Carbonite sues Promise after failures result in lost data

Apparently Online Backup provider Carbonite has suffered serious problems with Promise Array technology over the last couple of years. There are dozens of articles on the internet over the last month about Carbonite suing Promise. For example: Carbonite sues Promise Technology for unreliable storage. You can also find information directly on Carbonite's website: Further clarification on our lawsuit against Promise Technologies. And of course Promise has a response on their website:, however, they are trying their best not to draw any more additional attention to this case and don't even mention Carbonite.

While Carbonite is squarely placing the blame on Promise and at the same time trying to minimize the issue by saying that few customers were impacted, the publicity from this lawsuit may be damaging to both companies. I can clearly see how Carbonite and their customers have suffered pain. And I can also understand why Carbonite wants to hold Promise accountable for their flaws. I have no doubt that Promise Storage systems have serious flaws and reliability problems. However, Carbonite seems to have exposed some flaws of their own.

I have already seen several postings by IT Professionals, one on Carbonite's own blog, pointing out that Carbonite should share some of the responsibility for not implementing a better storage architecture. I don't think these comments relieve Promise for once ounce of their problems, but Carbonite could have done more to avoid them. I am not familiar with Carbonite's process and standards for selecting suppliers, but there may be issues with how the decision to select Promise was made. It's hard to make a case in this area because Promise does seem to have the redundancy, and hotswap replaceable components that you would expect from a high availablity enterprise class solution. I can easily say that regardless of how that decision was made, placing the Promise hardware into a critical area that could result in loss of critical customer data was a major mistake. I am sure Carbonite would agree with that statement now. They obviously had not gained enough experience with these Promise arrays to place them in such systems. But what's more troubling is the fact that they would allow any customer data to reside in a single place dependent on any single piece of technology, regardless of who made it, or how reliable they thought it was.

Those of us who have been in the storage and system management business for many years know that even the best technology can fail. I have decades of experience with enterprise systems and I know that most competent IT organizations have protections in place to prevent a total loss of data in almost any situation. It is ironic that Online Backup is one of the best ways to protect your data against virtually any disaster or event in your own environment.

I am very familiar with the operation of Rhinoback Professional Online Data Backup. I know that they replicate all data to mulitple independent systems just in case of such a failure as what was experienced at Carbonite. Rhinoback even replicates data to a second data center in the event that the entire data center is destroyed or inaccessible. A couple of years ago they also experienced failures with Promise RAID systems, but since they had replicated copies of the data, none of their customers were impacted. This is not just a pitch for Rhinoback, I am sure other online data backup service providers use similar approaches, they are the one I am most familiar with.

Another point I would like to bring to the surface about Carbonite's explanation that the 7500 customers who's data was lost on the Promise equipment that failed. Even though most of them didn't suffer a severe problem because they were able to get another complete backup done before they lost their local data, the fact remains that 7500 customers were exposed with no backup data for a period of time. This is not a good situation for people who think their data is safely stored in professionally managed environment. And even though they were able to backup their data again before they had a disaster, depending on the amount of data they had, it may have taken days or weeks and tons of bandwidth to achieve fully backed up data once again.

In Carbonite's defense; their business model seems to be based on providing the lowest possible cost of service to the largest possible customer base. This is great for the type of customer who considers price to be the most important factor, and there are millions of people who want this type of solution. Carbonite and apparently Mozy too, have done a wonderful job of making online backup available for a very small price to anyone who wants it. They must control costs or this model will eventually fail and then those of you who want to backup your data online for a very small price will not have a solution. I don't know that any of us should have the expectation that they will use the most expensive equipment and keep multiple copies of your data in multiple locations, and defend against every conceivable problem. Maybe we should all be happy that they do what they do. And, by the way I think they provide a valuable service and do a fine job of it.

If you prefer an online data backup service provider that is focused on business and professional users who need more high-availability and redundancy, then take a look at Rhinoback Professional Online Data Backup, or one of the many other fine online data backup services business and office use, but don't expect the prices to be as low as Carbonite or Mozy.


secure online backup said...

This is great for the type of customer who considers price to be the most important factor, and there are millions of people who want this type of solution.

online backup solution said...

This is great for the type of customer who considers price to be the most important factor, and there are millions of people who want this type of solution.

Anonymous said...

Agreed Most consumers are focussed on price. This works for them. So many of them don't backup their data anywhere.

Data Backup said...

I totally agreed with your post. Best to best technologies can be failed as we can see the example in your post. Online Backup is one way to protect data from data loss. But you have one another good way to protect your data which is also cheaper than Online backup that is Professional Data Backup software. The software helps you to backup important files, folders, mails, volumes etc. You can perform Full backup, Differential backup and Incremental backup with the help of the software.

Chaman said...

When it comes to online cloud backup, few thing are still not clear to majority of the users like unlimited storage and safety of data.

John Russell said...

Carbonite suing promise for the issues they suffered may help them financially, but it will definitely impact their reputation as well. People trust these companies when they use their services to store their important data. If there comes any indication that their data is not safe anymore, they will lose trust on such companies, probably forever. When there are good competitors fr online data protection services like Storagepipe Solutions, hey just can’t afford losing reputation.

Anonymous said...

Cloud backup solutions have become popular only the last 5-6 years and since that time many companies offer their backup to cloud software. I suppose Carbonite was one of the first among them and I personally use it for a couple of years without any issues. The only thing I wanted to add is that local backup I perform using acronis true image and cloud using carbonite, so the combination of that two different backups is ideal I think for a complete safety of your data. Here is an interesting article which compares carbonite vs acronis