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  1. #1
    New Lounger
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    As a long-time user of Carbonite, I am not writing to bash the product. I have been very satisfied with its performance and reliability. However about a month ago I had a problem arise with my Carbonite backup when I went to use their "remote access" to obtain a critical file from a computer after it had failed completely. (Their remote-access feature allows a credentialed user to log in and access files from another computer, and I have successfully used that feature in the past.)

    Much to my chagrin I learned that, while it had apparently backed up properly, my data could not be accessed remotely. This was apparently due to an ampersand (&) that appeared in the pathname. The offending folder name was named "Statements & Receipts" (no quotes), which is perfectly acceptable to Windows, and no subordinate files could be accessed. (Only \ / : * ? " < > and | are prohibited in file naming by Windows) Since the ampersand is a legitimate character in the file-naming convention, I was shocked that its appearance would cripple Carbonite's ability to access any files below the point in the path where the ampersand appeared - even though the subordinate files could be located and appeared to have the appropriate file sizes, etc.

    When I spoke with Carbonite's support staff, they claimed that the ampersand was an "invalid character" in the path. I have never seen any warning that Carbonite's acceptable file-naming convention is any different from standard Windows conventions. Additionally, when the files were (apparently) backed up, there was no warning of any file-naming issues.

    Carbonite support staff indicated that this problem only affected my remote accessibility. They then indicated that the only way I could access those files below the offending folder name would be to do a complete restore of all files. (With about 150GB in that backup set, that would be a lengthy and unnecessary process to simply have quick access to the single file I needed - which was, ironically, warranty information on the computer that had fried.) Fortunately the failure was in the motherboard and I was able to retrieve the required file directly from the hard drive of the failed system. Had the problem been the hard drive itself, this could have been a critical problem.

    Since I had no need to do a full restore in this case, I cannot verify Carbonite support's claim that a full restore of that file set would have been successful. My confidence level has dropped significantly. I also wonder: are there any other "invalid" file-naming characters that Carbonite will stumble over? To this date I have not seen or heard any notices from Carbonite regarding this flaw. As of today, there is still no way to remotely access backed up files below the ampersand. The lack of confidence this causes is disquieting.

    The rather-dismissive position of Carbonite support, since someone at their end apparently knew of this deficiency and never bothered to alert clients or to fix the problem, is also quite disturbing. Again, this has still not been addressed and, whether or not these files would be recoverable is truly an unknown.

  2. #2
    New Lounger
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    This sounds like a bug to me. The Carbonite staff should have handled it like one. Even if they couldn't help you with your immediate problem, they should have put it on a list of things to get around to fixing.

    While the inability to retrieve backup data is troubling, I'm more disturbed by the attitude of the staff when helping (or not!) with your problem. And that this was a known issue!

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