Regular readers of my blog know that I don’t use my audience to go after companies online, I will on occasion however voice my opinion with a company whether positive or negative. The story of my experience with iDrive cloud backup service recently deserves to be told, especially considering this company is currently conducting a large marketing push on nationally syndicated shows on many local radio stations.

A new service

As a photographer, my data is the most important asset I have. Years ago, I lost some images by accidentally deleting the contents of a SD card before I had loaded it into my backup drive. I erased the card and used it for my next shoot making the data unrecoverable. I weighed the cost of sending out the card to a data recovery professional against the cost of setting up the shoot a second time. While the lost images were important, they were not one of a kind, and the cost to attempt having the data recovered was just not worth it. I attributed the experience as a learning one and vowed to put a solid backup plan in place before my next shoot.

At that time, I had one backup drive that sat on my desk, and that was where I kept all my photos “safe”. When I worked in the videogames industry making games for Atari, Accolade and Mattel Toys, all my teams employed the 3-2-1 method of data backup, 3 copies of everything on two different media types and 1 kept offsite. Over time, I got lax and stopped being dedicated about backing up my data with this method. That decision came to bite me when I lost those images. Since that time, I have stayed true to the 3-2-1 method with my two media types being a few SSD backup drives and a large spinning drive kept onsite in a fire safe, my offsite has always been Google drive. With the recent price hikes, I began researching for a new cloud storage solution and iDrive came highly recommended through several sources including PC Magazine. Their big selling point was the free drive they would send you to load your data on once a year, so you didn’t have to wait for the trickle background backup. I called to talk to a sales representative and signed up for a year of service. The salesperson recommended the drive since I had a large amount of data to start the backup with – and that arrived within a few days.

Backing up my data

A well written instruction sheet accompanied the drive which explained plugging in and installing the windows backup client. I plugged the drive into a USB 3.0 port and installed the software which involved logging into my iDrive account – easy. I then selected the folders with my photos which I wanted backed up, and a quick click of the backup now button and we were off to the races. The user interface of the backup software was simple enough and preconfigured so that it was easy enough for someone with little computer experience to figure out.

The drive churned and the progress bar slowly rolled across the screen for about 10 hours. I had 1.7TB of data for my initial backup and I figured it would take some time, but 10 hours was a bit much. Finally, the backup summary popped up on screen and it informed me that it had backed up a total of 8 gigs of data over 10 hours, and that all the rest of the files were ignored and not backed up. This wasn’t a good start, and I made sure that my computer was set to not sleep (including the USB bus) I restarted the computer just in case and started the backup again before heading off to bed. At 7am, I got up and checked on the progress to find another summary saying the backup finished at 5am and that it had backed up another 8 gigs of data and ignored the rest. At this point I was a bit miffed, so I restarted my machine again and  I decided to try and help it limp along and select a few folders at a time effectively “babysitting” the process. The software backed up a few files and then disconnected the drive failing for a third time. It was at this time that I figured a call to tech support was in order because maybe they had a secret weapon to get this backup process to work, 

Check the FAQ

I called iDrive tech support and was immediately disconnected. I called back and over the next 25 minutes I was disconnected three more times until I finally got to speak to a tech support representative. Now, full disclosure I have worked at the tech support desk (not at iDrive of course) and I fully understand how difficult the process is. I get that the support staff work off of a script and generally have a large list of things for the user to check. This is a tough job and I would not insult or berate a tech support person because I have been there and know what they go through. I told the gentlemen good morning, that I was a new customer, and that I was having some difficulty with the drive they had sent me. I informed him that I was hoping he might be able to help me get on the right track to getting my files transferred to the backup drive. I suspected that the client software was the cause of the problem, as I was able to plug the drive in and manually drag files to it with no problem – I didn’t tell the support person this, I figured I would let him run through his script.

To my surprise, the tech support person informed me that the drive the radio commercial and the sales representative recommend is only used for customers with slow internet connections, and that the client software was useless for local backups. I was a bit shocked considering this was a big selling point for their service and was represented as an integral part of getting your data backed up quickly. I was then informed that he could not help me with this issue and that I should read the online FAQ to find an answer. After the long wait to talk to a representative, the total time he spent with me was less than three minutes. This lack of interest in my issue was a huge red flag for me, especially when I am looking to trust my data with this company. I asked if there was anyone else I could talk to and he summarily said no and hung up on me. Now, if I lost my data and they had the only backup and I ordered a drive with my data and the client software didn’t work I would be quite upset to say the least.

Billing

In shock, I called the company back and this time selected the option to be transferred to billing. Within a few rings the gentleman from billing answered and I (nicely) told him about my concerns with their service. I told him about the tech support person informing me that the drive they sent out was not intended to be used to back up data and he confirmed this. I asked about the scenario where I lost my data and needed to order a drive to get back up and running quickly and he said that I could only download my data from the cloud and he would not use the mailed out drive method. I told him that I was concerned about trusting them to store and return my data and asked for a full refund since I had not been able to use their service. He told me that I would need to log into my account and cancel it myself and that there would be no full refund – I would be charged a prorated rate for the time I waited for the drive to arrive at my house, and the days I spent failing to back up my data. All I could say was wow.

Conclusion

Having a solid plan to back up your data is incredibly important and offsite backup is an integral part of that plan. I cannot stress this enough. Imagine if you had a fire or other disaster and what you would lose if you only had onsite backups. In the case of wedding photographers, there could certainly be litigation involved with losing their files, as it is not your client’s fault if you don’t have a reasonable backup plan in place. I’m researching other companies for cloud storage, if you have had good luck with a particular company, I would love to hear about it. I’ll report back once I have tried a few more services and decide on one, until then I would be wary of iDrive.

Hey! I love to hear from my readers! Feel free to contact me via my social media sites I would love to hear your thoughts on this or any of my other articles! Until then, get out and get shooting! 

My Photography site: http://www.tahquechi.com/

My Bodyscapes project: http://www.bodyscapes.photography/

My travel site: http://www.blindtravels.com/

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