• Homemade DVDs: Going, Going, Gone?

    by Lynnette Nolan | Dec 15, 2008

    Think backing up to DVDs is a good idea? Not in the opinion of David Pogue, the technology columnist for the New York Times. I hadn't thought about this, but holy smokes! Here's an excerpt from his Dec. 10th post:

    Homemade DVD’s: Going, Going, Gone?

    Jeez Louise. A conference organizer asked if I could put together a DVD loop of my funniest Web videos, to play in the registration area while attendees stand in line. No problem, I thought: I've got all of the original iMovie projects backed up on DVD, in clear cases, neatly arrayed in a drawer next to my desk. (My hard drive wasn't big enough to hold those 50 videos a year.) Guess what? On the Mac I use for video editing, most of the DVD's were unreadable. They're less than four years old! … I know, of course, that home-burned DVD's, which rely on organic dye that deteriorates with time, are nowhere near as long-lived as commercially pressed discs. But man. Four years? Scared the bejeezus out of me. I've been told by experts that the gold DVD blanks can indeed last 100 years. Guess I'll be trying that next!

    So even if you can find the DVDs (would surely be a problem in my messy office) and they don't get scratched or destroyed, they may just be completely unreadable. Another reason to back up online.

    CEO, Carbonite

  • Is Backup a Security Product or a Storage Product?

    by Lynnette Nolan | Dec 11, 2008

    Following up on my comments on Microsoft OneCare, I'd be interested to have you put on your wizard hats and tell me how the world is going to view companies like Carbonite five years hence. One scenario is that backup will be considered as part of the data security industry, and will be merged into anti-virus, firewall, anti-spyware, and the like. Another view is that backup will be one of a number of data storage-related products, such as archiving, local backup, bare metal restore, smart document storage, and so forth. A third scenario is that backup is just such a big opportunity in itself (after all, there are 700 million Internet-connected PCs out there) that you can build a very large company doing nothing but online backup.

    The first scenario suggests that backup companies will eventually be gobbled up by the anti-virus companies, just as Symantec acquired Swapdrive (now part of the Norton 360 suite). The second scenario is that backup is about storage, and the EMC acquisition of Mozy would argue that direction. They are already making noises about bundling backup with other storage products, such as Iomega. The third is that none of these guys will have the focus to do a really exceptional job at online backup, and well-funded pure-play companies like Carbonite will build brand and distribution and a new category will emerge dominated by pure-play vendors.

    Anyone care to comment?

    CEO, Carbonite

  • Disaster Hits Home

    by Lynnette Nolan | Dec 11, 2008

    Earlier this week I had gotten a note from one of our employees about the recent fires in Santa Barbara, CA. 230 houses burned down. All the people who thought they had their data backed up on CDs, DVDs, and external hard drives lost everything.

    Then it happened in my own family. My son's house in Cambridge, MA was completely gutted by fire yesterday. Here's the story on Boston.com. He was awakened by a neighbor pounding on his door and discovered smoke seeping from the floor boards under his bed. Moments later the house was completely engulfed in flames. He got out barefoot in his pajamas. His Mac with all his professional work was vaporized, as was his external hard drives that he used for backup. I am kicking myself for not getting him onto our Mac beta, but he was waiting for the production release next month.

    Believe me, this kind of thing is not an abstract possibility. It actually happens all the time, and when you think about what you've lost, it makes you sick.

    CEO, Carbonite

  • Microsoft Pulls the Plug on Windows Live OneCare

    by Lynnette Nolan | Nov 20, 2008

    Microsoft announced yesterday that they were "throwing in the towel" on their Live OneCare service which included a backup service. According to the web site, "data are continuously protected—automatically backed up on-schedule to a single location I specify."

    This announcement comes on the heels of AOL shuttering its xDrive backup service and several smaller competitors biting the dust. Meanwhile Carbonite continues to grow at double-digit month-over-month rates. And we think at least one of our "pure play" competitors is also enjoying substantial growth. So what's going on here?

    I think it's a matter of focus. Some vendors seem to think that backing up your PC isn't enough. You ought to throw in anti-virus, firewall, syncing PCs and mobile devices, sharing photos with friends and family, and many other "features." Most of these products seem to be dead or on life support.

    Everyone knows they should be backing up their PCs. It's a big and immediate problem. Most of these other features are things that the user already has or are simply a "nice to have" for some subset of users (often younger users who tend to not want to pay for such things). When you have all these other features to sell, it dilutes the important message that you need to be backing up your computer. And because most of them have so many features to support, they don't do a particularly good job at any of them. We're content just to do a spectacularly good job at backup (if I do say so myself). In five years, I believe half the world's PCs will be backing up online. If we want to continue to be number one in this market, we really have to focus and do a better job than anyone else.

    I think Microsoft has found that their expertise at writing software does not automatically translate into an ability to run a rock-solid backup service. When we were out raising our first rounds of venture capital a couple of years ago, I was told repeatedly by investors that Microsoft was going to enter this market and crush us. What has been demonstrated time and again is that if you focus on doing one job exceptionally well and if you're motivated to the point where you’re life depends on it, no big corporation can keep you down.

    CEO, Carbonite

  • Carbonite: For Dummies?

    by Lynnette Nolan | Oct 24, 2008

    According to a recently released survey by Compuware, most data loss is attributable to either user negligence or malice. Only 1% of data loss is due to hackers. I loved the headline on this story: "3/4 idiots, 1/4 bitterness."

    I have to confess to being part of the "idiot" crowd. Three weeks ago I left my laptop sitting on my seat when I got off the train in New York. I remembered it just in time to see my train, with laptop still aboard, disappearing down the track. Except for occasionally recovering individual files that I accidentally delete or overwrite, I haven't actually had a PC disaster since starting Carbonite 3 years ago. So, aside from the pain of having to buy a new laptop, it was fun to use my own product to get everything back. I was really proud of how well it worked.

    What I don't see in the Compuware survey is data lost to hard drive failure. For some reason this doesn't show up in the survey, even though I will bet you that it tops all the other categories. We use a LOT of hard drives in our data center, and our statistics show that roughly 3% of all hard drives will fail each year. That's why we use RAID arrays which are 36 million times more reliable than a single drive. Google also publishes their disk failure rate, and it's roughly the same as ours. Hard drives are a data disaster waiting to happen, in our experience. That's why you need a LOT of redundancy in your data storage architecture, as we do. We store our customers' encrypted data on 16 drive arrays. We would have to lose 3 of the 16 drives simultaneously AND your PC would have to crash all at the same time before any data is lost. When you figure the odds of this happening, it's very very close to zero.

    I hope you never leave your laptop on Amtrak, but if you do, you'll be glad you've got Carbonite.

    CEO, Carbonite

  • Endorsements from real users always work best

    by Lynnette Nolan | Sep 22, 2008

    As most of you already know, Carbonite does a lot of radio advertising. The theory behind our advertising is simple: we know from our surveys that about 98% of our users say that they would "recommend Carbonite to friends and family," so people love the product. It's just a matter of getting people to try it. But most people have never heard of Carbonite. So the challenge for us as a business has been to let people know what we do, and to hear it from someone they trust. Talk shows work well because listeners tend to trust the host — if they didn't they probably wouldn't be listeners. Some ads work better than others, but one thing that always seems to work is when real Carbonite users write in and tell their own personal stories of how Carbonite helped them out.

    The attached clip from one of Rush Limbaugh's listeners does a really great job of explaining the value proposition of online backup. Whether the host is Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern, or Jimmy Kimmel, the stories of real users are the best endorsements that a company could get — more powerful than us saying it, or even the host.

    Rush reads letter from listener.mp3 (1.87 mb)

    CEO, Carbonite

  • Where Have All the Files Gone?

    by Lynnette Nolan | Sep 17, 2008

    I thought you all might be interested to see where all your files live when you back up with Carbonite. This is one aisle of disk drives from our Boston data center. What you're looking at are arrays of 16 1TB data-center grade drives in a RAID-6 array. 3 of the 16 drives would have to fail simultaneously before we would lose any data. This RAID configuration is 36 million times more reliable than a single disk drive. Generally we don't even wait for a drive to fail — we have software that can tell when a drive is starting to get flakey and an alarm goes off on our operations console. A technician pulls the disk and puts in a new one. Within an hour, the new disk is automatically rebuilt and the full redundancy is restored. Every day we back up almost 60 million new files. We have backed up over 11 billion files since we turned our data center on in May 2006. The data center has over 9 petabytes of storage (a petabyte is a million gigabytes). All of this data flows in and out of our data center on two little fiber optic cables the size of a lamp cord. Truly amazing.

    CEO, Carbonite

  • Carbonite Generates Press From Recent Announcements

    by Lynnette Nolan | Sep 16, 2008

    Carbonite recently announced the completion of our Series C financing and a major deal with Lenovo. These two announcements generated some great press. But, there are two articles in particular that we wanted to share with you.

    In an article that appeared in Mass High Tech, Christopher Calnan reported:

    Online backup provider Carbonite Inc. recently closed its second bundling deal with a major personal computer manufacturer and followed that up last week by closing a Series C round of financing.

    Boston-based Carbonite closed an agreement to provide free four-month online backup service subscriptions for the Ideapad line of desktop and laptop computers made by Hong Kong-based Lenovo Group Ltd., CEO David Friend said.

    In June, Carbonite reached a similar agreement with Netherlands-based Packard Bell BV for the PC maker to bundle subscriptions for purchasers of Packard Bell desktop and notepad computers in Europe. Lenovo officials declined to confirm the deal with Carbonite.

    Although Friend would not disclose the specifics of the Series C financing, he expects it to be enough to fuel Carbonite before it completes an initial public offering.

    "That's the next step," Friend said. "The projections show that it will be the last cash we'll need. (Carbonite is) the type of company that should go public."

    Shortly after, Xconomy reporter, Wade Roush published an article entitled "Carbonite Puts Its Online Backup Software on Lenovo Computers, Raises $20 Million" in which he notes:

    Last Wednesday, the Mozy division of Hopkinton, MA-based EMC (NYSE: EMC) announced that its software will power an online backup service available to buyers of Thinkpad SL notebook computers, the newest line of business laptops from Lenovo. Not to be outdone, Boston-based Carbonite is expected to announce soon that it has formed an even broader partnership with the Chinese computer maker: All Lenovo IdeaPad and IdeaCentre computers—the company’s lines of home and home-office laptops and desktops, respectively—will now come with Carbonite's online backup software pre-installed.

    At the same time, Carbonite is about to announce formally that it has closed a $20 million financing round, the third since the company's founding in 2005. (It raised $2.5 million in Series A funding in February, 2006, and completed a $15 million Series B round in May, 2007.)

    Both of these articles attest to the fact that online backup is becoming mainstream. At some point in the future, we hope online backup is as common, and as top-of-mind, as anti-virus software is today.

  • Online Storage vs. Online Backup - The Business Side of It

    by Lynnette Nolan | Aug 11, 2008

    I was reading a blog the other day from noted Silicon Valley blogger Om Malik, and I wanted to share my thoughts on it: I think Om is absolutely right about the "online storage" market – most of the attempts to support such services with advertising have failed miserably and it's amazing to me to that people keep trying. Only Google, Yahoo, or other portals have much chance of being successful with a free ad-supported collaboration service. Few people are willing to pay for these services given the wide range of free options already available.

    It seems to me that online storage is a solution looking for a problem. What exactly is the problem? Data protection? Photo Sharing? Remote access? Publishing and file sharing? Syncing multiple devices? The more features you throw into these products, the worse they seem to sell.

    Most of the products that purport to "do everything" lack focus, are hard to market, and have not been notable financial successes. Before I started Carbonite, I was looking to buy an online backup service for my daughter who had already had two hard drive crashes. I remember looking at xDrive and saying to myself "This product does so many things, I can't figure out what it's for." The marketing message was hopeless!

    Pure, simple, set-and-forget online backup is thriving, thankfully. Hundreds of thousands of people now pay $50 per year to back up their PCs with Carbonite. We've enjoyed 26 consecutive months of double-digit month-over-month revenue growth. And investors and corporations are paying good money for companies in this space – Mozy sold out to EMC for $63M and Swapdrive sold out to Symantec for $123M, to name a couple. Online backup (as opposed to storage) is a great subscription business. You pay your money and your worries go away. Simple.

    Amazon is the only online storage company that has really found a market, and that market, as Om points out, is all the little companies that are trying to put lipstick on the service and sell it to the next guy. And Amazon charges real money for their service.

    And while I agree that there is no clear leader in this collaboration space (my bet would be for Google, long term), there are clear leaders in Online Backup: NPD Group, the company that surveys consumers to rank various consumer products, recently started covering the online backup market and ranks Carbonite as #1 in the market. I think that when the dust settles in four or five years, almost every PC is going to ship with online backup built-in (every Packard Bell in Europe ships with Carbonite pre-loaded with similar deals in the US close behind), you'll be able to buy online backup (and maybe online storage) from your ISP, and online backup may be bundled with other data protection services, such as anti-virus. There will be two or three leading players in the space with tens of millions of subscribers each, and a bunch of little guys occupying various niches.

    CEO, Carbonite

  • David Friend, CEO of Carbonite, comments on AOL selling XDrive

    by Lynnette Nolan | Jul 25, 2008

    The news that AOL is trying to sell off XDrive in a fire sale (asking price: $5M vs. estimated $30M they paid) says a lot about the difficulty of mixing business models. When we were out raising our first round of venture capital two years ago, I can't tell you how many times I heard 'I think Google or AOL is just going to end up giving this away.' Well, they are in fact just about giving it away — but it's the company, not the product!

    In my opinion, there were business problems AND product problems. AOL's EVP Kevin Conroy explained in an email to employees:

    To effectively grow the XDrive online storage business we would need to focus on subscription revenues vs. monetizing through advertising revenue, and this business model is not in strategic alignment with our company's goals.

    AOL is having plenty of problems with their core media business, let alone trying to build a subscription revenue business on the side. Mixing two totally different business models in one organization is never a wise idea, which is why it's not likely that Google or Yahoo will go down this path. An encrypted backup can't be indexed, so it's of little value to a company whose primary business is search and advertising. Backup is a background application and shouldn't be in the user's face all the time, therefore, I'm not sure how you would get any advertising revenue off of it.

    The second problem was the product. There was a time when XDrive was basically backup. Then they added file sharing, storage in the cloud, photo sharing, and a zillion other features, probably thinking that if they had more features it would sell better. Wrong. Every feature added complexity. The success of Carbonite is based on our motto: "Backup. Simple." What XDrive delivered was "Backup (and a whole bunch of other things) complicated." When are engineers going to recognize why products like the iPod are so successful? What's wrong with a device that just plays your songs? Or compare the web pages for google.com and aol.com; is there not an inverse relationship between the amount of stuff on the page to the amount of money in the bank?

    CEO, Carbonite

  • Carbonite Success Story

    by Lynnette Nolan | Jul 25, 2008

    We recently received a nice letter from Jamila White, the E-Commerce Diva, who was saved by Carbonite. For those of you who are running your own business, check out her blog full of great advice. Here's her letter:

    As a full-time "multipreneur" with several businesses — most of them virtual — my livelihood is in my computer. Over the years I've had a number of computer meltdowns where my data was lost. I'm a busy woman, never seemed to have the time or discipline to manually backup my data as often as I should have. I learned the hard way several years ago when my computer's hard drive literally melted and I lost almost all of my files and contacts. I vowed "never again!" My data is too important to gamble with.

    Desperate for a solution that wouldn't fall victim to my busy schedule or my memory, I turned to Carbonite in January 2007. It was affordable and painless. Set up was so easy a monkey could do it! I just set it and forget it, and it automatically backs up all my important files and program settings, and even my music downloads. In May this year, I had another computer meltdown, and everything on my hard drive got wiped out. This time I was prepared — I simply retreived my data from Carbonite and I was back up and running pretty soon afterwards. What a relief.



  • Do You Have a Secure Online Backup Provider?

    by Lynnette Nolan | Jun 23, 2008

    Recently, online storage space startup divShare announced on their blog a recent security breach by "a malicious user." Lucky for them, only basic profile information available through the database was accessed during the intrusion. But the important question here is what else could have been taken by a more skilled trespasser?

    Many people think that backup is a simple application – what's so hard about backing up a PC?   I remember one of my MIT students grousing about Google's success: "Anyone can write a search engine," he said.  Backing up the data is not the problem. The problem is dealing with huge volumes, millions of database transactions, hundreds of thousands of customers, and all the complexity that this implies – all while making sure that there is 100% security.  Carbonite backs up over 50 million new files every day without losing any of them.  Like any other web site, we constantly get attacked by hackers, but we have enough security measures in place that these attacks are always unsuccessful. As I mentioned in a previous post, Carbonite was one of only two backup services that the guys at Heise Security weren’t able to crack. 

    If you’re doing your engineering properly, online backup can be made to be extremely secure.  For instance, Carbonite starts with encrypting the data BEFORE it leaves your PC so that by the time we get it, it's already useless to an intruder in the very unlikely event that someone acutally gains access to our system. We also make sure that the authentication is rock solid, so that there are no "man in the middle" vulnerabilities.  And, we actually pay people to constantly test our defenses. 

    After we get your encrypted files, we want to make sure that we don't lose them, so we store all your data on RAID-6 redundant arrays that are 36 million times more reliable than a single drive.  The main Carbonite data center is located in a "bomb-proof" building, alongside those of major Boston financial institutions and telco companies.

    Online backup is a hot area right now and you'll see more startups entering the space over the next couple of years.  Not all of them will know enough about security to be really bullet-proof.  It isn't easy or cheap, but I can tell you that for Carbonite it's a live-or-die proposition. 

    CEO, Carbonite

  • The Real Story of Unlimited Backup

    by Lynnette Nolan | Jun 19, 2008

    When Carbonite entered the online backup market in May 2006, everyone in the online backup business was pricing their services by the gigabyte. We introduced the first backup service with unlimited storage for a fixed price. Why? Because our market research showed that people didn't like having to learn new software applications and they didn't like having to figure out what they needed to back up. If your backup is limited to, say, 5GB, you are forced to pick and choose files and folders. We envisioned a service that didn't require the user to do anything other than put in an email address and password.

    Many people think that we came out with unlimited backup in order to win the "gigabyte war" vendor A gives you 5GB for $5/mo, vendor B gives you 10GB for $5/mo, and so on. But that's really not why we decided on unlimited backup – the REAL reason was simplicity of the user experience. If you make the capacity unlimited, then the user doesn't have to make any choice – we just back up everything by default.

    What happened, of course, is that our direct competitors were forced to switch to an unlimited pricing plan, but THEY DIDN'T CHANGE THEIR PRODUCTS! They missed the point. You still had to learn new software. Every bit of complexity makes it harder for the user and lowers adoption rate.

    We are committed to one simple task: protect all the valuable data on your computer with the absolute minimum of effort and at the lowest possible cost to you.

    CEO, Carbonite

  • Ask a Carbonista: Customer Support's Ten Most Wanted - Part 4

    by Lynnette Nolan | Jun 13, 2008
    Customer Support's
    Ten Most Wanted

    Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

    In Carbonite's Customer Support department, we answer thousands of questions each week, and many folks want to know the same things. I've compiled a list of the top ten questions we receive most often and the best (general) answers we can give. These answers are specific to Carbonite Version 3.5. (If you're on an earlier version, log into your account and reinstall Carbonite to get the latest version.) Given the length of some of the answers, I have decided to turn this into a multi-part post. And so, without any further ado, here's part 4:

    9. Initially I said I want to back up just "my desktop and documents", but now I want to back up more. How do I do that?

    The simplest way to change your backup selection is to open My Computer, right-click your hard drive icon, and select Don't back this up from the Carbonite context menu. It will take Carbonite a few minutes to remove your backup selections, and then the colored dot will disappear from your hard drive icon. Next, restart your computer. Now you can select items for backup. Simply right-click any file or folder and select Back this up from the Carbonite context menu to add it back to your backup selection.

    If you wish to switch to the "recommended" option of backing up your documents and desktop, right-click the C:\Documents and Settings folder (C:\Users on Windows Vista) and select Back this up from the Carbonite context menu.

    10. What if I get a virus? Will Carbonite back that up too?

    Viruses live in and affect executable files. By "executable files", I mean files that can perform some kind of task. In the past, it was safe to say that viruses only affected programs, but these days most documents support some type of embedded macro or scripting language. It's possible that documents created by Microsoft Office or other programs could contain what is called a "macro virus" - a virus that can run when that file is opened by the program that created it. Luckily, these types of viruses tend to be the easiest to correct and remove while the virus is still dormant.

    When recovering from a virus infection, my recommendation would be to reinstall your operating system and applications, and in particular a good anti-virus program. Be sure to get the latest virus definition files from the manufacturer of the anti-virus program. (This is usually included as part of your subscription, and the latest definition files can be downloaded via the Internet.) After reinstalling your operating system and anti-virus program, restore your backup, but be careful not to open your restored documents until after scanning them for viruses.

    Well, there you go. That's our top ten. I hope you find this information helpful. You can find more detail on these topics by searching the frequently asked questions in Carbonite support. But as always, if you have additional questions, please let us know by e-mailing customersupport@carbonite.com.

  • News on the SwapDrive Acquisition

    by Lynnette Nolan | Jun 12, 2008

    Although it didn't come as a surprise, the news about the SwapDrive acquisition has caused quite a stir in the industry.  Yesterday, we were in touch with eWeek and Backupreview.info, two sites that wanted to share Dave’s view on the acquisition. eWeek published an article as well as a blog post that included much of what Dave posted on our blog yesterday. BackupReview.info also posted a Q & A to share Dave's thoughts with the online backup industry.

    In addition, we issued the following press release:

    June 11, 2008

    Online Backup Continues to Emerge Mainstream as Old Industry Giant
    Snaps up Another Established Backup Brand

    BOSTON — (BUSINESS WIRE) — David Friend, CEO and co-founder of online data backup company Carbonite, says online backup is continuing to emerge mainstream, as illustrated by another old industry giant gobbling up an established online backup player.

    Symantec acknowledged the truth of reports yesterday that it acquired SwapDrive and its companies, Backup.com and WhaleMail.com, leaving Carbonite as one of the last-standing large independent online backup services.

    “Frankly, I was surprised that the price was so low, given how hot this market is,” Friend said. “However, that's the danger of being a white label provider to someone like Symantec. It's like the lawnmower company that sells 80 percent of its output to a major retailer. One day they come along and make you an offer you cant refuse, so to speak.

    In the past year, Mozy has been acquired by EMC and Arsenal Digital was acquired by IBM. In previous years Connected and LiveVault were acquired by Iron Mountain, and EVault was acquired by Seagate Technologies

    “The online backup space is hot and everyone is suddenly interested in getting into the game, Friend said. Symantec realized you can protect your PC with antivirus, anti-spyware, and so forth, but the most important thing to protect is your data. Only online backup provides that protection. No anti-anything can keep your hard drive from crashing or keep a burglar from stealing your computer.

    Carbonite recently passed its 200 millionth file restored and has backed up more than three billion files for consumers and small businesses.

    “One by one our competitors have been snapped up by big old companies and we are standing alone as the top independent backup provider, Friend said. Were poised to become the trusted brand in online backup, much like Norton emerged for anti-virus. With a simple and trustworthy product, we are in a position to continue our rapid growth.

    About Carbonite

    Carbonite launched its Online PCBackup service in May 2006. Carbonites industry-first offer of unlimited backup space for a flat low price revolutionized the market for consumer and small business backup services. So far the company has backed up more than 2.5 billion files, has restored more than 160 million lost files for its customers and has a large data center where capacity is measured in petabytes. There are Carbonite users in nearly 100 countries.

    Founded in 2005, Carbonite believes that computer users should not have to think about backup. The company’s mission is to provide an affordable, reliable, secure and easy-to-use solution for the mainstream computer user. Carbonite is available to consumers and small business through numerous channels, including its corporate Web site, major US retailers and international distributors. For more information, please visit www.carbonite.com.

  • Symantec Buys SwapDrive for $123 Million

    by Lynnette Nolan | Jun 11, 2008

    Symantec announced today that they have acquired Swapdrive for $123 million. Swapdrive is the white-label online backup company that has been providing the free 2GB offer that is included with every copy of Norton 360. Frankly, I was surprised that the price wasn't higher given how hot this market is. However, that's the danger of being a white-label provider to someone like Symantec. It's like the little lawnmower company that sells 80% of it's output to Sears. One day they come along and make you "an offer you can't refuse," so to speak.

    From what we hear, the take rate on the Norton 360 backup option has been pretty good. The bundle definitely makes sense: you can protect your PC with antivirus, anti-spyware, and so forth, but the most important thing is to protect your data. And only online backup provides that protection. No anti-anything can keep your hard drive from crashing or keep a burglar from stealing your computer.

    One by one our competitors have been snapped up by big old companies. LiveVault, EVault, Connected, and most of the old-line enterprise online backup companies have been bought. Mozy was recently bought by EMC for $76M. And now SwapDrive for a reported $123M.

    Our ambitions go far beyond the white-label strategy of Swapdrive. In the consumer space, Carbonite now has 11% brand recognition. Swapdrive is probably 0. Norton was one of the early providers of anti-virus software and built a brand that, for a while, was almost synonymous with anti-virus in the consumer and business markets. We’re trying to do the same thing with backup – that’s why you hear our endorsement ads on radio shows with hosts like Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh, and others. In fact, I often tell our employees that we’re going to be to online backup what Norton is to anti-virus. While we have lots of co-marketing and reselling deals, it should be clear to everyone that one of our goals is to be the trusted brand name in online backup.

    The online backup space is hot. Everyone is suddenly interested in getting into the game. We just cut a deal with a leading PC manufacturer (announcement shortly) that is starting to ship their PCs with a free subscription to Carbonite pre-loaded. In a few years, online backup will be part of the pre-install on every PC. Why? Because when your hard drive crashes and you lose all your family pictures, you don’t blame Seagate or Western Digital – you blame your PC manufacturer. It’s a big brand liability issue for the PC manufacturers. Carbonite can make that problem go away for a PC manufacturer. Similarly, bundling online backup with anti-virus makes sense and we’re pursuing partnership deals.

    When you look out 5 years, I think almost everyone will be backing up their PC using services like Carbonite. Broadband is getting cheaper and faster, and disk storage costs are dropping like a rock. The alternatives don’t look very attractive: a) don’t backup and risk losing everything, b) buy an external hard drive. External hard drives are not ideal for backups because they usually sit right next to your computer, so if someone breaks in and steals your computer, or if it is damaged by fire, flood, or virus attack, both the computer and the hard drive will go bye-bye. Plus they are prone to failure (roughly 3% per year die) – a RAID6 array that stores your data at Carbonite is 36 million times more reliable than an external hard drive.

    We think Carbonite is a much better product than Swapdrive (we are of coursed biased in that regard) — it’s much simpler to use, and much less expensive.

    We just want to keep building the best online backup company in the world and hopefully take it public in a couple of years.

    CEO, Carbonite

  • Ask a Carbonista: Customer Support's Ten Most Wanted - Part 3

    by Lynnette Nolan | Jun 06, 2008
    Customer Support's
    Ten Most Wanted

    Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 4

    In Carbonite's Customer Support department, we answer thousands of questions each week, and many folks want to know the same things. I’ve compiled a list of the top ten questions we receive most often and the best (general) answers we can give. These answers are specific to Carbonite Version 3.5. (If you’re on an earlier version, log into your account and reinstall Carbonite to get the latest version.) Given the length of some of the answers, I have decided to turn this into a multi-part post. And so, without any further ado, here's part 3:

    6. Can I back up my USB external drive? How about my network drive?

    At present, Carbonite only backs up local, internal hard drives. It will not back up network drives, external drives, and NAS (network accessed storage) drives. In the near future, we will release a version of Carbonite that supports USB external drives.

    7. Can I schedule Carbonite to back up just at certain times?

    You sure can! Just double-click on the Carbonite Lock icon in your system tray by your computer’s clock) and select Set Options, and then click Backup Schedule. You can then select the desired times that you would like to back up, or the times that you would not like to back up. By default, Carbonite backs up your system automatically when you add or change files, so you don’t need to set up a schedule at all.

    8. How can I view the progress of my backup in more detail than just the percent bar?

    Carbonite’s History view can show you exactly which files have been backed up or restored. Hold down the right shift key on your keyboard while you click the Carbonite Lock icon, and select View History. Change the display type to Detail, and you can view a complete log of Carbonite’s backup and restore activity.

  • Carbonite Data Center: Security, Encryption and Redundancy

    by Lynnette Nolan | Jun 05, 2008

    Several people have asked me to post a description of our infrastructure. As I mentioned in my previous post about HP’s infrastructure difficulties, "HP Upline and the challenge of large scale backup," keeping billions of files safe is no small task.

    The first thing you should know about our architecture is that we never handle unencrypted data. Carbonite encrypts all files before they leave your PC. We use 128-bit Blowfish encryption. I’ve been told that Blowfish has never been cracked. It is the strongest commercial encryption on the market.

    Carbonite employs the most sophisticated firewalls and intrusion detection systems available. We pay a professional hacker firm to attack the data center constantly, looking for security holes. I think our defenses are as good as most banks. Heise Security recently wrote about how they hacked into many of our competitors’ backup systems but were unable to hack into Carbonite Their so-called “Man-In-The-Middle” test attack is something we designed against from the beginning. Frankly, I was amazed that most of the other vendors were so easily hacked by these guys and backed up files either compromised or deleted.

    At our secure data center, your data is stored on arrays of 1-terabyte enterprise-grade drives. Carbonite uses RAID-6 redundant arrays which spread copies of the data across multiple hard drives. Each array has 16 drives. Three of the 16 would have to fail simultaneously and the user’s PC would have to crash at the same time before any data would be lost. These RAID-6 arrays are 36,000,000 times more reliable than the hard drive in your computer. We have redundant power, redundant Internet connections, redundant Web servers and so forth. The data center is guarded 24 hours a day, seven days a week; and admission is controlled by fingerprint ID locks.

    As you can imagine, we use a lot of bandwidth. We currently back up over 40 million new files every day and we have over 7 billion already backed up. Given the amount of bandwidth we use, it’s best to be located in a major telecoms center where multiple carriers converge. Therefore, we chose to build our data center in one of those so-called “bomb-proof” buildings with all the major Boston financial institutions and telcos.

    CEO, Carbonite

  • Dave on Fox Business News

    by Lynnette Nolan | Jun 02, 2008

    Dave recently appeared on Fox Business News. In case you didn't have a chance to see it, you can stream it here on Fox Business News. Enjoy!

  • Ask a Carbonista: Customer Support's Ten Most Wanted - Part 2

    by Lynnette Nolan | May 29, 2008

    Customer Support's
    Ten Most Wanted

    Part 1 / Part 3 / Part 4

    In Carbonite’s Customer Support department, we answer thousands of questions each week, and many folks want to know the same things. I’ve compiled a list of the top ten questions we receive most often and the best (general) answers we can give. These answers are specific to Carbonite Version 3.5. (If you’re on an earlier version, log into your account and reinstall Carbonite to get the latest version.) Given the length of some of the answers, I have decided to turn this into a multi-part post. And so, without any further ado, here's part 2:

    3. If I delete a file from my computer, how long will Carbonite keep it in my backup?

    As a backup program, Carbonite maintains a copy of each of the files that are on your computer. If you delete files, Carbonite marks those files for removal from the backup server. We know that folks sometimes delete the wrong file by accident and don’t notice right away, so we save the files you delete for thirty days before removing them. If you’re a trial customer, we’ll keep the file for 30 days or for 15 days after your trial has ended – whichever is shorter.

    4. Is it really unlimited? No, seriously… How much can I back up?

    Yes, it really IS unlimited - we don't limit how much data you can back up. Remember, the more you back up, the longer it will take, both to back up and to restore. Ultimately, practicality will determine just how much you should back up. Folks with hundreds of gigabytes of data really should consider a local backup solution, such as an external hard drive, for their less important files and use Carbonite to back up the most important items.

    5. How do I restore just one file (or a few files)?

    To restore individual items (rather than the entire computer), just open the Carbonite Backup Drive located within My Computer and browse to items you want to restore. Folders in the Carbonite Backup Drive are organized the same way as they were on your computer. Right-click the item or items you want to restore, and then select Restore.