Carbonite Online Storage Review

customer serviceBack in April, I got an email from my FTP software people offering a free 30 day trial of Carbonite Online Storage. I signed up and when 30 days was up, my backup still wasn’t complete but I signed up anyway. I had worked during the backup and hadn’t noticed any drag at all of either my system or my online experience.

On May 8th, I signed up for 2 years of Carbonite service. On May 22, I entered my office, turned on my computer and was greeted with the dreaded blue screen of death. My hard drive was dead.

I packed up the beast and dropped it off at my local computer repair shop. (C&W Computers in Stuart, Florida but the link provided to their website now loads some spammy site trying to get you to run an online virus check. UGH!)

Mark (my favorite tech at C&W Computers) went to work diagnosing the problem and I went home to a business that was now officially “on hold” until I could access my files.

But I had Carbonite! YEAH! I also had purchased an Alienware computer to serve as a business backup, so I installed my software onto the beastly monstrosity. Once the software was installed, then I tried to transfer my Carbonite backup to the new PC.

The process of transferring the subscription was fraught with problems. The password I set didn’t work… so I tried to retrieve my password using their system. They sent the password recovery email, but it included a code that wasn’t needed on the password recovery page… and didn’t send the code that was required.

PLEASE NOTE:  I TRIED TO NOT “BOTHER” CARBONITE AND USE THEIR AUTOMATED CUSTOMER SERVICE OPTION.  IT WAS NOT FUNCTIONAL AT THE TIME.  IT IS MY SINCERE HOPE THAT THEY HAVE WORKED THAT “KINK” OUT OF THE SYSTEM.

So, finally, I pick up the phone and call. I am greeted with a message that tells me

a) I am the first caller in line and

b) for another $20 a month, I can get my calls answered immediately.

I then spend the next TWENTY MINUTES on hold listening to beg notices to upgrade to VIP customer status which also lets me know that I’m the “first” caller in line.

IF I HAD NOT HEARD THAT THERE WAS NO ONE ELSE WAITING… I MIGHT NOT HAVE BEEN UPSET!!!

In the end, I did get through, I did get my password reset and I did backup the files to my other PC. However, I still have a really bad taste in my mouth over the whole VIP customer service deal.

A little more than 2 weeks earlier, I had paid a fee to use their service for 2 years. I had tried to use their “hands free” password reset option. I picked up the phone as a last resort… only to find I was being asked to pay MORE for customer service.

Carbonite, you should have offered me the priority service information BEFORE I purchased. Heck, better yet, why not include PRIORITY SERVICE for ALL of your customers!!!

Carbonite did a great job of backing up my files. Carbonite DOES NOT back up your software though. It doesn’t back up your email either. However, it did restore the backup of my data files to my new pc over the course of a week.

IT WAS – IN A WORD – A LIFESAVER!!!

In all fairness, the guys at C&W were impressed by the amount of data I have on my PC… which is why they set me up with an external hard drive AND Symtantec Backup Exec. It’s backing up EVERYTHING I need, not just the data files.

It cost $500 to have the guys at C&W Computers in Stuart, Florida replace my hard drive and set up the new backup option. Carbonite cost less than $90 for two years of service.

However, in the end I’m happier with C&W Computers in Stuart, Florida than I am Carbonite…why? Because C&W Computers in Stuart, Florida included VIP customer service in EVERY sale!

I want to be clear – I understand that customer service is a bitch!!!  Customers are unreasonable at times in their demands.  However, I don’t think I was being unreasonable in expecting to be able to retrieve my password without calling customer service.

POST SCRIPT NOTE:  This blog post is an example of “the internet never forgets”.  The date on this review is June 21, 2008.  Carbonite has had more than a year to address the problems outlined above.

It’s now more than a year later and I’m still getting comments and page view on this post.

Carbonite was johnny on the spot responding to this review and I hope they’ve “fixed” their automated password retrieval problem in the meantime.

I’ve left comments open on this blog post so that if you’ve had a GOOD experience with Carbonite, you can leave it here.

However, if you want to leave comments about this review, you MUST include a VALID email address to get your comment approved to appear here.  If you don’t use an email address that I can use to contact you – then your comment won’t see the light of day.

Comments

  1. says

    Kathy:

    I read your post about your experience with Carbonite and see your point. (The premium customer support package is $20 per year, btw, not per month — far cheaper than most similar services). Answering the phone in customer support is extremely expensive — probably $10 per call or more. We’re still trying to find the right balance between offering the lowest possible cost for the basic service and various levels of customer support. Nearly everyone in the software industry makes you pay for phone support these days — that doesn’t make it right, but it seems to be the least worst alternative.

    Dave Friend, CEO
    Carbonite, Inc.
    Carbonite Online Backup

  2. Vince says

    Sorry you had such a rough experience with the Carbonite program. I tested a bunch of these services out about six months ago. I went with ElephantDrive because it was just easier to get stuff back (and I have a mac and a pc).

    I haven’t had a meltdown (knock on wood) but I have had a good experience with the service for getting stuff back and I got on a chat with a support person that was pretty helpful. Never tried them on the phone.

    Check it out if you want: http://www.elephantdrive.com

  3. Kathy says

    @David,

    The BIGGEST problem I had was the phone system telling me I was first caller and STILL being kept on hold AFTER I had tried to retrieve my password via your website.

    Again, I got an email with a code I couldn’t enter and a page asking for a code that required access to my burned out hard drive. I never would have hit your support phone line had the email worked.

    It didn’t matter if support was being offered for $20 for a lifetime subscription, being told as I hold that if I wanted my call answered promptly I would have to pay was MADDENING at a time when I was already stressed. As I stated, I already tried to do this WITHOUT bothering your support people but couldn’t.

    Saying “everyone else is doing it” isn’t a great defense. Picking up the phone was a last resort for me after trying TWICE to get the password via your online support.

    You don’t have to tell me how expensive support is. I have clients who need support too. Clients who, by the way, leave at the drop of a hat when I try to get them to pay for support. They expect it to be built into the services.

    @Vince

    Keep knocking on wood!!! There’s nothing worse that a hard drive crash. I was lucky to have competent people here to help me recover.

  4. says

    I’ve read on Wikipedia about remote backup and I tried some services, but the only one I bought is Memopal.

    Memopal offers a search engine online that helps me find archived documents in few seconds. Some Competitors have a search engine too but it’s very slow and usually it is not online.
    Memopal is online storage, online backup and file sharing services into one product.

    Memopal saves all versions of my documents. Moreover I have two computers, desktop ad laptop, and I can install Memopal on both buying only one license. It’s great!

    http://www.memopal.com

  5. says

    LOL, you got a LOT farther than I did with Carbonite. I Tried to install it, got the blue screen of death when I selected advanced installation options. After my computer rebooted, I tried it again, and it happened again. Trash.

    I’m sticking with the Memeo online backup that came with my Seagate FreeAgent drive.

  6. Stewart says

    I am extremely disappointed in the level of customer service that I received. I recently had a “live chat” to only have the person disconnect me. Might not be so bad but the previous person after 15 mintues sent me an article that didn’t help. My reference Session ID: 169164. I am not sure what type of policy they have for customer service, but surely it can’t be this. I only want to get my system backed up, I have already paid my yearly subscription (I’m glad I didn not pay for more than one year) and still have been receiving sub-par service. Please check your records and see how I have been thrown in circles over a small matter, all I want is to install Carbonite. I decided to go with Carbonite company over a local comapny (Mozy) but I am seriously regretting that decision. All I want is to back up my comptuer…

  7. Kathy says

    OUCH!!! I guess Carbonite HASN’T improved since I had my run in with customer service – which is a shame. I’ve heard them advertising aggressively on the radio and ASSUMED they had this whole “customer service” issue in hand.

  8. Tom Cerin says

    Here’s my experience dealing with Carbonite. Below is a dispute letter to Citibank. I will also attach supporting information.

    4/1/10

    CITIBANK Acct ending —- dispute with Carbonite

    On 3/24/10 I subscribed to a computer back-up system called Carbonite. The annual fee for this service was $54.95 annually. Before I signed up I wanted to know if the service backed up multiple computers for the price advertised. I searched the site and determined by their wording that it did. (See attached from their website). I then proceeded to back up my computers. After the first one was finished I couldn’t find a link to back-up my other two computers. I then called Carbonite and talked to a representative named Ken (see Attached). After a short discussion with Ken I was told that I would need a separate account for each computer. I advised him that’s not what their website indicated and I would like to have a refund. I was advised that they wouldn’t refund my subscription because I had an opportunity to use the system for free for a month. (See attached). All this was done in a period of around an hour.

    If you read the wording from their website (See Attached) from entering in their search results, “backing up multiple computers” it states “If you have multiple “computers” backed up under your Carbonite “account” you will need to choose which computer’s files you wish to restore to your new computer. (See attached)

    If you read the information you’ll see that that they say “multiple computers” plural on your “Carbonite Account”, singular, one account. The wording indicates that their service backs up multiple computers on a single account.

    The wording, I’m sure on purpose shows some ambiguity in the language in order to deceive potential customers and increase sales. Otherwise why wouldn’t the say “You need multiple accounts for multiple computers”?

    I also filed a complaint with the BBB. Their response from Carbonite (See attached)
    The way I read it is that they agree on my position that they do back-up multiple computers on a single account. However it is written so ambiguously that they want to have it both ways.
    Thanks
    Thomas Cerin

    Attachment #1
    1172: [General] Choosing Which Computer To Restore
    Article Viewed 765
    Reviewed 2/18/2010

    Is This What You Are Looking For… Other Articles of Interest…
    •When Carbonite is installed it takes on the computer name of the machine it is on.
    •When you transfer your subscription to another computer, Carbonite then takes on that new computer name.
    •If you have multiple computers backed up under your Carbonite account, you will need to choose which computer’s files you wish to restore to your new computer.

    Here’s Carbonite’s response to my BBB complaint.
    Response Date: 03/27/2010

    Problem Adjusted: No

    Adjustment Type: No Adjustment

    Response Details: Mr Cerin: Unfortuantley, Carbonite does not agree with your point that we are not clear that each computer requires a subscription of its own. Carbonite is working as designed and as such we will not be able to offer you a refund either. Thank you, Jeff Robison

    Below is the Chat information dealing with their service tech.
    This is an automated email sent from our Customer Support Chat Server. The following information is a log of your session. Please save the log for your records.
    Your session ID for this incident is 346552.
    Time Details
    03/24/2010 04:20:21PM System: “Hello and thank you for using Customer Support Live Chat! Please wait for a support representative.”
    03/24/2010 04:20:41PM Session Started with Agent (Ken)
    03/24/2010 04:20:41PM System: “Hello and thank you for using Customer Support Live Chat! How may I assist you today?”
    03/24/2010 04:20:47PM Agent (Ken): “Hi Tom”
    03/24/2010 04:20:54PM Agent (Ken): “How may I assist you?”
    03/24/2010 04:21:50PM Tom: “I just purchased this . I just backed up 1 of 3 computers How do I back nup #2 & #3.”
    03/24/2010 04:22:39PM Agent (Ken): “Please allow me a moment while I pull up your account.”
    03/24/2010 04:23:08PM Tom: “On the second computer it doesn’t prompt me to back up”
    03/24/2010 04:23:35PM Agent (Ken): “You can add as many computers to your account as you’d like. You’ll need to purchase one Carbonite subscription for each PC you’d like to protect with Carbonite.”
    03/24/2010 04:24:14PM Tom: “that’s not what was advertised. How can I cancel my subscription?”
    03/24/2010 04:25:07PM Agent (Ken): “Please allow me a moment.”
    03/24/2010 04:25:18PM Tom: “it should have mentioned extra cost for more than 1 computer”
    03/24/2010 04:26:43PM Agent (Ken): “You can back up one only one computer with the purchase of 1 subscription.”
    03/24/2010 04:27:34PM Tom: “please cancel my subscription and credit my acct.”
    03/24/2010 04:28:34PM Agent (Ken): “If you want to back up other computers you will have purchase extra subscription.”
    03/24/2010 04:28:55PM Tom: “please cancel my subscription and credit my acct.”
    03/24/2010 04:29:14PM Tom: “please cancel my subscription and credit my acct.”
    03/24/2010 04:30:00PM Agent (Ken): “If you want to back up other computers also you can transfer your subscription to them, but in that case you will have to restore the data of your 1st computer also otherwise it will be deleted within 30 days.”
    03/24/2010 04:30:27PM Tom: “please cancel my subscription and credit my acct.”
    03/24/2010 04:30:37PM Tom: “please cancel my subscription and credit my acct”
    03/24/2010 04:30:47PM Tom: “please cancel my subscription and credit my acct.”
    03/24/2010 04:31:03PM Agent (Ken): “Please allow me a moment.”
    03/24/2010 04:32:27PM Agent (Ken): “I apologize, however I cannot refund you the amount. Please review our refund policy at http://www.carbonite.com/refunds. As stated during our purchasing process, when selecting “Confirm” you agreed to Carbonite’s Terms of Use and acknowledged that you were aw”
    are of Carbonite’s Refund Policy. We also give users the opportunity to run our free trial to try before they buy. If you are having difficulty using Carbonite, we will be happy to assist you.
    03/24/2010 04:34:45PM Tom: “I wll cancel the transaction through my credit account and file a complaint. I will also file a complaint w/the BBB and anyone else”
    03/24/2010 04:37:21PM Agent (Ken): “I apologize, we provide refunds only if you are facing any issue with the functioning of Carbonite. If you are facing any issue we will surely help you.”
    03/24/2010 04:37:47PM Tom: “we’ll see.”
    03/24/2010 04:38:38PM Session Ended
    If you require further assistance, you may contact us at http://www.carbonite.com/support/

    Carbonite sure must be in dire need of that $54.95. To me it’s not the money but the principle. Imaging how much negitive publicity their going to get for my $54.95. BBB complaint, Credit Card dispute and multiple negitive replies to multiple websites. If Carbonite were my business and I treated a customer this way, the heads would roll. Obviously no common sense. YOU DECIDE

    r

  9. Kathy says

    Tom – I’m approving your comment and sharing your experience with others. All hail the power of consumer controlled conversations! 🙂

  10. says

    I can’t say I’m thrilled with the service, but Mozy does not charge much for a second computer. My biggest issue is the online documentation for restoring / transferring your info to a new computer is very difficult for a non-techie to understand (IMO). The live chat service has improved since the last time I had to do this (6 months ago). But they have zero phone support, so the chat is the ony alternative. However, they’ve added the ability to take over the computer remotely, which makes things better.

  11. Joe says

    I installed Carbonite with a three year package. My computer crashed and I attempted to restore files with Carbonite. I found that it couldn’t do a restore. I wrote Carbonite and they said that I had a backup and they gave the date it was backed up, BUT they said that the backup was blank. Over three thousand files gone forever. Carbonite does not do a complete image of the hard drive and when the hard drive goes south you might retrieve some files or no files as it did in my case. I was not offered a refund. I bought an external drive that does a mirror image, backing up the entire system. What do I say about Carbonite?…Get an external drive that does a complete backup and you will actually protect your entire system, including the ability to get everything back and put it all on a new drive. Carbonite is not what the ads lead you to believe.

  12. Kathy says

    I don’t envy Carbonite on their business model. Many people are surprised to learn that it’s just the FILES that are backed up – and not the software or other “essentials” like email.

    With that said – I just renewed my Carbonite subscription but I have done so being fully aware of what is being backed up. I create and manage websites for clients – so files with client’s access codes are essential for me to have. When I migrated from XP to Windows 7 (Yes – I skipped Vista) – the text files were there that I needed. Since the content of those files changes sometimes on a daily basis – it’s the perfect solution for me.

    Sorry to hear it wasn’t the perfect solution for you. There’s no substitute for an external hard drive which mirrors your PC’s hard drive- (I run one of those as well) but it’s a lot more expensive than Carbonite..

  13. Joe says

    I purchased an external hard drive from HP and it is supposed to backup “everything” and looks for changes whenever the computer is idle for 5 minutes or more. I make sure that it has an idle time each day so that it can detect additions or deletions on my hard drive. Of course, I will not know how perfect this system is until I need it. Only time will tell.

  14. paul wright says

    October 2011
    My carbonite stopped working about 4 months before expiry so I signed up with “Keep it”. I had forgotten that Carbonite was on automatic renewal until I got the message thatgthey had deducted my renewal fee from my credit card. Went through their on-line customer response thingy and asked them to re-imburse. Not a word back from them – so did it again. Still waiting. Carbonite con?

  15. says

    I have nothing good to say about Carbonite. Mr Friend can read my complaint and figure out why. I have been trying to restore my data since August 9th. It is now September 11th. I tried it with the automatic restore and it kept quitting. I contacted customer support and had one of their Tech’s review the problem. Unfortunately the tech forgot to check the disk drive hibernate time. The system was left running over night with everything set to not shut down. (Except for the disk drive hibernate) So it failed. It did this several times before it was determined that the issue was caused by the failure to ensure the disk drive would not hibernate after several hours of inactivity. Eventually the disk drive hibernate problem was discovered, but not before the Carbonite system some how decided to slow my download speed from 35 to 40 Kbps to 1.6 kbps. Now it is downloading at less than 1kbs. That speed is less that 0.01% of Covads DSL speed of 2.6mbps.

    I spent today first trying to get Carbonite to just make some disks of my data and send them to me to restore the old fashioned way. I was told that they could not since that was not in my plan. I asked for a supervisor and was told by him that nobody in the company could make such a decision. I flat out told him that I would make damn sure that it cost Carbonite more in terms of support than the extra 40 dollars they wanted to charge for the service. (Which I would not need if the download speed exceeded what could be obtained with a 9.6 modem) Stupid people and stupid rules. I do not think I am being unreasonable in asking for my data after one month.

    I spent the rest of the 11th of September on the phone with Tech support to find out why the speed is so slow. I was told it was my internet service provider. The technical term for that is BS. Covad speed test is 2.6mbps. I down load pictures from Malaysia at the same time at 35Kbps.

    I have 101 Gbytes of data backed up by Carbonite. At the current down load speed it will be 3 years before all the data is retrieved.
    It is now 1800 PDT on 11 September my down load speed now down to 4oobps. Covads network download speed is 2.62Mbps.

    Mr Friend has my telephone number and email address he can contact me. He can send me my data.

    At this download speed it is it is impossible for them to fulfill their contract to back up my data and restore it in a timely manner If I do not hear from him I will my issue beyond the court of public opinion.

  16. Fredd says

    What I found most enlightening – and noone has commented on it – is the Carbonite CEO’s response. It offered no apology for the confusion or the repeated “you’re first in line but pay to be first in line”. He offered no promise of looking into should they make some adjustments to the way they handle things. He just defended the 20 bucks per year. Ok, I have no problem with them charging 20 bucks for “VIP” treatment if I want to reduce phone wait times, but it appears from the other comments – they don’t really solve the problem then. I was considering this product but now shying away from it since the time I need them most is when I loose my data and need help. I don’t want to depend on this company and this CEO from his response.

  17. John Lee Rhodes says

    I originally purchased Carbonite to back up a laptop that the hard drive was failing on. Everything was successful and I could see my files online and restore them to the new laptop I purchased. I installed Carbonite on my new laptop after talking with tech support. I installed many files but not everything. No one bothered to tell me that the backup only last for 3o days and is overwritten by the new backup. I went back after 2 months and everything was gone. The Moral of story is that Carbonite is online backup and not online storage. I wish they had made this clearer. There unlimited storage is only for the backup. They do not keep multiple backups and its only the most recent. My guess is Carbonite recently purchased an online storage company to offer this service. After waiting an hour I got to talk with a technician. The technician was good but there was nothing they could do. I am writing about this experience so it does not happen to anyone else.

  18. Joseph Klatt says

    I used Carbonite and I have previously posted how I lost everything. My estimate is 3,000 pictures and documents. I am posting this to let everyone know that Carbonite could care less about customer service. I requested a refund with negative results. My crash happened over two years ago and I’m still upset! Carbonite is a big ripoff and I am spreading the word!

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