IDrive Business review: A file-sharing flop
An interesting alternative to mainstream cloud services, but collaboration isn’t up to snuff
SMBs looking for a single solution that combines file sharing and collaboration with full cloud backup of all their business systems will find IDrive Business could be the answer. IDrive’s primary focus has always been on data backup and recovery, but the standard product includes file sharing and syncing services built into the user console.
However, there are some limitations, as users can only share files that have already been backed up to IDrive’s cloud servers. Furthermore, when setting up IDrive accounts, you must select the default AES-256 encryption key, as file sharing is not supported if you choose a private key.
Clearly, this service is only cost-effective if you plan to make full use of the backup services. That said, IDrive pricing is very competitive, as the basic Business plan with 250GB of cloud storage currently costs only £56 per year. Furthermore, as shared files are already in the cloud, they won’t impact your storage quotas.
Your first job will be to get backing up and it’s here that IDrive excels, as the Business version supports unlimited Windows, macOS, and Linux systems, with apps provided for iOS and Android mobiles. There’s much more as, along with facilities to backup Hyper-V and VMware hosts, it includes options for securing Exchange, SQL, Oracle and SharePoint servers, and even Microsoft 365 accounts.
From the IDrive web portal, we used its dashboard section to create new users and send email invitations to them. A link is provided for them to create a sub-account and download the IDrive app, which we had no problems deploying on Windows 10 and macOS desktops.
Once the user has created their account, they use the app or their personal web portal to choose which files and folders they want backed up, and apply a schedule to run the job at regular intervals. IDrive is a true hybrid backup solution as users can create extra jobs that secure data to locally mapped NAS appliances but you can’t share files on these devices.
Sharing files and folders can be achieved in a number of ways. From the web portal cloud backup pane, you select any of your devices, view its files, make single or multiple selections, click the share icon at the top, enter the email addresses of invitees and decide whether they should have either view or edit permissions.
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You can also use the desktop app restore pane and select files from here but the process transports you back to the web console to complete the invitation process. If you have the file syncing service enabled, you can also select files in this folder for sharing, although the process will also load the web console.
Editing shared documents is a scrappy process as you have to download them first, make your changes, and upload them back into the shared location. This means that, unlike other collaboration services, multiple users can be making changes to the same file with no communication between them, while you cannot supervise the edits .
We also found that the view and edit permissions appeared to have no effect, as we downloaded documents we supposedly could only view and were able to edit them. IDrive also claims shared files can be password protected but we could find no setting that allowed us to do this and businesses that want to share documents with third-parties won’t be pleased either, as recipients must have their own account to view these files.
IDrive offers an interesting alternative to mainstream cloud file sharing services, although it does have significant limitations. As a cloud backup solution, IDrive Business is peerless but its file sharing features leave a lot to be desired.
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