Amazon Drive Review

A massive improvement compared to earlier versions, Amazon Drive has a few too many problems to be considered a truly good cloud storage provider.

By Joseph Gildred – Last Updated: 22 Mar'18

Features
70%Decent
Pricing
90%Excellent
Ease of Use
80%Good
File Sharing & Syncing
70%Decent
Speed
90%Excellent
Security
50%Poor
Support
60%Fair

Decent
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Visit Amazon Cloud Drive

Amazon Drive reviews have generally not been kind. Leading the list of complaints has been the lack of a sync function, the mainstay of cloud storage. However, much has changed, including its name (it used to be Amazon Cloud Drive), and with little fanfare the service has become much better. In fact, it recently made our list of the ten best Dropbox alternatives mostly on account of its excellent value.

Whether Amazon’s cloud storage service deserves a first, second or tenth look from you will largely depend on your needs. There are still some issues with the service, including a lack of productivity tools and no server-side encryption.

If you’re ready to give the service a try, you can sign up for 5GB of free storage plus unlimited photo storage by heading to Amazon Cloud Drive. If you’re still deciding, the following Amazon Drive review will help you determine where it stands in comparison to the best cloud storage services.

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Strengths & Weaknesses

Features

70% – Decent

Amazon Drive is in a much better place than it was even a year ago when it comes to features, but it still has some work to do.

One of the big problems Amazon Drive had previously is that it didn’t have a sync client, which kept it from competing as a serious cloud storage service. Amazon has since corrected that problem and now uses the same sync-folder model popularized by Dropbox. It also has smartphone apps for Android and iOS.

Even better, it uses block-level file copying when synchronizing content. This method of file copying produces faster syncs because it only copies the parts of files that changed rather than retransmitting the entire file. It’s the only cloud storage service we know of besides Dropbox and Egnyte that does this.

Amazon Drive also features taskbar notifications that alert you to activity and lets you throttle sync speeds.

File previews are available for common file types, including Microsoft Office extensions. You can also view photos and watch videos. You can store music, but can’t play it directly from the Amazon Drive web interface. However, Amazon Music should be able to access your music folder (it did for us).

Amazon Drive doesn’t include any work productivity integrations like Office Online and Google Docs, which is probably its biggest remaining handicap as a Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive alternative. More strangely, the service doesn’t yet perform file versioning, which will push some users away. Two other big misses are no at-rest encryption and no password protection for links. While Amazon Drive has some great features, it’s clear there’s still much work to be done.

Pricing

90% – Excellent

Amazon Drive nets you 5GB of free storage. That’s 3GB more than Dropbox, but doesn’t come close to placing Amazon Drive on our list of the best free cloud storage providers. However, if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can store unlimited photos.  

If 5GB isn’t enough, Amazon Drive currently has 13 storage plans available, making it the most flexible subscription cloud storage option we’ve seen yet, even beating out Google Drive. On top of that, the rates are more than reasonable.


Plan5GB100GB Plan1TB Plan2TB Plan3TB Plan4TB Plan5TB Plan6TB Plan7TB Plan8TB Plan9TB Plan10TB Plan20TB Plan30TB Plan
Price Plan
$ 12 0011 months
$ 60 00yearly
$ 120 00yearly
$ 180 00yearly
$ 240 00yearly
$ 300 00yearly
$ 360 00yearly
$ 420 00yearly
$ 480 00yearly
$ 540 00yearly
$ 600 00yearly
$ 1200 00yearly
$ 1800 00yearly
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Amazon Drive used to have an unlimited storage plan for just $60 a month. However, the company discontinued its unlimited storage plan in June, 2017. While that might be disappointing, Amazon Drive’s sixty dollar 1TB storage plan is about $40 less than those offered by Dropbox and Google Drive.

Amazon Drive doesn’t have a referral program to gain additional free storage, unfortunately. If that’s something you’re interested in, Sync.com also gives you 5GB of free storage, plus an additional gigabyte for every friend your refer (read our Sync.com review for more details).

Ease of Use

80% – Good

If you already have an Amazon Prime account, you can login to the Amazon Drive website with the same credentials and should have immediate access to your 5GB of free storage. The user interface is pretty straightforward and shouldn’t give most people any difficulties, whether they’ve used cloud storage before or not.

To upload a file, just click the “upload” button in the top-left corner. You can either upload an individual file or an entire folder. You can also create folders and drag files around from within the user interface.

Desktop clients are available for PC and Mac. Installation is fast and creates a sync folder in your file system.

Any files that go into this folder gets sent to the cloud. If you have other computers with sync clients installed, those files will be passed along to them, too. That means you can make changes to files and access the changed versions from other devices without having to manually transfer them.

The Amazon Drive taskbar menu lets you quickly check file upload status and manage your settings by clicking on “preferences.”

We also tested the Android app to gauge the general mobile experience. The mobile apps let you access your files and send content on your phone to the cloud, including photos

Overall the experience doesn’t throw any curve balls at you and we like the design quite a bit. Amazon Drive doesn’t do anything spectacular when it comes to user experience, but doesn’t disappoint either.

File Sharing & Syncing

70% – Decent

Amazon Drive features basic file and folder sharing that can be initiated from the web interface, sync folder or mobile apps. You can share content by clicking on it and clicking the “share” button.

Several options to share content are available: You can generate a link, email or post your content directly to Facebook or Twitter.

It’s convenient enough, but Amazon has some work to do to make file sharing as secure as a service like Sync.com, or even Dropbox. Missing capabilities include the ability to password protect links and place access expiry dates on them.

Amazon Drive does, at least, have a “shared” tab to quickly audit what content you’ve shared. That’s something many cloud storage services, including Google Drive, overlook. 

Amazon lets you share folders, too, but doesn’t let you give users edit permissions to upload files to those folders. That severely limits its use for collaboration.

Sync, as we mentioned, is now an option with Amazon Drive, and the development team has even added block-level sync capabilities. That nudges Amazon Drive ahead of most of the competition with regard to device synchronization.

To be fair, though, zero-knowledge services like Sync.com and SpiderOak can’t incorporate block-level sync because private encryption and block-level sync don’t play well together. Amazon Drive also includes a feature called selective sync that lets you turn syncing off for certain files so that they don’t get saved to your hard drive.

The only issue we have with Amazon Drive’s approach to selective sync is that when you turn sync off, you can no longer see those folders in your sync folder. We like Dropbox’s approach better, which simply tags content that isn’t available offline but still lets you see everything.

Speed

90% – Excellent

As usual when evaluating a cloud storage service, we decided to take a quick look at how Amazon Drive handles file uploads and downloads. Like most tech fans, we run a little short on patience.

Our tests were performed using a 10GB test folder that we use for routine testing. Tests were performed from a location near Boston, Massachusetts, over a WiFi connection with download speeds of around 200 Mbps and upload speeds of around 12Mbps.  

Here are our results:


 Test 1:Test 2: Average:
Upload:15:50
16:5016:20
Download:2:10
1:502:00

Around fifteen minutes per gigabyte is about where we like to see uploads, while two minutes for downloads is a bit faster than average.

These speeds are for initial file transfers, too. With block-level syncing, remember that whenever changes are made to a file already copied elsewhere, you should expect to see the updates significantly faster than the times posted above.

Amazon Drive also lets you throttle upload and download speeds if you find sync impacting your system resources. However, during our testing we didn’t find this to be the case. During subsequent tests, we were able to stream YouTube videos while sync was ongoing without issue.

Security

50% – Poor

Good cloud security starts with encryption, which these days should be a basic expectation. Unfortunately, Amazon Drive stumbles out of the gate by failing to encrypt user data at-rest on its servers.

We got suspicious when we couldn’t find any mention of what encryption protocol it uses online, so we double checked with Amazon Drive support. After some confusing runarounds (see support, below), we finally got confirmation that data doesn’t get encrypted.

Data center security itself with Amazon, on the other hand, should be excellent. The Amazon Drive cloud utilizes the same server network that Amazon uses for Amazon S3 and its own internal data.

Amazon supports two-factor authentication for your login credentials, which you can turn on through your Amazon.com account page. These are the same credentials used for the eCommerce platforms, Amazon Video and Amazon Drive. Two-factor credentials prevent a weak or stolen password from letting someone else login into your account.

Other than that, though, it’s not good news. We generally recommend that users take their privacy into their own hands, but in the case of Amazon Drive, it’s much more important to do so.

If you do decide to use Amazon Drive, you’ll want to make sure you encrypt your files first using a service like Boxcryptor.

Support

60% – Fair

Amazon Drive support is below average and it’s mostly because Amazon ties support for all of its services together. That means that support representatives handle the eCommerce platform, Amazon Video, Amazon Music, Amazon Drive and everything else, leading to issues with knowledge gaps. The net result is that while both email support and live chat are available, it’s a bit hard to get straight answers to your questions.

For example, we sent Amazon customer support an email asking multiple questions about block-level sync, encryption protocols and other technical questions. In response, we got an email linking us to the Amazon privacy policy, ensuring us that nobody at Amazon accesses our files and letting us know that files are stored “Within Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3); the same highly scalable, reliable, fast, data storage infrastructure that Amazon uses to run its own global network of web sites.”

Frustrated, we opened a chat session with Amazon instead and asked a simple question: Are files stored on Amazon Drive encrypted?

Here’s the answer we received: “Yes, if you sign in then you are eligible access. Other person can’t access your files without you sign in.”

Okay, not exactly want we wanted to know, so we clarified the question, and after a few minutes were advised that sometimes Amazon makes us go through a two-step verification process on unknown devices. Still not what we were looking for.  

Undeterred, we tried again. Finally, after an extended wait, the technician came back with the answer: “As I have checked that there is no encrypted, It will be the same which you have uploaded.”

The answer,then, is that no, Amazon doesn’t yet encrypt your files on its servers but that “there will be changes.” We tried to find out when those changes might be happening, but that discussion went nowhere fast.

The good news is that Amazon technicians are available 24/7, chat agents are readily available and emails are replied to within a day based on our tests. You just have to be a little persistent and not settle for irrelevant answers.

The Verdict

Amazon Drive has come a long way in the past year or so and now stands as a viable cloud storage option in many ways. It’s priced extremely competitively and lets you store unlimited photos, although cost and storage have never really been issues. The biggest difference is that Amazon Drive can now be used for syncing, and actually seems to manage that process better than most cloud storage services.

That said, Amazon still has some work to do.

File sharing could be made more secure with password protection and we’d like to see Office Online, Google Docs or even a native notes application added for work productivity. Without those things, sync capabilities are of limited use. Additionally, while support is readily available, dedicated Amazon Drive support would ensure better trained support representatives.

The biggest drawback with using Amazon Drive is that the company doesn’t encrypt files stored on its servers. Given Amazon’s popularity, it’s hard not to imagine that it’s a big target for would-be hackers, and that makes us doubly nervous. If you do decide to go with Amazon Drive, the smart play would be to encrypt your files before sending them to the cloud.

We’ll keep you updated if and when Amazon Drive decides to add at-rest encryption. In the meantime, we hoped you enjoyed our Amazon Drive review. Please leave your comments below and thanks for reading.

Plan5GB100GB Plan1TB Plan2TB Plan3TB Plan4TB Plan5TB Plan6TB Plan7TB Plan8TB Plan9TB Plan10TB Plan20TB Plan30TB Plan
Price Plan
$ 12 0011 months
$ 60 00yearly
$ 120 00yearly
$ 180 00yearly
$ 240 00yearly
$ 300 00yearly
$ 360 00yearly
$ 420 00yearly
$ 480 00yearly
$ 540 00yearly
$ 600 00yearly
$ 1200 00yearly
$ 1800 00yearly
Storage 5 GB 100 GB 1000 GB 2000 GB 3000 GB 4000 GB 5000 GB 6000 GB 7000 GB 8000 GB 9000 GB 10000 GB 20000 GB 30000 GB
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Sync

Sync Folder
Block-Level Sync
Selective Sync
Bandwidth Throttling
Sync Any Folder

File Sharing

File Link Sharing
Link Passwords
Link Expiry Dates
Folder Sharing
Folder Permissions
Link Download Limits
Upload Links

Productivity

File Previews
Edit Files
In-App Collaboration
Office Online
Google Docs
Notes App
Media Playback
Mobile Apps
Deleted File Retention
Versioning
WebDAV

Security

At-Rest Encryption
In-Transit Encryption
Encryption Protocol
n/a
Zero Knowledge
Two-Factor Authentication
Server Location
US

Support

24/7 Support
Live Chat Support
Telephone Support
Email Support
User Forum
Knowledgebase

Misc

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Amazon Cloud Drive Review

An impressive work in progress

A massive improvement compared to earlier versions, Amazon Drive has a few too many problems to be considered a truly good cloud storage provider.
Starts from$ 1 09monthly for 100 GB
Visit Amazon Cloud Drive

33 thoughts on “Amazon Drive”

  1. Cloud Drive and Arq backup make the perfect team to backup your data (style TimeMachine).

    1. Have you run into any challenge with the types of files you’re able to store? I’d like to be storing large Final Cut Pro library files.

    2. Amazon cloud drive is a scam as far as I am concerned. I read that I was getting 5gigs free. But I later discovered that this was only true if you subscribe to Amazon Prime. I did take a free trial of that but then cancelled. I was not impressed with it. So… How can they say I get 5gig free when actually I can’t get it unless I pay for prime. That !Wants it is NOT free at all. Hense…SCAM. They lied in that respect therefore I am NOT an Amazon fan.

      1. Amazon Cloud Drive is not a scam.
        Only a freeloader who doesn’t want to pay for the service would say that.

        Amazon Cloud Drive is the only cloud service which has TRUE unlimited storage. For $60 a year that is an enormous bargain.

        With Arq doing the backup, I have all 16TB of my hard drives backed up onto Amazon. That would be impossible without enormous fees from any other Cloud Backup. And those backups are there for as long as I want. They aren’t erased as they can be with other backup services.

        1. Well they’ve just removed the unlimited option today.
          I shall be leaving, as it was the only thing they had going for them.

        2. It WAS unlimited but they’re no longer offering unlimited storage. So much for their primary benefit.

  2. It seems like all the negative aspects of Amazon Drive are immediately eliminated by installing Odrive, a free sync client that interacts with Amazon Drive.

    Amazon probably knew that some third party would take care of the sync client.

    Should have been mentioned. It makes AD a much more interesting option.

    1. Indeed that’s true. ODrive and many other third party apps are changing Amazon Cloud Drive a lot.
      Don’t forget that Synology NAS works with Amazon Cloud Drive too.

      Sadly, yesterday (21.09.2016) Amazon removed the option for unlimited photos and only left the full unlimited option, but still it’s the cheapest unlimited storage right now that has sharing option and synchronization, and accessing through browser, mobile devices, third party software (open API)…

    2. Curious if the free Odrive works with a mac? I downloaded it but got cold feet after realizing it’s actually a paid service. Can you do incremental backups with the free service?

  3. I was very happy with Amazon Drive using the unlimited photos option, until I received this e-mail today:

    “As of September 19, 2016, your Amazon Unlimited Photos storage plan is no longer available.

    To replace this, we are giving you a free 3-month trial of the Unlimited Storage plan, which starts now and lets you store as many photos, videos, and other files as you like. When your Unlimited Storage trial ends in 3-months, you will be charged $59.99 for a one-year plan. You can cancel your trial at any time.”

    Which is insane – I have pre-payed a year in February, so I should be able to keep my current plan until it expires, 5 months from now – I don’t care that they don’t sell it anymore! (Of course, they don’t mention refunding my unused months.)

    Extreme disappointment. Of course, I wouldn’t trust them that they won’t mess with the unlimited everything plan as well, so I’m looking for an alternative…

    1. A little update on the situation: Amazon realized their mistake and notified me that I can of course keep my current plan until it expires, moveover, they also offered a 1 year(!) free trial of their unlimited everything plan.

      It’s still weird how they messed things up in the first place, but they sure know how to make up for it 🙂

  4. I’m curious if third party apps can make collaboration possible…

    Also, is there a limitation to the number of people who can be logged in/access the storage at the same time?

  5. You mention,
    “The user is required to work at keeping the files on the cloud up-to-date.
    There is no set-it-and-forget-it option for desktop users.”
    Can you please elaborate on that?

    How long would my folder – for example “Photos 2008” containing lets say 20 GB of shots (which I may hardly touch in months) stay on the drive?
    Would it stay on indefinitely till I edit/delete it/till the plan’s validity or would Amazon delete it after x amount of time like how BackBlaze deletes files after 30 days of not detecting them via the primary source of back-up?

  6. Based on the first comment this article doesn’t appear to be that old. But as of Nov. 2016 the Amazon (Cloud) Drive desktop app for Mac does have sync functionality similar to Google Drive and Dropbox where a particular folder in the users home directory is kept in sync with Drive. (The client isn’t as mature as the others in that you can’t change this location.)

    Arq Backup is far superior solution and well worth the cost IMHO (currently $50 lifetime) if not just because it is a full “versioning” backup solution but it always encrypts everything you send to the cloud.

    However, if you looking to just sync documents back and forth between clients (forgoing the data sitting on Amazon in an encrypted state) than it does do this now.

  7. Amazon Drive has added sync on December 1st, 2017. It is baked into the software from Amazon. You can now sync the folders you choose and still use the unlimited drive as a storage drive with no sync.

  8. I’m very reluctant to use 3rd party apps for backup. You can bet your files are not stored in native format and if anything happens to the 3rd party or they want to hold you hostage, you are out of luck

  9. Nearly all of the items in the review are no longer correct as are many of the shortcomings noted above. With third party software ACD is by far the best solution for most any need. Want ACD to look like a drive, use ExpanDrive or NetDrive 2. Want full bidirectional sync, use odrive, etc.

  10. It is painful to upload a large file. Speed is ridiculous slow. As it is now it is useless

  11. I am NOT techy. I simply need storage on my phone. I am a prime member. I need to know if I use this app that I will be able to transfer my photos to an SD card later for printing. Does anyone know?

    1. @Mom of 4. The article is outdated. There is an app from Amazon for you Mac or Windows PC/laptop. You simply install it and select/create the folder you want it to sync the files to. To upload files you simply copy/move them to the folder. In your case you would COPY (see reason for copy below) them from the folder to your SD card for printing.

      One thing to note is that if you remove a file from the Amazon sync folder, it will remove it from the cloud, which is why I specifically said copy it to your SD. As others have said you can use ARQ Backup or some other 3rd party software to work around these sort of software limitations.

      Also, as the article said there is an app for your phone that will automatically back up your photos. On my phone it is backing up videos as well. Though I usually only take short 30s-1minute ones of the kids.

  12. I’ve been spending the last month and a half trying to access my Amazon cloud drive. The desktop app simply froze up one day and won’t upload or download anything. I’ve been trying to recover my files to little avail as the web download crashes 90% of the time (took a day to download 5GB because it kept crashing). Tech support is so bad, I’ve been teaching them more about the product than they know (one of them argued with me claiming that Amazon Cloud Drive is only designed to upload and there is no built in function to allow download of files.) Sort of defeats logic of “storage” if you can only send files and not retrieve them. If I wanted to send by files on a one-way trip to where they could not be recovered, I’d delete them.

  13. ACD is cheap and accessible anywhere. If you use Netdrive, you can access it as a drive letter and use it to stream media.

    However, upload speeds are horrendous… Amazon definitely throttles uploads. At home, I have a 60/6 service (tested to 58/5.5). At work, I have a different ISP that is fiber and tests to 40/40 (our IT department throttles each connection).

    The best upload speed I can get is 500Kbs (doesn’t matter if I use their desktop app, webpage, netdrive, or odrive). Saturating my home ISP should give me 650Mbs+. This makes ACD virtually unusable for “unlimited” storage.

  14. amazon drive isnt working here,i`m using windows 8.1 ,using a 100mb ethernet connection. i`ve tried uploading photos individually but 10% of images wont upload. i tried raring and ziping, to 900mb files, but again 10% wont upload

  15. Use Odrive with Amazon cloud drive to backup and GoodSynch to sync files with HDD. Great service

  16. Wow!!! I just spent 2 months moving all my files from OneDrive to them because I bought an “UNLIMITED STORAGE” plan for 60.00/year. Now Amazon pulls a bait and switch on me and takes away the “UNLIMITED” part. When my current subscription ends I will be dumping AMAZON DRIVE and going back to Microsoft. At least their sync process actually works! What ajoke. I was tired of essentially beta testing the crappy sync app they offer anyway.

  17. Well the Unlimited plan is no more. That same $60 plan is no going to cost $1190 a year. It’s now $59.99 per terabyte… ByeBye Amazon.

  18. I searched for “Bait and Switch” Amazon cloud and landed on this site. I’m like John and purchased their cloud service and now its going to expire and is no longer unlimited.

    I’m going to buy a 4 bay Synology and upgrade my internet to higher upload speeds to compensate for this bullshit that amazon did to me.

  19. Very Nice Article! Can I access amazon cloud storage from ftp software. I know the word unlimited storage is a myth.

    Your account will be closed if you use Amazon Cloud for business storage purpose.

    No direct access to data. There is no use for that type of unlimited storage.

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Amazon Cloud Drive Review

An impressive work in progress

A massive improvement compared to earlier versions, Amazon Drive has a few too many problems to be considered a truly good cloud storage provider.
Starts from$ 1 09monthly for 100 GB
Visit Amazon Cloud Drive