Icedrive is a promising newcomer to the cloud storage scene, focused on privacy and security. With its sleek interface and excellent security features, Icedrive seems destined for a great future. It’s entering a crowded field, though, with some strong competition from the best cloud services. Find out how Icedrive fares against the competition in this full Icedrive review.
- Icedrive offers a sleek, modern design.
- It lacks several sharing and collaboration features.
- Icedrive boasts excellent upload and download speeds.
- The service excels in security and privacy.
Icedrive came on the scene in early 2019, and it has been steadily growing and improving its service since its launch. Its main selling point is its airtight zero-knowledge encryption, and it has made some unique choices that set it apart from other cloud services.
However, it still lacks key cloud storage features, and there are great alternatives on our list of the most secure cloud storage providers.
Icedrive offers an elegant and easy-to-use interface, and it’s also light on the hard drive, as files never get permanently downloaded to your computer. Its free plan is very generous, offering 10GB of space at no cost. However, it still lacks collaboration options, such as integration with third-party productivity apps like Google Docs and Microsoft 365.
Still, it’s a young company, and it promises to bring more features in the future. If you’re looking for a fully fleshed-out service right now, though, you might want to check out some better alternatives, like pCloud or Sync.com.
Icedrive Video Review
10/25/2021 Facts checked
Updated review with new speed tests and images.
07/20/2022 Facts checked
Updated review to reflect changes in the features and design of Icedrive’s cloud storage solution.
Yes, Icedrive is a very secure cloud storage service. It offers zero-knowledge encryption for your most sensitive data as well as two-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized logins.
Icedrive is a British company based in and operating out of the U.K. under its parent-company ID Cloud Services Ltd.
Yes, Icedrive uses end-to-end encryption, though not on its free storage. Instead, paid users can upload files to the encrypted section of their desktop and mobile apps, which will ensure that only you can decrypt them.
100 GB - Unlimited GB starts from $1.67 / month (save 16%) (All Plans)
1000 GB - Unlimited GB starts from $6 / month (All Plans)
- Unlimited GB starts from $4.17 / month (save 25%) (All Plans)
100 GB - 30 TB starts from $1.67 / month (save 16%) (All Plans)
- 5 TB starts from $9.99 / month (save 17%) (All Plans)
Icedrive Review: Strengths & Weaknesses
- Excellent privacy & security
- Generous free plan
- Zero-knowledge encryption
- Beautiful user interface
- File previews
- Virtual drive on desktop
- Good pricing
- Lacks collaboration options
- No chat support
- No block-level sync
- Not good for productivity
For a relatively new cloud storage service, Icedrive has some very useful features. Its implementation of encryption is impressive and practical, and its approach to sync gives you the option to keep files off your hard drive, freeing up space on your computer.
Icedrive isn’t the most feature-rich service around. It still lacks a few basic sharing features, and encryption is only available for paid accounts. Although its free plan is excellent, the lack of features leaves something to be desired. If you’re looking for a genuinely stellar cloud service, you can try out Sync.com (read our Icedrive vs Sync.com comparison).
If you have a paid account, Icedrive lets you encrypt essential files, keeping them safe and private. Encryption is made easy with Icedrive. There is a separate “encrypted” tab, where all your private files are kept. You can upload files here just as you would with any other folder, but you can’t move uploaded files to this folder.
Upload Files to the Virtual Drive and Sync Folder
Another great feature Icedrive offers is its virtual drive, which lets you interact with all your online files as if they were on your computer. You can move, copy, rename, upload and delete files, and it’s all synced to the cloud. You can preview files here and even edit documents in their native apps, and any changes you make will be uploaded after you’re done.
Currently, this feature is only present for Windows users. While MacOS users can download Icedrive onto their computer, it functions in the same way as the web browser application.
Icedrive doesn’t create a sync folder on your hard drive. However, you have the option to sync any folder on your computer to the cloud, which means you can keep your existing folder structure. If you really need a separate sync folder, though, Dropbox offers some excellent sync options (read our Dropbox review).
Preview Files and Folders Directly in the Icedrive App
A particularly impressive feat is Icedrive’s implementation of file previews, which are available even with encrypted files. To keep your files private, Icedrive streams encrypted data to your computer, where it becomes decrypted and viewable only for the user. Previews work with all popular video and image formats, as well as Office documents and PDF files.
Icedrive also saves past versions of your files, so you can restore any file to a previous version, as long as it’s within 180 days. You’re limited to 10 past versions at a time if you’re on a paid plan, and just five on the free plan. Additionally, free users have a reduced time-limit of just three days.
As for recovering deleted files, both free and paid users have up to two weeks to do this, though it requires contacting Icedrive manually.
Unfortunately, Icedrive still hasn’t implemented any integration with third-party apps, so if you need to collaborate on a cloud-based document — say, via Microsoft 365 — OneDrive would be a much better choice (read our OneDrive review). If you need to collaborate on files in the cloud, you should look at our list of the best cloud services for collaboration.
Paid users can create password-protected files and apply expiration dates to sharing links. If you would like to allow an external user to add files to a folder, you can do this through the “request files” feature. Icedrive simply creates a link for you to share with others, so they can add files as requested.
You also can’t set permissions for links, like limiting who can download the file or how many times a file can be downloaded.
Icedrive Features Overview
|Sync Any Folder|
|File Link Sharing|
|Link Expiry Dates|
|Link Download Limits|
|Deleted File Retention|
|Live Chat Support|
Probably the most attractive aspect of Icedrive is the excellent value it offers. Those using a free Icedrive account can enjoy one of the best free cloud storage options, with 10GB of cloud storage space on offer. Its paid plans are also very cheap, especially when you consider their large amount of storage and the excellent security features you get with them.
Icedrive has three premium plans to complement its generous free plan: Lite, Pro and Pro+. Going with a paid plan will give you access to some advanced features, notably the client-side encryption service. Paid users also have additional sharing options, including passwords and timeouts for links, plus a backup option for your phone on the mobile app.
- : Bandwidth limit: 250GB
- : 150GB
- : Bandwidth limit: 2TB
- : 1TB
- : Bandwidth limit: 8TB
- : 5TB
- : 3TB
When you create your Icedrive account, you receive 10GB of free storage, with a 3GB daily bandwidth limit. The first upgrade option on offer is the Lite plan, which is available only as a yearly subscription. The Lite plan costs $19.99 per year for 150GB of cloud storage and a 250GB monthly bandwidth limit.
Moving up a tier, the Pro plan will get you 1TB of storage for a mere $4.17 monthly (or $49.99 yearly). The bandwidth limit also goes up to 2TB for monthly transfers. That’s a lot of value for your money, but if you need even more cloud storage capacity, Icedrive offers one more plan.
The most expensive plan that Icedrive offers is the Pro+ plan. It comes with 5TB of cloud storage and an 8TB monthly bandwidth limit, at a price of either $17.99 per month or $179.99 yearly, which equals only $15 per month.
Although these plans are very appealing, Icedrive could do even better by adding a plan in between the Pro and Pro+ plans, which would give users a bit more freedom of choice.
For personal use, Icedrive’s premium plans are very competitively priced, but if you need cloud storage for multiple users, Sync.com has more affordable high-capacity plans for your business needs.
If you want to test out some of the advanced features not available on the free plan, you can make use of the 14-day money-back guarantee that Icedrive offers for all of its paid plans — though there is no refund if you pay in crypto.
Icedrive Lifetime Cloud Storage Plans
Icedrive offers interesting lifetime cloud storage plans, which means you only have to pay once. Lifetime plans come with a bandwidth cap to avoid abuse of these plans. The cost of the lifetime plans are as follows:
- Lite: $99 for 150GB of storage
- Pro: $229 for 1TB of storage
- Pro+: $599 for 5TB of storage
In October 2021, Icedrive increased its lifetime pricing. Lite increased by $40 (formerly $59), Pro increased by $80 (formerly $149) and Pro+ increased by $100 (formerly $499). Read our comprehensive Icedrive pricing guide for in-depth details about Icedrive plans.
Overall, we think these lifetime plans are still good value for the money. However, the pricing has edged it closer to pCloud’s pricing, where you get a 2TB lifetime plan for $350. Nevertheless, Icedrive still earns a top spot on our best lifetime cloud storage list.
Ease of Use
Aesthetic appeal of a provider’s design is inherently a lot more subjective than our other criteria, so this is an area where not all users will agree. However, we think Icedrive’s user interface design is, simply put, stunning. It’s supremely sleek and modern, with matte gradients in cool blues and greens, which suits its icy brand image.
Because of Icedrive’s clear interface design, though, it is also very easy to use. Everything is exactly where you’d expect it to be and functions as you’d assume, which means the learning curve is practically nonexistent.
The only caveat to this is that certain things like app downloads and in-depth sharing management are hidden away in a menu on the right-hand side of the screen, which is something we’d like to see change.
Users have four main ways of using Icedrive: the Icedrive website, a desktop application for both Windows and Mac, mobile apps for Android and iOS, plus the virtual drive that’s available only on Windows. The desktop app is portable, meaning you don’t need to install it to run it. The virtual drive, however, requires both installation and a reboot.
Icedrive Desktop and Mobile App
Icedrive’s web interface (and by extension the portable desktop app) is particularly well designed and user-friendly. It’s very intuitive, with large icons and fonts, and contextual menus that pop up when you click on a file or folder. Right-clicking an item will bring up a dropdown menu with file management and sharing options, something most websites don’t allow.
The desktop client functions the same way as the website, with the same menus and dropdowns and design. You can download Icedrive on Windows, Mac and Linux.
Mobile users have access to a similarly well-designed app. Besides the regular cloud app features, Icedrive’s mobile app can be set to automatically upload media files, such as photos and videos, and paid users have the option to encrypt these files, as well. The media player allows you to stream video and music files directly from the cloud.
There is also a backup feature, which lets you back up all of your documents, videos, photos and music at once.
Icedrive can also mount a virtual drive on your Windows computer, which will have the native Windows file explorer interface. This means you can interact with files in the virtual drive just as you would with any other file on your computer. Cloud-based files and folders will appear in this drive as icons, but they won’t take up any space on your hard drive.
File Sharing & Syncing
Icedrive makes some interesting choices with its implementation of file syncing. Although there are multiple ways to access your online files, there is no actual file sync folder. Instead, you have the option to sync up to 20 folders on your device. File sharing is pretty standard, with some nice extras, which we’ll discuss next.
Sharing Files With Icedrive
Icedrive’s sharing system is pretty basic, though it has a few advanced features. Clicking on a file in Icedrive will reveal two sharing options: You can share files either by email or with a sharing link.
Email sharing is simply named “share,” and clicking it will open a pop-up window where you can add the email addresses of the recipients. You can also write a message to the recipient if you want.
Sharing files via a link is done with the “public link” option. Clicking on the option will open up a dialog that will let you set a password and an expiration date for your link. In addition, you can set download limits or disable downloads altogether. You can then copy the link and share it wherever you want. Unfortunately, you can only access these features through the web app.
Another useful feature is upload links for folders. These come in very handy when collaborating with people, and you don’t want to give them full access to a folder, like when you’re working with freelancers. Unfortunately, you can’t set permissions for users, which means you can’t allow someone to edit a file or folder. This really limits your collaboration options.
If you’re looking for more granular controls over sharing, check out our list of the best cloud services for sharing. For example, Google Drive offers a robust sharing experience for free, with all the bells and whistles (read our Icedrive vs Google Drive comparison).
Icedrive users can share files and folders with each other, which Icedrive automatically stores in a “shared with me” folder. It’s a cool feature for basic sharing, but we would like to see some improvements.
For example, there’s no option to move files out of the “shared with me” folder by drag-and-drop. Users have to download the files and re-upload them to a folder of their choice. It’s not a huge concern, but Icedrive could improve usability in future updates.
Icedrive Sync Features
As we mentioned, Icedrive’s virtual drive doesn’t truly sync your files to your computer, it just creates icons of them that you can interact with. Whenever you open a file through the Icedrive for desktop or the virtual drive, it is downloaded but isn’t kept permanently, which frees up storage space.
If you install the virtual drive, you also have the option to sync any folder from your hard drive to the cloud. When you sync a folder from your hard drive, you can choose to create a new folder in the cloud or select an existing folder. The latter option will also download any cloud-based files in that folder to your computer, so you should exercise caution when using it.
You can still open and edit files with their native apps, though, through either the portable desktop app or the virtual drive. This lets you make changes to files, and any changes you make this way get uploaded to the cloud. However, this method of work requires a constant and stable internet connection, which isn’t always possible.
Icedrive is useful if you’re short on hard drive space, as it doesn’t create a sync folder that would keep duplicates of your files. However, using only the virtual drive isn’t suitable for sensitive work because it relies on a stable internet connection. Thankfully, the folder syncing option remedies that issue entirely while still keeping your hard drive free of clutter.
Despite lacking some useful features in the sync and share department, Icedrive does perform very well when it comes to speed. For both upload and download performance, there’s not much to complain about here. We uploaded a 5GB folder on a 100 Mbps connection, both for uploads and downloads.
We did our testing from a system based in Dublin, meaning we were close to Icedrive’s German servers, which had an impact on performance. The company also holds servers in the U.S., so users located close to either country should enjoy similar speeds.
Icedrive Speed Tests
Icedrive offers excellent speeds when uploading and downloading files. In fact, it’s one of the fastest cloud storage providers that we’ve tested. Although several cloud storage providers like Google Drive, Dropbox and Koofr manage speeds that are close, only pCloud was able to surpass Icedrive, and then only for downloads.
We experienced extra pressure on our system’s memory, sometimes spiking at 800MB when uploading our folder. Considering other services average at around 60MB for memory usage, it is considerably higher. There’s also no block-level sync, so any changes you make to large files will require a re-upload of the entire file, instead of only the altered bit.
Security and privacy are Icedrive’s strongest selling points. Icedrive employs the Twofish protocol to encrypt all your files, instead of the usual AES protocol used by most other providers. According to Icedrive, using this lesser-known encryption protocol will result in higher security, since most hackers aren’t as familiar with it.
Icedrive offers zero-knowledge encryption and end-to-end protection. It encrypts your files from the moment you start uploading them to keep them safe from man-in-the-middle attacks while in transit. Upon reaching Icedrive’s servers, your files are re-encrypted. All encryption and decryption happens client-side, and you’re the only one with access to your encryption key.
Icedrive even allows you to preview encrypted files, something that isn’t usually possible. It does this by sending you encrypted data, which is temporarily downloaded and decrypted on your side, allowing you to preview the file, though this isn’t possible with all file formats.
Icedrive also offers two-factor authentication for an added layer of security. You can set this up using Google Authenticator (which is one of the best 2FA apps) if you want a software solution, or via the FIDO and U2F protocols if you prefer hardware such as the YubiKey. Finally, there’s also an option for two-factor authentication via SMS, but only for users on one of the paid plans.
Icedrive’s DMCA policy is mostly legal fluff, but it has some clauses that require clarifying. A clause in the DMCA statement says that Icedrive uses a filter to calculate the unique hash of any file entering its system.
Although this sounds worrisome at face value, a hash is just a simple identifier, and it’s nowhere near enough to reconstruct or decrypt your data. Furthermore, the policy explicitly states that this only applies to non-encrypted files, so you won’t receive any DMCA takedown requests for your encrypted storage.
Icedrive is based in the U.K., which means it complies with U.K. privacy laws, and it’s also GDPR-compliant. In all, Icedrive’s service is private, with zero-knowledge encryption keeping your data safe. Plus, all files are encrypted client-side, so you should have no worries about privacy, as long as you keep all your files encrypted.
When the service was still in its infancy, its support team was communicative and quick to respond. However, in recent months, the company has developed somewhat of a poor reputation for its slow response time. However, when we contacted the support team we received a response within 24 hours.
If you prefer not to wait for an email response, you can also use the chat option to contact the cloud storage company. Unfortunately, this is only available between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. BST from Monday to Friday, meaning it can be difficult to use if you’re in the wrong timezone.
However, if you do reach out during the opening hours, we found the chat support to be quick to respond with helpful answers. We often have to repeat even basic questions multiple times to get an answer when we run these tests, so we were pleasantly surprised that we got the answers we wanted quickly and efficiently.
The Verdict: Icedrive Review
Even though it is still very young, Icedrive shows a lot of potential to eventually become one of the best cloud storage providers. It’s an attractive choice for anyone with security and privacy on their mind. Plus, Icedrive has promised to completely cover its service with its client-side, zero-knowledge encryption in the near future.
If pricing is important to you, Icedrive’s free plan has plenty of storage, and its paid plans offer some good bang for your buck as well.
There are still a couple of bugs to iron out, though, and Icedrive’s lack of features shows its young age. However, with many features on the horizon, Icedrive could soon find itself in the cloud storage hall of fame.
Does Icedrive offer enough for your needs? What features would you like to see it add in the future? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading.