can also save files for offline access, but other than that, the app doesn’t offer much. That makes it lackluster, compared to its rival, IDrive, whose app lets you backup smartphone data, including media, app data, texts, contacts and calendar data.
Overall, Carbonite is easy to use, but not as easy as CrashPlan for Small Business or Backblaze for Business, which don’t cap your storage space.
File Backup & Restoration
As we mentioned, backup will start automatically after you install the client. You don’t have to spend time selecting files and folders for backup.
That’s because Carbonite automatically scans your hard drive and selects files for backup based on file type. Preselected file types include documents, photos, music, zip files, financial data files and videos. Note that individual files larger than 4GB — as well as system, application and temporary files — aren’t automatically selected.
Backup is continuous by default. This means that as new files are created or existing files are changed, Carbonite will upload them to the cloud in near real time. If you think it might take too much of your system resources, you can turn it off and revert to once-a-day backups, if you prefer. You can also instruct Carbonite not to run backup during certain hours.
Clients from other services, such as Acronis Backup, have a richer set of scheduling options. They include daily, weekly and monthly backup, along with specific conditions that you can set.
To initiate a restore, you need to click the “get my files back” button from the desktop client. Next, you can either choose specific files to restore or restore everything. If you decide to restore everything, Carbonite will guide you through the straightforward restore process. In the end, you can choose to restore files to either their original or new location.
If you choose to restore specific files, the web client will open and you can select files from it to restore. That said, on several occasions, the web client showed that our list of backed-up files was empty. In general, though, we didn’t have many issues, but restoring specific files from the desktop client would be a good addition.
We’ve gone through the backup and restore processes using a Windows machine, so depending on whether you’re backing up a Mac or server, your backup and restore might work a bit differently.
Carbonite Courier Recovery Service
If you don’t want to wait long — and you might have to, depending on the size of your backup — you can use Carbonite’s Courier Recovery service to get your files shipped to you. To do that, you’ll work with a Carbonite specialist to pick the files you want to recover. Then, those files will be loaded onto a DVD or external drive and mailed to you.
The advantage of the service is that courier recovery is potentially much faster than recovery over the internet. That said, at $175.99, the service is much more expensive than similar services offered by the competition, and it’s only available to U.S.-based customers.
You’ll also need to send the device back or you’ll be charged: $130 for devices that have less than 3TB of space, or $300 if they have more. Plus, you’ll be charged $10 for each cord that you don’t return.
Those users who chose to manage their private key on their own won’t be able to use the courier recovery service if they don’t upload their private key. That’s to be expected because Carbonite can’t restore files in a decrypted form without it.
No matter which backup service you choose, initial backups are going to take quite a bit of time. That might stretch into days, weeks or more depending on how much data you want to protect.
We tested Carbonite’s file transfer capabilities by performing backup-and-restore tests using our 1GB zipped test folder. We ran our tests from Moscow, Russia, via a WiFi network with an upload speed of 38.04 Mbps and a download speed of 15.87Mbps. Here are our results:
|First attempt||Second attempt||Average|
With our speeds — and without any overhead — in theory, we should expect to backup a 1GB folder in about four minutes and 10 seconds, and we should restore it in around 10 minutes and one second. The results, as you can see from the table, are nowhere close to what we’d expect.
To be fair, encryption and other processes that are run during backup slow the process down. With that in mind, this is a fine speed for backup, but we can’t say the same for the restore process. It took much longer to restore than we would expect, and that’s without the processes that slow down encryption.
There’s no way to enable multi-threaded backup to increase the rate of upload transfers, but Carbonite uses a block-level file copying algorithm, which will speed up uploads after the initial one by transferring only the changed portions of the files.
Carbonite does a decent job of providing cloud security, using 128-bit Blowfish encryption. It’s not AES, which is the industry’s default encryption, but it’s still capable. Its 64-bit version isn’t safe, but the 128-bit version used by Carbonite hasn’t been cracked, as far as we know.
That said, Bruce Schneier, the creator of Blowfish, has recommended migrating to its successor algorithm, Twofish. In light of that, we’d prefer that Carbonite uses AES 256-bit.
Other than at-rest encryption, Carbonite uses TLS (read more in our SSL vs. TLS comparison) to protect files in transit to Carbonite’s servers. Those servers are stored in hardened data facilities designed to withstand virtual attacks, natural disasters and physical incursions.
Their protection measures include CCTV cameras, 24/7 security guards, biometric access and security cards. Plus, your files are kept in RAID-6 servers in a climate-controlled setting with uninterruptible power supply units and on-site generators.
If you’d like to enhance your security and privacy, you can also opt for private encryption — sometimes called zero-knowledge — during Carbonite’s installation (learn more about it by looking at the best zero-knowledge platforms).
By default, Carbonite holds onto your encryption key for you. That way, if you forget your password, you can request a reset. Carbonite saves your private key in a secure data center, but that’s not as private as when you manage it.
This means that, potentially, Carbonite could decrypt and hand your files over to law enforcement, such as for the NSA’s notorious PRISM program (note that the company hasn’t been linked to the NSA).
If you do manage your key, though, that above scenario won’t be possible because only you will be able to decrypt your data. That said, Carbonite won’t be able to reset your password if you forget it. You can use one of our best password manager for small business picks to avoid forgetting your password.
Carbonite also supports two-factor authentication, which you can mandate for associates using your account. Two-factor authentication helps protect your business by ensuring password fails won’t enable malicious individuals to steal your users’ credentials.
Two-factor authentication works by requiring a unique security code, in addition to the normal credentials, when you log in from an unfamiliar computer. That said, you should create a strong password in the first place.
Besides that, Carbonite stores your file names, sizes and extensions, along with metadata. Metadata includes your device type, browser type, IP address, internet service provider, referring or exiting pages, OS, and date and time stamps.
Carbonite processes your collected data for various purposes, such as sending out marketing materials (with the consent of the user or customer), facilitating backup, restoring data, providing technical support, archiving and complying with the law.
The service says it won’t sell personal information to marketers or other vendors, and it doesn’t access the data stored by customers. That said, Carbonite sometimes shares that information with third parties.
Those include services that help Carbonite provide its products, along with business partners, advertising networks, analytics providers, and payment and delivery services.
Note that, “Carbonite is responsible for the processing of Personal Data it receives and subsequently transfers to a third-party acting as an agent on its behalf.“ That clause is part of both the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield and the Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield frameworks. Carbonite adheres to both.
That’s useful, considering Carbonite says that, “As a result, data collected by us, including Personal Data, may be transferred or accessed by Carbonite’s subsidiaries and affiliates in other countries around the world regardless of a customer or user country of residence.”
Some of those countries may not have the level of privacy protection that your country’s laws guarantee. In that instance, Carbonite promises to provide an adequate level of protection in accordance with the mentioned privacy shields.
Carbonite Data Sharing
Plus, under applicable data-protection laws, customers and users have the following rights in regard to personal data handled by Carbonite:
- The right to access personal data held by Carbonite
- The right to request the correction of personal data that’s incomplete, incorrect, unnecessary or outdated
- The right to request erasure of personal data that’s incomplete, incorrect, unnecessary or outdated within a reasonable period of time
- The right to request restriction of processing personal data for certain reasons
- The right to get a copy of personal data from Carbonite in a structured, secure, commonly used and machine-readable format
- The right to withdraw consent for personal data to be processed at any time if that data is being processed based solely on consent and not any other legal basis
- The right to contact the relevant data protection regulator regarding Carbonite’s handling of personal data
Carbonite also complies with the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR for short, which is the EU’s law that regulates online privacy for EU citizens. Read more about it in our GDPR guide.
When you encounter a problem, the first order of business is to hit Carbonite’s knowledgebase. In it, you will find a dedicated section for Carbonite Safe Backup Pro. From there, you can choose a section for Windows, Mac or server backup. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can use the search bar to quickly locate relevant articles.
That said, our searches regularly returned unrelated articles. The articles themselves, though, are generally well-written and easy to follow.
If the knowledgebase doesn’t help, you can always contact Carbonite’s support team, which has won 64 awards for its work. Plus, Carbonite claims that its business and escalation agents all hold Microsoft Technology Associate certifications, which is a nice touch.
You can contact the support team by telephone, chat and email. Telephone and chat support is available seven days a week, but only from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. EST on weekdays and from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST on weekends.
Email support is available 24/7, and as Carbonite says, its average response time is 24 hours. We sent a couple of emails during the week and received responses after about a day. That’s slow compared to most services, which usually take less than six hours to respond.
Carbonite’s support is good, but IDrive offers 24/7 live-chat support for instant issue resolution, and that’s better.
Carbonite has a lot of upsides, including private encryption, strong support and powerful versioning, as well as unlimited computer, NAS and server backup. However, its pricing plans can’t compete with other services that provide the same. That goes for both its subscription costs and the price of courier recovery. If you’re looking to gain more for less, you can do better.
Aside from that, Carbonite has very slow download speeds, its versioning doesn’t work on Mac, and it doesn’t use AES to encrypt files at rest. Plus, its mobile app only lets you access your backup files and does not actually backup your mobile data.
What do you think about Carbonite Safe Backup Pro? Is its high price a deterrent, or do you find that Carbonite is worth it? Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading.