PROS / The overall value and performance is the highest in our review.
CONS / The service doesn't offer unlimited storage.
VERDICT / IDrive is the best online backup service, because it provides the highest value with the best overall performance.
IDrive is a hybrid cloud backup service with online storage, file-syncing and file-sharing capabilities. The 1-TB subscription provides exceptional value, and the desktop app performed exceptionally well in our tests. In addition, the desktop app is the easiest app to use for a novice user despite the comprehensive features that comes with it. It's the only service that provides drive seeding and courier recovery as part of the subscription. It's also one of the most security-conscious services we reviewed. For these reasons, IDrive earns the Top Ten Reviews Gold Award for best online backup service.
For our comparison of cloud backup apps, we started by evaluating the relative costs of over 30 services. We evaluated cost at three levels: a large family with at least five computers, a small family with three devices and an individual with one device. After eliminating the more costly services, we tested the 23 remaining services, grading the backup speed, restore speed and the ease of use. After all of these tests, IDrive clearly separated itself from the pack.
Price & Value
IDrive costs $59.50 per year for 1TB of storage and unlimited devices. (While it's worth noting that this is the official price we used in our evaluation, the service has been offering a 25 percent discount for the first year, which brings the cost down to $44.62 per year.) At the large-family and small-family level, the service received an A because it offers the highest value of any service. The cost per computer for a large family is less than $12 per year while it's less than $20 per computer for a small family. Since you can back up multiple computers, the cost remains the same, whether you're backing up five or three. For an individual, the value received an A-. Only one other service offered a better value.
One minor disappointment is the lack of unlimited storage. The service offers plans up to 10TB, so you're certainly not limited to 1TB. Most services that provide unlimited storage are actually limited. Since these services generally limit the subscription to one computer, your unlimited storage is limited to your computer's hard drive. So this isn't a significant downside.
In our backup performance tests, IDrive scored an A- with an average MB-per-minute speed suggesting that it could complete a 1-TB backup in about 6.5 days. To find the relative speed, we ran multiple backup sets on the same network and at various times during the day. Only one other service recorded a faster speed. On average, the backup speed was over 15 days. Of course, you may experience better or worse results depending on your network limitations.
IDrive's ease of use for the backup process received an A. The app is designed exceptionally well with very few steps to initiate a backup set. All of the features are clearly labeled. Even a novice user shouldn't find it difficult to initiate backup sets.
The backup features are comprehensive. You can create a mirror image backup. You can schedule backup sets and adjust bandwidth usage. You can perform local backups, sync files and share files. Your subscription also includes IDrive Express, which is when the service sends you an external hard drive to back up to. This makes the process much faster.
For the file-restoration performance, IDrive received a B for relative speed. It recorded a MB-per-minute speed suggesting it could restore 1TB of data in less than 9 days, which is still exceptionally fast, as the average speed was about 21 days. Of course, your restore speed may differ according to your network's specifications.
The restore process also received an A for the ease of use. This makes it the only cloud backup app in our review with a perfect ease of use grade in both phases of the backup and restore process. You can restore files in as few as three steps, which makes it exceptionally easy for even a novice user. You can also have IDrive send you an external hard drive with all of your backed-up data at no additional fee. Other services that offer this feature charge about $200 for it.
While the service doesn't encrypt with the impressive 448-bit Blowfish encryption CrashPlan uses, it still uses military-grade 256-bit AES encryption. In addition, the encryption occurs before the data is uploaded to the servers, which means that the encryption keys are never stored on the servers.
The best security is the private encryption key. By customizing your encryption key, you are the only person who can decrypt the files. The service can never view the files on the server, which ensures data privacy. However, this option poses some risk: If you forget the key, you can't reset it, which means you can't access your files.
IDrive is the best cloud backup service, because it balances exceptional value with performance and usability. This is the easiest desktop app to use in our review, and the backup and restore speeds are very fast. With excellent security, you can trust that your files are safe and private.