Online backup service IDrive today announced a new service that allows its users to back up large amounts of data to the cloud. Instead of waiting around for days to upload what are often hundreds of gigabytes of data, IDrive now ships hard disks to its users so they can back up to a terabyte of data to the cloud. The users then ship the drive back to IDrive and the company enables the data on their account. After this, users can continue to use the company’s regular online backup service to send incremental updates to IDrive and, of course, restore their data from their cloud backup.
The service, called IDrive Express, is available for a one-time fee of $59.99. IDrive Pro users, whose paid accounts start at $99.50 per year for 100GB of backup storage, can use the service once per year for free.
The idea to use hard disks and FedEx or UPS to back up data is, of course, not new. Mozy, for example, also offers a similar service (though for the higher price of $275 for up to 1.8 terabytes), and both Google and Amazon allow developers to send in drives to enable large amounts of data in their respective clouds.
As IDrive’s CEO Raghu Kulkarni told me, the company originally thought that it would target this service at business users, but the team quickly realized that most personal users now also have very similar storage needs. Most of us, after all, store huge amounts of photos and videos on our local hard disks now.
The process to get started with IDrive Express is pretty straightforward. Users request a drive and it gets shipped to them. The drives include IDrive’s backup software, so starting the backup is just a matter of plugging the drive into your computer’s USB port (Mac and Windows are supported), waiting for it to finish and returning it to the company. IDrive will then upload it to your account in one of the four California data centers it has a presence in. All of the data is automatically encrypted during the backup process (in case the drive gets lost), and users can also use private key encryption to ensure that nobody at iDrive can see their data, either.
The whole process, Kulkarni says, should take less than a week. It’s worth noting that users do, of course, have to pay for the extra storage these backups need on iDrive’s servers. The service’s pricing plans start at $49.50 per year for personal use and $99.50 for business users who, in return, get support for multiple accounts and backups from Windows Server. IDrive, the company tells me, currently has about 2 million users, and about 250,000 of these are on a paid plan.