- SUPER-fast restore
- Plenty of options
- Good monitoring
- Windows and Mac client
- Great web interface
- Cluttered interface
- Not very newbie-friendly
- No sharing, no syncing
If you like fast and reliable backup (and who doesn’t?), then sign up for IDrive. It is one of the most reliable and fastest online backup services out there, and its restore speed is especially top-notch. Adding free syncing and sharing options would make this service perfect.
Who is IDrive Online Backup for?
Though having really improved their whole interface, I’d still recommend IDrive for more advanced users. You don’t need to be an expert or extremely tech-savvy but you should feel comfortable about digging deeper into some menus to take full advantage of IDrive’s capabilities. The good thing is you can do that but it’s by no means necessary. So technically you can rely on the backup and restore wizard without a second thought about some advanced properties. Also, IDrive recently added a competitively priced unlimited account ($49.95/year) to their product portfolio, which might be interesting for you if you have huge data storage needs. This might be one of the reasons why you might prefer IDrive to SOS Online Backup. If you are looking to sync your data among multiple devices you need to be prepared to pay $4.95/month extra with IDrive, if you need more than 5GB syncing space.
IDrive Online Backup Review
IDrive is a service of the Pro Softnet Corporation which was founded back in 1995. So they rely on quite a lot of experience in the digital/online sector. Though IDrive is relatively new they claim that they can draw from this 15-year experience in this sector. We’ll see how well they do! In this IDrive review I am going to to have a look beneath the shell of IDrive online backup and whether they can live up to services like SOS Online Backup and Mozy.
IDrive Pricing and Plans
It is quite exciting to review recent developments in price drops within the online storage industry. Competition is quite fierce and data storage prices have never been as cheap as they are today. This obviously benefits us as consumers who are in desperate need of an online backup solution. So let’s have a look at the different pricing and plans, and what you’ll get for it.
IDrive Pro Plan
The base account (which is oddly named “Pro”) will cost you $4.95 per month or $49.95 per year, and you’ll save 2 months of fees if you are willing to commit yourself for a whole year. With this plan IDrive lets you backup one PC. SOS Online Backup gives you a total of 5 PCs, however, it is a little more expensive ($9.95/month) and has 50GB less storage. Since IDrive offers a generous 30-Day-Money-Back Guarantee, I highly encourage you sign up for a year to save those two months. If you need more space and more PCs you have to choose the Family Plan for $14.95/month, which gives you a whopping 500GB and 5 PCs. But don’t fool yourself – those 500GB are going to be quickly filled with your child’s movies and other media files.
Some of you will like IDrive’s overuse policy and some of you won’t. When you need more than the GB allocated to your plan, you’re charged $0.50 per GB per month extra. I’d recommend you find the right plan for your needs and then stick to it because you’ll get a much better bang for your buck.
IDrive Unlimited Plan
If you already know you need more than 150GB, you might want to check out their unlimited plan for an even cheaper $49.50/year. There are, however, important limitations to that “unlimited” account. Though having unlimited storage space there is going to be an upload bandwidth cap at 150GB to 200kb/s which will slow your backups down considerably. Also, backups are not stored in a second location and deleted files are removed after 30 days. Thus, the unlimited plan is definitely not a no-brainer. For this IDrive review I signed up for the Pro Plan because I’ll only upload 1GB of test files anyway. If you want truly unlimited backup with (almost) no restrictions you might want to consider BackBlaze instead.
- Bargain base storage plan
- Unlimited plan still quite limited
Last but not least, the Free Plan
If you just need to backup the occasional documents or a couple of important family photos, you might want to go for the free plan, which gives you a great 5GB (which is almost industry standard nowadays). SugarSync gives you 5GB free as well, while Mozy and Keepit only offer 2GB completely free accounts. Sign up for a free IDrive account.
First impression: signing up and paying the bill
When visiting IDrive’s website you’re immediately invited to get the forever free 5GB account that promises hassle-free online backup for small storage needs. The fact that they’re announcing that so prominently shows confidence in their own product. SugarSync also offers a forever free account, however, it is quite hard to find on their website. Instead, SugarSync wants you to sign up for a 30-day free trial – but you’d need your credit card.
So you can feel free to test IDrive as much as you want with 5GB of data. I decided to sign up with the Pro account since I want to give an honest review here, showing you that I am an actual paying customer who knows what he’s talking about.
Looking at the pricing tab in the top navigation bar, you are forwarded to their different plans. One the left is the forever free 5GB plan and on the right, the paid plans. It’s weird though that there is only one general “Sign up Now” button. Thus, you don’t know which plan you’re signing up for. However, this is clarified in the next step where you can pick your exact plan.
As with all online backup services you can pay with a credit card. There is no PayPal option available. So after inserting all your basic account and credit card info with a click on “Sign up for a new account,” you can confirm the account creation process.
I like s one-step account creation process. There are some providers that let you click through pages and pages before you’re actually able to set up your account. In the last step you get to download the client software, which will allow you to perform the backups on either a Windows or a Mac machine.
- Easy account creation process
- Windows and Mac client software
- No PayPal option
- First-sign up step might be confusing
How to back up your data with IDrive
Prior to backing up your data you need to install and set up the client software. And since the last versions of IDrive they have really improved of ease-of-use and set-up speed. Still, there are lots of features that might confuse an inexperienced user. But don’t worry – we’ll cover the whole process in detail in this IDrive review.
After installation is complete you’re welcomed by a login screen where you just need to insert the credential you used when signing up for an IDrive account. I personally think they should have uncluttered this login screen a lot more. There are simply too many buttons and options. For example, why would I want to upgrade my account even before I logged in to use it for the first time?
However, I like the ability to be able to setup a proxy for additional security, though I doubt that many users will make use of that feature. This is a feature I have already positively pointed out in my MyPCBackup Review since not all online backup services include this feature into their clients.
When clicking on connect you are prompted with another dialogue box that asks to set up an encryption key. You can have IDrive set one up for you, or choose a private one which is also recommended. It’s not clear to me, however, why this is not the default option. So I’d recommend you always choose a private encryption key – but don’t ever lose that one because you are not going to be able to recover your data afterwards!
IDrive’s Client interface
At first glance, IDrive’s client seems quite overloaded. Especially when you compare it with SOS Online Backup or BackBlaze, which both present a very cleaned-up interface. If you are new to backup this might confuse you quite a bit and I guess a solid “interface diet” would be necessary here.
A nice feature, though, is the built-in bandwidth test which I haven’t seen so far in other online backup services. So I couldn’t resist testing my upspeed, which is the decisive factor for knowing how long your backup is going to take and it projected 9.71 hours for an upload of 1GB. I think I can do better than that – the reason is it just measured 240kb/s, and my line is a lot faster than this.
Like Mozy, IDrive also categorizes you data into “backup sets” which are the standard Windows folders for pictures, music, videos and the like. So if you know you only have important data in those folders, you could go ahead by clicking “backup now” and everything is going to be fine. However, for the purposes of this review, we’ll fine tune that a little bit since we want to compare speed and reliability among all the tested online backup services.
When you are only remotely familiar with the Windows file explorer, you’re not going to have any difficulties selecting your files. As always I’ll backup my test folder of 1GB of test files. Though I am a friend of clean and uncluttered interfaces, I do like the information IDrive gives me. For example I know exactly how many GB I already selected and how much of my quota is still left. However, IDrive does this less elegantly than Mozy.
I absolutely love the feature to backup any drive that is connected to your PC. So there is no problem to make a backup from an external hard drive.
Scheduling your way to peace of mind
After setting up your folders you might want to play around with some of the scheduling features. IDrive offers only daily backups whereas SOS Online Backup gives you the option to backup hourly as well. Some other online backup services such as MyPCBackup like to add an extra charge for hourly backups. IDrive lets you set the time, which is useful when you need to back up your private data when you are working at the office. So when you come home – everything is already backed up.
Like SOS Online Backup, IDrive offers email notifications after a backup is finished. However I’m never lucky with those notifications – they just don’t seem to arrive at my inbox.
If you are feeling really fancy you can dig even deeper into the backup option and set a bandwidth throttle in case your PC or internet connection is very slow.
If you for whatever reason need more than daily backups, you can opt for “Continuous Backup”. This detects changes in your selected folders automatically so you don’t have to worry about that. But there are some restrictions to that: only files below 500MB are being selected for backup and you can’t back up system files and mapped drives. Thus, it is clearly NOT a replacement for the normal scheduled backup.
Monitoring your backup
When you click on “Backup Now” you initiate your backup and a status bar with estimated time left, effective transfer rate, time elapsed and backup files, givings you the most detailed overview I have seen so far in an online backup service. Yet again, IDrive runs the risk of cluttering their interface with too much information. But I won’t complain this time since I heavily critiqued that in other online backup reviews. I found SOS Online Backup especially tedious because I had to go into the online client to figure out how much data had been backed up already.
Backup your files with a right click
The more I used and tested different online backup providers to see which one suited my needs best, the more I came to like one feature: right click -> Backup this file now. Fortunately, IDrive offers this feature to their clients and this is especially interesting when you are currently working on a super important document or Photoshop file and want to backup it up NOW. Just right click -> Backup this file now and continue working while it is being backed up.
Manage your files remotely – the web client
The web client, though not as feature-rich as the desktop client, allows you to reschedule your backups and manage your entire backup selection remotely. This way you can backup your data even when you are not at home, in case you forgot something important the day before you went on vacation. Obviously your PC needs to be connected to the internet and switched on.
I really do like the online client and the features it offers and the best thing is: it is fast. So I might just stick with the web client and not work with the desktop client anymore.
Backup speed and detailed report
Backup time totaled 3:27h which is not too bad and locates IDrive in the middle segment in terms of speed. I especially like the detailed report list of my files and a summary of how long it took to backup everything. In case of an error you can have a look at the report document to figure out what’s wrong and when it happened.
- Fast data selection
- Plenty of options
- Continuous backup
- Great backup status and report
- Reliable and fast backup process
- Cluttered interface
- Too many options
- No hourly backups
How to restore your data with IDrive
The most important aspects when it comes to restoring your data are speed and reliability, because you want your data fast and you want it flawless. IDrive really surprised me with its recovery speed. It used my entire bandwidth so I could restore my 1GB test folder in about 10 minutes, which is great.
Choose what files you wish to restore
You are already familiar with IDrive’s file browser and now you have the chance to deepen your knowledge even further: you can either choose to back up your files entirely or you can select individual files. This is nothing special as every major backup company offers this feature and with good reason: if you have 500 GB of data and you experienced a system crash and need to finish that one project today, there is no need to recover all your data at once. Just select what’s most important to you right now and schedule the rest for later when you have more time.
Up to 30 file versions
IDrive stores up to 30 file versions and the good thing is they don’t add to your storage quota. This allows you to go back in time in case you need a file status prior to your last backup. This can literally save your ass when you have accidentally saved or overwritten a file.
As usual, you can specify a dedicated restore location. So you could restore your data directly on an external hard drive or to whatever folder you wish. Unfortunately, I couldn’t create a folder right from within the wizard. So if I wanted to restore my data into a specific category it is important to have it already created.
Restoring with the web client
Obviously you can restore your data with the web client as well. So you don’t need to install the software to get to your precious data. Doesn’t matter how you want to restore your data you always, always need your private encryption key. Without that key your data is forever lost.
At the end of the restore process you get a detailed report which gives you a good overview about what’s happened to your files. If you’re a geek like me, you’ll like that feature.
My data has been restored correctly and super-fast. You’ll appreciate that especially when you have experienced data loss.
- 30-day version history
- Very fast restore process
- cluttered interface
IDrive Online Backup Review Summary
I really wonder why IDrive isn’t that well known. I think all in all it is a superb online backup service and ideal for your important data. I really wish they had a “more unlimited” backup plan that wouldn’t throttle my backup speed. However if you are looking for a backup solution to back up as much as 150 GB – look no further. I think you’re going to love IDrive because of its reliability.
With this last statement I’ll try to address a concern one might have: Can I trust a fairly unknown company? My answer is: I definitely think so. However, you always have to be careful with your data and always have multiple backups at hand. But with IDrive you can’t go terribly wrong.
Let’s have a look at some important IDrive specs.
Like what you read?
If so, please join over 2,000 people who receive exclusive online backup and cloud storage tips & coupons. Also, get a FREE COPY of my eBook, Online Backup 101 (PDF, Kindle and MP3)! Just enter your name and email below: