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 in this full Icedrive review.
Key Takeaways: Icedrive Cloud Storage Review
- Icedrive offers a web interface and desktop client with a sleek, modern design and excellent performance.
- There’s robust file-sharing and syncing, but no native or integrated document collaboration.
- The service excels in security and privacy, but only paid accounts get access to client-side encryption.
- Icedrive offers affordable plans, including several lifetime options.
Icedrive burst onto the scene in early 2019, and it has been steadily growing and improving its service since its launch. Its main selling point is airtight zero-knowledge encryption, and it has made some unique choices that set it apart from other cloud services.
However, it still lacks some 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 can help free up storage space with its virtual drive. Its free plan is pretty generous, offering 10GB of space at no cost. However, it still lacks document collaboration options, such as integrations with third-party productivity apps like Google Docs and Microsoft 365 or a native solution like Dropbox Paper.
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.
05/17/2023 Facts checked
Updated this Icedrive review to include new speed tests and images, as well as information about changes to lifetime plans and new file-sharing features.
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 plan. 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.
No. Icedrive provides an encrypted folder for all paid accounts where the data is encrypted on the client’s (meaning you) device, ensuring that no one else — Icedrive included — can access it.
Icedrive Review: Pros & Cons
- Excellent privacy & security
- Generous free plan
- Zero-knowledge encryption
- Beautiful user interface
- File previews
- Virtual drive on desktop
- Good pricing
- Lacks collaboration options
- No block-level sync
- Paid client-side encryption
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.
Although Icedrive is a feature-rich service, it lacks more advanced collaboration features, and client-side encryption is only available on paid accounts. Although its free plan is excellent, there’s room for improvement for both free and paid users.
If you’re looking for a cloud service that offers private encryption for all accounts and more collaboration integrations, have a look at 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 that 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, with any changes that you make being uploaded after you’re done.
Currently, this feature is only present for Windows users. While MacOS and Linux 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, audio 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 can only restore versions up to three days old.
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|
One of the most attractive aspects 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 subscription-based 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, most notably client-side encryption. 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: 3GB
- Bandwidth limit: 250GB
- Bandwidth limit: 2TB
- Bandwidth limit: 8TB
When you create your Icedrive account, you receive 10GB of free storage. 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.
Moving up a tier, the Pro plan will get you 1TB of storage for a mere $4.17 monthly (or $49.99 yearly). 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 monthly or annual plan that Icedrive offers is the Pro + plan. It comes with 5TB of cloud storage at a price of either $17.99 per month or $179.99 yearly, which equates to 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 business needs (read our Sync.com review).
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 you only pay once for. Lifetime plans come with a bandwidth cap to avoid abuse of these plans. The cost of the lifetime plans are as follows:
|Plan||Price||Storage||Breaks Even in|
|Pro III||$499||3TB||10 years (compared to Pro)|
2 years & 9 months (compared to Pro+)
|Pro X||$999||10TB||5 years & 6 months (compared to Pro+)|
There are three Icedrive lifetime plans, but only the Lite plan corresponds directly with a subscription-based plan. At $99 for lifetime access, this plan “breaks even” compared to its annual version after exactly five years.
The two remaining lifetime plans have no monthly or yearly equivalent, which makes them difficult to compare. The first is called “Pro III” and comes with 3TB of storage. Compared to the 1TB Pro plan, this takes a full ten years to break even, but if you compare it with the 5TB Pro + plan then it breaks even after two years, nine months and some change.
Finally, there’s the Pro X plan, which offers a whopping 10TB of storage. The closest equivalent is the Pro + plan, which costs the same after roughly five years and six months. That said, the lifetime alternative offers double the storage, so it’s something of an apples to oranges situation.
Icedrive earns the second spot on our best lifetime cloud storage list. You can also read our comprehensive Icedrive pricing guide for in-depth details about Icedrive’s plans.
Ease of Use
The 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, 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.
Users have four main ways of using Icedrive: the Icedrive website, a desktop application for Windows, Mac and Linux, mobile apps for Android and iOS, and 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 pop up when you click on a file or folder. Right-clicking on 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, 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 we’ll be discussing 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. You can assign individual roles to the people you share with on this window as well, setting them either as an editor or “read only.”
Sharing files via a link is done with the “public link” option. Clicking it opens 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 options through the web app.
Another useful feature is upload links for folders. These come in very handy when collaborating with people you don’t want to give full folder access to, 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.
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 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 all work because it relies on a stable internet connection. Thankfully, the folder syncing option (available in the virtual drive application) remedies that issue entirely while still keeping your hard drive free of clutter.
Icedrive performs 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 over a 100 Mbps connection, both for uploads and downloads.
We did our testing from a system based in Dublin, which had an impact on performance because we were close to Icedrive’s U.K. and German servers. The company also holds servers in the U.S., so users located in, or close to, these countries 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. Only a few other cloud storage providers, like Google Drive, Dropbox and pCloud, manage speeds that are close.
|First try||Second try||Average|
We experienced extra pressure on our system’s memory, sometimes spiking at 180MB 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 results in higher security, since most hackers aren’t as familiar with it.
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 offers zero-knowledge encryption and end-to-end protection, as long as you’re on a paid plan. 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.
Privacy Policies and Laws
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-client-side encrypted files, so you won’t receive any DMCA takedown requests for your encrypted storage folder.
Icedrive is based in the U.K., which means it complies with U.K. privacy laws, and it’s also GDPR-compliant. The servers hosting your files are located in the U.K., Germany and the U.S. Unfortunately, there’s no way to choose between them, as users’ files are allocated automatically depending on their location.
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’re on a paid account.
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 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 to get the help we wanted quickly and efficiently.
That said, Icedrive’s knowledgebase and FAQ leave a lot to be desired. There are only a handful of articles addressing only the most basic questions, forcing you to reach out to customer support for anything more complicated.
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.
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.
Does Icedrive offer enough for your needs? What features would you like to see added in the future? Let us know in the comments below, and thank you for reading.