Have video files? Do NOT buy Carbonite!


Happy New Year!

And apologies for starting 2009 with a negative.

But this is important: If you have video files on your computer, then do NOT subscribe to Carbonite as your online back-up service.

Here is the story.

I shoot a lot of family photos and videos.

Elsewhere on this site I had been recommending two online back-up services: Carbonite and Mozy.

Today I can recommend only one back-up service: Mozy.

I started a paid subscription to Carbonite in January, 2007, to automatically back up a home-entertainment PC, where I store all of my precious photo files and video files of my family.

When I started my Carbonite subscription nearly two years ago, at least one FAQ on Carbonite’s website said that free-trial users would not get automatic back-ups of video files but that paid subscribers would get automatic back-ups of video files.

This wording persisted all the way through my extending my Carbonite subscription on December 28, 2008, for another two years beyond the end of the expiring subscription.

After I paid Carbonite another $89.95 for the subscription renewal, I discovered to my shock that MANY of my hundreds of video files had NOT been backed up, including video files dating back to 1999!

I contacted Carbonite, of course, to report this flaw.

Carbonite initially replied with an auto-responder email message that said video files were not backed up automatically for free-trial users but would be backed up automatically for paid subscribers.

I will spare you the gory details of the back-and-forth between Carbonite and me.

My last message from Carbonite essentially said that it was my mistake for buying — in this case, renewing — a Carbonite subscription because Carbonite no longer automatically backs up video files, apparently because Carbonite got complaints from some subscribers that their back-ups and restorations were taking too long, and I should not have gotten (another) subscription if this bothered me.

In the middle of the back-and-forth with Carbonite, I told Carbonite that it should update its pages and auto-responder to tell users that video files are NOT automatically backed up.

Carbonite has still not made this extremely clear everywhere in its public communications as of today.

However, Carbonite has changed at least one FAQ to say now that video files are not automatically backed up (even for paid subscribers).

Not automatically backing up video files is a FATAL FLAW of Carbonite.

At least for the moment, I have mirrored drives of my photos and videos.

But can you imagine the horror of a less-technical Carbonite subscriber who loses a hard drive of vacation and birthday videos — perhaps due to fire, flood, or theft — and then discovers that Carbonite never was backing them up automatically?


Here are my recommendations:

  • If you have no online backup service, then read “Online Backup Services” and then subscribe to Mozy as soon as possible. (Tip: Check “Online Backup Services” for a discount code that you can use when subscribing.)
  • If you have a soon-expiring Carbonite subscription, then do NOT renew it but go ahead and get a subscription to Mozy.
  • If you just subscribed to Carbonite, then remember to manually right-click each folder of video files and tell Carbonite to back it up. If this manual process drives you crazy, then go ahead and get a subscription to Mozy so that you are sure that your video files will be backed up online. (Tip: Configure Mozy initially to focus on backing up your video files.)

Bottom line: KirkMahoney.com is about “Better Communication for Smart People”; Carbonite is not among the better communicators, and I can no longer recommend it to smart people.