Online Storage I Could Use

by Robin Harris on Friday, 23 June, 2006

Read A Long Article That Compares 17 Services
The folks at PC World have an article comparing 17 different online backup services. If online backup is a concern check it out. There are some cool services out there.

Or Check Out These Guys – Who AREN’T In PC World
If getting your data backed up for a low price is your issue, then skip the article and go to For those of you busy studying back in the ’80s (or who maybe weren’t born yet), carbonite was the material Han Solo was encased in at the end of The Empire Strikes Back.

Simple, Cheap, Encrypted
Carbonite’s philosophy is to do one thing, backup, as simply and cheaply as possible. So for $50 a year you get unlimited backup capacity for your Windows XP PC (they’re working on a Mac client). They use 1024 bit DES encryption over SSL to protect your data.

How Many Acre-Feet of Storage Do You Want?
Carbonite’s founders surveyed three hundred PC users before starting the company. Almost 80% had no idea how much data they had – similar to what I’ve observed in corporate data centers. 50% didn’t know what a gigabyte was. So they concluded that a service based on selling gigabytes wouldn’t work because customers wouldn’t know what to buy.

One Page User Manual
Since the product only does one (ok, two) things, backup and restore, the UI is real simple too. Install the software, open your account, then right-click on a file or folder and there is a menu option to back it up. Restore? Go to the website, log in, and click the Restore button in the upper right corner. Animated tutorials explain it.

The product works in the background. Add a new file to a folder you’ve specified for back and once the machine hasn’t been touched for a couple of minutes the backup begins. If your internet connection is used for multiple services, like another PC or VOIP, you can reduce the priority so Carbonite shares the bandwidth.

Infrastructure Bits
Carbonite isn’t all that forthcoming about their technology, which is a little odd since it’s the business model that has the Mojo. They have a lot more data coming in than going out, so they have big pipes into their two data centers, feeding a fast disk buffer, that fans out to big slow drives in 5U server boxes. RAID-6 protection. No name brand storage, naturally, at these prices. Designed to be massively scalable.

Let’s See, 20 Million Customers at $50 Each Would Be . . .
The US has about 150 million PCs. If gets 12-15% of them to sign up, they’ll have a nice little business. And remember: you heard it from first.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert Pearson June 24, 2006 at 2:18 pm

Another Home Run!
Your batting average must be well over .500.
I could really have used the Carbonite service when I was a “Road Warrior”.
The service I did use was very good, for a while, but it was also $150/month
and in the megabytes. Of course, over 56k dial-up gigabytes would have been
very impractical.
The “very good, for a while” is because they got into what I call “Creative Marketing”, which means you try to raise your prices by offering “Value Add” services without having a clue what your base services are, much less any “Value Add” services, how they work, or do they work, and what the customer really wants.
You put this so well in your post “Pimp My Standard: Vendor Theatre of the Absurd”.

Robin Harris June 26, 2006 at 12:22 pm

Thanks. There have been a *lot* of road warrior backup services and none has broken through to the big time. Carbonite looks to be a game-changer: simple, cheap, secure. Sure, they’ll have customers they’ll lose money on, but the huge majority will be profitable.

The whole, “we have some market power so let’s shaft the customer” ethic irritates me. What business school teaches that? How about simply offering the best product you can and making a fair return?

The Carbonite guys aren’t teenagers, either. They’ve been around the block on several startups. I think this is the real deal.

Daniel Drucker June 28, 2006 at 12:49 pm

I’m surprised you didn’t start this article right out with a discussion of Amazon S3!

You should take a look at Jungle Disk – free software, GPL’d format, fifteen cents/gigabyte, built on Amazon S3.

Angelas October 27, 2006 at 3:37 am

This article is really useful, am considering getting online back up at the moment. Saw BT’s Digital Vault was launched this week and was thinking about that, but Carbonite seems to blow that away. Good to know the founders have been around for a while too.

Max October 27, 2006 at 5:30 am

Hi, for a secure, fast and reliable backups of all your important data you have to try an online service like IBackup for Windows ( None other than PC World recently rated IBackup as the `best all-around’ service’ in a review of online backup services.

You can do quick and safe backups of files and folders with IBackup for Windows. It has several subscription plans that suit a wide variety of users. Another great feature about IBackup for Windows is that you can try all their features during the free trial itself. The advantages of using IBackup for Windows are many. IBackup does incremental and compressed backups, which greatly reduce your network bandwidth by transferring only portions of file that were modified.

You can easily restore files from the Snapshots of files maintained in your IBackup account. Using IDrive ( you can map your online IBackup account as a network drive on your computer. You can then drag and drop files to the IBackup account from the Windows explorer. Data can be shared by creating sharable links and emailing these to partners or colleagues for collaboration using Web-Manager.

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