Joe Webb Blog

Musing and observations about SQL Server, other technogies, and sometimes just life in general

Carbonite's failures and the blog-o-sphere

Yesterday, I was catching up on some blogs that I regularly read and noticed one that got me to really thinking. It was written by fellow SQL Server enthusiast and blogger extrodenaire Brent Ozar. The blog posting, entitled Another backup failure: Carbonite, recounts and offers Brent's commentary on the relatively recent failures of online backup company Carbonite. The blog is interesting itself and well worth the read, but what I found most interesting was in the comments section.

David Friend, Carbonite's CEO, found Brent's blog and responded to it by leaving a comment. Friend offered some additional insight into the failures and provided some clarifications of its implications. In short, Friend defended the company, downplayed how wide spread the affect was, and indicated that the company is seeking relief and damages from their hardware provider through the court system.

As few as five years ago, news of Carbonite's failures and their subsequent lawsuit would have been relegated to the back side of a page buried deep inside a middle section of the Wall Street Journal where only those who have bird cages to clean would have ever laid eyes on it.

But now in the age of blogs, Twitter, FaceBook, and other social networking sites, news like this spreads as quickly as celebrity gossip. And it's the wise executive who understands and embraces this phenomenon. CEO's, company president's, marketing types, and other public faces for organizations must be prepared to respond to quickly and decisively to public outcry through these media. And it's not just a one-way public relations vehicle, either. The successful company will tap into the collective voice of the community and learn from it.

As an aside: Brent followed up his original commentary with another posting that asks very pointed questions about Carbonite's decisions prior to the failure, questions that the Carbonite executives should have asked from the very beginning. I hope for their sake, and the sakes of all who trust Carbonite with their data, that the company learns from their mistakes and views the community's response as valuable input.

I'd love to hear your comments on this. Do you agree? Disagree?


kick it on

Legacy Comments

Brent Ozar
re: Carbonite's failures and the blog-o-sphere
Glad you liked the post, sir!

re: Carbonite's failures and the blog-o-sphere
I agree that Carbonite has tried, on a number of occasions, to obfuscate the true cause of failures and problems.

Mr Friend spends an inordinate amount of time "massaging" the blogosphere, when he should be spending his time making sure the backup service works as it should.

I'd like to hear his comments on why the Carbonite website and backup service was down yesterday for almost 6 hours. Of course, I couldn't check the service status section of the Carbonite site, because... as stated, it was down.

Come on Mr Friend, please spend less time blogging and more time making sure the fools who work for you are doing their jobs properly.

re: Carbonite's failures and the blog-o-sphere
there are a few big players i would trust with online backups, but not a start up. a company would have to be in business at least 3-5 years with clear financials for me to trust them with backups. and i still prefer tape

re: Carbonite's failures and the blog-o-sphere
I'm having an awful time with Carbonite customer service on something simple - backing up videos. Unfortunately, I can't get my money back. I'm not pleased with this company and their customer service at all. Nothing works the way they say it does. I'm on Windows XP.

Laurent Luce
re: Carbonite's failures and the blog-o-sphere
If you are looking for an alternative to Mozy, Carbonite, we just launched our data protection service online at Not only does it provide a great backup service, but it also allows you to wipe or encrypt data in case your device gets lost or stolen. Finally, you can monitor your device by using features such as screenshots, webcam image capture and device location tracking. All these services are available in 1 package with a neat web interface. We have a free plan for 1 year. Try it out and let us know what you think.

Laurent Luce
Director of Software
Tomnica, Inc.

Mark Campbell
re: Carbonite's failures and the blog-o-sphere
Carbonite raised $20M yesterday...

sicheres Online Kasino
re: Carbonite's failures and the blog-o-sphere
Carbonite will spend the $20 million it raised in part on radio and television advertising to consumers.” I hope they are going to be really smart about how they spend the money, because you can burn an enormous of money that way and end up with very little to show for it.

re: Carbonite's failures and the blog-o-sphere
Looks like you where right. A lot of money burnet and almost no outcome. Just came here making a little research about it...

re: Carbonite's failures and the blog-o-sphere
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John Coleman
re: Carbonite's failures and the blog-o-sphere
Carbonite uses well-known broadcasters to advertise the product that, frankly, does not do what is advertised. I was working on a report in Word 2007 for three days (DEc. 25 to Dec 28, 2010) and late on the third day, my Word file crashed for no known reason.I tried unsuccessfuly to recover it via the Word programs but the shadow file (in Vista) said that the contents were missing and/or corrupted. The retrieve text from any file fix brought back my name and nothing else. In short, the report was toast. I went to my Carbonite backup file and was being advised by the Carbonite InfoCenter that all my files had been backed up to five minutes ago, etc. I opened the Word file but found it to be the version that ended late on Dec. 25, not the version that was being worked on at the time of the crash on Dec. 28! I tried several other things but nothing worked. Instead of my 25-page report, all I had was about ten pages from the earlier version. I called Carbonite this morning and, like so many software companies, it uses tech services in Pakistan or India and I had difficulty understanding the service techs. In short, they advised that Carbonite backs up within 10 minutes the file when first opened and then only every 24 hours after changes are made. This still didn't explain why a copy from the 27th was not available. In all, it's clear that Carbonite does not so what it is advertised to do. When I mentioned this, the tech said that I could always right-click my report and tell the computer to back up the document now and that would ensure an up-to-date copy is backed up. I said that this is exactly what I believed I had paid Carbnonite to do automatically. It also is what noted talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity say it will do when they advertise it on the radio. I need to tell them to stop doing this as Carbonite has no such capability despite its statements to the contray.

Ole Danielson
re: Carbonite's failures and the blog-o-sphere
Carbonite doesn’t work. It fails to backup normal Office files downloaded from Outlook 2007 claiming they are “temporary files”. They are not. They refuse to respond to my many requests for resolution to this issue. “Never Worry About Your Backup Again” is an outright lie. You will lose files. It’s too bad about their attitude, too. If they were willing to own it, I’d let them work it out, but they just don’t seem to care.

re: Carbonite's failures and the blog-o-sphere
I totally agree, I have used Carbonite for a short while and it was really complicated also I got scared as we all remember their data loss incident plus contacting their support team is almost impossible. So I started to look for an alternative solution .Currently I am using Timeline Cloud they backs up to Amazon S3 also they are really affordable. You can check them:

Gordon Yager
re: Carbonite's failures and the blog-o-sphere
Carbonite's customer service is a joke that is not at all funny. They have not successfully backed up my system once in over a year. After repeated attempts to cancel my service all I get are nonsensical replies that show that they don't even have a grasp of the English language. The latest email that I received this weekend thanked me for renewing my contract. WHAT???

Vero Beach hotels
re: Carbonite's failures and the blog-o-sphere
Going to check your new site as this is outdated