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Carbonite Focuses On Restore

Version 4 of the online backup service introduces new features for managing the process of restoring files. The company plans other extensions to the basic backup function in future versions.

Version 4 of the online backup service introduces new features for managing the process of restoring files. The company plans other extensions to the basic backup function in future versions.According to company CEO and founder David Friend, the real purpose of a service like Carbonite is "about restore, not backup." The whole point of having an online backup, after all, is the ability to retrieve files when you need them. Friend says that the main reason Carbonite's customers have needed to restore files has been when they accidentally delete or override a file they need. But that's changing, he says, as more customers use their backups for remote file access.

With that in mind, the new features in Carbonite 4 are centered around making it easy to find and restore the specific files needed. The Restore Search function lets users search their backups by filename, filetype, or date, and build a list of files to restore. Carbonite keeps older versions of files for up to three months, so customers can retrieve previous copies, not just the most recent one. They can also specify which files to restore first through the Priority File Restore function. "If you have a big restore," says Friend, "you want to get the files you're working on first."

Carbonite 4 also features a Migration Wizard that lets customers use their backups to move files to a new system. For someone moving from Windows XP to Windows 7, for example, restoring data from Carbonite will put files in the proper directories and user accounts.

Friend sees the focus on restore functions as emblematic of the company's new attention to what can be done with a cloud backup. "We're past the point of an 'out of sight, out of mind' backup," he says. "Any good backup service should do that. The next stage is leveraging the backup in more and more ways. What can you do with your own personal cloud that contains every file from every PC you own?" Friend says. For example, he says, you can no access "any file from any computer, anywhere, any time. You don't need remote access." When asked if the company is looking at building in a syncing function, he says that they've considered it but "Is there really any need to push data back down to all your PCs? Just leave it online." He acknowledges that there's room for shared folders that are synced among different users, but sees that as a different business ably handled by other companies.

The revamped focus is also seen in Carbonite's mobile apps -- the existing iPhone app and upcoming Android app. For example, Friend says, the apps let you view thumbnails of backed-up photos on your mobile device. "We will see more along those lines -- remote file access from mobile apps," he says.

The new version is only available for Windows at the moment. For the Mac, "we will have a new release at some point," says Friend, while declining to announce a date. "The features will manifest in different ways on the Mac," he continues, "but the Mac product will have parity." Carbonite costs $55/year/computer for unlimited data, with discounts for longer subscriptions.

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