As a technology consultant, every year I try hundreds of different programs.  Many of them are techie programs that the average user would never use nor ever care about.  However, there is one type of program that everyone with a computer should at least consider and that is an online data backup solution.

Everyday we turn on our PC or Mac.  We surf the net, send emails, instant message with family or close friends, download photos and put other documents on our computer.  Each day, we add to what we put on our hard drive the day before.  And, like the day before, we fully expect our computer to boot right up.  However, hard drives fail, laptops get stolen and we delete things that we shouldn’t have.  In essence, life happens.

Today, I had a very good dose of reality.  No, I didn’t have a disaster with my data.  My data is just fine.  It’s backed up in four data centers spread across the U.S.  I go to bed and sleep well knowing that if something happens to my laptop my business will be up and running in hours.  Literally, hours.  No, what happened today was something I didn’t expect to happen.  While working on a disaster recovery plan for a client, I performed a mock disaster.  My plan was to take backups from the chosen online solution, Carbonite Small Business and get the business back up and running as quickly as possible.

To put it nicely, Carbonite performed poorly on everything that is important.  Program reliability, data backup speed, restore speed, customer service and a resolution to the problem.  I was honestly taken aback by it all and fairly surprised.  Carbonite has done a really good job marketing itself.  It had Rush Limbaugh pitching it.  It has one of the best minds in technology in Kim Komando supporting it as well.  So, what I experienced was very surprising to some degree.

So, I’ll get on with what happened.  The data backup of 11 GB took nearly 16 days to complete.  Yes, 16 days and 11 GB is not a lot of data.  It’s not even a lot for a home user.  Secondly, when restoring the data Carbonite only restored 8 GB.  That’s 3 GB of unrestored data or nearly 27% not restored.  Now, thankfully the data was on their server, but restoring it is not as easy as it should be.

The Carbonite rep told me the reason for failure was a Carbonite issue and the best solution was deleting the backup and starting all over.  Yes, delete and start all over.  Yet, I was told there is no guarantee that the new backup would be good either.  I was a bit taken aback by this and asked how could I ever be reassured of data integrity.  Unfortunately, I really didn’t get a good answer.  In fact, I got an odd response from the Carbonite rep.  He entirely downplayed the failure since I was “only” simulating a mock disaster.   That made me feel so much better.  Oh, and this was after 3 1/2 hours getting “support” from Carbonite.

After this experience, I cannot recommend Carbonite Small Business.  In fact, I cannot support Carbonite for home users either.  After the poor customer service and horrible performance, I don’t believe the product nor the company is mature enough to adequately protect your data.  To add fuel to this, consider the following facts.  Just a few years ago, Carbonite lost thousands of customer files.  Yes, lost them.  As in gone.  As in not there.  Not good.  And then there is the fact they only backup to one data center while nearly every other well-known backup solution has customer data saved on multiple data centers.

Overall, I had a very unpleasant experience with Carbonite.  Many people have had great ones and that is good for you and for Carbonite.  However, I will be encouraging my clients using Carbonite to move their data to another service.  So what is this other service I would have my clients use?  Right now, it is SOS Online Backup.  I have tested it.  It works well.  I still want to do additional tests, but so far it has restored every file I wanted and it did it nearly four times faster than Carbonite.  In some cases, SOS is more expensive.  But, what is your business worth?  What are your family photos worth?  For me, I’d rather spend more knowing my business and personal data are safe.  I will be continuing to test SOS and I will likely end up reselling their business services at some point in the future.  At this moment, I believe in it that much.  So, if your business needs an data backup solution, please keep SOS and me in mind.  And if your home computer needs backed up, I’d strongly consider SOS Online Backup.