iDrive vs Carbonite Comparison

By Conner Sinclair | Cloud Storage

Last Updated on

iDrive vs Carbonite which service is most popular in the cloud backup industry, but how do you know which one is better? Often times, it’s not which service is better, but rather which service meets your needs the best.

Instead of simply saying one service is better than the other, we’re going to dissect these two providers and look at their pricing, features, security, and speed to help you make an informed decision.

Few things in life are worse than signing up for a service only to find that it’s a flop. So, let’s start by comparing the prices between these two services.

Bottom Line up Front: I slightly prefer the iDrive service here, because they allow for unlimited devices to be added (and Carbonite does note).

That said, it’s a very close race. I don’t think you can go wrong. It just depends on how many devices you want to eventually add.

You can continue reading to get the full comparison of these two online backup cloud storage and backup solution options.

The Main Differences Between iDrive vs Carbonite

The Main Differences Between iDrive vs Carbonite are:

  • iDrive has a 1TB and requires more user discretion, whereas Carbonite offers you unlimited space and doesn’t require you to backup on a folder and individual file basis
  • iDrive doesn’t support two-factor verification, whereas Carbonite does
  • iDrive allows backups for an unlimited number of devices, whereas Carbonite does not

Pricing Details

Carbonite is rather more expensive than iDrive, and they have a completely different business model. While both providers package their features into different levels of their cloud backup services, Carbonite does so more drastically. For instance, one of the small changes with iDrive’s various packages is the amount of storage space you get.

The following outlines Carbonite’s pricing options:

As you can see, even the basic plan is more expensive than iDrive’s first tier option, though it offers more value. For comparison, note that iDrive offers four different options.

First of all, iDrive offers a completely free plan that doesn’t require payment card information. However, the free version of their service only allows up to 5GB of storage space. First-tier paid users to get an entire terabyte of storage space for only $4.34 per month, which is about half the cost of Carbonite’s Premium option. In addition, business-class users can get iDrive’s professional service for only $6.22 per month.

As far as the price competition is concerned, iDrive wins by a landslide. If you’re not sure about iDrive, I’d highly recommend taking advantage of the free version to get your feet wet before committing to a subscription term.

Comparing the Essential Backup Service Features

The features between these two providers are very different, so let’s start by looking at Carbonite’s features with their various packages.

The cheapest package (e.g. Basic) is pretty stripped down. But it does provide unlimited cloud storage space for one computer, 24/7 customer support, the ability to access and share files remotely through the cloud, and secure automatic backups.

The Plus plan includes all of the features of the Basic plan but adds two key advantages. Plus users will have the ability to backup external hard drive, and they can create a mirror image backup to essentially copy entire volumes and partitions.

Lastly, the Prime service includes all the aforementioned features in addition to an automatic video backup feature. Furthermore, Prime users get access to a courier recovery service that delivers hard copies of your backed up data, just as an extra means of protection.

Likewise, iDrive will also send a hard copy of your backups and will send up to 3TB of your data to your home in less than a week. However, they allow backups on an unlimited number of devices, which makes them a good fit for families and people with a lot of different device types. And both cloud backup services have automatic backup features. In addition, iDrive has a syncing service that helps keep files current among different computing systems.

iDrive implements file sharing through a link generation system, which allows users to easily share data with friends via social media like Facebook and Twitter. Furthermore, they have some special features that help users back up their Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Last but not least, iDrive has an archiving system that saves older versions of files unless you manually delete them or run the “Archive Cleanup” feature, which syncs data on your computer with the cloud and removes unwanted files.

Comparing the Security Aspects

Security should be one of the top factors when selecting a cloud storage and backup provider – especially since password leaks, NSA wiretapping scandals, and the latest hacks seem to pop up in headlines every week. iDrive offers extremely strong security, but they’re flexible as well. There are two main methods they use to encrypt and protect user data.

The first method is to encrypt data with AES-256 as it is in transit through the public Internet, and then to encrypt data again for storage on their servers. However, unlike many of their competitors, they have an optional private encryption key, which encrypts data locally before sending it to the storage servers.

The advantage of a private encryption key is that it eliminates the possibility of other decrypting and reading your data. It may sound like it’ll never happen, but the rogue and disgruntled employees have been caught stealing data in the past. What’s worse, sometimes hacker have friends on the inside who help them steal data. Using iDrive’s private encryption key means your data is genuinely safe, and can’t be decrypted even it becomes stolen.

Likewise, Carbonite implements a similar encryption system as iDrive. Carbonite offers its users to opt for an automatic encryption service, or they can choose to use a private encryption key. I’d highly recommend using a private encryption key any time you are backing up sensitive or personal files. Just remember that it’s up to you to manage that encryption key. Make sure you remember the key (I’d recommend storing it in an encrypted password database like KeePass).

If you forget your private encryption key, you’ll lose access to your data. That’s why it’s crucial to store it in an encrypted database. Don’t make the mistake of writing it on a sticky note that’s stuck to your monitor – that’d completely defeat the purpose of security.

Comparing Speed

As far as speed is concerned between iDrive and Carbonite online backup services, it’s really a tossup. I would mention that they are both extremely flexible because users don’t necessarily need to use a private encryption key. Client-side encryption drastically slows down file transfers because it adds additional processing and encryption overhead.

But the beauty of these two services is that users can choose whether they want to encrypt data locally, thus providing a certain amount of control regarding transfer speeds. But to back up a file with either service using a private key, the rates on a 5Mbps Internet connection were about 3 hours and 45 minutes. Just think how much longer they’d be if you wanted to back up an entire computer.

Note, however, that these slow transfer rates are caused by two factors. First of all, I’m using a rather slow Internet connection. If you have a 25Mbps or 1Gb connection, your transfers will be much faster.

Also, realize that slower rates are a necessary sacrifice for stronger security using private encryption. If you want to backup data in bulk that isn’t personal or sensitive, you can simply choose to opt out of a private key.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why can’t I backup to Carbonite and Dropbox?

Both of them are competing for the same files to backup, therefore, Carbonite is basically waiting for Dropbox to sync before it can start to backup. You need to stop Dropbox, uninstall it and then reinstall it, this might make it easier to work with.

Does iDrive backup emails?

Yes. You can backup and restore mailbox data, like contacts, email folders, tasks, etc.

Can I backup my computer to external drives?

Absolutely. You can backup your files on USB flash drive, hard drive, SSD, and other external drives as long as its big enough to fit the data you wish to store.

A Final Thought – Which Online Backup Service is Best?

It really was a close race, since these two online backup services are so competitive and similar. I can’t honestly tell anyone that they should avoid either service, either. Both Carbonite and iDrive surpass a lot of other providers, like Amazon Cloud Drive. So, here are my thoughts on the bottom line.

Personally, I think iDrive is a better alternative than Carbonite for several reasons. As far as security is concerned, both providers are more or less equal.

However, I liked how iDrive allows backups for an unlimited number of devices (Carbonite does not). If you’ve got a family or simply have a lot of personal devices, you can’t use Carbonite to back all of them up without adding additional subscriptions – which could quickly become an expensive endeavor.

Also, I don’t think Carbonite’s basic plan offers a lot of value, especially since it is more expensive than iDrive’s starting cost and it only allows backups for one device. That said, Carbonite is the respectable, secure, and affordable alternative.

Bottom Line: I just think iDrive gives you more bang for your buck.

Looking for Something Different?

I’ve also compared a few other backup services:

  • Carbonite vs Moz: If you are deciding between Mozy and Carbonite but you are not sure which is best for your needs, check out this Mozy and Carbonite comparison to find out which is your best bet.
  • Crashplan vs Carbonite: Stuck deciding between Crashplan vs Carbonite? Don’t get hung up on the sale pitch, check out our review on both Crashplan and Carbonite and decide which is best for you

About the Author

Conner is a self-professed tech nerd, obsessed with digital security and privacy. He loves debugging "lost causes" and thwarting hackers. When not in his depressing cubicle in Corporate America, he's blogging here.