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Similar to Backblaze, Carbonite lives in your System Preferences, with an icon in the menubar for checking backup status, pausing a backup for 24 hours, or launching the System Preference. By default, Carbonite backs up your whole hard drive (excluding applications, operating system files, and temporary files, just like the other services reviewed here), but the file browser is clear and easy to understand, making it a snap to assemble a custom backup set.
Carbonite excludes any file over 4GB, as well as any video file by default, but you can add them to your backup set manually. You can’t back up external drives or network volumes. You get unlimited storage, though, so go ahead and back up the entire 4TB in your Mac Pro that we’re so jealous of.
Once the initial backup is done, Carbonite keeps an eye on things and backs up changes automatically. If you need to free up system resources, you can pause Carbonite, which stops the uploads but keeps monitoring your drive for changes, or you can disable the
app, which stops it completely. But we didn’t notice any lag or system sluggishness on our 2.4GHz MacBook Pro while Carbonite was doing its thing.
To restore backed-up files, just click the Restore tab in Carbonite, choose which files to restore and where you want them saved, to their original locations or anywhere else you like. Each Carbonite subscription is tied to one computer (you can purchase subscriptions for additional computers using your same log-in). You can transfer your subscription to a new Mac by logging in to Carbonite.com, and clicking Restore. This walks you through installing Carbonite on the new machine, and the app starts in Recover Mode, which freezes the backup part so that Carbonite doesn’t think all your files are missing because you erased them. You can’t change your backup sets during that time, but when you’re done restoring, you just change the main Carbonite status from Recover Mode to Enabled, and your backups resume. A handy Restore Assistant can even copy all the files from your Carbonite backup to an existing or new user account on your new Mac.
Carbonite has Remote Access to let you view and download your files from a browser, but we had trouble getting it to work. Your files are supposed to be available soon after they’re backed up, but ours didn’t appear. Carbonite.com said that new users might need to wait 24 hours for Remote Access to kick in, but several days later, we still had nothing.
Backed-up files you delete from your Mac are removed from your Carbonite backup after 30 days. And if you tell Carbonite to stop backing up a particular file, it’ll hold on to it an extra 72 hours, in case you change your mind. The service doesn’t support versioning, only keeping the most recent iteration of any file. And you can’t schedule backups, although the company plans to add that function in the future.
This review is part of a larger feature which compares five different online backup services.
The price is right for unlimited storage, and we like the convenience of controlling everything from System Preferences. The service is similar to Backblaze, but doesn't match all of Backblaze's features, lacking support for versioning and scheduling.