Cloud Storage and Backup News, Reviews and Promotions!

Livedrive Review

Livedrive at a Glance

Your Rating

Rate Livedrive

Livedrive Review
39 votes, 2.18 avg. rating (44% score)

Our Rating

2 / 5 stars
★★☆☆☆ 

Price:

  • Backup: $7.95/Month, $79.95/Year
  • Briefcase: $15.95/Month, $159.95/Year
  • Pro Suite: $24.95/Month, $249.95/Year

Supports

  • Windows and Macs

Pros:

  • Web interface to upload and access files. Includes streaming music and videos.
  • Free two week trial.
  • Allows sharing of files. (Briefcase and Pro Suite)
  • Backup offered as well as storage.
  • iOS and Android Apps for mobile access to files.

Cons:

  • Defaults to not encrypting connections between your computer and Livedrive.
  • Allows Non SSL (http) Web Access.
  • Allows insecure FTP Access.
  • Forum comments indicate poor customer support.
  • Music browsing and mobile apps don’t seem to work well.
  • Can only download individual files from web not folders.
  • Have to install separate Restore client to restore files.

Sign Up

Latest Posts / Deals about Livedrive

Full Livedrive Review

Livedrive gets high praise from online publications like PC Pro and Expert Reviews. Both publications give Livedrive high ratings and to be quite honest made me wonder if the software they used and tested was a different service than the one I was using. I have even been accused by some Livedrive resellers of not giving Livedrive a fair review so I decided to revisit Livedrive and see if they have improved since the original review was published in August 2010.

Installation
Installation of Livedrive is pretty straight forward. I choose the straight Backup version to test and after providing an email address and password and then entering personal details like address etc. After providing all of the that information you finally get to a payment screen where you have to choose what plan you want. If you are just after the free trial you need to look a little bit to find the option for the free trial. Be careful they have an option to enter your credit card details and you could easily sign up for the full version of the service and not the trial simply by entering your credit card information. This is all done on purpose of course to try and get you to sign up and pay for the service instead of using the trial.

Once you are able to download the software to your computer installation goes fairly smooth. Double click the installation file you downloaded and follow the wizard. Once the software is installed you can enter your login details that you provided on the Livedrive website. After the application logs you in you can select the folders you want to backup. It gives you the usual default folders like your Desktop and My Documents on Windows. You can also select other folders from your computer. This will then complete the Livedrive setup and once you click the finish button will launch the application on your taskbar.

Backing Up
With Livedrive installed you can easily access information about your backup from taskbar icon near the clock. Selecting status will give you a basic screen letting you know what the basic status of your backup is.

The biggest flaw in the backup settings is the fact that connections between your computer and Livedrive servers are not encrypted by default. You need to go into the backup settings and check the little box that says “Encrypt all file transfers between Livedrive and your PC”. Without turning on this encryption settings all connections appear to be done unencrypted possibly exposing your data to anyone that knows how to listen in.

Restoring
There are two ways to restore your files from Livedrive through the web interface and through the Restore Client software. Unfortunately both offer problems and neither is as easy as it could be. The web interface allows you to browse your backed up files and then download them to your computer but you can only download individual files not folders. That is fine if you have only one or two files to restore you can download them but if you need to select an entire folder you will need to use the Restore Client.

The Restore Client is an additional piece of software from Livedrive that you need to download and install and they don’t make it very easy to find. After some searching I finally found it under Accounts -> Software Download. It would be better if they made it available on the home page after you login so you don’t have to go hunting for it. If you did not know you needed the Restore Client you could get frustrated. Apparently the Mac version has the Restore Client built in with the Livedrive software so there is only one thing to install. Why the Windows version does not do this I don’t know but it is another frustrating thing about Livedrive.

Once I was able to install the Restore Client I was able to select multiple files for restore. You can choose to restore to a new location or to the original location. Selected folders and files then quickly downloaded to my test computer. I did not have any problems with the restore files and they appeared to be the same as the original files but I did not do an in depth analysis of each file simply made sure I had the same number of files as the original folder.

Other Features
Web Access
Livedrive offers web access through your web browser. Simply log in to the Livedrive web address that they give you and you can browse the files you have uploaded to the Livedrive servers. As noted in the restore section you cannot download folders but only files. On the surface this is all fine, but behind the scenes this is not as secure as it could be. The default for web access is over an unencrypted http connection not a https SSL connection. The login form gives you the choice to select SSL but it is not the default. This is a huge mistake as far as I am concerned, they should only offer SSL encrypted connections.

I ran a little test to see how much you can actually see of the data I was viewing. On my test machine I was browsing the backed up data, on another machine on the network I was running a packet sniffer to watch what was being sent. I was able to clearly see the text file I had backed up via Livedrive and all of its contents. Seems pretty innocent for just a plain text file but what if that was your financial documents? Pretty easy to discover. Not only that but the cookie being transferred in plain text contained my username and a hash of my password. Copying the hash of the password and running it through any number of decrypting hash websites I was able to easily discover what the password was. If you were on your laptop using a free wifi hotspot someone could easily packet sniff your Livedrive account credentials and use that information to login to your Livedrive account and steal all of your data.

If you use Livedrive you need to make sure you never login to their web interface without SSL. This is one of several security problems with the service.

Stream Music and Movies
This is offered as a feature via the web and mobile apps. If it is one of the reasons you are considering Livedrive, don’t bother. First off after I uploaded some music to my test Livedrive account it would not show in the Music browser in the web access or in the mobile app. After some looking through the Livedrive forums it appears that it can take up to a month for music to be processed and show in the music browser. The files are there but they just do not show. Somehow I was able to make the files show up in the music browser after I did a test restore of a music folder, then they magically appeared. I then tested playing a few of the MP3’s and was surprised at how poorly they played. I have a decent Internet connection and can easily stream music and video in high quality from other sites, but from Livedrive the music constantly kept pausing to buffer and was basically not worth listening too.

The video streaming worked a little better because you don’t have to wait for the file to be discovered by a video browser you can just select it to play. They quality however is poor. You would not want to sit and watch it on your computer or tablet. In the end this was more of another frustration than a feature.

Mobile Access
I tried the Android version of the Livedrive mobile app and it worked all right. I was able to access files and download them onto my mobile or tablet. I could not get any kind of music playback to work. Considering the added features of other companies mobile apps offering to backup your files from your mobile the Livedrive app leaves a lot to be desired.

Security
Livedrive does not seem to take security very seriously and it shows. The default settings to not encrypt information between your computer and Livedrive, not making SSL default on the web app and the fact that they hold both the keys on their server for your encrypted files makes Livedrive a service you should think twice about using to store your important files with.

Encryption is not something you should have to turn on, it should be on by default possibly not even offering the option to turn it off.

Customer Support
The support forum is full of comments by users and slow responses by Livedrive staff. Granted the forum is not the best way to get quick support, but when it takes over a month for a reply on the official Livedrive forum that is a long time to wait. I did create a support ticket on Livedrive to close my test account and got a fairly quick response with a typical how can we help you if you are experiencing any issues.

Overall
Livedrive has a history coming from a web hosting background with the owner, Andrew Michael, previously owning Fasthosts. It is that previous history that shows through in Livedrive with a lack of concern for security and poor customer service. In many ways Livedrive feels like a web host that has simply started offering online backup as a way to make some extra money. Features that look cool and could be great do not quite work as expected or not at all and customer support seems to be lacking.

There are a number of Livedrive resellers that also offer Livedrive services. The majority of them state that they over come some of the problems with Livedrive by offering better support. While they may be able to offer some better support the deficiencies in the Livedrive software in security and use is not something a reseller can over come.

Overall Livedrive does not seem to have improved much since my last review and in fact seems to have fallen further behind compared to their competitors. If you are looking for online backup I would honestly suggest you look at another service.

Review Date: October 30, 2012
Original Review: August 13, 2010

Sign Up

29 Responses to Livedrive Review

  1. Marco says:

    What bothers me most about the Sync service of LiveDrive is that the local version of files is not stored as a normal folder with files.
    Any problem with LiveDrive can mean that the local stored information is lost (and that is a real concern, given the slow speed with which the upload is being done).
    And another issue: Today I did a refresh of my Windows environment and needed to re-install LiveDrive – and now it is downloading my complete file collection again – why? Wasn’t it still available locally?

    • Nathan says:

      Bang on, Marco. This is probably the #1 reason why I gave up on them after the trial. In addition, the Livedrive app/service has to be running in order to access your sync folder. Not sure why they implemented it this way, but it adds extra complexity for who knows what gain.

  2. Alex says:

    I’d just like to add that the livedrive mac software is horrendous. It seems to scan all your files every now and then, re-uploading some, often using 50% or more of your CPU to do so.

    I suggest you try other solutions.

  3. Micha says:

    judging from the review and comments I understood Livedrive is not to be touched without gloves and a long pointy stick. But even that is an option to consider and so I signed with LD for their Briefcase plan. I will explain why: My major concern is having my music library at hand, wherever I am, even on my smartphone. Since it is a large music library – 650 GB and growing, I rather store it in a synced cloud and stream an album of choice instead of DL it for offline listening.
    Apparently, LD is the only cloud service that offer this in a relatively reasonable price. I tried Opendrive too, but their android app do not support a full album streaming, only a one song at a time streaming and even that involves a nasty buffer time waiting for the song to start. In LD android app you just add all the folder’s songs to a playlist with one click and there is no buffering cut offs before or during listening. on the other hand I experienced a lot of crashes using OD android app and non so far on the LD app. I am aware that my experience is different from yours John. my smartphone is Sony Xperia S, if it matters. More pros to LD in compare to OD, are 2TB in LD briefcase, while a similar plan in term of cost in OD offers 1TB. OD also limit DL bandwidth while LD do not. in other parameters, both LD and OD earned a bad reputation in the backing up and restoring departments. Keeping in mind that LD briefcase is not a backup plan but a synched storage, I use it only to make my music available for me online for all my devices, and it works – for an affordable price of 16$ a month. If I would choose a more reliable synched storage like SpiderOak I would pay 100-200$ a month (1TB-2TB) for the pleasure. For a safe backup of my files, including this same music library I use CrashPlan. I don’t take chances with Livedrive. Even the payment is month to month so I don’t have to fear any refund refusal. encryption is also not an issue with music files so… Today I finished my trial with LD and already uploaded 100GB of music to the briefcase. If you approach Livedrive with caution, you can still enjoy their benefits, until something better and cheaper will come along.
    Micha.

  4. Richard Lingard says:

    Appalling Customer Service – woe betide anyone who needs anything from these guys. Completely unhelpful and inflexible when I asked for a refund for a device that I had removed from my account before renewal date.
    There are much better companies out there. AVOID!

  5. Ben Faust says:

    Go ahead and sign up with LiveDrive… But only if you don’t mind losing files. I’m still trying to restore files from them. The automated restore client couldn’t download almost 600 files. I’m trying to download them manually… Some of them failed the first few times I tried, but then eventually downloaded… The rest are just lost for good apparently. Since I work with filesets that, with any files missing, are worthless. If you don’t mind losing files, they might be a good choice for you.

  6. Essex Boy says:

    Livedrive is absolutley awful over the last 6 months. Customer service sucks and since changing their fault reporting system I cant even call them anymore… I have had enough and cancelling…

  7. Johann says:

    Their support is absolutely terrible. They updated their servers on Thursday which caused their FTP to break. They indicated on their site that they were going to do maintenance and then after 2 hours they said the maintenance was completed with no reported issues. Their FTP has been down since Friday and today is Monday. I wrote 3 e-mails and have never received a response. Their website today still continues to indicate “no reported issues”. That is pure BS. Finally, if you post a comment in their technical forum, it will get filtered and anything criticizing them is never published. Even a post requesting why the FTP is down will go unanswered.

    Bottom line? This company has very bad customer service and I would seriously advise you to look elsewhere if you plan on using them for business purposes.

  8. Roger Hamilton says:

    I have been using LiveDrive since 2009. Before I signed up, I specifically asked them if after I delete the files from my local PC do they remain backed up on their server and I received a very strong “your files will always remain on our servers unless you log in and delete them”. Recently I went to retrieve some files from their server and come to find out they are not there. Some time between 2009 and 2011 they changed their method of backing up, and my files were permanently lost. They told me that in a newsletter at some point they alerted all the subscribers to the change. I decided to cancel my service and go with a Drobo system. With weekly hard copy backups, it is a very fast and efficient service.

    If you are in the market for an online storage system and considering LiveDrive, please PLEASE please read the fine print and ask tons of questions before you subscribe.

    • John Tucker says:

      There are very few services that store data after you delete it from your computer. Most have a 30 or 60 day policy. In fact I can’t think of any that do.

      Sorry about your files being lost.

      • Renato says:

        Opendrive does it. There you can choose to sync a folder or just backup a folder.

        With backup option the file will not be deleted even if you delete it from local drive.

        Thank you for the review.

        Now looking for a EU base backup/syncing/sharing service. And Opendrive has its server in the US.

        Looked @ Livedrive and Hidrive.

        So maybe it will be HiDrive for me.

        Still not sure. It doesn’t have all feature that Opendrive has.

        • John Tucker says:

          Opendrive might do it but read some of the comments as well as the review. They don’t have the best user opinion. I have seen HiDrive but not had a chance to try it yet will have to add them to the list to review.

          • Renato says:

            I don’t have bad experience whit OpenDrive.
            A time ago I did have slow connection, but I could fix that whit the “sync settings” in there software. “Simultaneous uploads/downloads”.

            But as you said that a lot of people had said that they have lost there files. So I’m moving before it happens to me. And as I have a business in EU I feel better to have my files here too. But need an advanced ACL.

            If I don’t find one soon, I will be forced to start up a server for this. Right now I don’t have the time. Will look after your review of HiDrive when it comes. I have requested some features from HiDrive Developers. If they do that then they will be my backup provider.

Leave a reply