Carbonite review: Cleverly integrated online backup

This backup service nicely leverages Windows Explorer for file selection and status.

Credit: IDG

Carbonite Online backup is elegant, and in its own way, as simple as Backblaze. The only real difference is that Carbonite doesn't back up everything by default. It selects what it thinks you need to back up, then leaves the rest up to you. It's pretty successful selecting data if you use the standard locations (My Documents, etc.), so most users won't need to provide additional input. See how it stands up to the competition in our comprehensive online backup roundup.

Clever OS integration

If you do need to back up stuff Carbonite doesn't select, the local client leverages the Windows operating system for file and folder selection, as well as backup status. You select the former via the right-click context menu (Carbonite > Back this up), and the latter via dots on the icons: orange for being backed-up, green for already backed-up, etc. It's easy and truly elegant.

carbonite10 IDG

Note the dots on the folder showing the backup status. You can right-click on any file or folder and add it to your Carbonite backup.

For the actual backups, Carbonite doesn't offer traditional scheduling, just continuous data protection (CDP), meaning files are backed up as they change. That's cool with us. It's a great way to keep your backup up to date, and we noticed no performance hit at all while using Carbonite to back up about 0.5GB worth of frequently-changing files.

carbonite11 IDG

Carbonite's online portal is simple and follows the elegant theme of the local client software.

That's probably because it's not actually done in real time, just on a tight schedule (okay, so maybe there is scheduling): 10 minutes if a file is saved once, 24 hours if it's save more than once. We're not sure of the logic of 24 hours, but that's what the website claims. Our frequently-saved stuff seemingly was backed up considerably quicker.

Plans and pricing

Carbonite's pricing is a bit more complicated than some. There are no data limits, but there are key differences in the service tiers. Basic online-only backup is $60 for one computer for one year, $114 for two years, and $162 for three years. But that doesn't include automatically selecting and backing up videos. You can, however, explicitly select them.

carbonite9 IDG

Carbonite's pricing is par for the course.

If you want the ability to duplicate the backup to a local hard drive and back up videos, then you're talking $75, $190, and $270. A nice feature, though you can easily, if not as conveniently do this on your own. If you want the ability to retrieve your data via a hard drive couriered to you (much faster than downloading when there's a lot of data), that's $150, $285, and $405. All that makes Carbonite significantly more expensive than, say, iDrive, which does that all at the basic service level. 


The elegant simplicity of Carbonite is perfect for users who know what they want to back up. The simple right-click selection in Windows Explorer of files to back up is a joy, as is the readily viewable status of backed up items. If saving money isn't a major criteria, you're going to be pretty happy with Carbonite.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jon L. Jacobi

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?