In computing’s early days, data was typically stored on a user’s device. Any overflow would generally spill onto an external drive like a USB stick, meaning consumers would have to invest their money carefully into a device that would last a long time or face paying even more money for additional hardware.
Businesses later turned to in-house servers en masse, promising access to all data from all computers on the same network. VPNs changed this somewhat, adding greater accessibility, but the entire setup remains to this day rather expensive and can prove challenging to maintain, requiring dedicated, specially trained staff.
Cloud storage seems to be, for now, the ultimate solution, with access promised from virtually anywhere, minimal setup and input from the user, and reasonable pricing. Picking between a storage pot to replace your existing hard drive and a backup tool to make copies of your own hard drive can be difficult, but this head-to-head does this thinking for you.
iDrive vs Google Drive: Features
iDrive’s primary focus is in its service as a cloud backup tool - rather than taking over your hard drive’s job, its purpose is to create online copies in case of emergency.
There are desktop clients for Windows, macOS, and Linux, as well as iOS and Android apps, so most bases are covered. And don’t be thinking that you need to pay for a high-end plan to unlock all of these - unlike some competitors, iDrive supports all of these in all accounts. The only premium features reserved for Business users is server backup.
The overall experience and user interface feels a bit 2010s by today’s standards, but while it may not be as slick as the likes of BackBlaze (which handily resides inside your computer’s settings environment rather than its own app), it’s full of features and remains cost effective.
Inside the desktop clients - which you’ll need to create backups of your computer - there are controls for things like bandwidth throttling and file exclusion, but given that the personal plans come with a generous amount of data, most users will be better off leaving iDrive to its own devices.
The mobile apps are less featureful, but photo library backups come into their own when a subscriber finds themselves on holiday or away from their main computing devices, where they can free up some storage so long as they have an Internet connection.
What sets this company out above all others is the so-called iDrive Express. Depending on the membership tier, paying subscribers can get one or three free physical backups sent to them in the mail within a week, on a temporary storage device. This is great in the case of network limitations.
Google Drive is primarily a cloud storage solution that aims to take away the need for a physical hard drive (or at least a large one). In fact, Chromebooks that run on the company’s Chrome OS typically come with as little as 64GB onboard storage, because most things are dealt with online.
On that note, most users will find themselves using the browser portal for most tasks. Sharing files here is easier in our experience, and the company’s own word processing apps (Docs, Sheets, and Slides) are only available here. While they’re among some of the best apps out there, we would like to see downloadable versions like Apple’s free Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.
If your intention is to work from Apple’s suite - or Microsoft Office - you may find the desktop client to be more suitable. It’s a great piece of software with network and proxy settings, which integrates well with most computers’ file management systems.
With a focus on productivity and collaboration, it should come as no surprise that there’s a healthy number of third-party integrations that are available. Much like Dropbox and Box, there are tools like mind map designers and document converters, so combined with Google’s own apps, most bases should be covered.
In an effort not to lose out against competition like iDrive, Google’s desktop clients also have computer backup functions. Turned off by default, users can create backups that are placed in a separate area of their Google Drive, though this does all come out of the same pot of total storage, which starts at a decent 15GB for free accounts.
iDrive vs Google Drive: Performance
We compared more than 50 cloud storage drives and backup services to see which came out best in several categories, including value, features, and performance. For the latter, we took the same 1GB test file and applied it to all products, testing average upload and download speeds.
It’s important to remember that the results were specific to us - including our own machines and broadband connection. However, while your time may differ, where each drive sits in relation to others gives a good indication of its reliability, stability, and whether behind-the-scenes throttling has been applied.
In the case of iDrive vs Google Drive, both managed an upload of just over four minutes, which is as good as it gets. Some other products took as long as 10 minutes, while one backup client took half an hour. Google Drive came out quicker down the download at under a minute, but this is arguably the most important among it and iDrive. iDrive took around two-and-a-half times as long, but it’s a service you hope never to need to use. And if you do, iDrive Express could alleviate some stress.
iDrive vs Google Drive: Support
iDrive’s self-help pages are fairly comprehensive, however we found great value in the company’s email ticket system with generally quick responses. There’s also a live chat tool on the website. Business users get phone support and out-of-hours access to real-time help, too.
It should come as no surprise that Google Drive has its own catalog of online articles, too, which extend into all areas of the wider company’s products. It’s an added bonus that they’re all neatly designed with easy-to-read bullets and in-text links, which makes navigating between topics super easy. Paying customers get the added bonus of human support through phone, email, and live chat channels.
iDrive vs Google Drive: Pricing
iDrive has three channels of pricing which can get a bit confusing unless you know exactly what you’re looking for in terms of storage allowance and number of users. That’s if the 10GB of free storage isn’t enough.
iDrive Personal plans cost $79.50 or $99.50 for one year, and that’s for either 5TB or 10TB of storage. While they’re intended to be used by one person, an unlimited number of devices can be backed up so you can extend this from your computer to your smartphone and tablet, too, if you like.
Team pricing follows a similar structure, starting at 5TB for five people ($99.50 per year). For reference, 100TB for 100 people costs $1,999.50 for a year. Business plans open the doors to an unlimited number of users and devices, with storage starting at $99.50 per year for 250GB. A 50TB plan costs $11,599.50 for the year.
Google Drive comes with 15GB of free storage which is unbeaten by most, and even its personal plans are good value for money: 100GB costs $1.99 (£1.59) per month, 200GB costs $2.99 (£2.49) per month, and 2TB costs $9.99 (£7.99) per month, which is slightly more than iCloud’s 2TB plan at £6.99 per month, however US users will continue to pay $9.99. Commit to an annual subscription and you could save 16-17% at the moment, which we think is a fairly good deal, though no better than what you could find elsewhere.
The company’s business-oriented plans - Google Workspace - range from 30GB ($6 or £4.60 per user per month) to 2TB ($12 or £9.20 per user per month), and up to 5TB ($18 or £13.80 per user per month). There’s an additional Enterprise plan with customizable storage and pricing for larger organizations, too.
iDrive vs Google Drive: Verdict
Usually when comparing a cloud drive with a backup tool, we’d ask you to assess which you need and go from there, but because Google Drive offers both services in one, it’s hard to ignore. That, and its reasonable pricing, mean that it’s the one we recommend for most people, especially personal users. That said, business users may find value in iDrive’s additional features and compliancy.