IDrive and Carbonite are two very different backup solutions. IDrive is full of features, such as disk imaging, mobile backups as well as sync and share functionality, while Carbonite opts for a simpler approach with unlimited storage.
However, they both have excellent security and privacy, but they struggle with speed, so we’ve put together an IDrive vs Carbonite comparison to help you decide between the two.
Which Is Better: Carbonite or IDrive?
We’ll be putting these two services through eight rounds, each focusing on a vital aspect of backup services to answer this very question. To give you a bit of a sneak peek, we think IDrive is the better service owing to its wealth of features, great pricing and flexible backup process.
If you’re interested in seeing how the two competitors stack up against Backblaze (read our Backblaze review), which is another very popular backup service, you can check out our IDrive vs Backblaze and Backblaze vs Carbonite comparisons.
There are plenty of other services besides these three to choose from, though, such as CrashPlan, Zoolz or SpiderOak ONE, so be sure to read our other online backup reviews and consult our list of the best online backup services.
Features is probably the criterion where there’s the biggest difference between IDrive and Carbonite. The former offers a huge amount of functionality, while the latter has clearly decided to focus on providing a simple backup experience that doesn’t overload the user with features.
In fact, IDrive’s rich feature set is a big reason why we consider it to be the best backup software out there.IDrive supports backing up servers and external hard drives, as well as NAS and mobile devices. Carbonite technically supports the first three of these, but they’re all locked behind more expensive plans.
Furthermore, IDrive also comes with hybrid and image-based backups, both of which are features that Carbonite lacks. Image-based backup, in particular, is very useful, as it lets you create a complete copy of your system’s hard drive so that you can restore it at a later date.
Both services feature a courier recovery service, which means that they will ship an external hard drive to you to restore your data. This is useful if your backup consists of a lot of data because restoring a huge amount of files can take a long time. You’ll be charged an extra fee to have the external hard drive shipped to you, but IDrive lets you use the service once per year for free.
Although both online backup services support speed throttling, Carbonite’s approach to this is pretty basic, as you can’t decide exactly how much bandwidth the software is allowed to use.
Both services use a block-level algorithm to upload your data, which saves time and bandwidth when only parts of a file have been changed. Multithreading and unlimited versioning, on the other hand, is only available with IDrive.
Online backup features aside, IDrive also offers several features that are more common with cloud storage providers, such as Google Drive. This includes the ability to share files you’ve backed up with other people, as well as syncing data between your devices.
Be sure to check out our guide on cloud storage vs online backup, as well as our list of the best cloud storage providers if these are the kinds of features you’re the most interested in.
When you put all this together, the first round of our Carbonite vs IDrive comparison is an easy win for the latter. This is owed to its support for multiple backup types, including external drives, mobile devices and hard drive cloning, as well as its cloud storage features, such as syncing and sharing.
Both IDrive and Carbonite offer competitive prices divided into several different plans. The big difference is that Carbonite focuses on providing unlimited storage, while IDrive instead lets you backup unlimited devices with a set cap on storage space.
Starting with Carbonite, the service offers three types of plans, two of which are again separated into multiple tiers. These three plan types are called Carbonite Safe Backup, Carbonite Safe Backup Pro and Carbonite Server Backup.
For Carbonite Safe Backup, there are three tiers: Basic, Plus and Prime. The Basic tier will run you $6 per month or $71.99 per year. It provides unlimited storage for a single computer but without the extra features of the next two tiers.
These extra features consist of automatic uploads of video files and the ability to backup external drives. These features are available on the Plus tier, which costs $9.34 per month or $111.99 per year.
The Prime tier also gets you access to these features, as well as a discount on the courier recovery service, bringing the price for each physical restore down to $9.99.
This is an incredible discount, as most backup services offer this feature for around $100 or more. So if you think you’ll need to use the courier recovery service a lot, it might be worth paying the $12.50 per month price tag for the Prime tier.
Moving on to Carbonite Safe Backup Pro, this plan is intended for those who prefer backing up multiple devices over having unlimited storage. With a cost of $24 per month, this plan lets you backup 25 different devices and offers 250GB of storage space. Additional storage can then be purchased for $99 per month for 100GB of space.
Finally, Carbonite’s Server plan is divided into two tiers. The first is Safe Server Backup, which lets you backup one server and up to 25 computers, with 500GB of storage.
The second, Safe Server Backup Ultimate, gives you unlimited servers and the same 25 computer and 500GB limit. Like with Safe Backup Pro, you can purchase additional storage for $99 per month per 100GB. The server plans also increase the encryption on your files from AES 128-bit to 256-bit.
IDrive’s pricing structure is comparatively a lot simpler. For personal users, there are two different plans, with the only difference between them being the amount of storage space. For the 2TB plan, the price is $69.50 per year or $139 for two years. Meanwhile, the 5TB plan will run you $99.50 per year or $199 for two years.
There are also several business plans, ranging from 250GB of storage to 12.5TB. The prices for these range from $99.50 and $2,999.50 per year.
IDrive currently offers a discount on the first year of subscription for new users, which lowers the price of its personal plans to $52.12 for the 2TB plan and $74.62 for the 5TB plan. The discount also applies to the business plans, making the price range for the first year between $74.62 and $2,249.62
If the IDrive business plans aren’t to your liking, CrashPlan is a great alternative for unlimited backup for businesses (check out our IDrive vs CrashPlan comparison). For personal users who would rather pay a one-time fee over a monthly or yearly subscription, Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office is worth a look.
Although Carbonite offers unlimited storage, we think IDrive deserves the win for this round of our IDrive vs Carbonite comparison.
This is because the 2TB subscription (which is likely to be enough space for most users) is slightly cheaper than Carbonite’s most basic plan. Additionally, it doesn’t arbitrarily lock features behind more expensive tiers. This brings the score to 2-0 as IDrive cements its early lead.
Speed is an area where both IDrive and Carbonite struggle, especially during the initial backup. While the former does fine on slow connections, it seems unable to scale these results to users with more bandwidth.
Carbonite, on the other hand, has decent upload speeds but awful download speeds. Because of this, neither service is a great choice if you want to be able to quickly backup data to the cloud.
To test the speed of each service, we uploaded and downloaded a 3.51GB folder containing various files, such as video, text and images. The connection we used had an upload speed of 15Mbps and a download speed of 120Mbps. This means that, in theory, the download could finish in about five minutes and the upload in around 30.
Because the tests were performed from Oslo, Norway, to data centers located in North America — and the fact that actual speed rarely matches the theoretical limit — a more realistic expectation is for the download to take roughly 10 to 15 minutes and the upload to take about 45.
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From these results, it’s clear that although Carbonite isn’t the fastest cloud backup service, especially when it comes to downloads, it’s still miles ahead of IDrive. This means that the speed round is an easy win for Carbonite, which brings the score to 2-1.
4. Ease of Use
Although both cloud backup services are pretty easy to use, this is where Carbonite really shines. The whole thing is contained to just two panels, with a main window for starting and stopping your backup, as well as a basic settings menu. All there is to the settings panel is the scheduling, an on/off switch for throttling and some other minor options.
Carbonite also sets up a virtual hard drive on your computer called “Carbonite Backup Drive,” where you get an overview of all your backed up files as well as those that are pending upload to your online storage.
IDrive is slightly more complicated. Considering its wealth of features, though, it’s still relatively easy to grasp, as most of the menus are pretty self-explanatory. The bigger problem is that the IDrive client can often be quite laggy, especially when a backup or restore is in progress.
Both cloud backup services have a web dashboard, but with varying degrees of functionality. Carbonite’s web interface is very simple, as all you can really do there is download your files and change some account settings.
However, IDrive has a full-fledged web dashboard that lets you remotely initiate backups, manage your files and download backup data from all of your devices.
IDrive also comes with a mobile app. It can be used to backup mobile devices and also manage your data. Additionally, there’s a handy timeline feature that gives you a chronological overview over media files.
At the end of the day, Carbonite is so simple that pretty much anyone can quickly pick it up with ease. IDrive is slightly more complicated, and the sometimes laggy client can be pretty frustrating. This means that Carbonite wins this round, evening the score to 2-2.
5. Backup Process
Setting up your backup to cloud storage is a simple process with either service. With Carbonite, it’s as easy as right-clicking any files that you want to backup and selecting the “back this up” option under the Carbonite section of the context menu.
Although you can backup entire folders this way, if you’re on the Basic plan, it won’t include video files unless you manually select each one, which can be quite annoying. There’s also some limitations to what you can backup with Carbontie, including a long list of file types and files with names that start with symbols.
To delete files from your cloud backup, all you need to do is locate them on the virtual hard drive that Carbonite sets up on your computer. From there, you can simply right-click the files or folders you want to delete and click “do not backup” in the context menu.
Restoring your files from the cloud is a bit more labor intensive, but it’s still a simple process because you just have to follow the steps given to you by Carbonite’s restoration wizard. However, because of the awful download speed in the client itself, we recommend doing this from your browser.
Backing up and restoring your files with IDrive is just as easy, if not even more so. All you need to do is go to the “backup” or “restore” menus in the client and select the files you want to upload or download.
Although this is a very close round, we’ll give a slight edge to IDrive here due to the fairly arbitrary limitations imposed by Carbonite. Although these aren’t the biggest deal, they’re enough to tip the scales in IDrive’s favor and bring the score to 3-2, placing IDrive back in the lead.
There is very little setting IDrive and Carbonite apart when it comes to security. They both offer strong encryption and let you manage your own private key. However, Carbonite limits you to AES 128-bit encryption unless you get one of its server plans. This is a bit weaker than IDrive, which gives you AES 258-bit encryption no matter what.
Both services also protect against man-in-the-middle attacks by encrypting your files with SSL while they’re in transit. If you’re not quite clear on what all these phrases and terms mean, check out our description of encryption to learn more.
Both services support two-factor authentication and use hardened data centers to protect against cybercriminals. This hardening includes measures like 24/7 security, backup generators and protection against various natural disasters, like earthquakes and fires.
Although this was an incredibly close round, IDrive narrowly takes the win by offering stronger encryption on all of its plans. This brings the score to 4-2, which means that with two rounds remaining, the best Carbonite can achieve at this point is a tie.+
Just like security, there’s almost nothing separating the two services in terms of privacy. Because each backup service lets you handle your own encryption key, you can make sure that your files are entirely private and that only you can decrypt them.
This means that if either IDrive or Carbonite has to turn your data over to the authorities, they won’t be able to look at your backup data and files. This is because they don’t possess the encryption key that’s necessary to actually read the files.
Both services also collect very little data on its users. The data that is collected includes some basic personal information that you provide when you register an account as well as your payment information.
Both IDrive and Carbonite’s data centers are located in the U.S., which is not too great given the country’s incredibly terrible cloud privacy laws. This poor stance manifests itself in legislation like the Patriot Act and covert surveillance programs like the infamous PRISM program.
At the end of the day, though, the vast majority of cloud backup providers keep their data centers in the U.S., with Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office and Zoolz being notable exceptions.
Like with security, this round was ridiculously close, with IDrive being able to claim victory only because it offers somewhat stronger encryption. With this victory, IDrive has secured the overall win with a score of 5-2 and just one round remaining.
Even though IDrive has already won, we’ll finish by taking a look at our contestants’ customer support, which is an area in which they both perform well. Both IDrive and Carbonite offer chat and email support, though IDrive’s is open 24/7, which is a huge advantage, especially for customers not in an American time zone.
Both also offer extensive knowledgebases that should be sufficient to solve basic problems with each service. When we tested the email support, each company got back to us within a day, but Carbonite required a few follow-up emails to actually answer our question.
Although both provide support over the phone, for Carbonite this is only available in the U.S., the UK and Brazil, while IDrive offers a global support number. This, combined with the 24/7 availability, makes our final round a fairly easy win for IDrive, which gives us a final score of 6-2 in its favor.
9. The Verdict
That’s it for our Carbonite vs IDrive comparison. Although it’s not reflected in the final score, this was a very close battle. Both cloud backup services provide solid support, reasonable pricing, plus excellent security and privacy by letting you manage your own encryption key.
Where IDrive really pulls ahead is with its wealth of features, including external hard drive support on all plans, hybrid backup, hard drive cloning and the ability to sync and share your backups in the cloud.
What did you think of our IDrive vs Carbonite battle? Do you agree that IDrive is the better service due to its rich feature set, various types of backup and uncomplicated pricing structure? Or do you think that its slow speed and sometimes laggy client are deal-breakers? Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading.