Carbonite’s “unlimited online backup” deemed not unlimited

In relation to a recent blog entry by Sam last week where he discussed consumer vs. enterprise online backup, it would seem that one consumer product has been misleading its customers through one of its advertising campaigns.

An article published by Cloud Pro last week reported that the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) had ordered consumer product Carbonite to revise its use of the phrase “unlimited online backup” on its UK website.

The article published by the ASA states that the ASA received no response from Carbonite Inc. following their enquiries and their assessment was that “although unlimited amounts of data could be uploaded, we noted that if data uploads exceeded 200GB, less bandwidth would be available resulting in slower back up. Because it did not make this clear, we concluded the ad was likely to mislead”.

The findings of the ASA found that the advertising campaign in question was in breach of six advertising codes, one of which cites that all marketing communications must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify”. Subsequently, the ASA has told Carbonite Inc. that they should make clear any reduction in upload speeds when using the online backup product.

Carbonite responded directly to Cloud Pro saying that they were not contacted by the ASA and that “the Carbonite home service is unlimited as we offer unlimited backup space.  We don’t offer or claim to offer unlimited bandwidth [and] we hope that – with more information on Carbonite’s backup processes – the ASA may reconsider their decision. 

The packages offered by Carbonite range from Home to HomePremier, as well as a package for small businesses. However, the limitation to bandwidth could become a major issue in the future, especially if you are a small business looking to upload your entire company data to the cloud.

Consequently, this is another example where a consumer product can limit and threaten a business’s ability to carry on if it were to experience large or total data loss.  A reputable enterprise level solution has no limitation on its upload speed whatever the data size. In addition, any true enterprise level solution, especially one providing online backup as a service, would offer the ability to upload the initial or seed data to a USB hard drive in an encrypted format on site. This is then transferred and uploaded quickly to its data centre. Since every subsequent backup is incremental and encrypted also, backup windows are short ensuring all data is sent quickly and securely.

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