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Tech Tips: Online Backup with Carbonite

By James Wise
web posted March 30, 2009
TECH TIPS – Previously, we’ve talked about backing up the data files on your computer using the built in Windows Backup Utility. This is a good option for local backups but unless you store that backup on an external drive which you then store in a secure location, there is still a chance of loosing information. If your computer is stolen or damaged in a fire or flood, your backup could be wiped out as well. Do you want to be absolutely sure you don’t loose a file? If so, online backups may be your best option. In today’s backup column, we’ll discuss Carbonite, a simple and secure method of backing up your files over the Internet.

Please note that this is an impartial article. Carbonite did not sponsor this article in any way and I have no ties with Carbonite (except for being a user).

Carbonite has a number of advantages:
1)    It’s very simple to use for backup and recovery
2)    Files are automatically backed up after they are changed (once the computer is idle). If you only backup every week, there is still a chance that you could loose something in between backups. Carbonite’s method provides greater protection.
3)    Since your files are stored outside your home, the chances of loosing files is further diminished with no special action on your part.
4)    Carbonite keeps multiple versions of files. Should something happen to one of your files like you modify it by mistake and remove something you need, you can recover an older version. If you used a traditional backup and had only one backup, you might not be able to get your file back if you backed up after making the unwanted change.
5)    You can recover files from another computer as well (with the proper username/password).

Carbonite supports Windows XP and Vista (including 64 bit versions). Older versions of Windows (e.g. Windows 98 and Windows 2000) are not supported. There is a yearly fee for using Carbonite (just like many anti-virus programs have) but compared to the costs of loosing data, this could still be money well spent. As of this moment, Carbonite is $54.95 per year per computer (less than $5 per month). This cost is all inclusive with no limits on space. They also offer some discounts if you pay for more than one year in advance.

Keep in mind that online backups involve copying your files over the Internet. If you have a slow Internet connection, this can take some time or perhaps not even be practical (especially for dial-up users). If you have a slow connection, you can use the trial to see whether or not this will work out for you. Also consider that some Internet Service Providers place limits on the amount of data you can send/receive over the Internet. Typically, your first backup will be the largest and future backups will be much smaller but this is still something to consider.

To allow for a faster loading page, screenshots were not included in this column. If you'd like pictures of each screen involved,
see a video of these steps in action, here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNmvdDBp8_Y

Installing Carbonite

1)    Visit http://www.carbonite.com/. There is a button on their main page to start your free trial (of 15 days). Unlike many sites, they do not require a credit card to start your trial.

2)    When asked how you heard about Carbonite, use the Other box and type EdgefieldDaily.com

3)    Click the Install Now button

4)    When prompted, choose Save File

5)    After the download is complete, run the file you saved. For example, click on start, click on my computer, click on my documents, click on downloads, and double click on CarboniteSetup-en.exe.

6)    Click on Accept for the terms

7)    Click Next

8)    Make sure Allow Carbonite to manage my encryption key is checked and click Next.

9)    Choose Automatically back up “My Documents” and Desktop (assuming this is where you store your files) and click Next

10)    Click Next

11)    Click Next

12)    Click Done

13)    Click OK

Using Carbonite

After installation, the initial backup will begin automatically. To check the status of the backup, you can double click the Carbonite icon (a yellow padlock while the backup is running that turns green when it’s finished) to view the status.

You’ll also notice new icons now in the lower left corner of your files and directories. Green dots mean that the file or directory is fully backed up. Yellow dots mean the file or directory is pending for backup (it will be backed up but it isn’t yet). If there is no dot next to the file or directory, it will NOT be backed up.

If you right click on the Carbonite icon in the systray (area near the clock), you can access additional options like pausing the backup, changing options, etc…

After the initial backup is complete, new or modified files are backed up automatically once the computer is idle for a few minutes (provided the computer is on and connected to the Internet). You don’t have to wait on a daily or weekly backup to run.

Restoring Files

If you delete a file and want to restore it (files are stored for 30 days after you delete them unless you take special action to delete them sooner), all you have to do is:

1)    Double click on my computer

2)    Double click on carbonite backup drive

3)    Double click on Backed up Files

4)    Browse to the location of the file you want to restore and right click it

5)    You can restore the file (original location), restore it to a different location or even restore a previous version of the file. For example, if something should happen and you need a previously saved copy of a file, you can get that using Carbonite.

To restore ALL files, you can use steps 1 and 2 and then click on launch the restore wizard.

You can also restore files from another computer using the Carbonite website:
This means that not only can Carbonite help you get a file that you’ve lost, but it can also be used to get a file from your home computer if you are at another computer outside your house.

There are just so many options and capabilities Carbonite has that it is impossible to list them all in one column!

Security and Protection

You may be wondering how secure your files are with this sort of backup, both from the point of “can other people see my information” and “what happens if Carbonite has a disk failure.” The answers to these questions can be difficult to verify but I haven’t heard or read anything but good comments in regards to Carbonite.

If you would like a step by step MS Word document with photos included just email EdgefieldDaily.com and a copy will be sent to you.

You can also read several comments addressing this on the Carbonite website:

http://www.carbonite.com/how_it_works/ or visit this link

Coming Soon

We aren’t done with backups just yet. Stay tuned for another option for local backups using an external hard drive and how to recover files from the various options of local backups we’ve talked about. 

Do you have a tech question you would like answered or a program you would like to recommend? Email me at edgefieldtechhelp@gmail.com. For computer questions, please include your operating system version (e.g. Windows Vista) and sorry, but I don’t do Macs.

Disclaimer: Software, tips, and links provided are used at the risk of the reader.


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