iCloud Drive vs iDrive: Which is best?

Image of someone clicking a cloud icon.
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Until recently, companies looking to store large amounts of data have had to rely on expensive in-house servers, which often require specially trained maintenance staff, while individuals have either maxed out their own computers’ hard drives or turned to external drives and USB sticks.

Cloud drives have really come into their own in the past decade or so, promising generally affordable access to files from virtually anywhere. Picking between the huge number of options can be tough, though. 

We compare two of the most promising options: cloud storage drive iCloud Drive vs online backup tool iDrive. Don’t be fooled by their seemingly similar names; what they offer is entirely different. 

iCloud Drive vs iDrive: Features

Not only is iCloud Drive an accomplished pot of online storage, but it also has big boots to fill. It belongs to tech giant Apple, and is in direct competition with Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive.

Many macOS and iOS users will have already experienced the effortless syncing that iCloud Drive provides, either consciously or without even realizing it. The best experience comes from using the desktop client or mobile app, both of which intertwine with the native file management systems on their respective devices.

Other clients do offer more control in terms of things like bandwidth throttling and proxy settings, however at least there is the option to control whether your files are fully downloaded to the computer, or are kept in the cloud and only downloaded when they’re needed. 

If you’re working from a Windows machine, you will be able to run the respective desktop client which retains most of the core functionalities, even if it does lose a degree of its slickness. And there’s always the browser portal, which includes online versions of the company’s Pages, Numbers, and Keynote apps. There are macOS and iOS versions of these, but no support for Windows, Android, and so on.

iDrive differs from iCloud Drive in that it’s primarily a backing up tool. Depending on your plan, the company will back up any number of devices with some unlimited storage plans. It’s great for tracking changes, too, because it saves up to 30 previous versions of edited files.

If you’re switching over to a new computer - or have experienced a total breakdown of your existing one and have had to restore - the clone feature should be able to put everything back to how it was previously. And if your broadband connection is far from perfect, we really value iDrive Express. This provides either one or three free physical backups per year, which are shipped to you “within a week.” Any more than this will cost you a fee, but it’s a service most will hope never to use.

Backups using the mobile app are less comprehensive, and are limited to things like photos and videos, as well as contacts and calendar entries. 

iCloud Drive vs iDrive: Performance

We compared more than 20 cloud storage drives and backup tools side-by-side, and calculated average upload and download speeds to gauge which were the quickest and most reliable. 

Using the same 1GB test file, iCloud Drive managed a six-minute upload and a three-minute download. iDrive performed strongly, averaging a little over a minute quicker overall. 

It’s important to remember that these are estimates only, based on our own experiences, and are not wholly representative of the services. They do serve as a good indication, though. Because both will typically be left to sync in the background, unless you need quick access to large media files like videos, the difference is truly negligible. 

iCloud Drive vs iDrive: Support

Getting support from Apple is pretty much as easy as it gets. If one of the hundreds of self-help articles doesn’t answer your question, you should be able to get instant phone or live chat support. Live chat support extends into iMessage if you use Apple’s hardware, too, so it’s easy to attach screenshots of any error messages you may be receiving.

iDrive offers similar support channels, and if your query is less urgent there is an online form to submit a ticket, too. Certain paying business customers get access to quicker support 24/7, which is a nice touch.

iCloud Drive vs iDrive: Pricing

iCloud Drive is marketed at individuals, and as such, there is no dedicated business pricing. If the 5GB of free space isn’t enough, users will have to pick from one of the three iCloud+ tiers, which can be shared among a total of six users. 

They are 50GB, 200GB, and 2TB, and cost $0.99 (£0.79), $2.99 (£2.49), and $9.99 (£6.99) per month. All three come with iCloud Private Relay (which is designed to somewhat obscure your browsing location), Hide My Email (for creating unique, random email addresses), and support for your own email domain, as well as storage for one, five, or unlimited HomeKit Secure Video cameras respectively.

If you’re already hooked into the Apple ecosystem and use the company’s other services, you could save up to $25 (£22) per month by choosing an Apple One membership, but don’t be tricked into paying more than you need to for subscriptions you don’t need. Apple Music, Apple TV+, and Apple Arcade, come with either 50GB (Individual: $14.95 or £14.95 per month) or 200GB (Family: $19.95 or £19.95 per month), while Premier plans ($29.95 or £29.95 per month) add Apple News+ and Apple Fitness+, along with a total of 2TB.

iDrive pricing is a lot more scalable, and as such we recommend checking the company’s pricing page for accurate costs relating to what exactly you need.

Beyond the 10GB of free space, individuals can pay for 5TB or 10TB of space. This is designed for one user, but can create backups of an unlimited number of devices, so should work across all of your computers, smartphones, and tablets. These plans cost $79.50 or $99.50 per year.

Business pricing ranges from $99.50 per year all the way up into the thousands, and can be customized to a huge number of staff and their storage needs. 

iCloud Drive vs iDrive: Verdict

In the first of three scenarios, you use Apple hardware like a Mac and an iPhone, in which case iCloud Drive makes total and utter sense thanks to the way it handily sync in the background and integrates deeply into the operating systems. It’s also very reasonably priced compared to its competition. 

If you fit into the second scenario - whereby you’re an individual or business customer needing to create backups of your files which you hope never to need to use - iDrive is one of the best tools available, and isn’t all that expensive for it.

Thirdly, the stragglers. The right decision will almost entirely depend on your own situation: for cloud storage on your non-Apple computer, iCloud Drive fits the bill. If you need mobile access, too, neither are perfect, but iDrive could be more suitable. 

In summary, you either fit into one of the two first categories, or you don’t, and if you don’t, we think you’re best off looking elsewhere, beyond the limitations of iCloud Drive and iDrive.

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!