Why I dropped Carbonite for Dropbox

I’ve mentioned Carbonite on a couple of occasions, specifically in relation to the service’s mobile app. Carbonite is a backup service that is slightly different than Dropbox and Google Drive in that it’s designed to back up files from a specific computer, rather than be a sync service between computers. You can access files from anywhere, but it’s more of an afterthought .

A few months ago, the brilliant nature of Windows Update corrupted the user profile on my laptop, and eventually left me having to make a new profile. That meant that while all the files and programs were still there, all settings and preferences were wiped. Leave it to Microsoft to do more damage with an update than I’ve ever had any malicious software do. Anyway, I ended up switching everything over to a desktop computer I bought from a friend a while back, and simply leave the laptop as a mobile only device.

Most software was easy to move over, but Carbonite wasn’t. It’s designed to work on a single computer, not multiple. I could transfer the license over, but not simply add another computer without paying for it. The reasoning behind this system has to do with how Carbonite allows you to upload as much as you want as long as it’s from the internal hard drive of a single computer, rather than give you a specific amount of storage. That’s great for people with desktop computers with terabytes of files, but not as much for someone who originally signed up for Carbonite to keep a few dozen gigabytes of data safe.

As the months went by, more and more files made their way to my desktop computer, just as Carbonite kept spamming me with emails warning me that there had been X weeks since the last update. I started storing the files I used a lot in my Dropbox folder, which was upgraded to 100GB not long ago when Dropbox decided to do something about the competition from Google Drive. Finally, the other day, I sat down and moved the rest of the files that Carbonite guarded over to my Dropbox folder.

The difference is basically in where I store the files on my computer. Whereas Carbonite can grab files from anywhere on the computer and back them up, you need to store everything inside the Dropbox folder in order to get Dropbox to back up files. That’s not really an issue, and I just put the main Dropbox folder directly on the main drive and then have multiple folders inside it. I have my photo folder, where archives of images going back 25 years now share the same folder as dynamic folders that automatically get updated as my two Android devices take pictures or screenshots. The music folder that was once the Carbonite-backed up iTunes folder is now a normal folder full of MP3 files, where a Favorites sub folder of that folder gets automatically synced to and from my phone. The Various folder contains things like save files from Android games, backup files from various apps, and a few files connected to Tasker profiles I have. It’s all one big happy family living right there in my Dropbox folder.

Carbonite is a great service, but the lack of a Dropbox-like sync service becomes a problem when you have more than once computer. With Dropbox’ new pricing, it’s a lot more affordable to use it as a backup service for all your files than it used to be. The third party Android app Dropsync, which is what handles all those Android-related folders I mentioned above, is also a big point in Dropbox’ favor, without it even being an official Dropbox product. There’s also the issue of pricing, as Carbonite has simply increased prices over the years despite the fact that competition has gotten more intense. $59/year is great if you want to back up 5TB from internal drives, but not so great if you want to back up 50GB. Had I been able to pay $20/year to back up 100GB from a single computer I would have at least considered staying with the service, but that’s not how Carbonite works. Somehow I feel that’s going to be its undoing.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.