Extensive features and a low price make IDrive stand out from the crowd. Easy to use and offering lots of flexibility, it’s a solid choice for both new and experienced users. You can read our detailed IDrive review below or sign up now.
There are three different personal IDrive accounts, starting from the Basic plan which offers 5GB of storage space free of charge. This is a subscription, not a trial, so you won’t come up against any time limits, and as there’s no need to enter your credit card details, you can be sure it’ll remain free.
If 5GB isn’t enough space but you don’t want to pay for an upgrade, Basic users have the opportunity to earn account credits by encouraging friends to sign up to IDrive. You’ll receive 20% of a 1TB Personal subscription fee for every account created on your recommendation, and your friend will get 50% off as well. When you’ve earned enough, you can use the credits to purchase or renew your subscription.
The next step up for Basic users is the 1TB account, which is available for $44.62 in the first year, and $59.50 each year after that. This is a generous amount of space if you’re just looking to backup a personal computer, and should be adequate for most users. If you’re still looking for a little more, then there’s also a 10TB option, which will set you back $374.62 in the first year, and $499.50 if you renew. Both accounts can also be purchased for a two year period, although IDrive has a very strict No Refunds policy, so you need to be sure you’re happy with the program before you sign up. If you’re lucky, you may also come across an IDrive promo code (hint – you’ll find one on every BestBackups landing page!).
While the 10TB account is pretty pricey (especially as some providers offer unlimited storage space for under $60 per year), 1TB users get a pretty good deal with IDrive. It’s a very reasonable amount of space and, even without the first-year reduction, the price is at the cheaper end of the market. Ideally, we would like to see a monthly payment option as well, but the Basic plan does at least give users the chance to try out the software before committing to a long-term subscription. Having said this, it’s worth noting that when the first year expires, your account will automatically be renewed at the higher price. As accounts have to be canceled manually rather than just timing out, be prepared to pay more further down the line.
In addition to personal plans, you’ll also find IDrive for Business. With an array of additional features and different storage sizes on offer, subscription starts from $74.92 per year (increasing to $99.99) for 250GB.
Should you decide to go ahead with a purchase, IDrive accepts payment by MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover and Diners Club cards.
Online backup or Cloud storage?
Some providers attempt to combine the strengths of both online backups and Cloud storage, and IDrive is amongst them. Offering generous amounts of storage space and automatic uploads as well as file sharing and synchronization options, these providers are ideal if you want to store a larger number of files but still access them regularly.
About IDrive Inc.
IDrive started life as IBackup in 1995, created by Pro Softnet Corporation (now renamed IDrive Inc after its flagship product). The company was founded by Raghu Kulkarni, a System Integration expert with 15 years’ experience in the field who continues to hold the position of CEO today. IDrive, which changed its name from IBackup in 2003, is currently used by more than two million people around the world.
IDrive can be used from a desktop app, or via their website. There are no restrictions on the type or size of files you can backup using the app, although if you’re uploading files via their website you won’t be able to backup any single document larger than 2GB.
Backups can be run automatically, manually or according to a schedule (app only). Scheduling allows you to pick days of the week and set your own times – even determining exactly when you want uploads to finish.
IDrive Universal Online Backup
With most people today owning multiple devices (the average figure stands at 5 per household), being able to backup from more than one computer without paying extra is a real advantage. So can IDrive backup multiple computers? The answer is yes, thanks to their Universal Online Backup facility, which allows you to upload data from an unlimited number of devices at no extra charge. Plus, with paid subscriptions offering a minimum of 1TB of storage space, there’s a generous amount of space available to keep it all.
IDrive is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux, with the mobile app running on both Android and iOS. If you own devices that run different operating systems, that’s fine too – you can view, edit and share files from your Mac on a Windows device, no problem.
Sync and share
When you make changes to backed up files, all alterations are immediately synced to every device registered to your IDrive online backup account. This means that whether you are using your phone, laptop or tablet, you will be able to access the most up to date version of your files, no matter where you are.
To set things up, you’ll need to sign into your IDrive account and activate the sync process. This can be done online, or by going to the Sync tab in your desktop app and clicking ‘Activate Sync’. You’ll only have to do this once, as it creates a local folder on your computer to which you can add the files you want to access from other devices.
Once uploaded, you can share your files via Facebook, Twitter or email. Once again, there are no limits on file types or sizes, and to add an extra layer of security you can set a password and send it to your desired recipient in advance. This will ensure that only they will be able to access the shared data, and prevent anyone else from snooping on your files. You can also choose whether to allow recipients to edit files, or just view them. All permissions and sharing options can be changed from the ‘Shared by Me’ tab when you log into the IDrive website.
In May 2016, IDrive announced the launch of IDrive One – a wireless storage device that allows you to create your own personal Cloud for saving and streaming files on the go.
Retailing for $100 for 1TB of storage space, or $150 for 2TB, you’ll also get a year-long subscription to their 1TB Cloud storage service thrown in too.
IDrive Smart Docs
Another recent addition, IDrive Smart Docs is a downloadable app that keeps a record of all of your most important personal documents, including passports, drivers licenses and bank cards.
All you need to do is take a picture of the item you want to store, and the app will automatically gather all of its essential information – meaning that you can keep all of your personal information to hand at all times, without having to worry about the original versions being lost or stolen. It will also remind you in advance of when you need to renew or replace the documents – so you’ll never be stuck with an expired card.
Although some may have (understandable) concerns about the security of this data, IDrive maintains that it is kept perfectly safe with 256-bit AES encryption. Whether that’s enough to make you want to hand over such personal information is up to you – but doubtless the convenience of having all of your essential personal details backed up online will appeal to many.
We wanted to find out how fast our files could be uploaded and downloaded using IDrive, so we ran a few tests. To get our results, we started by manually uploading a file and timing how long it took to transfer. We then divided the number of MB in the file and divided that by the time in seconds. From there, we calculated the speed in Mbps and repeated the test four more times to make sure that our data was consistent.
Once IDrive’s upload speeds had been successfully recorded, we ran the tests again on five downloads, using the same methodology. You can take a look at both sets of results in the graph below.
IDrive’s upload speeds averaged 2.8Mbps, with a 100MB file taking four and a half minutes to transfer while downloads performed better at 4.2Mbps. This places them somewhere in the middle of the pack of backup providers, most of whom upload at between 2 and 3 Mbps and download at around 4 Mbps.
While we try to make our results as accurate as possible, it’s important to note that external factors (from packet loss to a poor quality router) can easily affect transfer speeds. As a result, although you should use our figures as a guide, your speeds may vary.
If you want to retrieve or upload large amounts of data without going online or dealing with slow file transfers, IDrive Express is designed to help you out. Once you’ve requested the service, IDrive will ship you a hard drive – either containing the data you want to restore or blank for you to fill up with files. You can then add or remove the data you need, and return the drive. If you’re backing up, IDrive will upload the files for you – a much quicker process than doing it yourself online, especially if your broadband connection is slow.
The Express service should take no more than a week in total, and can be used to transfer up to 3TB of data. All data is secured using 256-bit AES encryption and file path encryption, and you can choose to set a private key if you wish.
Express backup is not available to Basic subscribers, while Personal and Business users are entitled to one free service per year. If you need to do it more often than that, you’ll have to pay $60 (including shipping) each time.
Local backup (IDrive WiFi)
In addition to Cloud storage, IDrive also gives you the option to backup your files to a local device – usually a portable external drive. The value of backing up locally as well as to the Cloud is well known, as it increases the likelihood that a copy of your data will always be safe and sound. In fact, it is advisable to store your files in not just two but three different places for maximum security – so IDrive users should look into finding a third location as well. In addition to this, local backups are also much faster than storing and restoring files online and are a more secure long-term solution.
Local backups performed using IDrive are protected by the same security measures as all of their other file transfers; 256-bit AES encryption and the option to set a private key.
While any mapped drive is suitable for local backups, IDrive do offer a device of their own; IDrive Wi-Fi. A 1TB drive is available for a one-off charge of $99.99 while 2TB will set you back $149.99. While this is more expensive than buying a device from a different manufacturer, there are a few added bonuses. If you’re a free subscriber when you buy IDrive Wi-Fi, you’ll get a free upgrade to the 1TB Personal plan while existing Personal users get a $10 discount.
Facebook and Instagram backups
With so many photos accessed primarily through Facebook and Instagram today, it’s easy to forget to make a copy of the images you want to keep. Unfortunately, this means that if someone removes them or deletes their account, they’re gone forever. To prevent this from happening, IDrive offers Facebook and Instagram backups that store all of your photos and videos (including any that you are tagged in) in a safe place.
IDrive’s True Archiving feature means that, when a file is removed from your computer, it will remain stored in the Cloud for you to download at any time. While you do have the option to delete files permanently, it can be very useful to be able to access documents that you’ve removed by mistake or wish you hadn’t gotten rid of. This also allows you to use IDrive as an alternative storage location, keeping files that you don’t want on your computer in a safe place.
IDrive Rewind (file versioning)
Although IDrive has given it a fancy new name, their Rewind service is effectively the same as file versioning. As with other providers, this means that they will save previous drafts of your documents in the Cloud so that you can access them should you need to return to an earlier version of your file. This is a very helpful feature if your documents are corrupted, or if you need to locate recently removed information. With IDrive, you also have the option to restore older copies of several different files at the same time.
While some other providers only allow you to restore previous versions of your files one-by-one, IDrive allows you to download full folders, and saves the ten most recent versions of all of your files.
Now that many companies and individuals use NAS to protect their data, making backup software NAS compatible is a useful addition for lots of users. Uploading files from NAS is pretty easy using IDrive; just add the device as a new mapped drive. There are also tailor-made browser applications that help you to quickly and easily backup from NAS devices made by companies including Synology, QNAP, and Netgear.
IDrive offers a solid range of security features, including two features that are essential for maintaining the privacy of your data online. Firstly, your files are secured using end-to-end, 256-bit AES encryption, meaning that files are protected while still on your computer as well as during transfer and while in storage. This means that there is no stage of the process at which the company holds your unencrypted files.
Secondly, you also have the option to create a private encryption key. This is a great way to keep your files secure, as the key is created from a password that only you can know. This means that no-one else will be able to decrypt your data, and it’s never seen or saved in unencrypted form by IDrive. As well as keeping files private from company employees, third parties attempting to gain access to stored data (such as hackers or governments) won’t be able to get hold of any information that allows them to view your files.
There is a downside to private encryption keys, however, as they cannot be reset. This means that if you lose or forget your password, you’ll lose access to your backed up files forever. So make sure to choose something that you’ll remember!
Once backed up to the Cloud, your data is stored on servers in IDrive data centers around the USA. These are subject to advanced physical security measures, including temperature control, fire and flood protection and defenses against natural disaster. Access is also tightly restricted, with 24-hour surveillance, motion sensors and secured access around the clock.
*** March 2016 Update: IDrive’s customer support has had a revamp, with basic resources staying the same, but a more user-friendly interface that makes it much easier to find the information you’re looking for. ***
IDrive has an impressive range of customer support resources on offer, from a 24-hour live chat to both email and support ticket-based assistance. If you have any IDrive backup problems, there’s also a phone line available to users both inside and outside of the US, which operates from Monday to Friday, 6 am to 6 pm PST.
If you’re looking for more general information, there’s an FAQ on the IDrive website, as well as a series of video tutorials. Both resources offer advice on a range of topics and are suitable for both new users and those with more experience that are looking to troubleshoot.
Response time and quality of service
While we weren’t particularly impressed with IDrive’s responses when it came to technical troubleshooting back in 2015, we’ve had much better luck since the redesign. Live Chat and Email support alike have produced useful and in-depth answers to our queries, and all communication has been impressively prompt, with all replies coming in 4 hours or less.
Blogs and Social Networks
IDrive maintains an active profile on both Twitter and Facebook. With a respectable number of followers (approximately 24,000 and 55,000 respectively), posts containing company news and industry-related articles on technology and online security are added every few days. Occasional customer inquiries are thrown in too.
There is also an IDrive blog, which features more detailed information on company services and developments.
Setting up the IDrive desktop application is nice and easy; the 19.6MB installation file downloaded and ran on our computer without incident. Once everything’s ready to go, the app will open automatically and, on first use, displays some handy tips on how to get started.
The interface is well laid-out and easy to use, with clearly marked sections and nothing too complicated to navigate. Processes and settings are all intuitive to find and use, and we’re confident that even inexperienced users wouldn’t have too many problems with the software.
With the IDrive app, backing up data is just a matter of selecting the files and folders of your choice and clicking ‘Backup Now’. You can also run uploads from the website, or by right clicking on files and folders and selecting ‘Backup Now’ from the list of IDrive options.
Restoring data can be done from both the app and website as well. Just go to the ‘Restore’ tab and select your files, or choose a document from your online storage and click on the download icon.
Changing your schedule, syncing files and running local backups can all be initiated using the app, with Facebook and Instagram backups and the option to review your upload and download history accessible from the IDrive website.
Using the IDrive mobile app
IDrive’s mobile application is available on Android and iOS phones, and allows you to backup not just photos and videos, but also contacts, calendar info, texts, and call logs. There is also the option to enable automatic camera uploads so that all new photos and videos will be backed up straight away. Although most providers have mobile versions available, IDrive is unusual
Although most providers have mobile versions available, IDrive is unusual in storing more than just image and video files. In a time when so much of our contact with the world is performed from our phones, providing a way to keep your contacts and message history safe seems like a smart move on IDrive’s part. After all, losing your phone data can be just as disruptive and stressful as losing files from your computer.
IDrive Review Conclusion
- Extensive range of features
- Reasonable price
- Good security
- Local backups
- Useful mobile app
We weren’t so sure about
- Auto-renew after first year at higher price
IDrive’s impressive variety of features make it stand out from the crowd, with options such as full mobile backups and physical file recovery providing practical day-to-day help for users. Although it’s let down somewhat by disappointing customer service, a low price, good security measures and plenty of added extras make for a winning combination.