CrashPlan vs. Carbonite – Who Takes The Crown?

Tomorrow morning, when you turn on your PC, all of your data will be gone! Okay, this probably won’t happen to you tomorrow. But the chances of catastrophic data loss increase dramatically if you store all of your data on one PC.

crashplan vs carbonite

Your PC can be damaged by a power surge, natural disaster, accidental spill or even an internal threat such as malware. One way to securely store your files, music, photos and other important information is with cloud storage. Also called online backup, this is a way to save your files to a series of secure servers monitored by a team of professionals.

There are many options for cloud storage. Looking to find the right one for your storage needs? Check out our complete comparison guide to two popular providers: CrashPlan and Carbonite.


crashplan logo

If data disaster strikes, CrashPlan is there to help you recover. This platform originally began as a Facebook-like desktop app developed by U.S-based tech company Code42. The original plan changed in 2007, however, and CrashPlan shifted focus to cloud storage.

CrashPlan is one of the oldest online backup service providers in the industry. They remain steadily popular thanks to a combination of useful features, intuitive design and low priced plans. Just $5.99 a month will get you unlimited backup storage from multiple devices.

CrashPlan appeals to two distinct, different demographics. Tech people, who like access to a variety of settings, will find plenty of flexibility with CrashPlan’s many features. At the same time, the non-technically-minded will be able to quickly automate reliable backup without needing to bother with any complicated settings.

Key Features:

  • Unlimited Cloud Backup
  • Peer-to-Peer Options
  • Private Encryption
  • File Versioning
  • Mobile App


carbonite png logo

Remember the impervious, copper-colored substance which encased Han Solo in Empire Strikes back? That was carbonite and, yes, this company really is named after it. Founded by David Friend in 2007, Carbonite aims to provide security as rock-solid as the fictional material.

Carbonite has their primary headquarters in Boston with additional offices in Maine and California along with two in Germany. They’ve backed up over 500 billion files for both individuals and organizations. This includes over nine billion in 2014 alone.

Like their namesake, they have a strong emphasis on security. Your data is kept in secure data centers around the world. You can store any type of file such as movies, images, sounds, documents and even PC settings. While they offer no free plan their three paid plans are reasonably priced and can suit a variety of different needs.

Key Features:

  • Unlimited Storage
  • Compliant with Major Regulations
  • Private Encryption
  • Incremental Backup
  • Mobile App

Which Company is Easier to Use?

Some backup services will automatically backup your entire PC with just a few clicks. Others give you a variety of options for file syncing, backup scheduling, private encryption and more. Whether you want a lot of flexibility or a lot of automation, you’ll still want the platform to feel intuitive and easy to use.

CrashPlan has a bit of a learning curve at the beginning, but quickly blends into the background where it will run with little need for attention. You select the files and folders you want to backup. Paid plans let you customize the backup schedule as well. After you set everything up, however, CrashPlan works silently in the background. For day-to-day use, you can comfortably forget the platform is even running.

carbonite easy backup

Carbonite is another service which is generally equally liked by both the tech savvy and the tech phobic. This is because Carbonite can automatically backup your files directly after installation. But going beyond the default backup options is also very easy. In short, there are a lot of features available if you want them, but those features can also safely be ignored, too.

This one is close. Both companies offer easy installation, automated backup and the ability to run silently in the background of your PC. Carbonite assigns colored dots to files based on their backup status, which helps you organize files at a glance, so for this reason we do find the service slightly easier to use than CrashPlan. But both services really are great options if ease-of-use is a major concern.

Which Company is Fastest?

If you lose important files, you want them back right away. Some backup storage locks your files into a secure server where recovery can take a few days or even a week. Other services provide unlimited file syncing and file versioning, so recovering files is instantaneous.

CrashPlan lets you customize file backup based on file importance. Some stored files, such as family photos, aren’t changed all that often. You can back those up once to a cloud server and generally let them sit uninterrupted. Other files, such as documents, might be constantly need to be updated. CrashPlan’s backup sets let you prioritize the attention given to different types of files.

crashplan backup sets

Carbonite sacrifices some speed for increased security. The initial platform is run through a desktop app. After installation, however, all folders you want to backup have to be right-clicked on so you can select Carbonite backup from the menu. This isn’t a major hurdle but it can be a bit slow if you have multiple different folders you want to backup on a regular basis.

CrashPlan is the fastest to use overall. The ability to create backup sets gives you tremendous flexibility. You don’t have to waste time backing up files which you don’t want in storage. While configuring the backup sets is more work initially, you’ll save tons of time in the long run.

Is One Company More Reliable than the Other?

You want to know that your files will be available whenever you need them. This means your storage provider must have an excellent reputation for physical security, technical proficiency and top-notch customer service.

CrashPlan not only backs up files from your PC but also files from any external hard drives connected to that PC. No matter what files you’re backing up, you can rest easy with CrashPlan’s Deleted File Protection service. Deleted files no longer count towards your storage limit, but they’re still available to be recovered.

carbonite versioning

Carbonite goes to great lengths to restore your files no matter how they’re damaged. Recovery is easy, too. Simply click the “Restore” button. You can recovery an entire system, one file or anything in-between. File versioning is saved for up to three months. Carbonite also offers bandwidth throttling which means you can dedicate 100% of your internet speed to data recovery.

What Kind of Features are Offered?

The type and number of features offered depends on the provider. You can find many platforms which let you tinker with the schedule, sync folders, backup priority and more. You can also find cloud storage platforms where practically everything is automated.

CrashPlan is geared towards those who want a lot of control over their cloud storage. Aside from standard storage, they also offer a variety of features such as Triple Destination Protection and mobile access. With instant access to all of your stored files via your smart device, Crashplan says “your whole hard drive is in your pocket.”

crashplan triple destination protection

Carbonite offers features if you want them, automation if you don’t. During initial setup you can select which files and folders you want to backup. You can also let Carbonite automatically store your entire system. Carbonite can even backup only select types of files, such as all the images on your PC.

Carbonite and CrashPlan share a majority of features. Generally speaking, CrashPlan allows more control with a smoother mobile experience. The quality of features offered by CrashPlan is generally just a bit higher than those offered by Carbonite.

How Does Each Company Handle Security?

What’s called the cloud is actually anything but transparent and immaterial. Your data is stored on servers located in secure facilities across the country and, in some cases, around the world. The cloud storage provider is responsible for both the physical security of the building and the virtual security of the stored data.

CrashPlan offers a fairly unique approach to security. They offer a “force field” of security which includes transmission security, encryption security, account access security and secure messaging. Applications are run using industry standard cryptographic algorithms with a Java virtual machine. Users can choose 448-bit encryption with a private key.

carbonite security

Carbonite focuses on security from the start. During installation, you’ll be promoted to enter an encryption key. This key applies to you only and is never saved by Carbonite. Both local and server side encryption is 256-bit.

Comparing the security features of CrashPlan and Carbonite is a bit like comparing apples to apples. Both services have made security a major focus. We might give the slight edge to CrashPlan simply because they use 448-bit encryption instead 256-bit. Truthfully, however, if security is your main concern both of these platforms are at the top of the industry. You’re betting off comparing other factors when considering which company to choose, because security for these two is perhaps equally strong.

What Are the Differences in Pricing?

Crashplan Free offers 30 days of cloud storage as well as unlimited access to external drives and additional computers. Their individual paid plan costs $59.99 annually and includes cloud storage backup. The family plan, at $149.99 a year, allows backup from anywhere between two and 10 computers. Finally, their business plan offers all features for $10 a month per computer for unlimited computers.

Carbonite does not offer any free plans, which is a bit unusual in the world of cloud storage. They do have three tiers of personal plans. Their basic personal plan starts at $59.99 for one year. The next option is their Prime plan for $99.99 a year which includes mirror image backup. Finally, their Prime plan, at $149.99 a year, offers overnight recovery via a thumb drive sent to your home.

carbonite pricing

Crashplan Free doesn’t offer truly free cloud storage, as it only allows backup to external drives and other computers. Beyond that, both services have the same price point for their individual plans. Ultimately, we feel that Carbonite is the better overall value. By the time you reach the $150 plan, only Carbonite offers the option for an overnighted flash drive. This is a unique feature which can really be helpful in a catastrophic data loss.

So, Who is Our King?

These are two storage providers who are extremely focused on security. So no matter which one you choose, you can rest easy knowing your files will remain free from unwanted access. This leaves us with their other attributes when choosing between the two.

carbonite png logo

Carbonite is a solid provider which offers reasonably priced paid plans and easy, automated backup. But sometimes automated features translate to a loss of customization. For this reason, we think CrashPlan is the better choice.

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