Livedrive has been around for a very long time, and has undergone many changes over the years. It was surprising to see how much the quality of the product has improved since moving to the UK.
One good example of this positive evolution is that where previously separate applications had to be installed for each feature, now almost everything has been integrated into a single interface. The software is bursting with features, and offers plenty of control for advanced users to tweak every setting imaginable.
It’s not all good news however: first time visitors to the Livedrive website are likely to find it difficult to understand the products on offer. This is partly due to the pricing structure being very different to that found with our other best cloud storage and backup services.
As a new user, you’re expected to know which product you want to buy without being given the opportunity to test them all. There’s no clear information on whether you can freely swap between the different plans during your free trial. The short trial duration of only 14 days is one of the tightest we’ve seen here at Cloudwards.net.
With so many good things to like about what Livedrive is offering, it’s a pity more care wasn’t taken in creating user-friendly policies. It is these that you should consider most carefully before making your decision to use Livedrive as your storage solution.
Our Livedrive Video Review
Livedrive is unusual because it doesn’t offer all its services in one simple package with different price levels. Instead, it offers three different products at fixed prices, which you can purchase add-on services for. As this is the case, some of the strengths and weaknesses shown here may not apply to all of Livedrive’s products.
Unlimited backup space offered
Offers reseller plans
Works on Mac & Windows
Linux users can access it
Apps for Android &iOS
Option for file encryption
FTP, SFTP & WebDAV access possible
No free storage offered
Demands credit card info upfront
No dedicated Linux client
Encryption keys stored remotely
Located in UK (servers in UK)
Limited currency options for payments
Complex cancellation process
Strange terms & conditions
Livedrive has all the necessary features for a modern cloud storage and backup service, but only the Pro Suite offers everything as a single integrated package.
You can customize the basic packages with add-ons, but this also means you’ll be paying extra. Even so, Livedrive has packed a lot into the software, making it one of the more impressive services in terms of the amount of control it offers users.
The interface is pleasant enough to look at, nice and compact, with simple access to the main features provided through a web-style menu bar with fairly intuitive menu buttons. If you’ve subscribed to a backup only or Pro Suite plan, you’ll see a “restore” button, but this is not shown if you only subscribed for the briefcase plan.
The dashboard is where most of the action takes place, although there’s really not very much for you to do here. You can switch between backup and briefcase modes, depending on what kind of subscription you have. If you try to access a feature you haven’t subscribed to, you’ll be informed that it’s not available and be prompted to upgrade.
There’s also a link to manage your account, and a handy usage meter showing how much space you’ve used for your storage. On the “settings” page, you can set which files and folders you want Livedrive to backup for you, and you can also setup encryption from the “security settings” button.
We’ll discuss this encryption feature in the section on privacy and security. There’s also an “advanced” button in the lower left corner hiding a mighty array of control features.
The controls let you:
- Set the order your various file types are synced or backed up
- Throttle the bandwidth Livedrive uses on your Internet connection
- Enable and manage LAN transfers
- Configure proxy settings
- Check the system’s status (consistently failed this task during testing)
- Setup storage exceptions for your briefcase
- Perform an integrity check to make sure your files are healthy
This is more control than most other cloud storage services are currently offering, and that is one of the main reasons that could be used to justify opening an account with Livedrive.
Livedrive doesn’t offer any free storage, and there’s some complexity to the pricing plans because of the different features offered with each product. There are also some unusual conditions governing what you can do with each of these products.
$ 8 00monthly
$ 80 00yearly
$ 16 00monthly
$ 160 00yearly
$ 25 00monthly
$ 250 00yearly
|Storage||Unlimited GB||2000 GB||Unlimited GB|
Unlimited backup space for 1 PC.
2TB cloud storage for sync across multiple devices.
5TB cloud storage for sync across multiple devices, plus unlimited backup storage for a maximum of 5 PCs. Allows FTP, SFTP and WebDAV access.
Unlimited backup for this price sounds tempting, but there are a few things to be aware of concerning this. The first thing is just how unlimited that space really is, because the terms and conditions are very specific about the number of devices that can be backed up.
Perhaps unintentionally, this policy excludes backup from USB, CD or DVD. The wording of the policy is so unclear that it’s not possible to determine what Livedrive defines as a device. Every PC has limited internal storage capacity, and there’s a chance this policy might limit you to backup from a single hard drive.
Until Livedrive updates this policy information, it will continue to be a source of concern and we recommend consumers looking specifically for such features to read our Carbonite review or IDrive review.
Livedrive greatly improved the ease of use with the software compared to previous versions. All of the needed functions are integrated into a single interface and the overall usability has also been enhanced. If you’ve arrived here after reading older reviews, you need not worry about the usability. It’s easy to do everything, except cancel your subscription.
Canceling is not simple, with confusing information about how to unsubscribe. Some parts of the website indicate you can email a form to cancel, while other sections suggest the only way is to call the UK office number.
If calling Livedrive really is the only way to unsubscribe, it’s a problem. For one thing, it doesn’t take into account that some users may be hearing impaired or speech impaired. It also doesn’t acknowledge that users may not be fluent in English. Nor does it provide for the difficulties in scheduling the call from an international location or the potentially high costs involved.
It’s not just canceling that is tricky: the signup process is much more involved than with other providers. Once you’ve decided which level of service you’d like from the start screen, the way forward is to click on one of the “get free trial” buttons, and you’ll see a form open up on your screen:
This form is slightly misleading because it indicates that you only need to provide your email address and a password to create an account. In reality you will have to give up much more than this. It’s a common trick used by many online businesses to ensure they get at least your email address. Once you fill in the form and click the button to continue, you’ll see this more intimidating screen:
Note that the £144 option was chosen for me which I find a bit cheeky for a free trial. If you leave it as-is and forget to cancel your subscription before the free trial ends, you will be hit with the entire fee; there are no refunds.
With your account created and activated, you’ll be able to log in to your Livedrive web interface:
From there, scrolling down the screen, you will find a link to download the desktop client for Livedrive. Clicking on it will take you to the download area:
Unfortunately, downloading and installing the client software did not go smoothly. The test PC was booted up with a clean installation of Microsoft Windows 7, so the first thing the downloaded installer package did was to download and install the .net framework, which took several minutes.
That would have been fine, except that once the process was completed, the program just abruptly quit and had to be restarted to continue to the next process. At this point, the installer tried to download the Visual C++ runtime files, crashing multiple times and again just abruptly quitting with no error messages or feedback on the success or failure of the installation.
The logical solution to the problem was to download and install the required runtime library direct from Microsoft. This was so effortless, it made the frustration of attempting this with Livedrive’s installer seem all the more exasperating. After installing the runtime directly, it should have been a cakewalk from here.
Alas, even with runtime already installed, the program once again set off on a futile mission to download it. The nightmare finally ended when the network connection was dropped. Unable to connect to Microsoft’s server, the installer simply gave up trying, and moved on to the next phase of the installation. From here on, it was all very simple.
You’ll get a dialog asking for your login details:
If you click the “advanced options” button in the lower left corner, you get to choose where Livedrive will store your briefcase folder. When you’re ready to proceed, just click “next” and the application will be configured to work on your computer:
Provided everything went well, you will then see the client interface for Livedrive displayed on your screen:
Terms & Conditions
Finally, there are terrible clauses in the terms and conditions, such as clause 40, which states that Livedrive will remove backups from any computers that haven’t connected to the service at least once every 30 days. This clause was probably created to avoid wasting space on dead accounts, but really it shouldn’t matter how often you check in, as long as you’re paying the bills.
Another unusual clause is one that states your data may not be available right when you need it because Livedrive reserves the right to archive data in facilities where it may not be available for immediate access. These, and many other clauses, are disturbing, and should steer the privacy conscious well away from Livedrive and toward services like Sync.com and pCloud (make sure to read our Sync.com review and pCloud review for more info on these two services).
Syncing worked flawlessly, but slowly. One small issue is that you won’t see synced changes instantly on the web interface until the page is refreshed. The web interface shows the progress of uploads and downloads, but the desktop client doesn’t, which is a serious flaw.
Sharing is extremely easy. Your files can be accessed through a web page, and to share them with anyone, just send them the URL to your personal web space. The good thing about this is it makes sharing foolproof. On the negative side, there’s no selective sharing. Anyone with the URL has access to any of the files stored there.
Livedrive wasn’t exceptionally speedy when uploading or downloading our 1GB test folder, averaging around two hours. It is worth mentioning that the upload speed was a little faster on Windows than on Linux for some reason.
| First Attempt:||Second Attempt:||Average:|
|Upload Time (hours):||2:04||2:08||2:06|
|Download Time (hours):||2:21||2:10||2:16|
The download speed was below what most users would be likely to find acceptable, and the interesting thing with this is that folders are downloaded as .zip archives. This makes downloading simple and convenient, but doesn’t allow asynchronous access to files because you have to wait for the whole package to arrive.
Livedrive wants to promote itself as a very secure service, but really it depends on just who you want to secure your files from. If your only concern is outside intruders, Livedrive might just have you covered. But the AES-256 “military-grade encryption” doesn’t do anything to protect your files from Livedrive’s own employees, or anyone they grant themselves permission to share data with; Livedrive is not a zero-knowledge security service by any stretch.
The first major red flag is found at clause 14 in the terms and conditions. The wording of this clause indicates that Livedrive will look at your files and will delete anything it has “a reasonable belief” that you don’t have the appropriate rights to the content. They also say they’ll do this without notifying you, and that means you don’t get the chance to present your side of the story.
Livedrive provides rapid responses to support requests and appears to be making a sincere effort to provide quality advice. There’s also a reasonably comprehensive knowledge-base and FAQ list to browse through, when you need answers more quickly.
Staff are reachable by email, chat and phone, though the lines seem to only be manned during UK business hours.
Livedrive had mixed results in this test. It scored very well for features and usability, and also for customer service. File syncing and sharing were good due to their simplicity. File transfer speeds were not impressive enough.
Livedrive seems most suitable for customers that have a lot of large files to store, where security is not an important factor. In this situation, it’s a cheap bulk storage option. Apply your own independent encryption before uploading and those concerns about security will be less of a factor. Really what keeps this from being a perfect scenario is that ridiculous policy requiring you to check in every 30 days or risk losing your files.
We hope you found this review helpful in making your decision, make sure to check out any of our other cloud storage reviews. Thanks for reading, and feel free to share your own experiences using Livedrive by adding a comment below.