It’s also the name of some neat backup/restore software. That much I did know, as I’ve been using Carbonite for the past week or so, and I rather likes it.
Carbonite comes in several components. Let’s start with the computer-based stuff. I installed Carbonite on my MacBook Pro, and I have to say that it’s quite possibly the least intrusive software I’ve come across. Ever.
The install process popped a little icon in my System Preferences under Other. There’s also a status icon in the menu bar at the top, but you can turn that off if you like.
The software has been ticking away in the background for the past few days, uploading my personal (i.e. non-system) stuff and scanning for changes in existing files. Unless you specifically decide to go snooping around in the settings, you won’t notice the software at all. It’s like some sort of stealthy backup ninja.
While Carbonite performs its initial backup, you can set it to Enabled, Paused or Disabled. There’s also a “low-priority mode” to conserve bandwidth. I’ve had it running in the background constantly – full pelt – and haven’t noticed any change in performance.
The web interface is pretty good too. As always with backup software, it’s kinda surreal seeing a mirror image of your stuff as held on some random server somewhere. But fear not; all data is encrypted, and Carbonite only provides a backup and restore service. These guys aren't multi-service cowboys.
From the web you can also manage your account. The 15-day trial is entirely free. If you decide not to fork out for a subscription (£41.95/year), Carbonite will delete your stuff. Simple.
So what the heck can you actually do with Carbonite? Well, it’s predominantly intended to save the day in case of computer-based emergencies (in which case the Restore wizard will guide you through the step-by-step recovery process), but the free apps for Android and iOS add another level of functionality.
Let’s say I’m out and about and suddenly realize I’ve forgotten to send Emma an important document. I can jump on the Carbonite app, save the document to my phone and email it over. Nice.
You can also stream music from your library. True, you can’t create playlists or play entire albums, but you can – hypothetically – access more music than you could otherwise hope to fit on your phone.
- You’ll forget the software is there
- Data is encrypted for peace of mind
- Can stream music on your phone over data or Wi-Fi
- Unlimited storage
- Might not be worth £41.95, depends how much you value your stuff
Summary: The Carbonite software is simple and non-intrusive, and the iOS and Android apps provide handy access to your files on the go. If worst comes to worst and your hard drive packs in completely and unexpectedly, you can restore all your personal files.
Price: Free 15-day trial, £41.95/year thereafter.
Free app @ Android Market (requires Android 1.6 or later)
Free app @ App Store (requires iOS 4.0 or later)