While iDrive certainly has a few rough edges, you can't really fault the service in terms of the ground it covers and the high reliability. For either a personal or business customer, it's definitely worth a close look for those looking for the best cloud storage solution.
Works on a whole range of devices
End-to-end encryption option
Choice of backup methods
Software could use a revamp
Not the cheapest option
Some options very well hidden
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iDrive offers what might be the best cloud backup and best cloud storage services in a comprehensive, user-friendly package that even lets you backup all of your PCs, Macs, mobiles, and tablets from the convenience of a single account.
Personal plans come in 5TB, 10TB, 20TB and 50TB forms, and Team plans are available for anywhere between five and 100 users, offering 1TB per person.
Larger companies will benefit from the Business plan, offering as little as 250GB or as much as 50TB per person, with an unlimited number of users.
The flexible and tailored pricing strategy does make iDrive a very reasonable proposition, although the cost does go up for those that need the business features – such as server backup. At the higher tiers, it becomes a more expensive solution than the likes of Google Drive and Dropbox, justified by its wider set of features.
1. IDrive is the best cloud storage provider
IDrive, the cloud backup veteran, delivers tons of storage online for an incredibly small outlay. 10TB for $3.98 for the first year is unmatched till now and so is the support for unlimited devices and the extensive file versioning system available.
iDrive: Pricing & plans
iDrive used to offer 5GB of free storage with no credit card required - making it one of best free cloud storage solutions for casual users. Now, you get an even sweeter deal: 10GB free cloud storage, which is among the best free offerings of any cloud service. Services and features are more limited in this case, though.
A basic Personal plan starts at 5TB, costing $59.62 a year, although a $15 upgrade for twice the amount of storage (10TB) will likely provide greater peace of mind when backing up several devices.
The Business plan offers unlimited users and devices, with pricing starting from $74.62 for a year for 250GB, going up to $8699.62 for 50TB of space per user. Sitting somewhere in the middle is the Team plan. This comes in several version, offering support for five to 100 users, each with 1TB of space. The cheapest plan starts at $74.62 for one year, climbing to $7499.62.
Choosing the business account rather than a personal one also gives you extra features such as server backups, multiple user management, and access to priority support. We also like the support for single sign-on, which helps to streamline access for non-tech savvy employees making iDrive a genuinely usable service for all.
TechRadar readers can get 10TB of cloud storage for $3.98 for the first year. You can grab this exclusive deal by clicking here.
It’s really hard to accuse iDrive of being short on features. For example, there's Snapshots, which lets you store up to 30 different versions of your files, an Express service that lets you put your data on all the best hard drives and actually post them off, and the ability to create full disk images in case you need to rebuild a computer from scratch. All paid users get access to these physical backups via a temporary storage device via 'iDrive Express, which is especially handy for those with poor Internet connectivity.
This is capped at once per year for Personal customers and three times a year for Team and Business subscribers, though subsequent requests are always available at the cost of $59.95.
Then there's also some less obvious functions. iDrive only uploads modified parts of files to reduce bandwidth usage; data gets retained until you specifically delete it; there’s an extensive set of activity logs and reports you can access. For team managers, there are multiple user management and remote backup services.
This is all on top of the core functionality, which backs up an unlimited number of devices – computers, mobile phones, servers – to a single account. If necessary, it can also back up data from mapped drives on a network. Meanwhile, the iDrive web portal makes short work of managing all of these devices together in one place. While it is filled with function, the basic and frankly uninspiring user interface of the desktop client does leave users feeling somewhat short-changed.
In addition to the standard features that will appeal to everyone, there are several aimed at organizations with larger, more complex requirements. This includes server cloud backups covering Linux, Oracle, Sharepoint, MS SQL, Exchange Server, and more.
iDrive includes bare-metal disaster recovery, which is the business-grade solution for the best ransomware protection. Help with new data standards can be found as well, via encryption and date stamping for those in the medical, accounting, and legal professions.
iDrive: Interface & experience
Cloud storage can be accessed through the browser portal, but for the full experience including device backup, the relevant program or application should be installed. Handily, iDrive supports all major device types, though the desktop clients are more impressive than the mobile apps in terms of polish and features. You can have iDrive backup your entire hard drive (or mobile device) or just specific files and folders, and run backups manually or on a schedule.
By default, the desktop client selects your Music, Video, and OneDrive folders for backup, although you can add or remove other locations. The goal here is very much ‘set and forget’. Set up everything the way you like, and then let iDrive quietly work in the background.
Another useful feature is folder syncing, for keeping certain files consistent across all of your devices. There are intuitive menus and settings screens that make it clear how to create the configurations you need. It’s also great that it is simple to use, so you don't need to have an IT degree or to even consult the help pages to figure out how to do the vast majority of tasks.
The iDrive cloud storage apps have a ton of settings, though iOS versions are less impressive. While the Android client is able to back up things like your SMS messages, iPhones and iPads are limited to contact, calendar, photos and videos. In fairness, this is more of a limitation set out by Apple than iDrive. The desktop client allows granular adjustments for bandwidth throttling, file and folder exclusion, data verification, and more. You can even pause a backup if the battery level on your laptop or your phone drops below a certain level.
Uploading and backing up files is just as quick as big players in the cloud storage game, such as Google Drive. As such, it’s unlikely that iDrive will be the bottleneck here. The primary restriction will come from your ISP’s upload speeds which, in most cases, is slower than the download speeds.
Worth noting is that browser downloads redirect to a new tab, and the process of opening the new location can be slow. In our original benchmark the 1GB test file took up to 6 times longer to open in a new tab on the mobile client than the actual download process, which can prove both time consuming and rather annoying. The entire download process wasn’t quite as slick, and took several minutes more than Google Drive. Fortunately, we didn't find this to be a problem when using the desktop client for our most recent tests - more on that in a moment.
One feature of the iDrive web interface that particularly impressed us was that the account password is required to delete any file, helping to prevent any accidental deletes as the user unconsciously navigates the portal on autopilot.
Due to the nature of the service, iDrive is intended more as a backup drive than a cloud space from which to work, so editing documents online is a no-go. This means downloading and reuploading your files as and when necessary, so it’s crucial that you take into account the somewhat convoluted downloading process mentioned above before committing.
Nevertheless there is a Cloud Drive option, which you need to manually activate when you download and run the client. Any files or folders placed in this folder in your home directory are synced to iDrive’s servers.
Having reached out to iDrive, it is confirmed that there is no maximum file size limit, which is great news to teams and businesses working on large projects such as video production.
On top of two-factor authentication, iDrive provides end-to-end encryption for your data. Be cautioned that this requires a private key known only to you, so don’t forget it, or you can't get anything back. It also means that you won't be able to share files and folders with other people, as this will break the end-to-end encryption protocols.
Another option is standard encryption, which isn't quite as secure, but will still protect your data against most potential breaches. In this scenario, iDrive stores the encryption key, and can help you restore your data if needed as well as potentially hand over your files if compelled to by law enforcement. The other advantage is that you get to use the file and folder sharing features with this setting. If you still want to be able to share some files, we recommend using best encryption software to protect any data before uploading it to the cloud.
iDrive: Our tests
When testing iDrive’s performance, we ran a total of 3 tests measuring sync speed, file recovery, and versioning. In order to do this, we used the free 10GB plan, as our chosen files were well within the limit. As we understand it, iDrive doesn't limit transfer speeds or features for users on the free tier. Tests were completed on a Windows 11 virtual machine running the iDrive desktop client. Our VM was connected to the internet through fiber broadband via VPN server, which in our speed tests consistently showed an average upload speed of 70 Mbps
Test 1 - Sync speed
For this test we first closed any third party/internet apps. We then copied a 650 MB folder of Sherlock Holmes audio books from the Internet Archive into the application directory. We measured how quickly the desktop client was able to sync the files to the cloud. The folder contained 22 files including MP3s, images, metadata files and a PDF.
In order to get cloud sync working, we had to open the desktop app and enable it manually from a tab. A new folder named Cloud-Drive then appeared in our home directory. When we copied the folder of audio books into here, the folder appeared with a green tick next to it, suggesting it had synced right away. We had to double click to go into the folder to see some files had been uploaded (green tick) while others still had the 'pending' icon.
The iDrive Tray icon also reported on the sync process. In all it took 110 seconds to upload all 625MB of data, which is consistent with our device's uploaded speed.
Test 2 - File recovery
In this test we simply deleted the audiobook folder from the application directory, removing it from the device. We then checked to see if the files had been removed from the cloud drive and if it was possible to recover them.
If the cloud provider offers you a way to store files in the cloud without keeping them on your device, we test this feature too.
After we deleted the audio book data from the Cloud-Drive folder, we emptied the Recycle Bin then opened the iDrive desktop client. We found the 'Restore' tab but the deleted files weren't listed.
We had more joy when logging in via the web portal though. We found after login if we clicked "Cloud Drive", then "Trash", the deleted files were listed. We selected them all then clicked "Put Back". The client took a minute or so to respond but then it did quickly download the deleted files back to their original location.
Test 3 - Versioning
If you're writing a long, important document, the last thing you want is to make changes you can't undo. Some cloud providers prevent this by regularly saving different versions of a file. This means if you change something you shouldn't have, you can just roll the file back to before this happened.
To test this in iDrive, we copied a Microsoft Word (.docx) file of the public domain story The Purple Cloud to the cloud application folder. Once it synced, we then deleted all the text except the introduction, then saved and closed. We then tried to restore the document back to its original form, complete with all chapters.
In order to test whether iDrive could restore an older version of a file, we first copied the Word document to the Cloud-Drive folder. Even though it was less than 400KB, it still took around a minute to sync.
We then deleted all text except for the introduction, closed the document then opened the desktop app. We were able to click the file in Recently Modified Items, but this just opened the Cloud-Drive folder.
Luckily, this is where the iDrive website dashboard came to the rescue again. When we opened the cloud drive there and selected the file, we were able to select Version. From there we could download the original unmodified file by clicking on the corresponding icon.
iDrive gets high scores for the sheer breadth of services offered – from backing up the photos on your smartphone to backing up the files on your company's servers. The software packages and various interfaces aren't the best ever, but they get the job done very well.
For those that have a lot of devices with data that needs to be secured at reasonable prices, then iDrive could well be the service for you. It has a great feature set that covers a lot of ground, with enough security protection and extra features such as folder sync and bandwidth controls to satisfy the majority of users.
During our tests the files synced to the cloud quickly. We were also able to see that iDrive can handle restoring deleted files or even older versions. However, it's a shame you can't access those features from the desktop client.
The free 10GB plan only makes sense for users looking to store documents in the cloud, as space is too limited to perform any major backups of computers, phones and tablets. In this case, due to the lengthy and awkward download process, it’s hard to recommend the free version, even if the sizable 10GB of storage space is rather valuable.
When considered relative to other free allowances offered by other cloud storage providers, iDrive lands somewhere in the middle. It's much more generous than Dropbox's 2GB but considerably smaller than Google's generous 15GB. We can't help but feel that iDrive might be better off taking their focus away from server backups and raising their free allowance game instead. Still, pricing is clearly laid out and can be customized to your needs.
Ultimately, iDrive is best suited to businesses - from self-employed individuals and small teams to huge, international corporations - thanks to the level of flexibility across three different plan types.