iDrive Online Backup Review

by Reads (12,566)
  • Pros

    • Free offering for up to 2GB
    • Intuitive and feature-rich
    • Monthly or annual pay plans
  • Cons

    • No support for server apps
    • No OS restore options
    • No custom restore schedules

Despite its name, Pro Softnet’s iDrive online backup is not the latest parallel parking app for the iPhone, but a Web-based data backup solution. Like most of the competitors in the space, iDrive offers a free basic service for the first few gigabytes of storage. Is iDrive a steal at any price, or only worth what you (don’t) pay for it? We get the skinny in this review.

Online backups are becoming a popular data retention solution for home systems and small business, which is a welcome sign given how often backups are ignored by SMBs and consumers. When it comes to an online backup product, there are upfront points that need to be known to ensure the solution meets your needs. Let’s see how iDrive stacks up.

PRODUCT OVERVIEW

IDrive is designed for most home and small business technology environments. There are two offerings that provide features to back up data, detailed below:

Feature

iDrive Basic

iDrive Pro

Monthly Cost

Free

$4.95 monthly or

$49.50 annually

Storage

2 GB

150 GB

Supported Systems

Windows 2000 (Service Pack 4)

Windows Server 2003

Windows XP (Home/Professional)

Windows Home Server

Windows Server 2008

Windows 7

Mac OS X

Windows 2000 (Service Pack 4)

Windows Server 2003

Windows XP (Home/Professional)

Windows Home Server

Windows Server 2008

Windows 7

Mac OS X

Retention

Until deletion

Until deletion

Version

30 versions restore capability

30 versions restore capability

DOWNLOAD & INSTALLATION

Like other online backup services, iDrive revolves around an account for download and configuration of the backups. The iDrive Basic (free offering) signup is available here, while iDrive Pro accounts are created at this link.

Once an account is created, a local install occurs on the computer. In the following examples, a Windows XP computer will be configured with the iDrive Basic service for backup. The download is started as shown in the figure below:

iDrive online backup install start

Once the installation file is downloaded, the iDrive installation wizard starts. After a quick license agreement verification screen, the installation program asks where iDrive will be installed. It is important to note that this file location is not where your backups will actually go, but where the program files for the local iDrive agent will be installed. Once the installation is completed, you will be notified as shown in the figure below:

iDrive online backup install complete

After you click finish, the iDrive installation is complete.

PROGRAM INTERFACE

A registered account username (or email address) and password is required to enter into the application to perform the initial backups. The figure below shows the login to the application:

iDrive online backup login

One of iDrive’s security features is an encryption key used for your data. During your first iDrive session, you have the option to create a key. It is recommended that a key be user-made, including a complex password. This is shown in the figure below:

iDrive online backup encryption

Be sure to note your encryption key and store it somewhere other than your PC, as if you need to restore data to another computer, you will need the key to decrypt the data. Once the application is launched, the welcome wizard appears to guide you through the configuration of the first backup, as shown below:

iDrive online backup configure backup

By viewing the default backup set, you can customize what data is backed up from your PC. The figure below shows the My Documents and Company Data folders being backed up:

iDrive online backup selected folders

Once the backup parameters are selected, clicking the Backup Now button will launch the current selection as shown below:

iDrive online backup launch backup

Ongoing backups can be managed through a schedule within iDrive. The scheduler allows you to automatically perform backups on at a particular time of day at daily, weekly, or monthly intervals. Each backup can prompt an e-mail alert sent to a specified account. The configuration of the scheduler is shown below:

iDrive online backup scheduler

In the Under the Hood section of the scheduler, you can specify a few advanced settings for your regular backups. These include options such as managing open files, power on from hibernation for backup configuration, and file or folder exclusion options to conserve bandwidth during the backups.

IN USE & EFFECTIVENESS

IDrive is a straightforward tool to backup a system to a remote destination over the Internet. Like any backup software, important planning goes into selecting a time to perform the backups so that they do not conflict with normal use of the Internet connection.

IDrive offers a special feature called Continuous Data Protection or Continuous Backup. This allows critical or frequently-used files to be backed up continuously in 10 minute intervals. This can be helpful for files that are changed frequently and significantly each day, or in any case where reverting to the regularly scheduled backup would incur a large loss of data. The continuous backups will apply to the newest version of the file to the 30 versions retained by the iDrive service.

One of the more useful features that iDrive provides is the iDrive explorer, which is a Windows Explorer-like interface into the backup history via the iDrive account. This feature is shown below:

iDrive online backup explorer

From the restore point of view, iDrive’s interface is simple and adequate to the task. Using the iDrive Explorer or standard interface, data can be restored from any of the up to 30 versions of a file kept on the account. The only glaring absence here is the total focus on conventional PC data backups; full operating system restoration or even data backups for server operating systems or database applications (like SQL Server) are painfully not available.

CONCLUSION

IDrive can get it done for the home user or small business computing environment. Some planning in regards to backup time and data selection is in order, but that’s the case with every online or network-based backup product. The lack of support for applications like SQL Server or other small server applications may become an issue, but in most situations issues can be avoided.

PROS

  • Free offering for up to 2GB
  • Intuitive and feature-rich
  • Monthly or annual pay plans

CONS

  • No support for server apps
  • No OS restore options
  • No custom restore schedules



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