iDrive Universal Backup

Category: Backup

iDrive is one of the oldest online backup and storage services, tracing its roots back to 1995 when it was known as But that doesn’t mean the service is outdated. On the contrary, iDrive continually refines its features and offers at least one that no competitor has, to my knowledge. Read on to learn more about the online backup that I use and recommend...

What Makes iDrive Unique?

With just one iDrive account you can back up, restore, and sync data among an unlimited number of devices running Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. You can back up social media content such as Facebook and Twitter. All of your data from desktop computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets can be kept in one secure place, neatly organized and accessible from anywhere.

You can try iDrive for free with a permanent 5 GB storage allowance. Earn more free space by referring friends (1GB per friend, up to 18GB), installing iDrive mobile apps, liking the company’s Facebook page, and so on. Most people will need to buy a subscription if they decide to go all-in with iDrive. (If you sign up with this link you'll get a 75% discount off the regular price!)

But there's a really nice perk that comes with a paid subscription. Pro Personal users get one free Express backup per year; iDrive sends you a portable external drive, you fill it with your initial large backup (up to 3TB) and mail it back (with free return shipping), saving time and bandwidth. The result is a MUCH quicker initial backup and upload process.
iDrive Online Backup

Without the Express service, it would take about THREE WEEKS to upload a terabyte of data, assuming a constant 5Mb/sec upload speed. Data is encrypted before transit, so you needn't worry about privacy. The iDrive Express service is available in the USA, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Australia and the UK. (Sorry, Belgium.)

An iDrive Pro Business account includes priority customer service, installation assistance, server features like Microsoft Exchange backup, support for Linux, and up to three free Express backups per year.

iDrive Pricing and Features

The iDrive Pro Personal plan costs just under $5/month ($59.50 annually) for 1 TB personal accounts and $99.50 for 250 GB Pro Business accounts; yes, less is more. But because I think iDrive is the best cloud backup solution, I've negotiated a special deal for my readers. If you sign up with this link you'll get 75% off on your first year of iDrive Pro Personal. So your price will be just $14.88!

iDrive’s user interface is wonderfully intuitive, simple, and fool-resistant. It makes management of multiple devices as easy as managing multiple Libraries on a Windows machine, regardless of how many devices and operating systems you mix and match.

iDrive backs up data incrementally, copying only changes made to files since they were last backed up; this saves space and bandwidth. iDrive also saves up to 30 past versions of a file so you can restore it to a previous state if necessary.

Selected files of less than 500 MB can be backed up continually so that they’re sent to iDrive the moment they’re modified or at 10, 20, or 30 minute intervals. Lower-priority backup tasks can be scheduled conveniently. There’s even a daily backup scheduled by default for the forgetful.

The “Archive Cleanup” feature frees up iDrive space by deleting backups of files that no longer exist on your device(s). Think before you click the Archive Cleanup button; once deleted, those files are gone forever.

If you have a limited monthly data allotment, you'll pleased that iDrive's bandwidth management functions are robust. They include an exclusion list for certain files; setup for mapped drives; proxy settings for networks that require them; and bandwidth throttle settings. A device can be powered off automatically once a backup session is completed.

Sharing files stored on iDrive to social media or email is very easy, and it’s another way to conserve your own bandwidth. Restore features include a handy search function; folder tree browsing; and restore of files or folders with a single click.

iDrive is My Recommendation

iDrive shows how gracefully a venerable product can mature, instead of degenerating into obsolescence or bloated feature-itis. It's a backup service that's easy to use, with advanced features for those who need them. Support for backup and sharing of data with your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android smartphone or tablet sets iDrive apart from the competition.

The free Express service is another unique feature that I don't see anywhere else. By way of comparison, the Mozy Data Shuttle service costs a minimum of $275, and requires a $20/month Mozy Pro account. Crashplan offers a Seeded Backup for $125. Their Restore-to-Door service costs $165. Carbonite doesn't offer the express seed/shuttle service at all.

If you're considering online backup, iDrive is my recommendation. In my opinion, it's currently the best of breed online backup solution with an excellent price point, and right now you can take advantage of the 75% discount for AskBob readers.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "iDrive Universal Backup"

Posted by:

23 Dec 2014

Thanks for the nice article Bob. I did create a free account with iDrive and will subscribe if I understand it for my use. Yes, I did confirm that I am referred by DrBob. Happy Holidays !!!

Posted by:

23 Dec 2014

Sounds like an overall good system, but I'm not so sure about mailing drives back and forth. Aside from the possibility of things getting lost in the mail, what about security? If there's anything less secure than the mail I don't know about it. Also, who pays the postage?

EDITOR'S NOTE: As I mentioned, the data is encrypted, so even if the package is lost, no worries. iDrive pays the postage.

Posted by:

23 Dec 2014

Bob - One thing you didn't mention in the article is that everything backed up to iDrive is encrypted before leaving your machine. They don't have an unencrypted copy of your files or your encryption key. I've been using a free iDrive account for several years. When my last system died I was able to load up a brand new system with iDrive, log back in to my account and recover all my important files in just a few hours. Didn't need the several other backup options I had. It just works.

Posted by:

23 Dec 2014

Many thanks on the information, very useful. Would iDrive or other service incrementally backup TruCrypt files?

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you mean an entire encrypted volume, then an incremental backup wouldn't be very useful. Without the encryption key, there would be no way to tell what files had changed.

Posted by:

23 Dec 2014

I have been using iDrive for both work and personal use for over a year now.

The latest release (from 2 days ago) is a little buggy and I have had to make a few calls to get things working correctly - still not at 100%, but support is reasonable if you get the right tech. I had to be bumped to the next level of support (which can only be received via on-line chat), but it was relatively painless. They used Team-Viewer to remote in and tweak my computer system settings to get the back-up to run.

Note to those who install the software - right click and install as "Administrator". You'll avoid a host of permission errors.

One of the annoying things with the software is that there is no auto-update feature, nor is there a feature that even lets you know when there is an update available. Tech support recommended that I check back every month to see if there were any updates - yeah, right. I'll be sure to add that to my monthly checklist - not.

Keep up the good articles Bob.

Posted by:

Rob Solomon
23 Dec 2014

I find it ironic that you are recommending iDrive. I paid for their service, and found it appallingly bad. They could never get it to work, and no one in the company took the initiative to make sure it worked. They were very good at accepting my money, but terrible at providing the service for which I paid. I let it expire and let it go at that.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Sorry you had a bad experience, but obviously there are many thousands who feel differently, or the company would not be in business for almost 20 years. How long ago did you have the problems with iDrive?

Posted by:

24 Dec 2014

Bob, can you exclude certain files/folders for security reasons? Encrypted or no, sending tax returns and Quicken data to the cloud make me nervous...

EDITOR'S NOTE: Yes, you can exclude files.

Posted by:

24 Dec 2014

It sounds great Bob and if I decide to use it I'll definitely tell them you referred me. I have just one concern: How do I know they won't leak or sell my 411 to the Feds?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Your data is encrypted with 256-bit AES encryption. Only you have the encryption key. Besides, if the Feds want your data, there are easier ways for them to get it.

Posted by:

24 Dec 2014

With the low cost of thumb drives, external HDDs and SSDs I fail to understand how Cloud storage is of any advantage to anyone but those selling the storage.
Fire, earthquake, tornado, flood can also happen to these Cloud databanks.
With the numerous stories of corporate data theft I feel my external HDD that is only hooked up to my PC when I update my backup is much safer than any Cloud storage that is available to hackers 24/7/365.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Here's my standard reply on the cloud security issue: I'd argue that data stored in the cloud is MUCH safer than files stored on a local hard drive. Do you use 256-bit encryption for your sensitive files at home? How about strong physical security that includes gated perimeter access, 24x7 on-site security guards, and security cameras? Do you have a fire detection and suppression system, backup power, and a disaster recovery plan in the event of hurricane, flood or earthquake? You can bet your cloud storage provider has all that and more in place to safeguard your data. It's probably much easier for the NSA to hack into your non-encrypted computer than to get into any one of these cloud servers.

Posted by:

Rob Solomon
25 Dec 2014

I am following up regarding my earlier post about a disastrious experience w/ iDrive.

My most recent experience w/ tech support was about 6 months ago. But I must repeat that the company did not care that my problem went unresolved. Don't they have some kind of ticket tracking system to catch this stuff? Well, not in my case. And if it happened to me, I'm sure there are others.

Posted by:

16 Jan 2015

I was excited about your iDrive offer, but figured I'd do a little research first. So I did a quick search on "iDrive reviews" and came across a huge number of 1-star, ugly reviews of the "don't-ever-touch-this-with-a-1-foot-pole" variety. I've always trusted all of your recommendations, but I have to say this has given me pause. Most of the complaints were that not only did they have some kind of trouble with the service, but that when they requested help from iDrive customer service, it was appallingly bad.

Do you know anything about this? Apparently you've had a good experience with them - otherwise you wouldn't be recommending them - but it spooks me when I see dozens (yes, dozens) of reviews like what I described.

EDITOR'S NOTE: CNET editors give iDrive 4 stars; none of the user reviews there are for the current version, and I found just as many positive as negative reviews. Keep in mind that online reviews tend to be gripe sessions. Happy customers don't usually bother to post reviews. And sometimes company shills post negative things about their competitors. Take it with a grain of salt. You'll see that Mozy also has a ton of negative reviews there. Both are excellent products with tens of thousands of satisfied customers.

Posted by:

Gary Scherer
31 Mar 2016

I bought iDrive at your recommendation after reading that I could "backup" my IOS devices. I found out later that only a select four categories of files are backed up—NOT including music. Their support responds:
This message is in reference to ticket number: ID00823400.

It is not possible to backup the Music files stored in your iOS device as it is a restriction from the iOS itself.

IDrive Support.

So, saying it will "back up" an iPhone or iPad is false.

Posted by:

anne Jefferson
18 Apr 2016

I sent off for the iDrive, lured by the wifi backup for my tablet/s. After paying I set up the cloud account and attempted to backup my PC. After it had been at it overnight and more, I finally canceled that backup attempt. I waited 10 or so weeks for the external backup drive - it never came. When I called they offered to send another out, but as I didn't get the cloud backup to work, I opted to ask for my money back. I got back most of it (I was charged $34.50 and was credited $27.98) I am not angry, just disappointed.

Posted by:

16 May 2016

Just a note to let you (and others who might read this) know that if you buy the hard drive about a year after it arrives you will be charged (but not notified you are being charged) for a year's subscription for the cloud backup.
I bought the hard drive and have used it. I used the cloud backup a few times and decided it wasn't something I wanted to use. When a charge was posted to my credit card I was not notified (either by phone or email) that it was going to be done - and by the time I saw the charge posted, they told me it was too late - I had 7 days from the day it posted to get it reversed & I was 5 days too late. I've not given up on having them reverse the charge but expect that I won't prevail - a company that intentionally sets up someone to be treated that way is not customer oriented, no matter what their sales literature says.

Posted by:

03 Jan 2017

I recently purchased an IDrive One and wanted to tell you about my experience. It's extremely rare for me to write something like this. When I first received it, it was working fine but then I started having problems (which I am not blaming on you. I spent at least 4 hours trying revive the unit by doing everything shown on their website plus a few things on my own and nothing worked. I finally gave up and contacted tech support. They hadn't responded to my emails nor were they available by phone so I ended using online chat which was extremely slow. It appeared that for every question or response that I gave them, they had to look it up or ask someone else. As you noted in one of your previous articles, it was a frustrating experience. I spent almost 2 hours online including elevated tech support. They had me retry everything shown on their website several times and kept asking me the same questions I had answered more than once previously. They finally told me to call back and request a replacement. That took another 20 minutes partially because I had not been given a support ticket number.
When dealing with tech, they could not (or would not) give me a way to reinstall the firmware. They apparently have no program available to test/diagnose the actual unit. Also, the only way to activate and use the IDrive is via wireless network which I believe is asinine. There should be a way to activate the unit as well as control the various settings when the unit is connected directly to the computer. There should also be software available to at least attempt to test the unit and diagnose any problems.
Other issues: 1). the firmware in the unit will not let you upload any videos larger that 2 gig although you can copy them if you connect directly to the computer with the wireless turned off. Stupid!
2.) The GUI is anything but intuitive. There are only icons and no menus. The only way to find out what something does is to click on it and any subsequent icons until you get to the end of that string and then go back and start over. The firmware programming appears to be amateurish at best.
3.) I could not find a way to map the IDrive or one of it's folders for access without having having to connect directly to the computer. They do give a brief description for that but it doesn't apply to my computer.
4.) I couldn't use the included backup software because part of the time the program couldn't find the IDrive either.
5.) They only included an RJ45 100mb network connection on the unit. It should have been a gigabit connection. For those that could use it (Me!), it would be much faster and more dependable than wireless when using a connected computer.
I'm done bitching.
Phil Richardson

Posted by:

01 May 2017

I purchased an IDrive One based on Bob's recommendation. I tried it, didn't like it, requested to return the hardware for a refund. IDrive authorized a return in writing for a refund less a 20% restocking fee. I returned the device, they acknowledged receiving said device. Then a few days later the company tells me I won't be getting any refund because even though I returned the device, I had exceeded a 15 day return window. So why authorize the return?

I am frustrated being jerked around by iDrive. Customer service is equally as important as the product or service being offered. PASS ON IDRIVE!

Posted by:

01 Nov 2017

When you first order the drive, the sale price shows up on your credit card, but then a few days or weeks later a $59 subscription fee appears on your account.
Even if you send them an email on the day it was posted, cancelling the account, they will refuse to refund your money.
They said I had to change a seeting in my account to NOT automatically renew so I wouldn't get charged next year.
Well they chaged their interface and apparently lost my Do NOT RENEW setting and I just got a charge on my account.
No email or anything.
Tomorrow I will be talking to the Attorney Generals office.

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- iDrive Universal Backup (Posted: 23 Dec 2014)
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