PROS / The overall value and performance of IDrive is the highest in our review.
CONS / The service doesn't offer unlimited storage.
VERDICT / IDrive is the best online data backup service because it provides the highest value with the best overall performance in both phases of cloud data backup performance.
IDrive is a hybrid cloud data backup service – it's also an online storage service, a file-syncing service, and a file-sharing service. The personal subscription plan comes with 1TB of storage for an unlimited number of devices, which provides exceptional value. The app also performed exceptionally well in our tests and was the easiest one to use despite the comprehensive list of features. In addition, this is the only data backup service in our review that offers drive seeding and courier recovery as part of the subscription. For these reasons, IDrive earns the Top Ten Reviews Gold Award for best online data backup service.
For our comparative review of cloud data backup services, we began by evaluating the relative costs of over 30 services for 1TB of storage spread across three levels of users: a large family with at least five computers, a small family with three devices and an individual. After eliminating services that cost too much per computer per month, we were left with 23 cloud data backup services. We then ran multiple performance tests on each of the remaining services to gauge their backup and restore speeds. We also evaluated the ease of use from the perspective of a novice user. After all of this testing and analysis, IDrive was clearly the best online data backup service.
Price & Value
IDrive costs $69.50 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 $52.12 per year.) At the large-family and the small-family level, the service received an A- because it costs less than $12 per year for each computer. For a small family, it costs less than $20 per computer per year, which is why it received a B+. For an individual, it received an A-, as only a few services provide better value.
One minor disappointment is the lack of unlimited storage. The service offers plans with up to 10TB of storage, so you can certainly increase your backup storage if needed. It's worth noting that most data backup services that provide unlimited storage limit the storage to one computer, which actually limits the storage to the computer's hard drive. So the lack of unlimited storage with IDrive isn't a significant downside.
IDrive received an A- in our backup speed tests with an average MB-per-minute speed that suggests that it could complete a 1-TB backup in about 6.5 days (on our network). Only one service recorded a faster backup speed. To find the relative speed, we ran multiple backup sets at various times during the day and weekend. The average backup speed in our tests was over 15 days when applying the MB-per-minute rate. Of course, it's important to note that 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 desktop app is designed exceptionally well with very few steps to initiate a backup set. You can find all the features labeled clearly. Even a novice user shouldn't find it difficult to initiate backup sets. If you've never used a data backup service, then this service is ideal.
The app features comprehensive backup features. You can create a mirror image backup, which is rare for a data backup service. 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 unique feature where the service sends you an external hard drive to back up to, making the process so much faster than using an internet connection. With other services, this type of feature is only available with a fee.
IDrive received a B for relative speed in our performance tests. After performing multiple restore sets at various times of the day and weekend, the app recorded a MB-per-minute rate that suggests it could restore 1TB of data in less than nine days. While this isn't the fastest restore speed in our tests, it's still exceptionally fast when compared to the average speed, which was about 21 days. Of course, this rate was based on our network. Your restore speed may differ according to your network's specifications.
Similar to the backup process, the restore process also received an A for Ease of Use. This makes it the only cloud data backup app in our review with a perfect Ease of Use grade in both phases of the backup and restore process. Simply put, it's the ideal service for someone who has never backed up to the cloud before. The app allows you to restore files in as few as three steps, which makes it exceptionally easy for even a novice user.
You can 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 use the impressive 448-bit Blowfish encryption that CrashPlan does, your files are still protected with military-grade 256-bit AES encryption. In addition, encryption occurs prior to being uploaded, which means that encryption keys are never stored on the servers, further protecting your data.
The best security feature that any online data backup service can provide is the private encryption key, which is an option included with IDrive. By customizing your encryption key, only you can view the files. However, a private encryption key does come with some risk – forgetting the password to decrypt the files means you lose access to the file because you can't reset it.
Help & Support
IDrive's support features are excellent. On the website, you can find tutorials, an extensive FAQs page with dozens of answers and helpful procedural steps. There's a support forum for users to share problems and tips with other users. If you ever have a problem, you can contact IDrive's support staff through telephone, live chat or email.
After a lot of performance tests and evaluations, IDrive is the best cloud data backup service in our review because it combines high value with excellent performance and ease of use. If you're a novice user that's never used a data backup service, this is the ideal app. It also proved to be very fast at backing up and restoring files. Finally, the security is excellent, so you can rest easy knowing that your data is protected.