Microsoft OneDrive vs iDrive: Which is best?

Man using desktop PC
(Image credit: Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock)

Businesses have historically had to rely on in-house server rooms to store potentially terabytes of data, which have proven costly and require skilled workers to maintain. Individuals, on the other hand, have had less sophisticated options. While many anticipate their needs with a suitable built-in hard drive, those who need more space have often relied on external hard drive and the humble USB stick, which itself has limits in terms of data transfer speeds.

With global broadband speeds on the rise, people are turning to cloud drives for their data needs, but picking from the seemingly tens of options is not an easy thing to do.

When it comes to cloud storage solutions, there are two trains of thought: an online pot of storage that works very much like a hard drive, or a backup tool that stores your hard drive’s data securely online.

We put a big name from each of these categories against each other in this OneDrive vs iDrive showdown.

Microsoft OneDrive vs iDrive: Features

OneDrive is a Microsoft product that has long been a staple for Windows users, thanks to the way it integrates neatly into the native file management system, but there are also macOS, iOS, and Android clients that serve to give users access to their data pretty much everywhere (while an Internet connection will sync files in the first instance, it’s possible to download offline versions which is handy for traveling).

All but the most basic subscriptions come with the company’s suite of so-called ‘Office’ apps, which include the basics like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, among a few more. While this is great news for Windows users, macOS users using Pages, Numbers and Keynote may begin to feel that they are overpaying for a service they do not need. That said, while these files can be saved in OneDrive, Office apps cannot open them. The same cannot be said for Apple’s word processing apps which can indeed open Microsoft Office files.

There is browser access with a simple drag-and-drop interface, too, but the slickest operation by far comes from using the desktop clients which deal with syncing in the background. The bandwidth throttling is great for finetuning if you have a poor connection, but for most, this will remain untouched.

iDrive works differently to OneDrive in that its primary focus is to backup everything on your computer to an online space. It will make copies of everything on Windows, macOS, iOS and Android devices, as well as external drives if you’re one of the many who, in the past maybe, have resorted to outsourced storage. Yes, you can restore files from online, but we really like the additional option to send you a physical copy of your data - because we don’t all have access to the Internet all the time! Individual users can request these once per year while businesses can use the service three times per year for free - any more than this and all users will have to pay a $59.95 fee.

Microsoft OneDrive vs iDrive: Performance

We also really value not just the bandwidth throttling of the desktop clients, but also the fact that only changes that are made to documents are updated in the online backup, rather than the entire file which may include a lot of unchanged data, which helps to speed things up quite a bit.

That said, we found iDrive to be a little slow on the uploading front. It dealt with our 1GB test file in just under 10 minutes, compared with OneDrive which uploaded the same file in around five minutes which we found to be fairly average when compared with over 20 other cloud drives and backup tools. 

OneDrive was let down by its download speed, though. It took over seven minutes to download that same file, compared with iDrive which managed it comfortably under three minutes. Still, the best we got from other competitors was under one minute, so neither excels. This is only an indication, though, as many users will find that their own broadband connection may be the limiting factor.

Microsoft OneDrive vs iDrive: Support

OneDrive users will find a huge number of self-help articles online which are fine for troubleshooting basic issues, but anything that requires real-time human support is better suited to the company’s email and phone support, which we found rather hard to find buried deep in several menus.

iDrive has a clear support page on its site, with a handful of phone numbers and an online form to create a ticket. There’s also an online chat popup window which is really valuable and helps the company to stand out.

Microsoft OneDrive vs iDrive: Pricing

OneDrive’s free plan offers 5GB of storage which is nothing special. There’s also a 100GB plan which costs $1.99 (£1.99) per month, but if you need access to Microsoft Office you’ll have to fork out $6.99 (£5.99) per month for the Microsoft 365 Personal plan, which comes with 1TB of space. Share this among six users (total 6TB, 1TB each) and you’ll pay $9.99 (£7.99) per month which we think is fairly reasonable. There are also annual plans which save you a bit of money, and given that most people will subscribe to a cloud storage platform long-term, we approve of these savings.

iDrive offers 10GB of free space which sounds great, but isn’t a lot in the scheme of backing up an entire computer. Users must commit to annual subscriptions, which start with 5TB for one user. It costs $79.50 per year, or $99.50 for 10TB. What’s great is that there’s no limit on the number of devices that can be backed up, so if you run multiple computers and also want mobile devices backed up, there’s no additional charge.

OneDrive business users will pay between $5 (£3.80) and $10 (£7.50) per user per month for storage only, or $6 (£4.50) to £12.50 (£9.40) for this plus Microsoft Office apps.

iDrive’s Teams plan comes with anywhere from 5TB for five users to 100TB for 100 users, costing between $99.50 and $1,999.50 per year. There’s also a Business plan that caters to an unlimited amount of users, costing from $99.50 per year for 250GB to $11,599.50 for 50TB. It’s worth noting that iDrive often runs deals, so it’s best to wait for a promotion to be running before you commit to spending a lot of money.

Microsoft OneDrive vs iDrive: Verdict

In the instance of cloud drive vs cloud backup, the decision comes down to your existing hardware. If you’re already running a computer with ample storage, iDrive’s backup solution may make sense. If you prefer to spend less on assets like computers, smartphones, and tablets, OneDrive may be more suitable, given that it can lift unused files off your device and keep them just in the cloud.

We think OneDrive offers the best proposition to individuals, sole traders, and even some SMEs, but if you’re part of a large business that processes terabytes of data, the more costly iDrive could be for you.

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!