HiDrive has a diverse range of features, although a poor website and minimal security might dissuade potential subscribers. You can read a detailed review below or sign up now.
HiDrive offers three personal plans, starting with HiDrive Free – a free account with 5GB of storage space that can be doubled by successfully inviting friends to sign up. For more space, you can upgrade to HiDrive 100, which offers 100GB for $6.30 per month. This plan will also give you access to extra features, including email uploads and FTP/NAS storage.
At the top end of the market, there’s HiDrive 500, which gives you (you’ve guessed it) 500GB of storage space, as well as the option to backup from up to five devices, for $13.60 per month. HiDrive 500 users can increase their storage limit to a maximum of 5TB if desired, with prices for a larger quota available upon request.
HiDrive has no subscriptions designed specifically for business users, and a five computer maximum on the largest storage plan means that it is likely to appeal most to personal users. If you want to sign up, payment can be made by Visa or MasterCard.
* Prices given in Euros. Conversions are based on exchange rates at the time of writing
HiDrive is owned by STRATO, a giant in European hosting services and subsidiary of Deutsche Telecom. With more than 50 thousand servers across the globe and over a million customers, Berlin-based STRATO has plenty of resources to pour into HiDrive, as well as other endeavours including hosting and website building services. STRATO is currently headed by CEO Christian Böing, who has formerly held management roles with Vodafone and 1&1 Internet.
As a Cloud storage provider, HiDrive is best used for sharing files and keeping data synced between devices. Files can be uploaded to the HiDrive website both individually and in bulk, although there’s no option here to upload entire folders. If you want to do this, you’ll need to use the HiDrive desktop client, which creates a folder on your hard drive. All documents dragged or pasted into this folder are automatically uploaded to your HiDrive account, and can then be accessed remotely from any device.
There’s no option for automatic or scheduled backups, meaning that those looking to backup large quantities of files (rather than focusing on sync and share options) may be better off considering an online backup service.
You can also use FTP for transferring larger files, and SMB for sharing access to files and devices across a network.
HiDrive can be accessed from a web browser, mobile, or using their desktop client for Windows or Mac. Although there is currently no designated software available for Windows 10 users, we found that downloading the standard Windows software worked fine. They also offer apps for Android, iOS (iPhone and iPad), and Windows Phone 7.
Sync and share options
HiDrive allows all users to share files by creating public links for read-only access, or granting editing rights to other HiDrive users.
For photos, there’s also HiDrive’s sharing gallery, which lets you create an album of images by uploading photos from your HiDrive account, desktop, Dropbox, or even by importing them from Facebook. You can grant friends, family or colleagues access to galleries, allowing them not just to view your images, but also to contribute their own – making it easy to bring together photos of events and shared experiences.
While free users won’t get much by way of security when it comes to sharing files, upgrading to a paid plan will let you add password protection to the links that you share.
From April 2016, HiDrive also offers an automatic synchronisation service, so that any changes made to your stored files are automatically applied across both your online storage and all of your registered devices.
HiDrive does provide something very close to a file versioning service, although versions are referred to as Snapshots, and rather than saving versions of individual files, a mirror copy of your entire backup is made. This then functions very much like a typical version history,
To change your versioning settings, you’ll need to navigate to Backup Control. Once there, you can decide to keep Snapshots for either one or six weeks, and to create them once every four hours, once per day, or once a week. It’s not the simplest system, but it runs smoothly once you’ve got your head around the basics.
HiDrive is also compatible with Synology NAS servers, and can be used to run automatic backups from a NAS drive.
With many important files sent via email today, HiDrive has introduced a system allowing you to save email attachments directly to your storage account. All you’ll need to do is forward any attachments you want to save to your HiDrive upload email address, or ask friends and colleagues to send messages directly to that account, and they’ll be backed up.
Data Send In service
If you’re relying on a broadband connection that’s not top-notch, you might find that it takes a long time to backup your files. In order to avoid this, HiDrive offers their Data Send In service, which lets you ship your data directly to STRATO on a collection of high-capacity DVDs. They will then do the uploading for you, which should save you a lot of time.
Mount HiDrive on your PC or Mac
Although most other backup services create a folder on your computer, HiDrive creates a mountable drive, which acts much more like an additional hard drive. The big advantage of this is that file transfers are much faster, as the files can be saved in a location that is integrated into your PC.
There’s a notable lack of information available on HiDrive’s security features, with nothing to be found on their website and an email request for details on encryption only returning the response “I am sorry but I cannot give you that information”. What can be discovered, however, is that files are encrypted during transfer using SSL and 246-bit encryption, but not at rest or before being transferred to HiDrive’s servers. This means that your files are not protected at any time other than when they are moving between your computer and your Cloud storage.
In addition to this, as you can’t set a private encryption key and documents aren’t protected before they are passed on to HiDrive, the company would theoretically be able to decrypt your files at any time. While that doesn’t matter too much if you’re just uploading a few photos, if you want to backup any personal or confidential data, it could become a major cause for concern.
If you still want to use HiDrive regardless, then there is a silver lining, as their software supports uploads of files that have been encrypted in advance using third party software such as Boxcryptor.
Once backed up, your files are stored in data centers around Germany, where they are protected not just from external damage but also from data loss and access by any unauthorised persons. Your information is also covered by the German Data Protection Act.
If you want to contact a member of staff, you’ll be directed to the STRATO website, from where you can email a support desk for help with HiDrive.
Other than this, there’s a limited FAQ and a Community forum, where you’ll find help requests across a broad range of topics and can browse previous posts for information. Boards are regularly updated, and replies contain plenty of information (including from certified HiDrive reps), although we would like to see a better-integrated means of contacting the team directly.
Response time and quality of service
The email enquiry we sent received a reply within two days – not the longest wait we’ve experienced, but certainly lagging behind the average of around eight hours. The answer, when it came, was friendly and professional, although it required a little extra research on our part before the issue was fully resolved. A second enquiry (concerning their encryption standards) was much more reserved however, giving us very little to go on.
Blogs and Social Networks
HiDrive doesn’t have much of a social media presence, with all of the company’s accounts long out of date, and Twitter limited to a ‘HiDrive 5GB Free’ page with minimal activity or followers. There’s more to be found by searching for parent company STRATO, although their Twitter, Facebook and blog are all written exclusively in German.
Installing HiDrive is a straightforward process – just a matter of a few clicks. While the website certainly can’t be described as too complicated, the lack of product details might leave you feeling a little lost – especially if you’re looking for details on security features. However, if this doesn’t bother you too much, it’s easy to browse through their different account options and sign up.
The HiDrive desktop client is very easy to use, as it consists only of an empty folder and a small navigation pop up on your taskbar. Just copy or drop and drag files into the folder and they’ll be backed up automatically, or use the pop-up to change your settings or navigate straight to the HiDrive website.
This site is where most of the more complex processes take place, from restoring and sharing files to accessing Snapshots and monitoring your available storage space. The interface is dated but fairly intuitive, and although some of the non-standard terms used can be a little confusing at first, it shouldn’t take long to find your way around.
The main problem we encountered with HiDrive’s software is that the whole operation feels like a bit of an afterthought; from its underdeveloped website to its limited customer support. There’s also a notable absence of the HiDrive brand online, with STRATO taking up most of the space but difficult to navigate to thanks to the constant need for a third party translator. The website www.hidrive.com won’t even take you to the page devoted to the backup software – instead, you’ll be sent straight to an overview of all of STRATO’s projects.
All in all, this doesn’t inspire much confidence that HiDrive is being given much love, which in turn throws up some questions about their commitment to customer support and product development.
Using the mobile app
The HiDrive mobile app is certainly functional, giving users access to a broad range of features including uploading and downloading files, accessing shared folders, and automatically backing up photos from your device’s camera. It should come as no surprise that the interface is a little dated, and transfers can be very slow, but it’s simple and flexible enough to serve its purpose with no major problems.
HiDrive Review Conclusion
- Good file sharing options
- Data Send In service
- NAS compatible
- Mountable drive
We weren’t so sure about
- Brand feels underdeveloped
- Lack of information available
- Limited free account
- Weak security – data only encrypted during transfer
There are actually some very interesting features to be found in HiDrive, although they are buried beneath a poor website and an overall lack of easily available information. Despite this, NAS compatibility and the option to increase transfer speeds by mounting HiDrive as an additional drive both give this service a degree of versatility that is difficult to find with other providers.
On the downside, customer service is limited, and the whole endeavour feels like something of an afterthought, with features not explored or advertised to their full potential. Most importantly, security is given little to no priority, with your files only protected during transfer.
If you’re willing to see past its limitations and take the time to encrypt your files in advance, then HiDrive can be a rewarding option. Those looking for a simple service that requires minimal input, however, may wish to look elsewhere.
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