Small Business Backup Review: The Carbonite Appliance HT10 - Page 2

By Joseph Moran
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Carbonite Appliance HT10: On-Premises Data Backup and Restore

The Carbonite Appliance HT10 performs image-based data backups, so it backs up a system soup-to-nuts—not just files and folders, but the operating system and installed applications too. This allows for a bare-metal restore in the event of a complete system failure. If you want to simply restore a file or a folder, you can do that too, via the CCA. Carbonite includes a second USB Flash drive—helpfully already labeled RECOVERY—that a reseller will configure, and which would then be used to boot the system when doing a complete restore.

We tried both file/folder and bare metal restores from the local backup on a server running a Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, and each one went off without a hitch. Not surprisingly, since the restores were being done over the network, they took somewhat longer than they would have had they been from directly-connected storage. 

As we were finishing our testing, Carbonite delivered a software update for the HT10 that addressed two shortcomings. First, it made the device HIPAA compliant by storing and transmitting backup data in an encrypted form. Second, it added the option to save a certain number (or timeframe's worth) of backups so they won't get overwritten when storage space runs out. (Prior to the update, backups stopped when space ran out, so you had to delete old backups manually from time to time.

And Then the Cloud Rolled In

Initially our test unit had an abysmally slow upload rate to the cloud. After running the unit for a week, it reported backing up more than 46 GB of data locally but a mere 96 MB of that to the cloud, which is less than one-quarter of 1 percent. This was in spite of the fact that we had a relatively healthy 5 Mbps of upstream bandwidth and had the Carbonite Appliance HT10 configured so it was free to upload at any time. A device reset followed by the aforementioned system update seemed to cure that issue, because afterward the HT10 reported backing up 5 GB of 41 GB to the cloud in a little more than 24 hours.

Carbonite dashboard configuration and scheduling

From the HT10's dashboard, your Carbonite reseller can specify how often data backups should take place.

But, late in testing, our HT10 began exhibiting even more problematic behavior. Namely, plugging it in to and running it on our LAN would eventually—within 10 to 15 minutes—kill the Internet connection for our entire network. Conversely, shutting down the HT10 would instantaneously restore connectivity.

We were able to reproduce the problem over and over again, but were unable to determine its cause before our deadline, even with the assistance of Carbonite Technical Support. (Presumably the HT10 was flooding the network with bad traffic.)  As such, we don't know how likely the typical customer is to encounter our issues, if at all. It's worth noting that the company's method of selling the Carbonite Appliance HT10 means such issues would be a reseller's rather than a customer's to deal with, though any potential problem with backups is ultimately the customer's since that's who owns the data.

Carbonite Appliance HT10: Bottom Line

By combining the immediacy of local backup, the redundancy of cloud backup, the security of HIPAA compliance, and providing someone to set up and manage it all for you, the Carbonite Appliance HT10 ticks a lot of boxes for small businesses looking to safeguard data. If we hadn't encountered the issues we did, we'd recommend it. Given what we experienced though, we believe that the appliance has few kinks that still need to be worked out before it's ready for prime time.

Price: $1,200 per year (MSRP, for 1 TB local storage plus 500 GB in cloud)

Pros: Backs up multiple systems without requiring additional license fees; performs both file/folder and bare-metal restores

Cons: Local storage fixed at 1 TB; only 500 GB of cloud storage included standard; abysmally slow uploading to the cloud in our testing

Joseph Moran is a veteran technology writer and co-author of Getting StartED with Windows 7, from Friends of ED.

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This article was originally published on September 17, 2014
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