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Reviews and expert opinion IDrive

Josh Fasulo Josh Fasulo Expert

IDrive is a great cloud backup for both personal and business use, and it offers a huge amount of storage for the price. You can connect an unlimited number of devices (or business users), and backing up and restoring files is easy.

Overview

A Cloud Backup for All Your Devices

IDrive home page
IDrive lets you back up all your devices into one account

IDrive has been a go-to cloud backup service since cloud backup first became a thing. And with a quick internet search you’ll probably see that it’s considered by many to wear the crown of best overall cloud backup service on the market. But is it the right one for you?

There are three types of IDrive accounts: free 5GB Basic, paid Personal, and paid Business. One thing that sets IDrive apart from all its competition is that you can back up an unlimited number of PCs, Macs, and mobile devices no matter which account you pick. And for Business accounts, you can have an unlimited number of users.

But for all the hype, IDrive’s crown is missing a few jewels. Unlike Backblaze and Carbonite, IDrive doesn’t offer any unlimited-data backup plans, so you’ll have to stay within a data quota. It’s also not the easiest service to use, and backups can take some time. (Check out the Performance section to see my experience backing up a 3GB folder.)

If you can stay within your plan’s quota and want to back up all your devices to one account, IDrive is a great choice. But it may not be the best option if ease of use and unlimited backups are your priorities.

So what sets IDrive apart besides being able to back up an unlimited number of devices? Read on to find out.

Features

4.9

More Features in One Service Than Its Competitors

Data Server Locations California, USA
Backup and Restore Options Daily/weekly/continuous backups, offline backups, idle backups, backup from external drive, multi-device syncing, backup status reports, offline restore option,
Limits and Restrictions Individual file size max 10GB (500MB for continuous backups), no file type restrictions, no fair-use limits, optional bandwidth throttling
Applications and Operating Systems Windows, MacOS, Linux/Unix, iOS and Android apps
Encryption Keys Transfer 256-bit AES encryption, optional private encryption keys
File Access Web, desktop applications, iOS and Android apps
File Sharing
IDrive's great features
IDrive offers more features in one service than any of its competitors

IDrive is loaded with great features, many of which you won’t find with its competitors.

Possibly the most useful one is Snapshots, which gives you a historical view of your data and lets you recover your files from any point in time.

Disk cloning lets you back up your computer’s drive and system image, including the operating system and applications. And hybrid backups let you encrypt your files and store them to any destination on your local devices in addition to the IDrive cloud.

There’s even a feature called IDrive Face that uses facial recognition on your backed-up pictures to help make them easier to organize. So, if you want easy access to that amazing selfie you took last summer at the beach, you got it. And IDrive can also back up your Facebook and Instagram accounts. Not many competitors offer anything like this.

But instead of going in-depth on the bells and whistles, I’ll focus my review on the fundamentals.

Backups

With IDrive, you can back up files from all your devices (and users, for Business plans) to one account. You won’t get this with any other cloud backup service.

And scheduling backups is easy. You can choose daily or weekly backups and pick what time of day they happen. IDrive also lets you set up real-time, 10-minute, 30-minute, or 60-minute continuous automatic backups.

IDrive continuous backup settings
It’s easy to choose continuous backups with IDrive

With regular backups, you can back up as many files as you want, up to your plan’s quota, but individual files can’t be bigger than 10GB. With continuous backups, the quota works the same but your individual files can’t be bigger than 500MB.

IDrive Express

One of my favorite features is IDrive Express, an external hard drive the company will ship you so you don’t have to clog your internet bandwidth for weeks (or even months!) for big backup jobs. This is especially great for first-time uploads.

While some competitors offer physical backups, IDrive is the only service that offers it for free. IDrive Personal plans get one free IDrive Express backup per year and Business plans get three. You can request additional backups, but each one costs almost as much as your annual subscription. If you live in the US, shipping of IDrive Express is free.

For Business plans, you can also back up Linux machines and SQL, Exchange, Oracle, and SharePoint servers. There isn’t a competitor out there who can claim to offer as many business backup options as IDrive.

Restores

You can easily restore your backed-up files from IDrive to any computer or device on your account. You can also restore files from your local drives to any synced device.

IDrive has true archiving, which means your files will stay in your account and are available for restore forever. For paid accounts, any files you back up will stay on your account until you delete them or stop paying your annual fee. For free accounts, IDrive will cancel your account and delete your files after 90 days of inactivity.

It’s important to note that IDrive is a true backup service. So, unlike syncing services like Dropbox and OneDrive, IDrive will retain your files on your account even if you delete them from your computer or device. This is great news if you’re like me and often realize that in decluttering your desktop you got rid of something important.

IDrive offers a physical courier service for IDrive Express restores, but this is a paid service, and the price can be as much or more than your subscription fee.

Encryption

IDrive uses server-side 256-bit AES encryption, which is the same level approved by the Department of Defense for top secret data. This means you’ll have the same level of data security as a secret agent – though I don’t think that makes you an actual spy. Even IDrive Express and local backups have 256-bit encryption.

IDrive also gives you the option to create a private 256-bit AES encryption key, so no one but you will have access to your data. You don’t get this with syncing services like Dropbox, OneDrive, or Google Drive. Unlike a system-generated default encryption key, you define your private key and it’s not stored on the IDrive server, so it’s up to you to remember it.

Two-Step Verification and Data Center Security

Two-step verification with IDrive gives you another level of security, which I think is great. You have to enable it on the web app, and then, when you sign in to IDrive, you’ll need to enter the verification code emailed to you in addition to your password.

IDrive’s data centers are all in California and are custom-designed with a number of state-of-the-art physical security features, including temperature control systems, smoke detection, fire suppression systems, and video surveillance. For network security, IDrive has periodic third-party reviews of its infrastructure to check for known application and service vulnerabilities.

While all IDrive’s security measures are great, some competitors go even further. For example, SpiderOak One uses 2048-bit RSA encryption in addition to 256-bit AES, and it also uses blockchain security to remove human intervention from the authentication process.See full list of features

Ease of use

3.9

User-Friendly Interface but Not Always Easy to Use

Once you’re up and running with IDrive, it’s a pretty easy service to use. But getting there, and understanding its customization options, isn’t so easy.

That said, IDrive does have some pretty cool ease-of-use features worth pointing out.

User-Friendly Interface

IDrive's user-friendly interface
Simple-to-understand tabs make IDrive’s interface easy to use

All IDrive apps (desktop, web, mobile) have user-friendly interfaces. On the desktop and web apps, tabs clearly tell you where to do things like back up, restore, and sync your files.

And changing the folders or files that get backed up is a snap. Just click on the Change button at the bottom of the screen and pick the ones you want. It’s just as easy to restore those folders or files back to your computer or other connected device.

However, IDrive does have quite a few advanced settings under its Settings tab, and customizing these can get confusing. Specifically, I wasn’t sure what percent of files failed for backup was worth getting notified about.

IDrive's Settings options
I did find that IDrive’s settings are a bit confusing

Multi-Device Syncing

With IDrive you can easily sync files to all connected devices. You can log into your IDrive account from any of these devices and have access to the data on any other device. Any changes you make to a synced file will automatically show up on all linked devices.

This is great for Business accounts with multiple users or for Personal accounts if you need access to an important file on your phone or tablet while you’re on the go.

Versioning

IDrive will store up to 30 versions of each file on your account. So, rest assured, you can recover a recent version of your files if something happens to the ones you’ve stored locally, even if they’re deleted from your device. And versions don’t take up space in your plan quota.

Restoring a previous version is easy. IDrive provides a step-by-step guide, but all it really takes is a few clicks under the Restore tab.

Setting Up an Account

Setting up an IDrive account starts off simple but can get difficult if you miss a key step, like I did. During setup, you’ll be asked to give IDrive and IDriveDaemon permission to have full disk access to your computer. Make sure you let it, otherwise your backup won’t work! If you miss this step, go to your computer’s privacy settings and you can grant full disk access after the fact.

Mac privacy settings for IDrive
Make sure you give IDrive full disk access to your computer or your backup won’t work

Once my account was set up properly, it was easy to select the specific files I wanted IDrive to back up using the Change button on the desktop app.

iDrive online backups settings
It was easy to select the files I wanted to include in the backup

I wanted to back up a 3GB folder immediately, so I clicked Backup Now to get started.

I then scheduled automatic daily backups using the Scheduler. These backups will only update the files you’ve changed since the last backup. In Settings, you can also set continuous backups and notifications to alert you when backups are complete or if they fail.

IDrive backup Scheduler
With IDrive, you can pick which days you want your backup to happen and at what time

I downloaded the IDrive mobile app on my phone and gave that a try too. With mobile, you can back up your iOS and Android device’s contacts, photos, videos, and calendar. You can also access and restore any files you’ve backed up via the desktop or web apps.

iDrive backup app
The iDrive backup app was pretty easy to use

The web app is similar to the desktop app, but it includes a few more tabs for you to manage your account. You can view all your backed-up devices and files with Cloud Backup. You can manage your backups and backup schedule through the Dashboard, view account activity in Web Logs, and see what files you’ve deleted in the last 30 days in Trash.

IDrive's web app
IDrive’s web app makes it easy to manage your account online

And then there’s the Sync and Cloud Storage tab. This is where the option to back files up seems to live on the web app, but it doesn’t work. I had constant technical issues with the page refreshing and not letting me do anything. I called customer support for help, but there is no fix. (More on this in the Support section.)See if IDrive is Right for You

Performance

4.5

Backups Can Be Slow, but There Are Ways Around It

IDrive backups can take some time, especially on your initial backup. If you have terabytes of files, I’m talking a lot of time. But when compared to some of its competitors, like Carbonite, IDrive is an Olympic sprinter. And since it gives you the option to do your initial backup with IDrive Express, you can avoid tying up and overheating your computer from the get-go.

I gave IDrive a test drive with a 3GB folder and ran three backups on different days, at different times, to see if day of the week or time of day mattered. I also wanted to see if I was having internet bandwidth throttling issues during backups, so I ran internet speed tests too.

When each backup was complete, a Backup operation summary window, like this, popped up:

iDrive Backup summary
The backup summary is kinda helpful.

Here are my backup and speed test results. (Note, I’m 30 miles from the nearest data center, and my Wi-Fi usually only gets around 29Mbps on downloads and 8Mbps on uploads.)

Backup Day & Start Time Total Backup Time

(minutes:seconds)

Download Speed During Backup Upload Speed During Backup
Thursday 3:40 PM 52:44 23.2Mbps 1.74Mbps
Friday 9:00 AM 53:22 23.4Mbps 6.24Mbps
Saturday 10:00 AM 52:49 23.9Mbps 7.62Mbps

My conclusion: Time of day and day of the week don’t seem to impact how long it takes to back up files. But when I asked customer support about this, they suggested I run backups at night, when there is less internet traffic.

Based on my normal internet speeds, it appears I was having slight throttling issues – especially on my first backup. But since all backups took around 53 minutes, I can’t be sure. Ah, the mysteries of the internet.

I had immediate access to all my files on all my devices after each backup, so that’s good. What’s concerning is that the file count didn’t match what IDrive said I had.

The correct counts (as shown in the Backup operation summary image above) were 51 files and 2.99GB. But my quota suggested I’d only used 2.8GB. And the Files / folder for online backup count said there were only 42 files for a total of 2.24GB. Hmm …

IDrive data quota discrepancy
I didn’t love the discrepancy between my file size and IDrive quota usage

I sent questions about this to customer support and was told it can sometimes take a while for IDrive to fully synchronize. However, mine never did. If you run into the same issue, I’d suggest deleting your files from IDrive and starting the backup again.

Once I had my full 2.99GB uploaded, I restored my files back to my computer to see how long it would take. IDrive lets you restore files to any location on any connected device. I chose to restore my files back to the Documents folder on my MacBook.

IDrive file restore process
Restore your files with IDrive in three easy steps

My restore took 43 minutes (on a Saturday around noon). My internet speeds during restore were slightly quicker than during backup, but not by much.

The IDrive mobile app took less than a minute to back up my phone’s contacts, calendar, and a selection of photos and videos. But the total file size was just 14MB.

Now, going back to internet speed for a minute… IDrive lets you control your bandwidth throttle level. It’s set to 100% by default, for quicker uploads, but you can drop it lower if you want to use less bandwidth during backup. But beware, that will make the backup take longer.

I adjusted mine to 50% and backed up my 3GB folder on a Friday morning to see what would happen, and it took a whopping 4 hours and 12 minutes!Check Out IDrive Performance

Privacy

4.4

Meets US Standards but Doesn’t Raise the Bar

On sign-up, IDrive collects personal information, like your name, credit card, address, email, and password. It will also collect information about you and your contacts if you upload it from your mobile device or a third-party service, such as email or social media. It’s not interested in your dating profile, how many push-ups you can do, or your dog’s name.

IDrive says it will not voluntarily share your personal information or files with any third party without your express consent unless:

  • Required by law
  • To protect someone from death or serious bodily injury
  • To prevent fraud or abuse of its services or users
  • To protect its property rights

It does, however, use cookies and your session records to maintain quality service, run product performance analysis, and improve your experience.

IDrive data centers are all in the US, so it’s subject to oversight by the US Federal Trade Commission and is under the jurisdiction of the Patriot Act and Five Eyes.

If you have an IDrive Business account, your backups will be compliant with:

  • Sarbanes–Oxley (section 404)
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • Gramm-Leach-Bliley (GLBA)
  • Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
  • Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)
  • Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS)
  • The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • EU-US Privacy Shield Framework – though it’s worth noting that some agencies have declared this framework “invalid” and no longer an adequate level of data protection

Some competitors do offer more security, which means the privacy you get with IDrive isn’t the best on the market. But you get military-grade privacy thanks to its encryption, which is pretty darn good.

Copy of IDrive Cloud Backup Review
iDrive may not be the best at privacy, but its encryption is impressive.
See IDrive Privacy Features

Support

The Ups and Downs of IDrive Support

IDrive Support contact information
I was impressed with IDrive’s phone and 24/7 chat support

IDrive has quite a few customer support options. You can get help via:

  • Video tutorials
  • FAQs  but the list is so long it can be hard to find what you’re looking for
  • Online help step-by-step instructions on things like backup, restore, and sync
  • 24/7 chat support
  • Email support
  • A support form
  • Phone support for technical issues (Monday – Friday, 6:00 AM to 11:30 PM PST) and billing and sales (Monday – Friday, 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM PST)

I gave the video tutorials and FAQs a try to see if I could get answers to my questions before turning to a support agent. I could for a few things, but not for all.

I used the 24/7 chat support when I couldn’t figure out why the desktop app wouldn’t back up my 3GB folder. I was connected immediately to a very helpful representative who took control of my computer and resolved the issue. But it did take more than 20 minutes.

I tried the support form to ask about my slow upload and to see if there are any unsupported file types. But I got an email saying the support form was undeliverable.

I sent the same questions to email support (and told them about the support form issue). Email support responded within 24 hours. They didn’t comment on the support form issue or on unsupported file types, but they basically said don’t run backups at busy times of day.

I called technical phone support about my issue backing up a file with the web app. I got through immediately to phone support, and though they were helpful, they couldn’t resolve the issue. It turns out IDrive advises using the web app to manage your account but not to upload files. So I guess they know it doesn’t work, even though the website says you can back up 2GB files via the web. That’s pretty misleading.

Phone support also told me all file types are supported.

Based on my up-and-down experience with IDrive’s customer support, if you have a question or need technical assistance, I’d recommend using 24/7 chat or phone support.

Pricing

4.6

IDrive Has Plans to Fit Most Needs

IDrive Plans & Pricing options
I liked IDrive’s free basic plan and that they run a lot of discounts

If you’re like me and want to give things a test drive before buying, or if you only have a few files to back up, IDrive has a Basic 5GB free plan that includes all the features of a paid IDrive Personal plan.

If you want more backup quota you’ll need to sign up for an IDrive Personal or IDrive Business account. There are a wide range of Business plans, but Personal plans are limited.

With IDrive Personal, you have just two options: a 5TB or 10TB plan. There are no monthly Personal plans, so you’re locked into a yearly subscription, which is a bit of a bummer. These accounts are for one user on an unlimited number of devices.

IDrive Business has plans ranging from 250GB to 12.5TB, and you can choose an annual or monthly plan. IDrive Business accounts can have an unlimited number of users and can back up and sync an unlimited number of computers and servers.

Unfortunately, IDrive doesn’t offer any plans for an unlimited amount of data. And it does charge a fee for usage over your plan’s quota, so definitely pay attention to how close you get to your data cap.

IDrive runs a lot of deals, so check for discounts before you sign up. When I wrote this review, IDrive was running a 90%-off deal on its 5TB plan for the first year!

IDrive accepts Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express. It does not accept PayPal, Bitcoin, IOUs, or hugs.

User reviews

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IDrive REVIEW: BOTTOM LINE

IDrive is a great cloud backup for both personal and business use, and it offers a huge amount of storage for the price. You can connect an unlimited number of devices (or business users), and backing up and restoring files is easy.

Backups can be slow with IDrive, and there are no unlimited-data plans. But if you schedule backups at night and can stay within your plan’s quota, these things aren’t really an issue.

So, if you’re looking to back up and sync multiple devices, you want to keep previous versions of files, and you don’t need an unlimited amount of backup, IDrive is a great choice for you.

FAQ

What should I look for in secure cloud storage?Encryption level is the first thing you should look at when it comes to cloud-storage security. AES is better than Blowfish, and 256-bit is better than 128. Transfer Layer Security (TLS) 1.2 is a nice-to-have too. You should also look for two-factor authentication, if you want the option to require a generated code in addition to your password for login, and private encryption key, if you want to be the only one who can access your account. How many gigs of cloud storage is enough?This totally depends on what you need to back up. If you’re an average user and just want to back up important files from one computer, like documents, photos, music, and videos, 250GB is probably enough. To back up your entire drive and system image, you may need double that. If you’re a gamer or create large project files, you may want 5TB or more. And if you’re looking to connect multiple computers or business users, consider starting at 10TB.Why should I pay for cloud storage if I can get it for free?Some cloud backup services offer free trials, which is nice, but free trials expire. And while free accounts are great if you only have a few files to back up, they usually come with a small storage capacity, and in many cases won’t give you access to all the features of a paid subscription. Paid accounts guarantee you a set amount of storage capacity and full access to all the features of your plan.How is IDrive better than iCloud and Google Drive?When it comes to cloud storage, there’s no comparison: iCloud and Google Drive don’t actually store your files, they sync them with your device or account. With iCloud and Google Drive, if you delete a file on your computer, it’s gone forever. IDrive is a true cloud backup, so if you delete a file from your computer, it’s still backed up on the cloud. IDrive stores your files until you delete them. It also has better security protocols than both iCloud and Google Drive.

Josh Fasulo Josh Fasulo
Josh is a longtime writer and editor with experience in everything from content writing and copywriting to screenwriting. He has an MBA and loves analyzing and overthinking everything. His passions include creative writing, film and TV, sports, spreadsheets, and most of all, spending time with friends and family by the lake. Josh grew up in Maine, lived in California for many years, and now calls jolly-old England home.

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