Monday, August 12, 2013

Carbonite is your Kryptonite... Stay away from it!

I like to try to keep this blog on a positive note, but sometimes a story must be told.  This is something you have to know or you'll blow $60 too.

In the spring, I decided I was way overdue implementing a good offsite backup solution for my photo archive.  After reading some positive things, decided to get a subscription to Carbonite.  Ironically, I signed up just about April 1st of 2013.  I had some fits and starts in getting the back-up running, but that was mostly my error.  For example, I didn't realize something that makes total sense... I needed to leave my computer on for the backup to work on the initial upload.  Therefore, at the start, my backup made very meager progress and I started leaving my computer on 24 hours a day.

Once I got that straightened out, I locked into what Carbonite considers normal upload speed... about 20 gigs per day.  I have a note on my desk that at 7:41am on May 11th, I had backed up 88.08 gb of data.  Another note shows 5/12/2013 at 1:43pm... 110.61 gigs.

I resigned myself to let it percolate and checked again on 6/6/2013... 229.83 gb of data had been backed up.  I once again forgot about the slow grind being done on my back up, but this week decided to check again.  On August 11, 2013, 295 gb of data has reached the safety of the beloved cloud hosted by our friends and protectors of data at Carbonite.  Huh?  It's getting slower.

When I emailed Carbonite support asking if this was normal, they politely told me that backups over 200 gb are adjusted to be slower than back ups under that threshold.  Now again, user error on my part.  Or buyer beware.  I didn't read the fine print and I didn't do enough math to calculate just how horrible this service is.  While I maybe unique in having over 500 gigs of photo files, I think most people I know now have music and photo archives in excess of 200gb.  At this rate, it will take a full year and I'll be up for renewal before my data is secure and backed up on their servers.

The reply from the folks at Carbonite basically said that's OK with them.  I don't know how that can be.  This is all just bad business.  If someone purchased a stove only to learn that it turned the heat down just as the burner hit the temperature and duration to boil a pot of water, we'd all agree that was a real problem.  Regardless of any fine print from the stove manufacturer, it's betraying the essence of what a stove is and what a stove should do.  It's not delivering on what any reasonable person would consider the purpose of the product.  This is analogous to Carbonite's service.  It's backs up stuff, but not in a way that is a solution for what most people need it to do.

Then they did something I really don't like... and I'm guessing you don't either... they referred me to their terms of service for justification of their performance and the fine print on throttled down back up speeds... as if to say "tough, sucker".  There are hundreds of ways to make people happy in the face of losing a customer.  A coupon code for next year's renewal probably would have made me feel like these people had any concern for me as a customer.  Seeing as my data will probably be backed up by then, it might even have saved me.  Out of curiosity, I followed the link they provided for their terms of service and the screen shot below is what I found.  Good stuff.

In the final email that they sent, they conceded to me with "You are absolutely right, we are not truly designed for use by customers with large video or photo data (archives).... please accept our deepest apologies for any misunderstanding regarding our product".  Take a look at and see if there is any attempt to portray their product as having that limitation.  And like I said... who doesn't have a large photo, video and/or music archive these days?

Now I realize this is just $60 and maybe this is all a little over the top.  But, I'm on a roll and I'll admit it's sort of fun to rant.  It's also months of time and months of leaving a computer on 24x7 and it's just plain deceptive.  I think it's what is so often wrong with businesses today... an approach to the customer filtered through policy and defying conventional wisdom.  They have little understanding or concern for how customers really use their product.

I'll keep the backup running on my machine through out this subscription year and commit to keeping my computer on 24x7 so it can continue the process.  Just for fun, I'll let you know what kind of progress it's making from time to time.  But to be crystal clear, I really don't recommend this service to anyone for anything.

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