Box vs iDrive: Which is best?

A laptop on a table, with a notepad and smartphone beside it.
(Image credit: Pixabay)

Previously, large organizations have relied on large, in-house servers to store masses of data, which are costly to acquire and can be complex to maintain. Individuals have had to invest with similar precaution when it comes to buying a computer, ensuring that there’s sufficient on-board storage, before turning to external drives like USB sticks.

Smaller organizations and sole traders have been left stranded somewhere in the middle, either having to pay twice for individual solutions or part with even more money for business solutions they may not need.

Cloud storage drives are set to change this, and most businesses are already turning to these for their organizations’ needs. Understanding the difference between cloud storage and cloud backup is key, but choosing between two similar offerings can be taxing. In this head-to-head, we compare Box - which primarily offers cloud storage - with iDrive - which places a focus on backups, but has space to store documents, too.

Box vs iDrive: Features

Working from Box should be like working from a computer: the interface - be it on mobile or desktop - consists of folders set out in a hierarchy for organizing individual files. Most file types are supported in Box, but company offers a claimed 1,500 third-party integrations with things like Microsoft Office, Slack, and Zoom to help people get work done. This could either be seen as a great selling point (users can continue to work from apps they’re already familiar with, and integrate them easily into the cloud storage drive), or it could be seen as a costly negative (many apps require additional subscriptions, like Adobe and Tableau.

Needless to say there is browser access to your files and account settings, but for most, the desktop client should be most fitting. It can be left alone to sync in the background, though we’d like to see some more controls added like bandwidth throttling to help control network usage. 

Businesses will love the team management controls available, like file access, collaboration, and history, but these are nothing unique to Box. The service is let down by its file size limitations, though, which range from 250MB on free plans to 150GB on expensive customized plans. Though this may not be of particular bother to some, media companies dealing with large files like videos could find it troublesome. 

iDrive is best seen as a computer backup tool, with plenty of plans that can be tailored to your storage needs. Backups are typically performed to create a secondary copy of a computer’s hard drive in case of an emergency, like disk failure, however files can also be stored in iDrive only, eliminating the need for them to be kept on a potentially smaller hard drive.

There are desktop clients for Windows, macOS, and even Linux, as well as mobile apps for iOS and Android which can be perfect for personal users who are trying to free up some storage from an overcrowded photo library. All paid plans also allow external hard drive and NAS drive backup, while top-tier Business subscriptions add server backup, so there really shouldn’t be anything left untouched.

Personal and Business users can create backups of an unlimited number of devices, while Team members are limited to just five each. That said, the individual plan is meant for just one user, so families will want to consider multiple individual plans or a Team subscription, depending on how many people they need covered.

We also really value the fact that iDrive will send you one (Personal) or three (Team and Business) free physical backups per year sent on a temporary storage device, for those times where you may not have Internet or your broadband connection is too poor. 

Box vs iDrive: Performance

In our testing of more than 50 cloud storage and backup services, Box was among one of the best. It uploaded a 1GB test file in a little over four minutes, and downloaded it again in around a minute and a half. This is about as good as it gets considering our connection speed, with a sub-one minute download time being the ultimate goal.

iDrive managed the upload in a similar time, but took one minute longer to download. This is still a solid time that beats many of its competitors, but there’s always that free physical copy if needed. 

Box vs iDrive: Support

For less complex troubleshooting problems, Box has an entire catalog of self-help articles and community forums. Email, phone, and live chat support are also all easily found, which is more than can be said of other big names in the game.

iDrive paying customers can also find email, phone, and chat support fairly easily, and a handful of FAQs with limited guidance, too. Team and Business account holders get access to priority support, but in general iDrive support has proven to be pretty quick anyway.

Box vs iDrive: Pricing

Box offers customers a decent 10GB of free storage, but there’s a twist: files are capped to 250MB. Furthermore, the only plan for individuals costs $14 (£11) per month and only grants users access to 100GB, with a file size limit of 5GB. 

Business users can choose from Starter, Business, Business Plus and Enterprise tiers ranging from 100GB to unlimited storage, but there are still file size limits that can present challenges to certain companies. A customizable Enterprise Plus membership can be valuable to very large organizations, but even this has its files limited to 150GB. These cost between $7 (£5.50) and $47 (£37.50) per user per month, for a minimum of three users, though customized plans could cost more.

Like Box, iDrive has a free account with 10GB of storage, but personal users will benefit from the 5TB or 10TB on offer in the paid plan, which costs $79.50 or $99.50 for one year.

The cheapest Team plan, for five users and with 5TB of backup storage, costs $99.50, and this ranges all the way up to 100TB for 100 users, costing $1,999.50 for a year.

Similarly, there are Business solutions costing as much as $11,599.50 per year for 50TB of storage, but owing to the huge number of plans available, we recommend checking the iDrive pricing page for the latest figures. 

Box vs iDrive: Verdict

Picking between similar products can be a headache at minimum, but the decision here is clear-cut. If you need storage to replace your typical hard drive, Box is for you. People and companies looking to create emergency backups of their existing drives, with online storage on the back burner, should turn to iDrive. 

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With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!