Friday, August 15, 2014

IDrive Backup Review

It works and I like it.  IDrive is a backup and file-sync facility with lots of good features, supporting a wide array of computer operating systems and mobile devices.  The features that I particularly like are:
  • The command-line options that allow me to incorporate this cloud backup facility into the rest of our normal, every-night archive system; and
  • The sophisticated incremental backup features which back up only the files which have been modified since the last backup, and then back up only the modified sectors of large modified files.
Example: I have one 2 GB encrypted file which gets modified every day, but only a little.  At DSL upload speeds it took hours to upload that file the first time, but IDrive can upload the daily modifications in just a few minutes.   A download "restore" of last night's uploaded file confirms that it compares perfectly with the current file, bit for bit, all 2 GB.  I used the Windows comp program for that comparison (several times for several downloads), but also if the file was at all corrupt I would not be able to decrypt it, and it decrypts just fine.

Desktop Application:

IDrive has both a GUI desktop application and a brower-based application, with similar but not identical functionalities.  It took me a little while to get used to the two and determine which to use for what purpose.  There are similar applications for many different computer operating systems and mobile devices.  I was able to install and use the GUI desktop app on Windows XP Pro, Vista Ultimate, Windows 7, and Windows 8.1, with no obvious differences in functionality.


Although upload appears to go as fast as my DSL link allows, about 900 kbps or about 3 hours per GB, download through the GUI desktop application appears to be throttled to about 5 Mbps, roughly 2 GB per hour.  My DSL is about three times that fast, almost 16 Mbps, so it should go faster, as do most other downloads.  The browser-based application actually downloads a little faster than the GUI desktop application, maybe 25% faster when restoring my 2 GB encrypted file, finishing the download in 45 minutes instead of 57, though this is still well below half of the maximum speed of the DSL connection.

IDrive isn't very expensive, $37.12 per year for 300 GB, but I am still using the free version because we don't yet need the extra space or features of the professional versions.  Perhaps download speed is throttled for freeloaders like myself - I don't know, and I wouldn't blame them.  It's not an issue in our application, though, because file recovery will be seldom if at all, mostly just for testing, and at 2 GB per hour it won't require more than two or three hours to download everything we have up there in any case.

Technical Support:

Excellent so far - I've had two interactions with them, one via chat and another through a submitted bug report.  They know that I have a free account, I'm sure, but seem interested in solving my problems anyway.  There is also a forum, in which IDrive participates quite actively.  I submitted one problem there and was soon advised to submit the problem as a regular bug report.


Command-line options are implemented through a program called idevsutil.exe, found in the IDrive programs folders (C:\Program Files (x86)\IDriveWindows\... in Windows).  However the one that is supplied by the IDrive installer didn't actually work - I had to go to the Getting Started page and download the idevsutil.exe that actually does work.

Cloud backup provides the ultimate off-site backup, to protect against a disaster such as fire, flood, theft, even death of a principal person.  However, it's no good if the files are inaccessible due to a lost usrname or password.  Be sure to have those somewhere else safe, perhaps in a safe deposit box.