Livedrive is a cloud storage service originally based from U.K., but spread with customers across the globe. The company was founded in 2008 and was sold to J2 Global Inc. (www.j2.com). They pitch their offering as a fusion of sync and backup in the cloud, for all types of users, with specific storage capacity for each account. The cloud storage service has versions for individuals, small companies and large corporations.
The cloud storage / sync services is a very competitive market, with many service providers and different offerings that can sometimes make it very confusing to the consumer.
Complete and In depth “Livedrive review
If you want to learn more about Livedrive, read on to this in-depth review of the company and services, to decide if this offer is for you.
Who can use Livedrive
As internet access is becoming more ubiquitous and the connection speeds improving rapidly, showing sometimes 100Mb/s and up, the cloud offering becomes a simple decision to make.
Livedrive is the type of service mostly focused on the sync type of backup. End-users, small teams, departments all can benefit from such service, as the files gets copied over to the servers located in a datacenter on the internet as soon as it is loaded on the user’s PC. Once copied over to the servers, these files are transferred back to other computers that are synced to the same account. This capability makes it easy to access your files on any of your computers, as soon as it is created / stored.
Here are certain benefits that may search for.
- All your PCs synced in one service
- Web portal for easy access and sharing
- All features support drag-and-drop functionality
- Desktop application has a lot of features
- Plans for all types of users: individuals, small businesses and large corporations
- Fast transfer speeds
- Mobile access from smartphones (iPhone and Android)
You have to face your opportunity cost to get the benefit sometimes.
- Trial period is very short (14 days)
- Standard service is very limited in features
- Poor customer service
- No way to schedule a backup
- Limited options for securing the stored files
Rating of Livedrive
We have rated this under some criteria to help you make better judgement.
- Sharing (Rating: 3/10)
Livedrive is very flexible in allowing the user to share any file synced. Just enter the web application, locate the file you want to share and click on Share. This will create a link for either public or personal sharing, sending an URL to the user(s) via their e-mail addresses. This also resolves the problem of sending large files over e-mail, as you only need to send a single URL link.
- Syncing (Rating: 3/10)
This feature is available with Livedrive Briefcase plans (basic plan does not support this). Every time you save a file on your Livedrive L: virtual disk, the desktop app synchronizes it with the cloud. All other computers that have the Desktop App will receive a copy of that same file in a few moments later, so you will always have up-to-date copies.
- Backup (Rating: 3/10)
All offerings from Livedrive provide backup and restore features, but the basic plan is quite limited (only one PC can be backed up). For additional features like sync, you need the most expensive plans.
- Restore (Rating: 3/10)
Livedrive restore feature requires the desktop app installed on the PC, but you can easily restore any of the files sitting in the cloud with ease. Livedrive keeps the last 30 versions of every changed file, so you can restore previous versions. After 30 days, your deleted files can get removed from its servers.
- Access (Rating: 3/10)
Livedrive creates a virtual drive identified with as L: accessible from your preferred file browser. You can copy files to this drive, or even drag and drop to it. Since the sync feature is always working, the copied files get transferred to the cloud immediately and they synchronized to your other PCs, where you will see the same files. You can also access your data using the free mobile apps, on iOS and Android platforms. Additionally the storage service offers FTP connectivity to your files. This feature by itself is very rare among sync services.
- Security (Rating: .5/10)
Livedrive is one of those services that scans your files to create picture thumbnails, for example. This means that the files stored on their servers are machine-readable, thus human readable. If you worry someone can read your files (like a Livedrive employee with physical access to the server), then this service is not for you.
- Support (Rating: .5/10)
Livedrive support is via e-mail only. No phone number or chat. If things go wrong, your only option is to hope your e-mail will be answered in a timely and efficient matter. Looking around on users groups, we found out that there is a lot of complaints from customers, especially for the long (or no) response times.
What may satisfy you?
- Drag and drop files makes it very intuitive
- Integration with Facebook for photo sharing
- Sync all your PCs with the same files
- Personalized web access
- Fast transfer times
- Real-time Backup
What may dissatisfy you?
- Poor customer service
- Limited functionality on the basic service
- NAS support only available for an additional fee
- Security risks – files stored on their servers are not encrypted
- No backup scheduling – just instantaneous copy
- Very short trial period
- Awkward restore process
How Livedrive is compared?
Livedrive has mixed ratings when compared to some of its peers. Mostly it is due to the one-app-fits-all approach, trying to be a Swiss knife of the backup solutions. Usually when you try to satisfy all types of users, you end up not doing a single task and having a low common denominator. In simple terms, you cannot be the best in everything, or you might lose focus.
Comparing Livedrive with the top backup solutions, like Crashplan, Backblaze or Justcloud.com show exactly that: Livedrive falls short on many features, like encryption of the server files, or support for network drives. When looking at different prices, one has to compare similar offerings: we chose Backblaze and Justcloud for reference.
Backblaze offers an unlimited backup plan for USD50.00 per year, very similar to Justcloud at USD53.99 and Livedrive at USD48.00, on yearly plans. Crashplan and Backblaze are dedicated backup services, where the focus on backup set configuration is mastered via an application built for it. Livedrive in comparison is more of a basic backup application that, for the basic plan price, does not offer sync nor can backup multiple systems.
Comparing Livedrive with top sync solutions, like Dropbox and Google drive shows the different Sync services and prices. Dropbox is the most expensive one, at USD99.00 per year, with 1TB of online storage available. Google Drive is USD23.88 per year, with 100 GB of storage space. Livedrive compares to them with their Briefcase plan that sells at USD76.00 per year, for 2TB of backup.
At this price-point, you start to think it might be safer to go with a big brand name. Livedrive and Dropbox can stream music and movies to your device, whereas Google Drive cannot. One thing that stands out is that Livedrive has the capability of excluding certain file types form the backup. Google Drive and Dropbox do not offer this option.
How you can Backup with Livedrive
Livedrive has many plans, so for completeness sake we are going to write about the premium (“Pro”) plan that has all the bells and whistles. This plan has unlimited backup storage and 5TB of the Briefcase service, which synchronizes your data across your computers and has all the advanced features Livedrive can offer.
To get started, just sign-up with your e-mail and a password, and go to the download section to download and install the desktop app for your platform. Livedrive has Desktop apps for Apple OSX and Microsoft Windows (from XP all the way to Windows 10).
Once downloaded and installed, launch your application and start creating your first backup. This backup is not created automatically for you based on default settings, like other services. Just click on the blue icon that shows “You have not selected any files for backup” to start selecting your files and folders, using the familiar file explorer interface. Select the files and folders by clicking on the boxes to the left of every item you want and if you are satisfied, click ok. This will get you to the basic scheduling where you have to choose between instant backup and a recurring scan (every hour up to every 24 hours).Additionally, you can select exception file types, or files that you do not want to be backup up, choosing the extension type (like *.tmp, for temporary files). The real time option is the most recommended one, so you always have the latest version plus additional copies online, providing maximum protection.
Next step is really starting the backup, and the application will show you a status bar for every file you are backing up.
How you can Restore the Backups with Livedrive
The backup process is a little clumsy, because the user has a separate application to download before running the restore activity. We found this annoying on a modern offering, especially because the Mac version has both backup and restore integrated in the same app.
Just go through the download process and install it on your Windows system, and get started to restore.
The interface is quite familiar, as you are presented with the file explorer and select file and folders to download. Another limitation we found here: you can select only a single file, even if you select with SHIFT and click. Then you just select the version of the file that is stored on Livedrive servers and get on to the next phase.
Finally, you just click on restore and it will put the file back exactly where it was originally.
Our Final Opinion about Livedrive
As in every trial offering, we recommend you try before you buy. Our opinion here is based on a single test plan and might not cover every single user’s necessity.
Livedrive seems to try to do everything and be a best in class for sync and backup features, but while trying to do it all, they have severe limitations on usability. The software is improving with time, but we still feel there is a lot of room for improvement.
In general, the platform is stable, and your backups should run smoothly. Expect very fast backup and restore speeds and the ease of unlimited backup. Restore functions are limited in functionality, but work as expected once you step in.
If you are looking for a simple yet reliable backup solution, Livedrive should satisfy you quite easily.