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IDrive review 2021

A highly versatile cloud backup solution with a great range of plans

idrive homepage image
(Image: © iDrive)

Our Verdict

IDrive is one of the most comprehensive cloud backup solutions available today. For IT managers that want better control over how and when their cloud backups run, IDrive is the best choice.

Pros

  • Support for many platforms
  • NAS and server backups
  • File versioning support
  • Unlimited devices

Cons

  • Relatively slow upload and download speeds
  • Interface eclipsed by more modern alternatives

IDrive is an online backup solution that can help prevent data loss in the case of hardware failure, accidental file deletion, or act of nature. One IDrive license can cover an unlimited number of devices, but you don’t get an unlimited amount of online storage space.

IDrive review: Snapshot

One IDrive license can cover an unlimited number of devices, but you don’t get an unlimited amount of online storage space. IDrive has a long list of features you don’t find on most cloud backup tools, making it a versatile choice for an IT manager juggling the backup needs of an SME. 

Its relative complexity may be considered a weakness by those who just need a set-and-forget backup solution, and we found its upload/download speeds to be relatively slow. But IDrive consistently offers you more for your money than the rest of the cloud backup market, making it easily one of the best cloud storage solutions for virtually anyone in need of an online backup solution.

Score: 4.5/5

Read on for the full review.


IDrive's competitors

Some IDrive competitors, like Backblaze and pCloud, are simpler to use than IDrive, but they don’t offer anywhere near the level of control you get over your backups from IDrive.

The other key difference between IDrive and most competitors is how licensing works. Most IDrive plans cover unlimited devices but have a limited storage space. In contrast, Backblaze offers unlimited storage, but you need a separate license for each device. 

There are pros and cons to each approach and many other variables at play, but IDrive’s model is arguably more appealing if you need to make backups from a lot of devices. How does IDrive compare to its main competitors?

How does IDrive compare to its main competitors?
IDriveBackblazepCloud
Score4.5/54/54/5
Pros - Unlimited devices - Extensive support for hardware devices and operating systems - Server and NAS backups- Unlimited storage - Simple to use - Good pricing- Lifetime plan available - Mobile app - Integrated media player
Cons- Slow speeds - Fiddly interface - Limited storage- Per-device licensing - Lacks advanced features and customization - No mobile backup- Limited customer support - Pay extra for end-to-end encryption - File versioning costs more
VerdictA feature-packed backup solution, IDrive is the comprehensive, versatile choice for SMEsBackblaze is your go-to for unlimited backups and it’s simple to set up, but it lacks IDrive’s advanced functionality.A great-value backup tool, pCloud stands out for its available lifetime plan, but beware that some common features cost extra.
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Key features

Of course, with IDrive, you can back up files and folders from your computer to the cloud, but that’s just the beginning. You can also back up network drivers and servers.

Gallery: key features and highlights

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A screenshot of IDrive in operation

The settings menu offers a wealth of options for configuring your backups just how you like them (Image credit: IDrive)
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iDrive review

IDrive can scan your local network for NAS devices to back up to (Image credit: iDrive)
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iDrive review

Instead of backing up specific files, you can choose to back up an entire disk or computer (Image credit: iDrive)
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Besides file backups, you can back up servers and virtual machines (Image credit: iDrive)
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IDrive offers a useful backup app for Android and iOS (Image credit: iDrive)

With a Business plan, you can back up servers and databases like SQL Server, Exchange, SharePoint, Oracle, and Office365 data. You can also back up and restore Hyper-V environments and VMware virtual machines.

With IDrive disk cloning, you can go beyond backup files and back up a complete hard drive, with content and information structure kept intact. You can even back up an entire machine, including its operating system, boot files, and program files. 

Besides backing up to the cloud, IDrive can send your backups to local devices or devices attached to your local network. You can then restore your files from these locations. Set it up correctly, and you have a hybrid backup solution where you can access local backups quickly, while still having a safe copy stored online.

Backups can be set to run on a schedule, with optional desktop and email notifications. You can choose exactly when and how often backups are performed, and start backups as soon as the computer is turned on.

IDrive includes a sync feature, which can keep the files in a folder on all your devices synced. Similarly, there’s a Continuous Data Protection feature that will automatically and continuously back up files under 500MB in size.

IDrive retains up to 30 previous versions of your files online. The additional storage this uses does not affect your data quota. There’s an online web dashboard where you can access all your files and check logs.

If you have a lot of data to back up, you can use IDrive Express. IDrive will send you a physical storage device to copy your files onto, and you ship the device back to IDrive. The data is then transferred to IDrive’s servers. All paid accounts include some IDrive Express transfers included for free.

IDrive also has an app for Android and iOS devices. You can use this to back up your phone’s images, files, contacts, SMSs, and call logs to your IDrive online account.

What’s new?

IDrive is a company constantly pushing to expand and move into new areas. Over the past few months, it has released IDrive Photos (a photo storage app for iOS and Android), IDrive Mirror (a cloud-based disk image backup), and ZipDrive, a way to create your own personal cloud server.

IDrive tries to offer a solution to every individual, business, and enterprise need, and it shows no signs of stopping at backup solutions. With IDrive now selling cloud computing and virtual private servers (IDrive Compute), the answer to “what is IDrive?” isn’t as straightforward as it used to be. 

IDrive Online Backup, the core backup product, has also seen incremental updates. In April 2021, the company extended its Synology NAS backup application, so that it can be used on more devices. It has also launched IDrive 360, a new end-point administration platform for backing up multiple computers to a secure cloud.

Pricing plans

IDrive pricing is relatively complicated. It has a free 5GB plan and three paid plans, and each paid plan has its own subset of prices. You can also contact IDrive for bespoke enterprise-level solutions. 

You can pay for plans annually or biennially, but there’s no ongoing discount for paying two years at a time. You do get a discount of 25% for your first year if you choose an annual plan, or a discount of 50% if you pay biennially.

The Personal plan is for one user on multiple computers. You can choose between 2TB or 5TB of storage.

The Team plan accommodates multiple users on multiple computers. Note that this plan doesn’t follow the usual IDrive unlimited-device model. Instead, there’s a sliding scale of prices here depending on how many users and computers you need. The cheapest Team plan, at $99.50 a year, is for a maximum of five users on up to five computers.

The Business plan supports unlimited users, computers, and servers, but you get less storage space for your money compared to the Team plan.

IDrive's pricing plans
Plan type/featureFreePersonalTeamBusiness
Cost per monthFree$5.79*$8.29*$8.29*
Cost per yearFree$79.50$99.50$99.50
Backup/restore
Unlimited devices
Sub-accounts
Server and database backups

*All prices are based on the undiscounted rate of the cheapest available annual plan. Monthly plans are only available on Business plans with 1.25TB of storage or more, starting at $49.95 a month.


Testing IDrive

To better benchmark IDrive against its competitors, we analyzed its upload speeds, which are a key factor in terms of cloud storage.

How fast is IDrive?

IDrive's user interface in use

Uploading test documents to IDrive revealed transfer speeds to the service are relatively slow (Image credit: iDrive)

One of the most important metrics for a cloud backup service is how quickly you can upload and download data from the server. To test the speeds of cloud services, we back up an identical 4.26GB group of videos, photos, and text documents, and then restore them to the same device from the online backup. 

Tests are performed on a Windows 10 desktop computer with an i3-4160 CPU and 8GB of RAM, connected to a central-US Fiber business internet connection capable of 300 Mbps upstream and downstream.

When uploading the test files, the speed was approximately 25 Mbps. Upon restoring the test files from the online backup, the speed dropped to an average of 12.5 Mbps. CPU usage was negligible, at less than 1%.

How should we interpret this data? Compared to its competitors, IDrive is relatively slow at transferring data. In our testing, Backblaze was around 45% faster at uploading and over 100% faster at downloading. CrashPlan for Small Business uploaded around 10% faster, and restored files almost three times faster than IDrive.

The competition

IDrive is the Swiss Army knife of backup solutions, with a smorgasbord of features from mobile apps to hybrid backups. 

In contrast, Backblaze, its closest competitor, is a more streamlined solution. It doesn’t offer mobile backups or disk cloning, and it only offers backups for one computer, but you get unlimited backups and the speeds are much better. Backblaze’s interface is easier to use, and its pricing is straightforward.

Another simpler alternative to IDrive is pCloud. Aimed more squarely at individuals than businesses, pCloud is an easy-to-use service at an affordable price. Again, pCloud lacks many of IDrive’s more advanced features, like hybrid backups, but it offers a mobile backup solution and it beat IDrive in our speed tests.

Besides its annual plan, pCloud also offers two lifetime plans. For a one-off payment of $175, you can get 500GB of cloud storage to use indefinitely. For $350, you can get 2TB of storage. Read our pCloud review to learn more about the service.

IDrive's features compared to the competition
IDriveBackblazepCloud
Mobile backupYesNoYes
Disk cloningYesNoNo
Support24-hour chat and email; Business hours phoneBusiness hours chat; paid support plansEmail
Basic plan$5.79 a month*$5 a month*$4.99 a month*

*  Prices based on the undiscounted rate of the cheapest available annual plan

The verdict

Putting it all together, IDrive is an extremely compelling choice. For a price that’s only marginally higher than competitors, it offers a wealth of additional features. You can use it on multiple devices with one account, it has robust mobile apps, and you can access and manage your backups from a web interface.

IDrive’s desktop app also includes many more features than competitors. It’s more than a file backup tool; it can be used to back up servers, databases, disks, network-attached devices, and entire computers. Besides backing up to the cloud, you can use it to back up to network-attached devices or make fast hybrid backups. For an IT manager with lots of different backup needs, IDrive can be a one-stop solution.

It’s not perfect, though. IDrive transfer speeds have always been pedestrian in our ongoing testing. Backblaze, in comparison, is much faster. IDrive’s pricing plans are complex and confusing, each with different limitations on users, devices, and data storage limits. And for users who don’t need features like server backups or disk cloning, the IDrive user interface will feel needlessly complex.

Still, it's hard to complain loudly about a product giving you too many features for your money. IDrive is the most comprehensive and versatile cloud backup tool available today, and it's easy to recommend to anyone looking for a cloud backup solution for individual or business use.

The Verdict
4.5

out of 5

IDrive review 2021

IDrive is one of the most comprehensive cloud backup solutions available today. For IT managers that want better control over how and when their cloud backups run, IDrive is the best choice.

Richard Sutherland

Richard brings over 20 years of website development, SEO, and marketing to the table. A graduate in Computer Science, Richard has lectured in Java programming, and has built software for companies including Samsung and ASDA. Now, he writes for TechRadar, Tom's Guide, PC Gamer, and Creative Bloq.