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AltDrive Review

AltDrive at a Glance

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AltDrive Review
29 votes, 3.59 avg. rating (71% score)

Our Rating

3.75 / 5 stars
★★★¾☆ 

Price:

Personal Plans

  • Home Gold Unlimited Account: $4.45/month
  • Home Gold Unlimited Account: $44.50/year. Saves you over 17% over monthly plan.
  • Home Platinum Unlimited Account: $9.95/month
  • Home Platinum Unlimited Account: $99.50/year. Saves you over 17% over monthly plan.
  • Click here to save 17% on AltDrive!

Business Plan

  • $3.25/user/month plus $0.15 per GB/month

Pros:

  • Supports Windows, Mac, Linux and Solaris operating systems
  • 30 day trial period.
  • Unlimited home accounts.
  • Incremental backups after the initial full backup
  • Scheduling – Ad-hoc, daily, or near continuous
  • Default backup sets or user customizable along with multiple sets possible.
  • Restore up to 30 days back.
  • Quick, easy restore.
  • Private encryption key if desired.
  • AES-256 CTR mode encryption before leaving customer’s machine.
  • Data deduplication and compression for faster backups and restores.
  • Locked file support on windows.
  • Bandwidth throttling so that VOIP and streaming applications function.
  • Email notifications.
  • Large files > 4GB.
  • Unthrottled for faster backups.
  • Low CPU/memory usage.
  • Data stored encrypted in secure and highly available data center.

Cons:

  • No Mobile Apps for access of files on the go.
  • No file access through web admin.
  • Linux version did take some extra work to setup, but should not be difficult for most Linux users.
  • Not as user friendly as it could be.

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Full AltDrive Review

AltDrive is a no nonsense backup service that delivers what it advertises. Unlimited backup at an affordable cost. Like other services they use custom built hardware to keep their costs down and provide a backup service that works. I tested both the Windows and Linux versions of the software and both worked equally well, although the Linux version did take a little extra work work to get the system tray icon to show. More a problem with Ubuntu than AltDrive and nothing a regular Linux user should not be able to solve.

Installation
The first step in installing AltDrive is creating an account on their website. They offer a 2 month trial, so you get a good chance the try the service and decide if it is the right one for you. Once you have created and confirmed your account you can login to the web interface and download the client you need for you computer. Depending on your operating system your installation will be slightly different.

I was testing on a Windows XP Pro machine so once I downloaded the desktop client software I double clicked the installer and simply followed the installation wizard. Once the installation wizard was complete I tried to start the AltDrive GUI but it would not start. I decided to restart the computer and then I had no trouble starting the desktop client and it launched into the home configuration wizard. This was probably a result of the fact that AltDrive runs as a service and the GUI could not connect to the service after I first installed. This would also mean that even if the tray / system icon is not present the AltDrive service would still be running protecting your files.

Backing Up
After installation the backup wizard configuration wizard starts when you start the AltDrive graphical interface. It walks you through creating your first backup set. You have quite a few options to configure once you log in with your account username and password. You can decide if you want to use the default AltDrive encryption key or create your own, then you create a new backup set and choose what data you would like to backup. You can then choose to schedule your backup set to run at a nearly continuous or at a scheduled time. Once all the settings are complete you will get a page to review your settings and confirm they are correct. You can save or go back and change settings if the settings are not quite right.

Once you have completed the backup configuration wizard AltDrive will follow that schedule. If you choose near continuous it will start the backup shortly. You can check the backup status and start a backup from the system tray.

Once you have created your backup set the application pretty much takes care of the rest and is pretty simple to use. Since you can control what files are included in what backup set and create different schedules for each set you have a tremendous amount of control over how often what files get backed up. You could set your documents folder to be backed up near continuously and your photos folder to backup once a week. Nice to be able to have that kind of control over your backup if you have a great deal of data to worry about.

Restoring
The restore wizard starts with the system tray icon where you can select to perform a restore. The restore wizard will ask you what backup set you would like to restore, what date you would like to restore from, and what specific files from that backup set you would like to restore. Once you selct the location to save the restore file to it will start downloading your files. Once the files are restored you can unzip the files and check to make sure they are all there.

Other Features
Email Notices – You can set up email notices when are backup takes place. You can get an email notice only if the backup failed for some reason or at any time. Always nice to get email notices in the event something goes wrong with your backup so you can take a look and see what is wrong.

Cross platform – AltDrive is one of a few services that runs on Windows, Macs, Linux and Unix operating systems. If you have multiple computers running various operating systems this is a nice feature to have.

Overall
AltDrive is a no nonsense backup service. It does not try to overload you with extra flashy features like file sync and sharing. It does what it claims to do, it backs up your computer. It would be nice to have a more robust web interface that would allow for file restoration and access but if you want a decent backup service that offers what it advertises AltDrive delivers.

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Screenshots

The black background screenshots are AltDrive on Ubuntu Linux. The blue background screenshots are taken on Windows XP Pro.

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3 Responses to AltDrive Review

  1. Brien Hansen says:

    Firstly, let me say that I sure appreciate this site and the reviews therein. They have been very informative and helpful.

    I went ahead and installed the Mac software for Altdrive…… throughout the signup process and installation, I found the user interface stark, bare, and extremely unattractive. I had to search to find the Mac client software. It was NOT easy to find. This made me uneasy. By this time, I was so turned off by the experience…. perhaps the Windows experience is a little different. I find that user software or initial interactions with the software either welcoming or not…. it was not for me. Indeed it may provide barebones, no nonsense backup but todays user should expect better and more comfortable introduction. Indeed I am not that computer savvy and probably never will be but I have tried Zoolz, Crashplan and Backblaze (no problem with their service and software) and although each company has its weaknesses and strengths, AltDrive’s weaknesses came too soon in the process.

  2. Dheeraj says:

    I think its a backblaze rebranding.

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