PROS / You get unlimited storage with the basic plan.
CONS / The value for families with multiple computers is very low.
VERDICT / For an individual, Carbonite's basic plan provides excellent value because it comes with unlimited storage for one computer for $59.99 a year, but the performance is just average.
When it comes to backing up computers, Carbonite is one of the most recognizable online data backup brands, and only part of this is the result of taking the name from the Star Wars franchise. (In one of the most iconic scenes, Han Solo is frozen in a liquid called carbonite.) According to the Star Wars movies, carbonite is a substance that preserves and protects goods, robots and sometimes people. While the service is one of the most well-known brands in our review, the app wasn't impressive, and the value is only great if you just want to protect one computer.
For the purposes of our review, we started with a comprehensive evaluation of the subscription value with at least 1TB of storage for a large family with at least five PCs, a small family with three PCs and an individual with one PC. Then we evaluated the backup and restore performances by testing the backup and restore speed as well as the ease of use for each phase. In all areas, Carbonite was disappointing.
Carbonite features three consumer-level subscriptions: personal basic, personal plus and personal prime. Each plan comes with unlimited storage for one computer. We focused on the personal basic plan because it provides the best value and the only difference between the different subscriptions is the included features. The higher-tiered subscriptions have more advanced features like mirror image backup and external drive backup.
The basic plan received an A- in our value comparison because it costs just $59.99 per year. Backblaze is the only service that costs less at $50 per year for unlimited storage. However, the downside to Carbonite's subscription is the one computer. Regardless of whether you are a family with three computers or five computers, it still costs $59.99 each year for each computer. This is why it scored a D+ in those categories in our evaluation. For comparison, IDrive costs $59.50 a year, but an unlimited number of users can use it. So it costs a family with five PCs less than $12 per computer each year.
Carbonite earned a C in our backup speed tests. Throughout all of our tests, the app consistently put up middling rates. The average rate we recorded suggests it would take about three weeks to back up 1TB of data. The restore speed was slightly slower. We gave it a C- because the average rate suggests it would take over 25 days to restore 1TB. For comparison, the fastest cloud data backup app in our review would back up 1TB in less than five days and restore data in less than four days.
Carbonite's Ease of Use received a C+ for both phases of the backup and restore process. With the basic plan, videos don't back up automatically. You have to manually back each video up even if you select your entire hard drive. This is time consuming. In addition, to back up files you have to right-click on the file and add it to the backup set from the drop-down menu. This isn't clearly evident in the PC app, but it is with the Mac version.
For an individual with one computer, Carbonite's basic subscription has excellent value comparable to the best online data backup services in our review. However, the comparative value decreases with each computer you want to back up because the subscriptions are limited to one computer. In our tests, the backup and restore performance was average, at best. Simply put, Carbonite is average.