Around 12th April, I started the process of switching from CrashPlan to iDrive, because CrashPlan are withdrawing their unlimited home backup service for home users.
I configured iDrive to back up my Mac, PC, Linux server and iPhone.
CrashPlan was always reliable for me, but iDrive has given me problems right from the start.
Failing to Notice Files Which Need Backing Up
I’ve been using Google Drive on my Mac and PC for a few years now, to sync my working documents. Google Drive has always worked well for me, but it seems to cause problems for iDrive.
On my PC, I modified a document in my Google Drive folder, then went over to the Mac. As usual, Google Drive updated the file on the Mac — so far, so good. However, the iDrive backup software failed to notice the updated document — it just wouldn’t back it up!
The iDrive tech support told me to click on ‘Verify Backup’ — and that did work. However, it seems bad that I have to remember to do that every time a file gets updated. The Verify Backup is set to run automatically every two days by default, but I don’t think it should be necessary to do that frequently, just to make backups work correctly.
iDrive iOS App and iPhone Backups
The iOS app offers remote access to backups, so I decided to install it. It also includes the option to back up things like photos to iDrive. I already have Apple’s iCloud for that, but I thought it would be a good thing to have another backup of my phone, so I enabled it.
The photo backup seems to ‘sort of work’ mostly, but like the Mac / PC iDrive software, it’s a bit flaky at times.
You have to keep the app open to allow it to backup. There is a background upload option, but that only runs for a limited time. All that is reasonable and understandable.
But I’ve found I have to open the app to retry failed backups on a regular basis. Photos often fail to back up, and one minute the app seems to report things as all backed up, then a moment later, it says some files are not protected… Quite frustrating and time consuming.
On the plus side, it does allow me to browse all of my backups from my phone, so I can view photos which are part of my Mac, PC or Linux server backups. It even shows Thumbnails, which is one improvement over the CrashPlan app I used to use.
The app provides very little information about backups — it would be nice to see some stats, such as overall sizes and last backup dates.
After years of using SUSE, I now use Ubuntu on my server. The iDrive software is controlled from the command line, using a collection of scripts. It’s not as slick as using CrashPlan’s GUI to remote-control the backup, which is what I did in the past. Still, installation of the iDrive software and scripts went smoothly enough.
I knew it would take a while to backup about 1.1 TB of data, with limited upload speed on my broadband. It’s still not finished — and I’m starting to wonder if it ever will finish!
I began backing up my server on 20th April, several days after first signing up for iDrive.
You have to create a backup schedule, and can choose daily or weekly. Knowing that my backup would take weeks, I chose weekly, and hoped that it wouldn’t try running a second scheduled backup, before the first one had finished.
After about 7 days, it had done 284 GB — but it stopped, saying ‘connection refused’.
I restarted the backup, and was pleased to see that it appeared to skip over files which were already backed up. By 14 days, it had managed 448 GB, and I’d had to restart a few more times.
After the initial hiccups, I had quite a long period without problems, resulting in me having backed up 909 GB after a total of 25 days, before it stopped again.
Unfortunately, I’ve had to restart if a couple of times since then, and it now seems to be redoing a significant number of files — even ones which have not changed, such as my music collection, and old family photos.
Still Not Finished
I’m presently 30 days in, and it’s at 753 GB — so not even quite as far as five days ago. It’s proving to be quite frustrating, and it’s something which I have to monitor frequently, unlike CrashPlan.
With the 2 TB backup plan, I also got 2 TB of sync space. I hadn’t planned to use it, because I’ve been happy enough with Google Drive. But recently I thought it would be useful for a certain group of files, so I gave it a try.
Unfortunately, I found the iDrive sync to be unreliable right from the very start. I updated files on my PC, and they simply did not update on the Mac. I tried restarting the iDrive software and restarting the Mac. It just would not sync the files — and these were simple text files, of a few KB in size.
Given that it didn’t work reliably to sync a handful of files which I could easily monitor and check manually, it seems like it would be very unwise to use it for thousands of large or complex files.
It would be very time consuming trying to work out which files are the latest, and which have not been synced correctly. So I’ll be sticking with Google Drive for sync, and have since disabled iDrive sync.
I regret not spending more time researching cloud backup options.
User reviews on places like trustpilot give a very poor rating.
The low price, multi-device support and private encryption made iDrive seem too good to be true. But as the saying goes, if something looks too good to be true, it usually is.
It seems that iDrive is too keen on promoting ‘storage upgrades’, and less keen on getting the basics right.
I hope that my server backup completes soon — I intend to post another follow-up article in the near future.
Previous (Part 1): Switching from CrashPlan to iDrive
Next (Part 3): Final Thoughts After Using iDrive 2 TB Cloud Backup for Ten Weeks