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Remote file backup services: Carbonite review

by Mike McDerment  |  July 12/2007  | 

I’ve been using Carbonite to backup my desktop for the past few weeks. While Daniel got it going okay, we have encountered two problems:

  1. I’m on Vista, and since installing it I’ve started getting the blue screen of death. I did not want to attribute that to Carbonite, but when I went to look at some of my backup files, it happened again. Pretty sure it’s Carbonite.
  2. When I asked Daniel if we should stick with them, he said “no.” Pretty definitive. When I asked why he said, “I’ve sent two questions to their support team and have not received any replies.” Those questions were sent over three weeks ago.

It’s funny, but I bet if Daniel had got a reply to his questions, we would not have canceled our account. I will give them this, they sent me to a pretty good customer survey when I canceled. I filled it out. That was a good experience.

Can anyone recommend a remote file backup service? Preferably one that is Vista-safe?


  • Judy

    Carbonite is absolutely horrendous. I had used their service a year or so back, and had hoped it had improved, as I would reconsider it if improvement had occurred. So a short time ago, after an inordinate wait, I managed to get connected to one of their Chat agents – which is typically impossible to do, even if you’re the first person in line. Finally, an agent answered. I input my question and was left to hold and hold and hold. After another significant amount of time, I typed in “Is anybody there?” No response. I waited again. When there was no response again, I typed in “Guess not. Signing off.” So in a sense, I got my answer. It is business as usual with Carbonite. If you like to take chances with your data and support services, then this is the place for you.

  • reneewcase

    So how do you remove the (*&(%## ** thing?

  • Billy

    My two cents: Carbonite is an absolute disaster. Their management people have no honor, no integrity, their tech folks have too little savvy to be of any use. Here’s a transcript of my most recent experience with one of them. Pathetic. Do not buy the product.

    Ben K. (Listening)
    Ben K.: Hi, my name is Ben K.. How may I help you?
    Ben K.: Hi Gary
    Ben K.: How may I assist you?
    Gary: I just experienced a chat with Vincent M. I suspect that he was unable to resolve my problem so he simply ended the chat. Very bad.
    Ben K.: I apologize for the inconvenience.
    Gary: It was an INSULT, not an inconvenience.
    Gary: May I copy/paste the transcript of our chat?
    Gary: Hello. Are you still there?
    Communication with Ben K. has been lost. Please wait while attempts are made to restore the connection.
    You will be requeued in approximately 120 seconds.
    Communication with Ben K. has been restored.
    Ben K.: Yes.
    Ben K.: I apologize Gary, actually today we are facing some technical issue, that’s why your chat disconnected.
    Gary: If ok, I will copy/paste the first part of my terminated chat with Vincent M. It describes the problem.
    Ben K.: Okay, so what problem you are facing?
    Gary: I am missing many critical folders and files of data. I had them on my C: drive and backed them up on a DVD before installing Carbonite and making the initial backup. Vincent M could not help. I went to the Info Center, clicked Restore, and started searching for file names. They could not be found on the Carbonite backup drive. They exist on my backup DVD, but not in Carbonite. The files are too critical and too numerous for me to have inadvertently deleted them.
    Ben K.: Are all the files and folder are backed up by Carbonite?
    Gary: AGAIN, we could not find them there – any of them.
    Gary: If you wish to view my screen as I repeat what I did with Vincent M I can do that for you.
    Ben K.: Okay, let me check your previous chat.
    Ben K.: Please allow me a moment.
    Gary: ok
    Ben K.: As you said that Carbonite is deleting your files, I apologize Carbonite just back up and restore your files. If you are sure that files are backed up by Carbonite then I can assist you for restoring files.
    Gary: Please take a look with me. Will you view my system?
    Ben K.: Do you want me to take remote access of your computer?
    Gary: Just remote access, not remote control please.
    Ben K.: Please allow me a moment.
    Gary: Hello?
    Gary: I have been waiting 10 minutes.
    Ben K.: I am discussing your issue with my senior, please allow me a moment.
    Ben K.: I apologize Gary, either I need the complete access or I will not able to assist you properly. I will search your files for you.
    Gary: OK. I have no choice.
    Gary: Go ahead and send me the remote access app.
    Ben K.: Okay, just conform me one thing that all that files are backed up by Carbonite or not?
    Ben K.: Had you seen green dots on that files?
    Gary: I don’t think you understood my first comments. The files are MISSING from my C: drive. So there is nothing to see green dots on.
    Gary: I am missing many critical folders and files of data. I had them on my C: drive and backed them up on a DVD BEFORE installing Carbonite and making the initial backup. Since Carbonite has been running for quite some time, now the files are missing. Completely gone.
    Ben K.: Actually Carbonite default back up location is C:/users and you are saying that your files in under C drive. Can you provide me the location of that files.
    Gary: I do not understand what you are saying or what you want.
    Ben K.: If you have that file under C drive not in C:/users then Carbonite will not back up that file automatically, you need to back up that file manually.
    Gary: I’m sorry that doesn’t make sense to me either. What do you mean?
    Ben K.: Okay.
    Ben K.: You have all that file on C drive, but Carbonite don’t back up C drive. Carbonite back up C:/users by default.
    Ben K.: So, you need to back up manually if you have that files in C drive.
    Gary: My files WERE below C:/Users
    Gary: The problem is not that the files were NOT backed up. They were DELETED – apparently by Carbonite.
    Ben K.: Which type of files are those, I mean documents, music?
    Gary: That should make no difference but they are Word documents, text documents executables, PDF files, ini files, html files….. everything.
    Ben K.: Okay.
    Ben K.: Now I am taking your computer remote access. Shall I take remote access of your computer?
    Gary: ok
    Ben K.: Please click on http://service.carbonite.com/?ak=f3c2545f88b929c1e474af230a59cbad
    Gary: I have been having so much trouble with this that I decided to read your Terms of Use. They say that Carbonite is not responsible for ANY damage of ANY kind to my computer. I am convinced that Carbonite has ALREADY damaged my computer sufficiently and I cannot permit more damage to happen. You can view, but I must decline to give you complete control over my system.
    Gary: So, at your direction, I can do everything you would be able to do.
    Gary: Is that agreeable to you?
    Ben K.: I suggest you to give me complete control, you can watch me what ever I will do, if you see anything wrong then you can end the session.
    Ben K.: So, Gary do you want me to take control of your computer?
    Ben K.: Are you there?
    Gary: This has been a very unfortunate and unenjoyable experience for me. I am uninstalling Carbonite and I hope I am never so unfortunate as to see the name again. The technical support has been shaky at best. No one listens to problem descriptions or has the technical know-how to take charge of things and drive them to a successful conclusion.
    You have disconnected.

  • Rona

    Safecopy backup allows you to backup multiple computers on a single account and they also offer a 3GB trial version which lasts for life.

  • http://www.sporecreative.com Natalie

    I have over 250 gigs of design files backed up via Carbonite. After experiencing a total system crash a week ago – I still haven’t had any files “restored” via Carbonite despite running my computer and a “restore” 24/7 since then. Ludicrous.

  • William Pritchard

    I am a hobby photographer with 400 GB of files. I have been backing up for two months and still have 150 GB to go. At the rate of two GB per day, I may never catch up. Carbonite is clearly not the solution for photographers with 20+ MB picture size.

  • J

    Regarding Billy’s post above -
    Can’t say for sure since I wasn’t there, and don’t know how he did it, but if his files are missing after he did a backup to DVD, I suspect that he Moved, not Copied the files from his C drive to his DVD. That’s why they are not longer on his C drive, (and would not even be available to Carbonite to backup). I doubt there is any code in Carbonite that would delete files from his C drive, at least not without his permission. Don’t flame me, just suggesting a possibility.

  • Shannon

    I tried Carbonite through their free trial. While happy with their service I ultimately decided that it wasn’t something that I needed. I attempted to uninstall the program, however, it appears I am stuck with it forever! What I have found is THERE IS NO WAY TO UNINSTALL THE PROGRAM. I am plagued with pop-ups that tell me that my subscription has expired. DO NOT USE CARBONITE! I am extremely disappointed with this company.

  • PuppyBreath

    CARBONITE’S “RESTORE” FUNCTION IS SLOWER THAN ELEPHANT GESTATION.

    Seriously, my one-man business will take ONE MONTH to restore all files.

    And that’s on a blazing Web connection with new hardware that Carbonite staff remotely tuned for maximum download speeds.

    After a while, Carbonite Tech Support’s advice became, “Be patient.”

  • D Thieman

    Backup began on my WinXP Pro, fast PC about 3 weeks ago with Carbonite. Now at 26% done, 6.3 Gb done, 17.6 Gb to go as of 7/21/2011. Spent one hour on hold last week for phone service, never got through. “High call volume” greeting was on. A bit over 2 Gb backed up per week, it appears, so far.

  • D Thieman

    There has been a much happier than expected result for me after my online support request. At present I’ve had a backup speed of about 6 GB per day for the past 2 days. Here is my detailed posting on the Smart Computing website from yesterday, about how it came to pass:
    “My rather no-nonsense email to Carbonite Customer Service gave the details and noted my awareness of their issues in the blogosphere with slow upload and non-responsive responses to client concerns. Perhaps its tone and details led to an escalation to a suitable technical respondent, because I did not get an overseas contractor, a “quoting of the FAQs,” or a putting-it-all-back-on-the-client response. A Carbonite person in Plano, Texas replied and signed her name. To summarize, she said I should expect a 3-4 GB per day upload speed. She had looked at the details of my backup file and found it was not proceeding normally. One issue was that Carbonite was having difficulty maintaining a ‘shadow copy’. She advised: ‘Carbonite uses VSS (Volume Shadow Service) to backup files while they are in use. However, Windows only allows one instance of VSS at a time. Please try disabling SQL Server to see if there is any improvement in the speed of your initial backup.’
    Other advice included rebooting my computer and my internet router, making sure I have a wired router connection (I do) and that Disk Defragmenter has been run recently (it had). Proprietary firewalls (Norton, McAfee, etc.) can cause problems (not the issue here.)
    I disabled SQL Server (some direction about “how” to a non-expert would have been welcome, but I found it: (WinXP Pro system) Program Files>Microsoft SQL Server>80>Tools>Binn>sqlmangr). Froze backup, rebooted computer and router, and restarted backup.
    In the past 24 hours since doing all that, about 5.5 GB have been backed up, so this was a successful Customer Service result.
    Carbonite could do itself a lot of good by communicating some of these basics as part of bringing in a new client, even as simply as advice to “without fail” read some key FAQ articles. Those would include “Important Things to Know about Carbonite as You Get Started,” “Getting Started with Carbonite,” “Stuck Backup and Backup Errors,” “Backup Overdue” which includes the procedure for uninstalling and reinstalling Carbonite,” “SQL and other Databases” which needs added to it the possible need to disable SQL during your initial backup, and “Sending a Support Request” which includes the key information that an email request through their Support site automatically attaches your Carbonite file for review by the responding associate–a big advantage over a CS phone call that could be mentioned in the phone greeting to everyone’s benefit!”

  • g r kenya

    After the recurring 2013 error, I reinstalled the Seagate FREEAGENT software. The errors persist, and EVERY TIME I restart my computer now, I receive the “Free Trial Offer” from Carbonite…talk about invasive and intrusive. (And no, I didn’t fail to respond to the “DO NOT SHOW ME THIS AGAIN” message.

  • Stephanie Keys

    Phone calls to support are answered but pretty much useless….I was using carbonite to back up my business files and personal files and all though it gives a 100% recovery report none of the files are able to be opened I lost all email contacts my word docs open as wing dings and my accounting software was “uncompatible”. The response was “sorry nothing more I can do”. What carbonite was a false sense of security.


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