Review of LiveDrive Online Backup

     Introduction - Livedrive is financed by Andrew Michael. Andrew created Fasthosts Internet Limited, The United Kingdom’s biggest and most successful Internet provider which was then sold in 2006 for over $120m. Andrew commented: "Online storage is the future. Lots of companies are trying to do it today but the products are crap and not a replacement for traditional storage methods. Livedrive has been over two years in the making and will be the standard by which all competing products are judged".

Livedrive has two editions: LiveDrive Backup and LiveDrive Briefcase (Pro). The Backup edition can backup of unlimited online devices and an unlimited volume of data. The Briefcase or Pro edition retains all the functionality of the basic edition and also allows sharing and synchronization of data from multiple internet enabled devices.

Security Options - LiveDrive uses 128bit SSL encrypted access to their web portal as well as password protection for your account. File transfer to and from their servers is protected with 256bit AES encryption – the best encryption we have found for file transfers. Once at their data centers, your data is secured with 256 AES encryption (that's better than most banks!) and you can setup your own private key to manage the encryption if you wish.
As for the servers, your data is stored on state of the art servers in multiple data centers. These were originally only in the United Kingdom, however, since expanding their service to other countries, they have also broadened their network of data centers which makes your data more secure.

Backup Options - A really exciting features of LiveDrive Backup is that it is truly unlimited. While using LiveDrive we have backed up many terabytes of data. Putting files on the backup list is as simple as right-clicking the file or folder and clicking ‘add to backup’ via the LiveDrive submenu. When Included in the backup schedule, files are checked for changes and scheduled for archiving as and when they are altered. File versioning is automatically enabled on any files within the archive set and are allowed up to thirty copies of the same file. Open files are also backed up frequently and thanks to the ‘block level incrementation’ functionality just the changed sections of files are backup up and these are then used to create a new version of the file. This method hugely reduces the amount of information that is required sent over the internet.
Network drives and removable products like pen drives or other USB drives can also be backed up. {There is a progress indicator|A progress indicator is included| as well as status messages so you know what is being backed up and what is awaiting to be archived.

Restore Options - You May restore up to 30 seperate versions of any file that has been backed up by logging into the web portal, choosing the file you wish to recover and choosing the edition of the file by means of date and time. Then simply choose where you want it restored to and the program will start the recovery process. Simple. Easy. Painless.

Control and Analysis - There are independent upload and download throttling settings in the desktop client but no resource throttling. Socks Proxy servers are supported which is crutial if you are in a shared environment and need to get to the internet via a proxy server. You can also set priorities of types of files, for example, if you are gradually uploading your entire movie collection, you may want to set excel docs and other file types in front of movie files so that your more vital information is archived more quickly.

Interface - LiveDrive merges extremely well with the desktop on PC and MAC. It gives a system tray icon to allow quick access to information and option screens. The web portal is extremely straightforward to navigate and use.
There are loads of collaboration, file sharing and synchronization options available in the professional edition of LiveDrive called Briefcase. Devices do need the client software installed to run LiveDrive but this is a very easy and straightforward process that takes a few minutes to download and setup.

Device Support - Currently LiveDrive supports Microsoft Windows – XP and up; MAC OS 10.5+; iPhone OS 3.0+; Blackberry and any web-enabled device via the web portal.

Limitations - None found so far.

Collaboration and Synchronization - If you use the Pro or Briefcase edition of LiveDrive then you have access to a greate set of collaboration and synchronization tools added to your unlimited online backup solution. When you turn on the Briefcase option a logical drive is shown on every device enabling you to store all your shared files. Initially the drive letter it L: however this can be changed in the client software. Any file that is moved or copied to this logical drive will automatically be copied to the web portal and from there to all other devices that have the briefcase feature in use and are setup for the same LiveDrive Account. File conflicts are configurable and can be set to carry out an automatic option of your choosing or to notify you with each issue.
There is also a option called ‘LAN synching’ which allows devices on the same network (for example you may have a MAC, laptop and PDA all using the same internet connection) to syncronize information on your LAN instead of uploading every change to the internet and back. This is a really great ability especially if you have a load of files that you need to initially update on one or several devices.
Another very useful ability of the Briefcase is the option to have a local cached version of all your data from the logical shared drive. This means you have access to the logical drive even when you are not connected to the internet. When you re-connect to the internet, any changed files will be updated on the web portal and amendments are pushed out to the other devices as and when they also come online.

File Sharing - File sharing is available in the web site and via the desktop software - if running the Briefcase edition. Just click on the file or folder you want to share, select the share hyperlink and then select to share privately or publically.
Public File Sharing lets anyone with the exact web address see the file. Using this option, you will be given a unique website address for each file. This can then be sent to anyone you wish.
Private File Sharing allows only users you choose have access to the file. If you choose this option then you will be asked to enter the email addresses for every user you need to have access to the file. It is possible to insert a specific message to provide more information about the file you are granting access to. The program then sends an email to all of the addresses previously setup giving general information, your private message and a unique web address for each file being shared.

Web 2.0 Integration - LiveDrive has a music and video player built into the web portal, along with a slideshow ability. LiveDrive is also partnered to several online programs including: Facebook, Flickr, SmugMug, Photo Flexer, Zoho, Spibd, PicNik and others. This means you can access and alter the majority of your files directly from the web site.

Customer Support - There is no telephone or live chat support. However, not counting wanting to make unusual requests we have never needed to talk directly to LiveDrive’s support.
There is an email form in the client software and on the web portal which they answer very promptly in our experience. The Forum and Blog are brilliant ways to find information or get questions solved from both fellow users and from LiveDrive’s tech. support team. The FAQ and knowledgebase are useful for standard questions as is the demo on the website and there are case studies available on their website. A free version is not available yet a 14 day free trial is given on Backup and Briefcase accounts.

Learning curve - LiveDrive is wonderfully simple to use. After subscribing, you can download the client program to your internet enabled devices and either start backing up your information or – if you have opted for the far more useful Briefcase edition – start dumping files to your L: drive. Restores and file sharing are very easy to setup and integrating with online utilities to update files even on the move couldn’t be easier.

Initial setup: Free 14 day trial
Monthly plan costs: Basic - $6.95/mth; Pro - $16.95/mth
Yearly plan costs: Basic - $69.50 / yr; Pro - $169.50 / yr
Initial allowed storage amount: Unlimited
Cost of additional storage: No cost
Cost of additional devices / users: No cost
Referral Program: Yes
E-billing facility: Yes

Verdict - LiveDrive is an excellent archiving program, it hides away neatly and only makes itself known when intervention is required. If you go for the Briefcase option then the huge amount of abilities you receive by far rationalizes the extra cost. With the large range of integration with internet toys and web programs you have a complete online storage and workspace that automatically syncs with all your web devices.
For small businesses this is a great way to link your employees together and keep your projects up-to-date. For individuals it is a brilliant approach to provide a secure centralized storage place for all your information. There are lower cost Online Storage and Online Backup solutions out there; however, In our opinion there are not better ones. LiveDrive’s unique blend of ease of use and huge array of functions make it a sure winner. On top of all that, if you subscribe to the yearly plan, you will receive 2 months free and an extra ten percent off FOR LIFE!

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Posted on 2010-08-04, By: *

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