Reviewed Mar 2, 2012
Livedrive rated 2.75 stars based on 106 votes
Livedrive is much more than online backup.
Livedrive is your personal storage space on the Internet. Its unlimited, it's secure and it's there forever. When reading about all of the features Livedrive has to offer, we were pretty excited - until we tried it out ourselves.
Setting up Livedrive can be confusing, even to someone like us who have used many online backup services. There are multiple options for setting up Livedrive, but too many choices can be a bad thing.
We tried setting up the Live Backup option, but during the installation process were faced with many options, like where to save the local cache and what files to cache locally. While Livedrive may use this information, this is another example of confusing options presented to the user during installation.
The defaults for Live Backup (Livedrive's automatic backup process) were sufficient at backing up most of our data, but not all of it. We chose a subset of data to test with, but after some time, the backup hadn't even started, and there's no apparent way to force a backup to start.
A while longer, the backup reported it was done, but when we looked on the L: drive and online, the files were not found. That's because the files are not in the L: drive or online in the
Your Files section - they're in the
Live Backup section online. Confusing, for sure.
However, with only a PC client, this does not work on Mac or Linux machines. The workaround offered by Livedrive is to use the web portal to access files if you're on a Mac or Linux computer.
The idea of access anywhere isn't new, but Livedrive takes a simple idea and expands upon it to make it appear revolutionary. While you can use the Livedrive software on a Windows XP or Windows Vista machine, if you want to access the files on a Mac or Linux computer, you need to use the Web Portal or FTP access.
The Livedrive mobile interface shows the files we've uploaded, but we can't access them. Either there's a great delay from uploading a file to when it's available, or it simply doesn't work
Sharing is another confusing feature to Livedrive. At first, I tried to share a file in my backup, but you can't do that! You can only share files saved on your L: drive. Once you know this trick, you can either open the L: drive or click on a file in the Web Portal and chose to share it.
If the user that you shared a file with doesn't have a Livedrive account, it looks like one is automatically created for them, and they now have a login to see all of the files shared with them. Or, there's a single password for the one file that was just shared.
However, since we were never able to successfully upload a file to the L: drive, we couldn't test this fully. We could see the file, and see the file size, but couldn't stream it or download it.
While browsing our account with Livedrive, a neat toolbar appears at the bottom of the screen, which appears to allow us to stream mp3s. However, uploading files via the toolbar is difficult. Luckily we're using two monitors, so we can drag files from one screen onto the web uploader, but even that failed.
One of the advanced features that we were excited to hear about was FTP access. Figuring out how to set this up appears to be one of Livedrive's trade secrets, as it wasn't anywhere obvious. But we were persistent and found the FTP set-up instructions (http://www.livedrive.com/ftp.aspx ). Amazingly, this seemed to work! We logged in & were able to download 2 MP3s at about 4 Mbps.
Livedrive claims to be secure
Your files are encrypted using AES 256 encryption and stored across multiple servers. All transfers between your computer and Livedrive are also encrypted.
However, since we are able to FTP into our account and download files, this is obviously not true. We were able to FTP into our account and download the files over an insecure connection, and open them right away without decoding them. Not only was the transfer of files insecure, but the files were not encrypted on the server, either.
On paper, Livedrive looks like a great service - almost too good to be true! Automatic backup, plus syncing, plus online storage and access anywhere for just $55.95 per year (syncing only with Pro accounts at $149.95 annually). However, when put to the test, the service fails miserably. The only reason we'd chose Livedrive for online backups is if we needed FTP access to the files (which, BTW, IBackup offers, too)