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iDrive cloud storage review

A comprehensive cloud storage solution with easy-to-use backup

iDrive Review
(Image: © iDrive)

TechRadar Verdict

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.

Pros

  • +

    Works on a whole range of devices

  • +

    End-to-end encryption option

  • +

    Choice of backup methods

Cons

  • -

    Software could use a revamp

  • -

    Not the cheapest option

  • -

    Some options very well hidden

A comprehensive, user-friendly cloud backup (opens in new tab) and cloud storage (opens in new tab) service, iDrive (opens in new tab) can back up all of your PCs, Macs, mobiles, and tablets from the convenience of a single account. 

Personal plans come in 5TB and 10TB 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, though it does offer a more comprehensive set of features to justify the higher price tag.

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1. IDrive is the best cloud storage provider (opens in new tab)
IDrive, the cloud backup (opens in new tab) 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.

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2. pCloud provides a lifetime cloud storage subscription (opens in new tab)
The Swiss-based company is more expensive than the competition but the one-off payment means that you won't have to worry about renewal fees that can be very horrendously expensive. $350 for 10 years is less than $3 per month.


iDrive features

 

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 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, 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, including that iDrive only uploads modified parts of files to reduce bandwidth usage, the way data gets retained until you specifically delete it, or the 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 various 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 for managing all of these devices together in one place. While it is filled with function, the basic and frankly uninspiring user interface does leave users feeling somewhat shortchanged.

In addition to the standard features that will appeal to everyone, there are several aimed at organizations with larger, more complex requirements (including server cloud backups covering Linux, Oracle, Sharepoint, MS SQL, Exchange Server and more). iDrive includes bare-metal disaster recovery (opens in new tab), which is the business-grade solution to ransomware (opens in new tab). 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 3

(Image credit: iDrive)

iDrive interface

 

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. The goal here is very much ‘set and forget’ – get everything set up the way you like, and then let it work quietly away 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 programs have a ton of settings as well, 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 (however 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, and 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 the case of our 1GB test file, opening the new tab took up to six times longer than the actual download process, which can prove both time consuming and rather annoying. The entire download process isn’t quite as slick, and took several minutes more than Google Drive for our 1GB file. Fortunately, this is less of a problem when using the desktop client.

One feature we are particularly impressed with is 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.

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 editing.

iDrive 1

(Image credit: iDrive)

iDrive security

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 you forget it, or you can't get anything back. It also means that you won't be able to share files (opens in new tab) 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. 

iDrive 2

(Image credit: iDrive)

iDrive pricing

 

Previously, iDrive offered 5GB of free storage without requiring you to provide any credit card details. This has since been doubled to a maximum of 10GB, which is among the best free offerings of any cloud service. Services and features are more limited in this case, though.

Basic Personal plans start at 5TB, costing $79.50 per year, though a $20 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 $99.50 for a year for 250GB, going up to an eye watering $11,599.50 for 50TB of space per user. Sitting somewhere in the middle is the Team plan, which comes in several flavours offering support for five to 100 users, each with 1TB of space. The cheapest plan starts at $99.50 for one year, climbing to $1999.50.

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.

The prices quoted above vary depending on how long you sign up for, and don't take into account the various special offers and deals that iDrive regularly runs; if you check the site now you may find that prices are lower, as we did.

iDrive verdict

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 without any fanfare.

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.

On the other hand, the free 10GB plan only makes sense for users looking to store documents in the cloud, as space is too limiting 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, though a sizable 10GB of storage space is rather valuable. 

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.

Jonas P. DeMuro is a freelance reviewer covering wireless networking hardware.