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Reviews and expert opinion Livedrive

Josh Fasulo Josh Fasulo Cloud Hosting Expert

“Livedrive is one of the easiest cloud backup solutions to install and use. It offers a unique combination of unlimited cloud backup and convenient storage options, with syncing, sharing, and file-editing abilities, making it more versatile than most cloud backups on the market.”

Overview

Unlimited Cloud Backup with Options for More

Livedrive home page
Livedrive lets you back up as much data as your heart desires

In this ever-advancing, technology-driven world, it seems “unlimited” is what gets people excited. A decade ago it was unlimited nights and weekends. Then came unlimited mobile data. And now, there’s unlimited cloud backup.

Livedrive is a unique service that not only offers unlimited cloud backup, it also provides optional cloud storage with sync, share, and edit abilities.

You can back up media files, documents, and most application files on Windows and Mac operating systems. There’s also a mobile app for iOS and Android devices, as well as Windows tablets, that lets you access and restore files and back up photos and videos.

And like any cloud backup solution worth its weight in bits, Livedrive has military-grade security to protect your files and file versioning so you can easily restore them if something happens to your local ones.

Its basic plan is about as basic as you’ll find, and you have to pay more for better features. But if you’re looking for an easy-to-use backup solution, Livedrive is worth your consideration.

Features

4.3

You Have to Pay More to Get More

Data Server Locations UK
Backup and Restore Options Continuous or scheduled backup, backup from external drive, backup status reports via desktop app, no offline backup or restore
Limits and Restrictions No file size limits, some file type restrictions, fair use limits, optional bandwidth throttling
Applications and Operating Systems Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Windows tablets
Encryption Keys TLS 1.2 256-bit transfer encryption
File Access Via desktop app, web and mobile apps; optional multi-device syncing
File Sharing

Like I said, Livedrive’s basic plan is pretty basic. You get secure, unlimited backup for one computer with access to a network-attached storage (NAS) add-on and the same version retention as with higher-priced plans.

But to get unlimited backup for more computers and access to more-advanced features – like mobile backup, sync, sharing, and file transfer protocol (FTP) for Linux – you’ll have to upgrade plans.

Livedrive features by plan
Each Livedrive plan offers a unique set of features and functionality

Backups

With Livedrive you can back up as many user files as you want from your computer or an external USB hard drive, but you can’t back up system files, temporary files, programs, or operating systems. So while Livedrive is designed to “mirror” the files on your device, it won’t be able to give you a full mirror image or clone of your computer.

When Livedrive uses the term “mirror,” it means exact copies of your files are kept on Livedrive’s servers. Any changes you make to a file will automatically be reflected on your backup. Other online backup providers call this continuous backup.

By default, Livedrive will back up your Desktop, Documents, Music, Pictures, and Movies folders. You can change what it backs up, but unfortunately, it won’t let you back up individual files.

Livedrive backup selection folders
Livedrive selects the most common user folders for backup by default

Once you’ve selected your folders, your first backup starts automatically. Subsequent backups will run automatically as well, but you can schedule them to run either continuously (every 1 to 24 hours) or daily at a set time.

Livedrive scheduler manager
Livedrive’s schedule manager gives you hourly or daily schedule options

Restores

You can execute a Livedrive restore from the desktop app, web portal, or your mobile device. And even though you can’t back up individual files, you can restore individual files.

Livedrive restore
Livedrive lets you restore entire folders or individual files

You have two options when it comes to version recovery: Download the latest version of your files or a version from a specific date and time. Livedrive retains up to 30 versions of your files, which comes in handy if you accidentally save over a file or it becomes corrupted.

But Livedrive is more like a syncing service when it comes to deleted files: If you delete a file from your device, Livedrive automatically removes it from your backup. The file will be available for restore for 30 days, but it will be permanently removed after that. In comparison, IDrive’s true archiving keeps deleted files until you manually remove them.

Livedrive doesn’t have any offline restore options, like a courier recovery service.

Security

Livedrive provides military-grade security with multiple levels of encryption, up to and including TLS 1.2 256-bit. The exact level of encryption you get is mostly driven by what your operating system supports.

Livedrive offers two-factor authentication and the option to ask for a password each time the software starts, but you can’t create a private encryption key.

Files are encrypted during transfer, but they’re not encrypted on your device. And for some reason, the files in your Briefcase are not encrypted by default, which means that in order to protect them you have to manually change your Briefcase security setting. (See Ease of Use for more on the Briefcase feature.)

Livedrive Security Settings - Briefcase encryption button
Your Briefcase files aren’t secure until you click the Encrypt button

Livedrive is available worldwide, but all its data centers are in the UK. These data centers are certified to have the highest possible standard for data security, as well as three layers of physical access security and 24/7 monitoring.

See full list of features

Ease of use

4.8

Simple and Straightforward

One thing Livedrive does well is make its service simple. Installation is painless, and folder selection is so easy, even my grandmother could do it. Livedrive also has some great ease-of-use features.

Briefcase

This is probably the most interesting thing Livedrive has going for it, and it’s what sets it apart from some of the competition. But you do have to pay more to get it.

Briefcase allows you to sync, access, and edit your files from a computer, tablet, or phone. You can also back up your photos and videos from your tablet and phone, and you can share files with friends, family, or coworkers.

But the thing that makes Briefcase unique is that it is storage, not a backup. Think of it like an external hard drive that lives on the cloud. So if you have files you want to keep, but you don’t want them taking up space on your device, you can store them in your Briefcase and remove them from your computer.

MacBook Briefcase folder
You can access your Briefcase straight from your computer

Files you save in your Briefcase sync between all your devices. So if you edit or delete a file in your Briefcase, it will be edited or deleted everywhere. There is no 30-day file retention, so if you delete files from your Briefcase without first restoring them to your computer, they’ll be gone forever.

You can only upload to your Briefcase via the web portal, and there’s a 2GB file-size limit.

User-Friendly Web Portal

Livedrive’s web portal is a true extension of the desktop app. In fact, I’d say it’s better in some ways than its desktop sibling.

Not only does the web portal provide the same restore functionality as the desktop (in a more visually appealing package), it provides more accessibility to your files.

While you can see every file in your backup from the Restore tab on the desktop app, every file looks the same and you can’t preview them. But on the web portal, every file type has a unique display (if recognized) and you can preview all image files and watch the entirety of your videos.

Livedrive web portal Latest Files view
Access files, preview images, and watch videos from your web portal

The negatives with the web portal are that you can’t open document files and you can’t run backups. Backups have to be done from the desktop app.

Unique Mobile App (for Higher-Priced Plans)

With Livedrive’s basic plan, you can easily access your account and restore files from your mobile device. But if you pay for a higher-priced plan, the mobile app lets you do much more: back up photos and videos, access your Briefcase, mark pictures and videos as favorites, and share files.

But my favorite feature in Livedrive’s mobile catalog is its Music & Playlist function. This lets you play music you’ve backed up with Livedrive straight from the mobile app. You can search for songs by artist, album, year, or genre, and you can even create a playlist.

Livedrive’s Music & Playlist mobile app feature stands out from competitors

Setting Up an Account

Setting up an account with Livedrive is easy. It starts with picking a plan, and once you’ve done that and filled in a few details, Livedrive will walk you through the desktop app installation process.

You do have to go to your computer’s privacy settings to allow downloads from Benjamin Fleischer (Livedrive’s software developer) so that the desktop app will install. But again, Livedrive holds your hand and tells you exactly what to do.

MacBook download privacy settings
Livedrive won’t work if you don’t allow Benjamin Fleischer apps to download

If you choose the Standard setup option, Livedrive will automatically start backing up all the supported folders on your computer once the desktop app is installed.

Really, the only element of account setup that can get complex is adjusting advanced settings, if you decide the default settings aren’t doing it for you.

Livedrive advanced settings
Advanced settings, like Proxy and System Settings, are indeed advanced

The desktop app is the hub for all your backup-related needs, but you can access your account (and Briefcase) and perform restores from the web portal or mobile app too.

See if Livedrive is Right for You

Performance

3.4

Up-and-Down Speeds and Some Technical Speed Bumps

To test Livedrive’s backup speeds, I ran three tests using a 3GB folder of documents, photos, and videos. What I found was varying performance and some concerning technical issues.

Here are my backup test results, including my internet speeds during upload. (Note: I normally get around 8Mbps for uploads and 29Mbps for downloads, and I’m 30 miles from the nearest data center.)

Backup Day &

Start Time

Total Backup Time

(minutes)

Upload Speed During Backup Download Speed During Backup
Tuesday 9:35 a.m. 76 6.03Mbps 24.21Mbps
Friday 1:50 p.m. 36 3.65Mbps 21.90Mbps
Saturday 9:30 a.m. 67 7.01Mbps 21.10Mbps

Livedrive doesn’t throttle bandwidth by default, but you can adjust throttling in advanced settings. I kept mine at the default for my backups.

The 76 minutes it took on Tuesday to complete my 3GB backup was slightly more than most competitors I’ve tested – and I’ve tested quite a few. But 36 minutes on Friday was faster than most, which seemed odd considering my speed test suggested I was getting a much slower upload speed on Friday.

I can live with middling, varying speeds. But it’s the multiple technical issues that concerned me most.

Before I even ran my first backup, I noticed a discrepancy in the size of the folder I selected on my computer (3GB) and the amount of data Livedrive recognized in it (2.79GB). I asked customer support about this issue. (See the Support section to find out more about my experience.)

Livedrive folder size discrepancy issue
I ran three backups and the folder size on Livedrive was wrong each time

During your backup, Livedrive gives you a status update on its Dashboard. Overall completion percentage and time remaining are the most helpful pieces of information it provides, but what I learned was that they’re not always accurate.

Livedrive backup status update in progress
Livedrive’s status update said 7 minutes were remaining but it took another hour

When your backup is complete, the status update will tell you so. But it doesn’t tell you when the backup finished. And, as expected, it only uploaded 2.79GB of my 3GB folder.

Livedrive backup status update complete
Livedrive’s completion report looks nice but doesn’t tell you much

Before running my second test, I wanted to delete my folder so I could re-upload it. But unfortunately, you can’t easily delete folders or files. The only way to actually “delete” folders from your backup is to remove your entire device from Livedrive.

When I began my second test, something seemed off. I soon saw what it was when my backup finished in three minutes: Livedrive had only backed up 282.4MB of my 3GB folder. I then discovered that the 3GB folder on my computer had somehow shrunk in size! I reached out to customer support to find out why. (See Support for the result.)

Folder size issue after Livedrive backup
Backing up a 3GB folder to Livedrive shrank the folder on my computer

I also tried a mobile device backup with my iPhone. Mobile backup is for photos and videos only and is a direct sync to your Livedrive Briefcase. You can either select specific files for upload or give it full access to back up all your media. I gave it full access, and it took over 2 hours to back up 3GB from my mobile device and 5.5 to upload my entire 8.5GB.

In addition to backups, I tested Livedrive’s restore functionality. It took 1 hour and 47 minutes to download my entire 3GB back to my computer. My download speed during restore was 20.87Mbps.

Finally, I gave Briefcase storage a try. Unlike with a backup, you can’t upload folders to your Briefcase; you can only upload individual files. And you have to do it through the web.

Small files upload in only a few seconds. But one annoying thing about the Briefcase is that before you can upload a large file, Livedrive has to prepare it. Only then can you drag and drop it to be uploaded.

This process worked fine on a 450MB video file, but when I tried to upload a 1.5GB video file to my Briefcase, it took 10 minutes to prepare and then it froze after another 23 minutes, about two-thirds of the way through the upload.

Livedrive Briefcase large file upload failure
I didn’t like that Livedrive couldn’t upload a large video file to my Briefcase

My colleague installed Livedrive on her PC and uploaded a large file to her Briefcase without issue – so it’s possible my problems had to do with my Mac or internet speed. But the extent of trouble I experienced was frustrating.

See if Livedrive is Right for You

Privacy

4.5

A Global Service with European-Level Privacy

Livedrive is a UK-based company with UK data centers. It’s fully compliant with EU privacy laws and is registered under the Data Protection Act and with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

The service is available globally, but if you transfer any personal data to someone outside the European Economic Area (EEA), Livedrive does not take responsibility for it.

Livedrive collects your email address and password upon signup and also requires you to provide your name, post code, country, and a credit card.

Livedrive account setup personal details
You have to provide quite a few personal details to set up an account

Livedrive will use your personal data to provide services to you, operate and improve its sites and apps, communicate with you, conduct surveys, ensure security, and comply with the law.

It may disclose your personal data to legal and regulatory authorities, external advisors and processors (such as accountant, lawyers, and payment service providers), as well as third-party providers of advertising, plugins, or content used on its sites or apps.

If you interact with third-party advertising, plugins, or content, you should review the third party’s privacy policy, because Livedrive isn’t accountable for the privacy of those interactions.

Livedrive displays personal data on your profile page, but it may show up elsewhere on your account as well. You have the ability to make some of your information public through certain features, such as sharing files from your Briefcase. If you plan to use these features, make sure you only include personal info on your profile you’re willing to make public.

Livedrive masks your files on its servers and splits your data across multiple independent systems, none of which contain enough information to retrieve an individual file in any unauthorized manner.

See Livedrive Privacy Features

Support

2.9

“Live” in the Name, but Not in the Support

Livedrive support is limited to a knowledge base, blog, and ticket submission system for technical issues or billing and account questions. Unfortunately, there’s no phone or live chat support.

Livedrive support page
Livedrive urges you to use its knowledge base, but answers are hard to find

The knowledge base has more than 100 FAQs and articles in six languages, and the blog has some interesting entries. To view them you must have an account and be logged into the web portal.

I used the knowledge base to answer some basic questions for this review. But one aggravating thing about it is its search function, which pulls up articles and FAQs in six languages and makes finding what you’re after a slog.

For answers I couldn’t find in the knowledge base, I submitted a ticket. I also asked about the issues I encountered while running my backup tests.

It took less than 24 hours to receive an email response to my ticket. Unfortunately, the customer support agent only answered half my questions and didn’t provide thoughtful answers on some of them, including my technical issues.

Livedrive support email response
Livedrive support hoped they answered everything I needed… but did not

I sent a follow-up email to try to get an answer about my technical issues. It took five days to get a response. The support agent tried to identify the problem and a fix but instead identified deletions I had made manually and a folder of documents he thought could be the problem. But that didn’t match the file-size discrepancy I was seeing.

Livedrive support follow-up email response
Livedrive support couldn’t properly identify the cause of my technical issues

I followed his fix instructions anyway, and then created a new 3GB folder for backup that didn’t include the potentially harmful files, to see if it might indeed have been the issue… It wasn’t. I ran into the same issue again. I emailed back but never got a response.

Of all the cloud backup solutions I’ve tried, I’d rank Livedrive’s support at or near the bottom.

Pricing

4.0

Two Backup Plans and One Briefcase to Pick From

Livedrive plans
Features are limited unless you pick the most expensive Livedrive plan

Livedrive only gives you three plan options: Backup, Briefcase, and Pro Suite. If your primary concern is cloud backup, you can choose the Backup plan for unlimited cloud backup for one computer.

If you only want cloud storage, with sync, sharing, and file editing abilities, Briefcase will give you 2TB of storage.

Pro Suite is the best of both worlds. It gives you cloud backup for up to five computers and 5TB of cloud storage, with all its features and functionality. Pro Suite will also let you back up photos and videos from your tablet and mobile devices. But it’s more than double the price of the Backup plan.

You can pick from monthly or annual subscriptions. And you can get a 14-day free trial of any Livedrive plan, but you have to provide a credit card from the outset and will be charged automatically if you don’t cancel before the trial expires.

Livedrive accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Maestro cards.

One last thing: I’ve heard that some people had issues canceling their Livedrive account, but I didn’t. You can’t cancel online, but if you call Livedrive, they’ll do it for you over the phone.

Comparison

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User reviews

Based on 1 reviews in 1 languages
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Brett
South Africa
May 25, 2021
Total Garbage

Incredibly slow - rate limited to hell and gone Data corrupt on their servers making it irretrievable Support is unmeaningful and unhelpful We had many live drive accounts as a reseller and the product is totally defective. A good idea, very poorly implemented. Stay away, you have been warned. Look to one drive as an alternative. At least you won't lose your data and then get fed a whole lot of BS from support when you want to know why.

Family sharingMulti User SharingExpert SupportBackupSmart syncPersonal SolutionBusiness SolutionTeams optionsOffline foldersFile history and recovery

Livedrive REVIEW: BOTTOM LINE

Livedrive is one of the easiest cloud backup solutions to install and use. It offers a unique combination of unlimited cloud backup and convenient storage options, with syncing, sharing, and file-editing abilities.

It doesn’t have file size restrictions, but it does limit the number of computers you can back up and there are file type restrictions, including system files. So Livedrive can’t give you a full mirror-image backup of your computer.

Livedrive provides high-level security with a privacy policy geared toward the EU, so if you live outside the EU, you may need to take extra precautions with the personal data you make public. But if you’re OK with being a bit more cautious, Livedrive can give you versatility with cloud backup and storage that you won’t find with many competitors.

FAQ

Is there a difference between online backup and cloud storage?Yes. Online backups keep up-to-date copies of your files in the cloud so that if something happens to the files on your computer, you have versions available for recovery. Backups protect you against things like ransomware, natural disasters, and theft. Cloud storage doesn’t protect your files. Storage is more like an online external hard drive that lets you upload and sync files for easy access and sharing. With storage, the version of the file in the cloud is the same version that’s on your device. So if something happens to your file in one location, it’s affected in all locations.Can I get unlimited online backup?There are quite a few cloud backup services that offer unlimited backup, including Backblaze, but many of them cap the number of devices you can have on your account. Some also have file type restrictions that might make your need for unlimited unnecessary. For more cloud backup services with unlimited backups, check out our list of the top cloud storage services in 2022.Is Livedrive good for beginners?Livedrive is great for beginners because it’s easy to set up and use, and accessing and restoring files is a breeze from the web or your mobile device. Even scheduling backups and selecting folders for backup is simple. And once you’re set up, backups are automatic, so you can rest assured your files will always stay up to date.How is Livedrive better than iCloud or Google Drive?iCloud and Google Drive are great syncing storage services, but they’re not cloud backup solutions. With iCloud and Google Drive, if you delete a file on your computer, it’s gone forever. While Livedrive offers optional storage with its Briefcase, its cloud backup solution means it will retain up-to-date copies of your files in the cloud, so if something happens to the files on your computer you have a backup that you can easily restore.Does Livedrive have iOS and Android apps?You bet. Livedrive has apps for iOS and Android, as well as for Windows tablets. You can easily access and restore files from the mobile app, and depending on the plan you pick, you can back up your mobile device’s photos and videos. The mobile app also has a pretty unique music function that lets you play backed-up music straight from Livedrive.

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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