IDrive: One-stop Backup for All of Your Devices and Computers

IDrive: One Stop Backup for All of Your Devices and ComputersA few weeks ago I took inventory of all the toys I have in my house and was surprised at just how much stuff I own. My list of computers and devices consists of the following:

  • 2 laptop computers running Windows 7
  • 1 laptop running Windows XP
  • 1 desktop running Windows 7
  • 1 Google Chromebook Cr-48
  • 1 Apple iPad
  • 1 Apple iPod
  • 1 Amazon Kindle Fire
  • 1 Android-powered smart phone

When you have this many toys, you need a reliable backup service that supports all of your devices and computers.

To address this need, I was recently introduced, through our Gnomies Facebook group, to Stephen Gold, the Business Development Manager for IDrive. Let me be clear, however, that this was my first exposure to IDrive’s backup service and that I have no personal relationship with the company nor do I know Stephen personally. The opinions I will express in this article are mine and mine alone.

IDrive: One Stop Backup for All of Your Devices and ComputersMy first experience was to install IDrive on my personal laptop computer system running Windows 7. I found IDrive very simple to install and even easier to use.

From this screen shot, you will notice that the left side of the screen displays the files and drives that you can back up, while the right side of screen announces when your backup is completed.

The simplicity of the software begins when you click on the Backup Now button. This will take you on your course down the yellow brick road. At one juncture in the road, you can even schedule a future backup or, at another, opt to do a complete system restore.

Admittedly, this trial had been on a computer, so I knew I had to extend my trial; I also tried using IDrive Lite on my Android smartphone and am pleased to note that both the Windows version and the Android version performed perfectly.

But like many of you, I thought to myself, was IDrive just another pretty face in the crowded iCloud backup field, or was it really different? I decided to put Stephen Gold under the microscope and ask him some pretty hard questions. Here is the interview:

What are the main benefits that you believe IDrive has over your competition?

Some services limit the number of devices a person can connect to their account. IDrive allows for an unlimited number of devices (computers and mobile [devices]) and file access is universal between OS X, Windows, and Linux data.

“You need a third-party app to do this in Dropbox, and Carbonite for some reason “strongly recommends” a non-private key –we call this a ‘Default’ key– our philosophy is the opposite, we encourage people to use the private key, although we can’t reset it if its forgotten or lost, its ultimately a more secure way to store data in the cloud.”

Any time a person chooses to go with an “unlimited” storage backup plan, they’re always accepting limitations in other areas. Most commonly this is with file retention. Mozy and Carbonite delete files from their servers 30 days after a customer has deleted them from their computer, so the customer doesn’t really ever get unlimited storage, only how much they’re storing locally. The customer pays $50 per year to back up 10 GB or 100 GB, but that’s only a good deal for the guy who backs up 100 GB. We offer tiered plans with unlimited file retention — that’s what online storage should be. The customer can choose how much space they want to purchase on our servers, fill it up, and let it stay there for as long as they’d like.

IDrive has no file type or size limitations, and no bandwidth throttling — for every account. Box.net limits [its] free users to 25 MB files and [its] paid users to 2 GB files, [which is] not very useful for video editors or my office iPhoto library (3.46 GBs and counting).

Every customer can back up their first 5 GB free and refer friends to get more. Gnomies, of course, have a special 25 GB free promo available!

How safe is cloud computing?

“Safety” is, unfortunately, a bit subjective. Some people feel it’s safe to purchase items online with a credit card, and some don’t. [Here are] five questions to ask your cloud backup provider; answer them and you’ll get a good picture of how “safe” you and your data will be:

  • Where is my data being stored? It’s important to know if the facilities holding your [data] meet international standards and are secured both physically and electronically. Our data-center facilities are physically guarded 24-hours a day, our network is monitored by our team 24-hours a day, and we’re SAS 7 compliant.
  • How is my data being stored? Is your data being encrypted properly before being copied? Who has access to the encryption key? Do you have the option to set your own key? All data is encrypted before it leaves a customer’s computer and is transferred over an SSL connection.
  • Who do I contact if I need help? Make sure your cloud backup provider has a support team you can rely on in case you need help. Does it have a call center? 24-hour live chat for emergencies? Check and check!
  • What am I paying for? Even though cloud-based backup services tend to be significantly more affordable than traditional solutions, especially tape, be sure to watch for per-client license fees and contracts! IDrive offers easy paid plans starting at $4.95 per month for 150 GB and it supports as many devices as a customer would like to connect. Dropbox, for instance, is $19.99 per month for 100 GB (since [it has] to pay Amazon for the storage) and Mozy is $5.99 for 50 GB and the customer can only connect three computers — anything additional is $2 per computer per month.
  • What if the worst happens? It’s hoped that you’ll never have to recover from a disaster, but if you do, is your backup provider there for you to help you get up and running quickly? Some providers offer physically shipped restores in cases involving large amounts of data; would you need this kind of service? The old adage goes, “A backup is only as good as its restore.” Our 24-hour support team is available in case someone encounters trouble restoring their data and we have a Rapid Serve hard drive program for quick disaster recovery.

What future plans does your company have to stay at the forefront of cloud storage?

APIs and third-party development; over the last two years we re-created our storage platform (we call it EVS) and for the first time have recently made available public APIs to access to IDrive. Other developers (such as Primadesk) can integrate IDrive into their own applications. We’ll be launching an app studio to highlight the new apps as they’re released.

And we’re staying a little quiet about it, but we’re cooking up a re-launch of our sync product, IDriveSync. It’s going to be killer.

Thanks, Ron. Let me know if you need anything further!

Stephen

What Stephen says about your backup being only as good as your restore is, unfortunately, very true. I have personally experienced a failed restore from one cloud-based company, but after using the software, I believe that IDrive has the integrity and purpose to provide a reliable backup and restore of your data. In another words, I personally believe that IDrive is a company that can be trusted.

Comments welcome.

I received this from the iDrive team with a correction:

‘There is a factual error in the posting. The IDrive technology does not use SSL for encryption when data is backed up from Windows and Mac desktop apps. It uses AES encryption. There are two options provided with AES, one with default encryption where the system chooses the encryption key, and the other where the user chooses the key.

IDrive Team. ‘

Do You Need to Use an Online Backup Service?

As anyone who has had the misfortune of losing precious data from their computer system knows, you can never have too many backups. Data loss is preventable if you know how to create backups of your data and keep the data in a safe place. Just how important are backups?

I recall many years ago watching a home on fire as a news helicopter filmed a man running back into the burning home. He came running out from the burning residence and was asked what he was holding in his hands. The man stated he owned a number of dry cleaner businesses in the area, and he was holding his business records he needed for tax purposes.

Over the years I have seen the reactions of people who have lost data on their computers who didn’t bother backing up their stuff. I specifically recall one women’s reaction when I informed her that her email contacts had been lost. She was in tears when I asked her how many contacts she had. I was taken aback when she told me about 10 people were in her contact list. I mentioned that she could call each person and have them send her a message so she could rebuild her address book.

Today, with the advent of cloud storage, we have additional options to help us backup our data. In addition, many of the online backup sources offer free services. I have been using Mozy Online Backup services for the past few years. Mozy offers free service with a 2 GB limit. I store the pictures I have taken of our home and property for insurance purposes online so they can be recovered after a fire or other disaster. Though I also have a copy of these photos on CD, as well as stored in my safe deposit box, having these stored online is just added protection.

This is where I believe that online services are useful. You can store your data online for free and retrieve your files from any computer. Besides having a backup of your precious data, you also have the ability to update and replace the stored information on a regular schedule or a schedule that you chose.

Though I believe that online backups are not a replacement for backing up your data to some type of media, I do believe that it a great way to supplement your backup strategy. Mozy is my supplement, Chris recently wrote about IDrive, which offers a 5 GB free account.

Comments welcome.