Carbonite for Office Review
Carbonite for Office is a great backup provider for business, though there are a few caveats that may turn you away.
By Joseph Gildred – Last Updated: 20 Feb'18
If you’re considering Carbonite as an online backup solution for your business, you’ve come the right place. During this review we’ll be taking a look at Carbonite for Office, the company’s tiered-subscription disaster recovery solution.
While Carbonite for Office doesn’t offer unlimited backup like Carbonite for Home does — or like CrashPlan for Small Business — it does let you backup unlimited computers, external drives and NAS devices. There are also subscription plans available that include Windows Server backup.
Overall, besides lackluster data upload speeds, Carbonite gets most things right. Where it falls far short, however, will likely prompt most fiscally responsible business users to look elsewhere. Carbonite’s pricing rockets past its rivals and there’s not nearly enough to justify paying that price. If you’re looking for an equally capable but cheaper solution, our best online backup for business overview will put you on the right track.
Keep reading to find out where else Carbonite falters as well as excels. Before locking your business into a long-term subscription (Carbonite doesn’t have a month-to-month option like CrashPlan, Backblaze or IDrive), you can give Carbonite a spin first by signing up for a 30-day free trial at Carbonite for Office.
- Backup unlimited computers
- Backup NAS & servers
- Remote file access
- Good versioning policy
- Award-winning support
- Solid security
- Very expensive price plans
- Slow file upload speeds
- Limited deleted file retention
- No versioning for Mac
Carbonite for Office has most of the features you’d expect of a solid online backup solution for business users. That includes automated backup not only computers, but external hard drives, NAS devices and physical and virtual servers, too.
A single Carbonite for Office “Core” plan can be used to backup unlimited computers, external drives and NAS devices, in fact. Server backup will require either the “Power” or “Ultimate” subscription plan. We detail all three plans in the pricing segment, next.
Supported computer operating systems include Windows and Mac, but not Linux. If you have Linux computers to protect, IDrive has you covered. Carbonite for Office server backup, however, does support Linux server backup, in addition to Windows Server. Server backup is also available for:
- MS SQL Server
- MS Exchange Server
- MS SharePoint Server
- Oracle Server
VMWare isn’t supported.
Carbonite also has mobile apps for Android and iOS that you can use to access files backed up from your computer. Beyond that, the mobile app isn’t nearly as feature-rich as those put out by rival IDrive, which let you backup smartphone data, including media, texts, app data, contacts and calendar data.
Carbonite limits mobile backup to photos and videos, and only for Android users. That probably accounts somewhat for the lukewarm 2.6 star rating the app has in the Apple App Store.
Carbonite includes several key features that we like to see offered by online backup services. That includes versioning, but strangely not for the Mac client. Versioning lets you back out of unwanted file changes and file corruptions. It’s also a useful tool to combat ransomware, which is becoming an increasingly common problem for businesses.
Carbonite’s versioning policy is a bit complex, but it always retains at least three copies of your files. Beyond 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.
Deleted files are also kept, but only for 30 days, which is disappointing. Other key features include continuous backup, backup scheduling, private encryption and block-level file copying to speed uploads along.
Unlike Carbonite for Home (read our Carbonite review for more on this), Carbonite for Office doesn’t not have an unlimited backup plan. Instead, you get a base allotment and can expand that by 100GB for $99 a year, up to 2TB for $2000. There are three Office plans available: Core, Power and Ultimate.
$ 269 99yearly
$ 599 99yearly
$ 999 99yearly
|Storage||250 GB||500 GB||500 GB|
Protects unlimited computers (additional backup costs 100GB/$99)
Protects unlimited computers + one server (additional backup costs 100GB/$99)
Unlimited computers + unlimited servers (additional backup costs 100GB/$99)
All three plans can be used to backup unlimited computers. With Carbonite for Office Power, you can also backup a single virtual or physical server, while Carbonite for Office Ultimate extends that to unlimited servers.
Subscriptions must be bought and paid for annually. You can save five percent by signing up for two years and ten percent by signing up for three years. However, whether you go with one, two or three years, it’s a big financial commitment.
You can make sure Carbonite is the best online backup for your business by signing up for a 30-day free trial, first. We’d recommend doing so, especially given how much more expensive Carbonite is than its rivals.
IDrive, for example, prices 250GB for unlimited computers at approximately $75 dollars, almost $200 less per year than Carbonite. 2TB of backup with Carbonite will cost you over $2000. With IDrive, you can get 2.5TB for $600.
You might also find CrashPlan and Backblaze much more agreeable with your business’s bottom line — more so than IDrive, even. CrashPlan gives you unlimited backup for a single computer for $10 a month. Backblaze does the same for $5.
In a nutshell, if you’re looking for a bargain, you’re looking in the wrong place with Carbonite.
Like most of online backup solutions that have managed to separate themselves from the pack, Carbonite presents a generally refined user experience that shouldn’t cause many headaches getting up and running.
Once you’ve signed up for service, 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.
There’s also an option to invite others to backup their computer and an option to invite admins to help you manage things.
Installation takes a few minutes, after which Carbonite will automatically start backing up files. Nothing about this part of the process should cause any headaches. We’ll talk more about the backup and restore process in the next section.
The Carbonite website also gives you access to a dashboard to monitor computers, servers and users attached to your account.
There’s also an option to create backup policies that let you set mandatory backup parameters for your associates, such as requiring backup of their user folders.
There’s also an option to 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 for Office uses the same desktop client as Carbonite for Home, which causes a few issues that may necessitate use of those backup policies, too. The main issues is that this client automatically backs up files based on file type unless you have the foresight to turn that off from “advanced settings” prior to completing installation. Most new users won’t.
While automatic backup generally makes the backup process easier, when dealing with space limitations, it becomes something of a double-edged sword.
Overall, the web experience makes managing accounts a relatively painless process. However, it’s not nearly as easy to use as Backblaze for Business or CrashPlan for Business, neither of which cap your backup space.
Once you install the client, backup starts running automatically. There’s no need for you or your associates to spend time tagging files and folders for backup. Everything is done automatically based on file type. Carbonite grabs documents, images, videos, email files, financial files and all other common file types, while excluding system, application and temporary files.
Depending on how much data you have to backup, the initial backup process can take a very long time, particularly since Carbonite isn’t very efficient with regard to file uploads (see our speed overview, below).
By default, backup runs continuously. That means that as new files are created or files are changed, that will be reflected in the cloud in near real-time. Carbonite doesn’t let you adjust the frequency of continuous backup like rival IDrive. You can, however, turn it off and revert to once a day backups if you prefer. You can also tell Carbonite not to run backup during certain hours.
File restores all take place through the online interface. You’ll have the option to choose which files you want to restore, or you can choose to restore everything. However, you’re limited to 5,000 items or 10GB max per restore, so if you have more than that you’ll need to perform multiple restores, anyway.
Carbonite downloads your files to a zip folder. Strangely, there’s no option to restore files to their original locations. From an IT perspective, if you’re trying to rebuild a crashed computer, that’s potentially more than a little annoyance.
Carbonite offers courier recovery service for business users, though it’s much more expensive than similar services offered by the competition and it’s only available to U.S.-based customers. Using the service, you’ll work with a Carbonite specialist to pick which files you want to recovery. 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. However, the cost is $179.99 per computer. You’ll also need to send the device back or you’ll be charged an additional $130.
Regardless of which backup service you go with, initial backups are going to take quite a bit of time. You could be looking at days, weeks or more depending on how much data you’ve got to protect. However, some backup providers still greatly outperform others. Carbonite is in the second group.
We tested Carbonite’s file transfer capabilities by timing how long it took to transfer a 1GB test folder we had prepared to the cloud. Then, we tested how long it took to download the file. Here are our results:
|Results:||Time to Upload:
These tests were performed from Bangkok, Thailand, so the files had some distance to travel. However, with 25 Mbps upload and 50 Mbps download speeds, we’d have expected much, much better.
Carbonite states that on average, regardless of connection, users see transfer rates of around 10Mbps. That’s not great. The good news is that once you get through that initial backup, features like block-level file copying and speed throttling should help manage things a bit better. The bad news is that you could be waiting a very long time. If speed is concern, consider CrashPlan or Backblaze, instead.
Carbonite does a good job protecting user data with many essential features. All data is encrypted using 128-bit AES encryption, which is the standard encryption protocol used today. While many online backup services take the additional step of using 256-bit encryption, neither has ever been cracked as far as anybody knows.
Files are encrypted both in transit and while at rest on Carbonite’s servers. Those servers are stored in hardened data facilities designed to withstand natural disasters, virtual attacks and physical incursions.
If you’d like a measure more security, you can also opt for private encryption. Under normal circumstances, Carbonite holds onto your encryption key for you. That way, if you forget your password, they can reset it. However, that also opens the door to someone obtaining that key that shouldn’t have it.
It also means that Carbonite could decrypt and hand your files over to law enforcement, such as for the NSA’s notorious PRISM program (not that the company has ever been linked to the NSA).
With private encryption, that won’t be possible as only you will have your encryption key.
With private encryption on, Carbonite actually does switch to 256-bit AES, too, so there’s an added advantage. The disadvantage is that if you ever forget your password, you’ll have lost access to your backup. Given how long Carbonite actually takes store files in the cloud, that’s definitely not something you’d want to deal with. We’d recommend using private encryption, still, but secure your password in a cloud password manager.
Carbonite also has an option for two-factor authentication, which you can mandate for associates using your account. Two-factor authentication will help protect your business from weak password hacks by requiring a security code in addition to the normal credentials when logging in from an unfamiliar computer.
Carbonite has won several awards for its customer service support. Call centers are located in the United States, so you should be dealing with native English speakers. Carbonite also claims that its business and escalation agents all hold Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA), which is a nice touch.
Available support channels include telephone and email. Telephone support is available seven days a week, but only from 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. EST. Email support is available 24/7. We fired off some test emails over the weekend and received responses within six hour, routinely.
That’s not bad, but IDrive offers 24/7 live chat support for instant issue resolution, and that’s better.
The Carbonite knowledge base has a dedicated section for Carbonite for Office. There, you’ll find subsections for Windows, Mac and server backup. The knowledge base is searchable, too, to help you locate relevant articles quickly. However, our search tests frequently returned unrelated articles. The articles themselves, though, are generally well written.
There’s a lot to like with Carbonite, including unlimited computer backup, NAS and server backup and strong security and support. However, the cost of the service just doesn’t make sense when compared to its competitors. That’s true of both its subscription costs and the price of courier recovery. If you’re looking for value, you can do better.
Aside from that, Carbonite’s file upload speeds will be enough to make you want to pull your hair out. If you’re a business owner, you’ve likely got enough concerns on your plate.
For now, we recommend steering clear. There are much better options, starting with CrashPlan, IDrive and Backblaze.