Online backup service Carbonite has just released new features this morning which includes backups for external drives, to the cloud and to an external drive – to create a snapshot of your own disk. Finally, there’s a Courier Recovery service that delivers huge quantities of data at your doorstep. If you don’t know Carbonite, it has been created an as online automated backup service with a simple idea. The founders figured that backup was often too complex and thought that if they could make it easy, “everyone would want it”.External Hard Drive Backup: this is a simple feature which lets you backup a USB external drive to the cloud, and it makes sense for anyone who uses an external drive to extend the capacity of a computer. Laptop users come to mind, but basically anyone who needs to backup a USB drive to the cloud can do so with this. When I asked, the Carbonite team told me that even if the drive shows up with a different letter, they would recognize it by using a mix if volume name and some hardware ID.

Mirror Image: this creates a snapshot of your main disk to an external drive, and can be used to restore it in case of a critical failure. You can’t get individual files out of this, but if your drive crashes, this will save you hours of re-install. Software packages like Acronis Trueimage, or Norton Ghost do something similar.

Courier Recovery: If you have tens (or hundreds!) of gigabytes of online backup, downloading it may prove to be an issue. If that’s the case, Carbonite can send you a copy of the data by using the most appropriate medium, depending on the size of your backup. It could be a flash drive, optical discs, or a hard drive. I really hope that you never have to use it, but it’s infinitely better than a complete loss of data. I believe that most online backup services would have something like this, although I have been fortunate enough to never actually use the courier recovery.

Beyond these new features, I find the user interface of Carbonite particularly fit for people who want simple backups. It is the easiest interface for online backups that I have seen. I’ve tried Mozy, and I’m currently using Crashplan, but I have to admit that Carbonite would do better with most of my friends (I use Crashplan because it creates huge backups locally and in the cloud at the same time). If you’re interested in a simple online backup solution, check this out. The only downside in my view is the storage price, but it’s a trade-off for simplicity.

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