iDrive review

When we last looked at iDrive it represented a nice middle-ground between Mozy and Carbonite, offering some of the control and power features of the former with the continuous backup and ease-of-use of the latter. Now, faced with a more accessible Mozy and a more feature-packed Carbonite, the danger is iDrive could be squeezed out of the running.

Luckily, the service offers some positives. The client is slick, easy to use, and packed with useful features such as a bandwidth test tool and a bandwidth throttle. iDrive automatically selects a solid collection of files and folders to back up when first installed (think Documents, Desktop, Music, Pictures), and it’s easy to add or remove items from the set just by right-clicking them. Unfortunately, there’s no icon labelling system for a quick view of what’s being protected and what isn’t.


iDrive also has some backup features that might be welcome within small and media businesses. Mapped network drives can easily be backed up, and scheduled backups can be set up within the client or by using a web-based management console. Logging options make things easier for part-time admins, and iDrive has some great versioning options, not only allowing you to drill down and find previous versions of a file using the iDrive Explorer tool (an additional free download), but also restore from earlier backups using a timeline view.

Continuous backup doesn’t work quite as it does with Carbonite. Instead of watching files continuously, iDrive does a backup every ten minutes, capturing the latest changes as an incremental backup. The continuous backup option only covers files of under 50MB, and in our tests it didn’t always backup changed files reliably, leaving some modified image files awaiting backup until we took on the process manually.

iDrive also offers a sync feature, but rather than sync files between several PCs, it syncs a folder between your hard drive and backup set and ensures that any changes are reflected in both. Sensibly, the client warns you that you could lose data if you sync a desktop folder and then delete the files, as you’ll also lose those in the stored equivalent.

iDrive has a lot to recommend it, with some great features, a good interface and decent security. If 128-bit SSL encryption for transfer and 256-bit AES encryption aren’t enough for you, you can also use a private key system. And, while the Basic iDrive and iDrive Pro accounts can only be used with one computer at a time, the five-PC family pack and business packages offer options for offices or individuals with multiple PCs. Carbonite offers easier, more reliable continuous backup, but iDrive’s feature set makes it a strong competitor to Mozy.


Software subcategoryOnline backup

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported?yes
Operating system Windows XP supported?yes

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