IDrive – Review 2023 – PCMag Middle East

Everyone should have some kind of backup software or service set up, or they risk losing all their data. Most people’s best bet is IDrive, which offers more storage space than most users will ever need for a price lower than most of the competition. It’s also just really great software. It’s fast, easy to set up, and easy to use. You can install IDrive on all your PCs and mobile devices and then not think about it, which is precisely how it should work. For its exceptional value and reliable service, IDrive is an Editors’ Choice winner for backup software.
IDrive offers a free version with 10GB of storage space. No credit card is required to sign up for this version. Most people won’t be able to back up their entire computer with 10GB, but it’s enough space to store a lot of documents and images. It’s also quite generous. Most backup applications don’t offer a free version at all. 
It’s also worth noting that all versions of IDrive, including the free version, can back up files locally to an external or network drive. Many services don’t offer local backup; others, including Carbonite Safe, charge extra for the feature. There’s no device limit, so you can back up as many devices as you like with any of IDrive’s plans.
IDrive Personal, a paid plan for individual users, starts at $79.50 per year with 5TB of storage. You get a discount on the price for the first year ($59.62).
Competitor SpiderOak One Backup offers 150GB for $69 per year. Its 5TB plan costs $320 per year. Elephant Drive charges $100 per year for 1TB of storage and $500 per year for 5TB. Backblaze offers unlimited storage space for $70 per year, though the company recently sent an email saying the price is now $99 per year (it’s still $70 on Backblaze’s website). Notably, that plan can only be used to back up a single computer and doesn’t support mobile devices. All of this means that, for most individual users, IDrive represents the best value.
IDrive’s Business plans start at $99.50 for 5TB of storage shared among five users and five computers and scale up from there. It’s competitive for business-grade backup. Elephant Drive charges businesses $400 per year for 2TB of storage, for example, while SpiderOak charges $320 per year for 5TB of storage. 
IDrive offers desktop clients for Windows (7 and later) and macOS (10.11 El Capitan and later). There is a command-line-only version of IDrive for Linux, intended for servers, that you can only get if you email the support team and ask for it. There are also mobile clients for iOS and Android. 
Before using IDrive, you need to sign up for an account, which you can do without a credit card if you opt for the free version. After creating your account, you get links to the IDrive application for various devices. You must install the software on every device you want to back up.
After installation, you sign into your account and decide which files you want to back up regularly. You can opt to back up only selected folders, such as your documents and pictures, or you can back up your entire hard drive. It’s up to you. 
You can enable an optional syncing service called Cloud Drive from the settings. Any files you drop into your Cloud Drive folder are backed up and synced to other computers, which is much as Dropbox works. It’s not turned on by default, and the company even refers to it as a “separate service,” which is odd, seeing as it’s included with IDrive.
The desktop app makes it easy to back up as many files as you like on a regular schedule—or nearly continuously, called Real-Time in the options. The default is to back up every day first thing in the morning, which is probably ideal for most people. Those who want less frequent updates can choose days of the week and times for the operation. Most people can probably stick with the defaults, granted, but power users will appreciate the flexibility. 
One setting I like is the option to receive email notifications only when a backup doesn’t complete. If everything is working fine, I don’t want to think about it. 
As I previously mentioned, IDrive doesn’t just do cloud backups; it can also back up files to an external hard drive or a network drive. Having at least two backups—one remote and one local—is a good strategy, and with IDrive, you can use the same application to do both. There’s even support for creating a complete disk image, although it’s limited to the Windows version. All these features make IDrive a complete backup offering. 
IDrive can back up your mobile devices in addition to your computer. On iOS, it can back up your photos, videos, contacts, and calendar. Android users have even more options, with the ability to back up all that, plus complete SMS and call log history. There’s also support for Android users to back up locally stored music and other files. 
The photo backup is the biggest selling point here, though, because photos are the only truly irreplaceable data most people keep on their phones. Installing IDrive on a mobile device is an easy way to make sure you never lose those pictures. You can also use the mobile app to browse and download any file you’ve backed up.
You can share any file that’s backed up with IDrive from the web interface. There’s no support for directly sharing a file with another IDrive user, just the ability to generate and copy a URL to the file. You can password-protect shared files, cap the number of times the file can be downloaded, and set the number of days the file will be available for others to view and download. It would be better if you could share files directly with other users, as you can with Dropbox.
IDrive says all uploads are encrypted using 256-bit AES encryption on transfer and storage, which is the industry standard. Multi-factor authentication is also supported. You can use time-based one-time passcodes sent to an authenticator app (the method the PCMag security team recommends), or you can settle for receiving a code by email or SMS. 
During my testing, I backed up 505GB to IDrive in 28 hours and 44 minutes, which works out to an average upload time of 1GB every 3 minutes and 25 seconds. I tested on a Windows 10 desktop with a mechanical hard drive attached to my local network via Ethernet. My home internet upload speed is 50mbps. With these speeds, you can expect to max out your 5TB of storage in just under 12 days, which is pretty impressive. 
When I tested competitor Box, I uploaded 98.7GB of files before my test files maxed out the 100GB of storage provided by the Personal Pro plan. That upload took around 6 hours and 4 minutes, which implies I was uploading files at a rate of 16.1GB per hour, which works out to 1GB in less than 4 minutes, nearly the same as IDrive. ElephantDrive uploaded 1GB of files from a NAS in an average of 15 minutes. Based on that figure, a terabyte of data could take roughly 10 days to upload, but with ElephantDrive, all files are encrypted before uploading, meaning the CPU affects the transfer speed from beginning to end. Your speeds will vary.
The IDrive desktop and mobile applications both have Restore functionality that lets you choose which files you want to restore to your computer and where you’d like them to go. Everything happens in the background, which is what you want, although if you’re restoring a lot of files, it might take a while.
For some people, like those with finicky internet or frequent power outages, initiating a long, slow downloading process that runs in the background over hours or days isn’t a viable option. For those people, IDrive also offers the ability to recover files via a hard drive shipped to you in the mail. It’s potentially much faster to restore a large amount of data via a physical hard drive than over the internet. Subscribers with a Personal plan can request their data via post once per year with no extra charge. Business customers can do it three times a year without paying extra.
In addition to the US, restoration by mail is only offered in Canada, Germany, France, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, and the UK, according to IDrive. If you’re in the US, IDrive provides a return shipping label for the hard drive. Customers outside the US may incur additional shipping costs, and all customers have to pay for any damaged drives. 
This kind of service is not common, but it’s also not unique. Backblaze, for example, offers a similar feature. It charges $185 for the service, and you can get a refund by returning the drive within 30 days. Still, it’s nice to have a quicker option for restoring large backups, particularly for people with slow download speeds.
IDrive is an Editors’ Choice winner for good reason. It’s a complete backup service that uploads files quickly and offers a staggering amount of value—you won’t find a better deal for backup software. Still, other applications may also be worth looking into, depending on your needs. ShadowProtect SPX Desktop is exceptional at creating full-disk images of Windows machines, and Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office combines all sorts of security tools with its offering. For most people, though, IDrive is the first backup solution to consider.
Justin Pot believes technology is a tool, not a way of life. He writes tutorials and essays that inform and entertain. He loves beer, technology, nature, and people, not necessarily in that order. Learn more at
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