Posted by: paragon | December 8, 2008

Carbonite gets personal about backing up PC files


Carbonite to offer online backup solutions

Carbonite gets personal about backing up PC files

David Friend knew he was onto something when a computer crash wiped out his daughter’s term paper and a friend lost precious baby pictures after her laptop was stolen.

“We clearly had to change the way people back up their data,” says Friend, CEO of online backup service Carbonite. The start-up launched in 2006 and now has about 250,000 subscribers.

In an age when more parts of our lives are digitized, Carbonite pitches itself to consumers as a safer alternative to external hard drives and CD and DVD data discs, which can be lost or destroyed in a fire, flood or other natural disaster. If your data are backed up offsite, you can recover it.

Carbonite offers unlimited storage for $49.95 a year. Most competitors charge by the gigabyte. With Carbonite, you download software that automatically searches your hard drive and backs up your data in the background.

Carbonite and competitors including Mozy, Xdrive and ADrive differ from online image sharing and backup sites such as Phanfare and SmugMug in that you can store any kind of file — from large uncompressed photo files known as RAW to financial records, music and text documents.

To promote the company, Friend has spent $10 million dollars on a talk-radio ad campaign in the last year. Hosts including Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and techie fave Leo Laporte talk up the virtues of online backup just like Arthur Godfrey used to talk about Lipton tea back in the glory days of radio.

An unusual venue

Analyst Adam Couture at market tracker Gartner says the strategy helps differentiate Carbonite in a cluttered marketplace. “It’s unusual to hear tech companies discussed on talk radio,” says Couture.

Friend says he chose radio for its personal nature. He knew trust would be a big issue for a start-up data-storage service aimed at consumers. “Who is Carbonite and why should I trust them with my data? The answer to that was getting endorsements.”

Friend says the radio campaign is working exactly as he hoped. His hosts offer a special discount and code to enter for Carbonite, so he knows exactly where new sales are coming from.

Since launching in May 2006, Carbonite has backed up more than 3 billion files and restored more than 200 million. Its data centers are at its home base in Boston, where about 3.2 million terabytes of data are backed up on multiple drives.

Mamush Heayie, who runs, rates Carbonite as the best online backup service for its “speed, reliability and security.”

Still, neophytes may be surprised at how long it takes to upload data for storage online. In USA TODAY tests, we began backing up a 100-gigabyte hard drive in October; it was finished by late December.

The typical Carbonite customer does not back up anything close to that amount of data. Even though Carbonite offers unlimited backup, most customers back up only about 18 GB, Friend says.

Carbonite can back up 2 to 3 GB a day. The data move faster when downloaded. Friend says a typical hard drive can be totally recovered within 24 hours.

For security, Friend says, Carbonite’s software encrypts data as you upload, so that hackers wouldn’t get much use of it.

‘Power’ version coming

The service isn’t for everyone. The software is only for Windows (a Mac version is coming in May), and you can back up only the contents of your primary hard drive, not external data. Friend says that will change later this year with a more expensive “power” version that will connect to external drives.

Before he and co-founder Jeff Flowers started Carbonite, they founded five tech companies in the Boston area. The company has raised $27 million from venture-capital firms Menlo Ventures and 3i Group. Friend hopes to take Carbonite public once it reaches 1 million subscribers.

Couture believes the money in online backup isn’t with consumers but the more lucrative business enterprise market, advocated by companies such as Mozy and IBackup. Mozy charges $3.95 per office worker plus 50 cents per gigabyte monthly. IBackup starts at $99.50 for 10 GB of backup a year.

Friend isn’t fazed: “There are millions of consumers out there with computers in the home.”

To sign-up for Online Back for about 4 bucks per month contact:

ParagonHost Managed Internet Services
(866) 412-HOST

“Home of VIP Hosting”

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