Carbonite loses 7,500 customers' files (ouch)

In Tuesday's IT Blogwatch, Richi Jennings watches Carbonite sue its disk array manufacturer, while admitting it lost more than 7,500 customers' backups (ouch indeed). Not to mention how Australians make beer...

Robert Weisman reports:

Carbonite logo
Carbonite Inc., a Boston company that backs up computer data for businesses and other organizations, is alleging that two other companies sold it more than $3 million worth of defective hardware, resulting in thousands of customers losing data.


Promise's hardware was meant to monitor multiple computer hard drives to assure that they were functioning properly to preserve customers' data, according to the suit. Instead, the suit charged, "Carbonite lost the backups of over 7,500 customers in a number of separate incidents, causing serious damage to Carbonite's business" ... [and] said Promise engineers were unable to fix the errors ... An executive at Promise denied the Carbonite allegations.

Chris Mellor adds:

As an online backup service supplier, customer trust in Carbonite's ability to securely hold data is fundamental. When the Promise products failed, Carbonite says, more than 7,500 of its customers lost data ... There will be a damage to Carbonite's reputation from merely going to court and admitting its systems screwed up and let down so many customers.

It will be very interesting to understand the basis of Promise's rejection of responsibility which would infer incompetent data storage practices ... Carbonite ... says it bought more than $3m of RAID array hardware from Promise ... warranted for three years to detect failing drives and copy the data on them to functioning drives.

Robin Wauters waxes algebraic:

The danger of storing your data in the cloud, part n ... The real victims of course are the customers, who will most likely think twice before trusting a cloud-based storage and backup provider with their files from this point forward.

I also think it’s worth pointing out Carbonite has been caught red-handed earlier this year astroturfing Amazon reviews, as reported by David Pogue of The New York Times.

Rich Miller worries about Carbonite's reputation:

I’m not aware that the company’s problems had been public prior to the lawsuit. Now readers of several of the most popular IT industry web sites are also aware that Carbonite lost customer data. Headlines about the incident could creep into search results, preserving the company’s headline risk for future prospects who may have missed the initial stories.

One thing is certain: The financial recovery from the lawsuit, if any, could be months if not years away. The publicity surrounding the lawsuit is a here-and-now challenge.

DC is pseudonymous:

Instead of just being that fluffy chunk of moisture that glides along in the sky, the ‘cloud’ is promised as being the next big step that comes after the World Wide Web ... Web-based services aren’t exactly new. Flickr, Picasa, Gmail, SkyDrive or even Carbonite; all these services basically require you to chuck your data on their physical servers, and hope for the best.


Some argue that relying solely on the cloud isn’t very smart, preferring to rely on a combination of having copies both in the cloud as well as on local machines, hard drives and the like. After all, you can make only so many backups, and there exists the chance, however small, that all your backups might just fail one after another. Dead hard disk? Cloud service shut down? Corrupted backup files? The list goes on and on.

But Tim Layton Sr. just rolls his eyes:

Just when we started feeling good about backing our data up automatically over our Internet connection this story breaks ... Carbonite relies on a third-party vendor to backup their customers files ... sounds great on a business plan and saves a lot of time to market. However, many entrepreneurs are not necessarily IT professionals and under estimate the risk.


The real losers in this story is the 7,500+ customers that trusted their backup company to protect their data and all of us that are current Carbonite customers.

[Disclosure: Richi is a satisfied Mozy user, after having tried just about every alternative out there.]

And finally...

Previously in IT Blogwatch:

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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 23 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him on Twitter, pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email:

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