PROS / The basic plan comes with unlimited storage.
CONS / The value for a small and large family is very low.
VERDICT / Carbonite's basic plan has great value for an individual because it comes with unlimited storage, but the value is poor if you have more than one computer. Also, the overall performance is average at best.
Carbonite is one of the most recognized brands in the data backup industry, and only part of this is due to taking the name from the Star Wars movie franchise. (Han Solo is frozen in a liquid substance called carbonite during one of the most iconic scenes.) In the Star Wars movies, carbonite is used to preserve and protect goods, robots and even people. As a cloud backup service, Carbonite protects data, so there is a correlation. Despite being one of the most well-known brands, the app wasn't impressive in our tests, and the overall value is poor compared to the best online backup services, unless you just want to back up one computer.
To determine the best online backup apps, we started by evaluating the subscription value for a large family with at least five computers, a small family with at least three computers and an individual. Then we tested the backup and restore process to evaluate the performance through speed and ease of use. In nearly every category, Carbonite is underwhelming.
Carbonite has three subscriptions: personal basic, personal plus and personal prime. Since each service provides unlimited storage for one computer, we reviewed the personal basic plan because it provides the best value. The other subscription plans come with additional features that you may not need, like external hard drive backup and mirror image backup. If you're just looking to back up important files, then the basic plan is all you need.
At $59.99 per year, the basic plan received an A- in our value comparison. However, the value dramatically diminishes with every computer you add because you have to open a new subscription. In other words, the cost per computer always remains constant at $59.99 per year, which is why it received a D+ in both the Small Family and Large Family values. For comparison, IDrive comes with unlimited computers for the same cost per year, which means that a family with five computers pays less than $12 per computer each year while Carbonite stays at $59.99 per computer. Carbonite has the advantage of unlimited storage per account, but we found that families rarely exceed 1TB of data.
In our performance tests, Carbonite received a C for backup speed. We ran multiple backup sets with varying file types, and it consistently had middling numbers. When we apply the average rate to a 1TB hard drive, we estimate that it could back up 1TB in less than three weeks. The restore speed was slightly below-average, receiving an C- in our tests. The average speed that Carbonite recorded suggests that it would take over 25 days to restore 1TB. For comparison, the best-performing cloud backup app in our comparison would back up the same data in less than five days and restore the same data in a little over five days.
The ease of use for the backup and restore features received a C+ in both phases. One of the major downsides to ease of use is the lack of automatic video backup. You can select the folders that you want to back up, but the app won't automatically back up any videos in those folders. You have to individually select each video and designate the files to be backed up. This is a tedious and unnecessary step, especially if you have a lot of home videos. You have to pay for the premium plan to get automatic video backup.
Carbonite encrypts your data with 128-bit Blowfish encryption, which is supposed to be stronger than the regular 128-bit AES encryption. You have the option to maintain your encryption key, which ensures data privacy, but this is only available for a PC.
Carbonite's basic subscription provides excellent value if you're an individual with one computer, but for families with multiple computers to protect, the value doesn't compare to the best online backup services in our review. The overall performance was average. The backup and restore speeds aren't impressive, and the ease of use is just average, which means it might pose some issues for a novice user.