IceDrive Cloud Storage
IceDrive, a relative newcomer to the cloud storage world seem to have been listening very carefully to what cloud storage users actually want from their accounts and delivering accordingly. A very nice user interface coupled with a great link sharing system, built-in encryption tools and a generous 10GB of free storage make this an interesting proposition for business and personal users alike.
One of the main “stand out” features is the Windows drive mounting software which allows users to mount their entire could drive like it were a physical drive. Furthermore, when using this mounted drive, everything is still stored in the cloud and synchronised locally via a caching mechanism meaning it should, in theory, take up very little storage space yet still perform just like a local drive.
Another interesting point, before we get in to the review, is the inclusion of lifetime storage plans whereby a single one-off payment is all that is needed to enjoy the service without any further monthly fees. Such plans are usually well received by those not wanting to keep paying for a service every month and (when chosen carefully) can usually provide very good long-term value. IceDrive currently offer lifetime plans starting at £49 for 150GB of space right up to plans providing as much as 5TB of storage!
Key Features of IceDrive
- Very nice design and easy to use web interface
- Windows drive mounting software included
- Lifetime and monthly premium subscriptions available
- Free account featuring 10GB of free storage
- Smartphone apps for iOS and Android
- Great file sharing system built-in
- Crypto folder – secure encrypted vault (Premium)
- No support for 2FA!
- No support for cryptocurrency payments
Signing up to IceDrive
Signing up to IceDrive is really easy, simply provide some basic details such as name and email address and within a few moments you will be accessing your new account!
When signing up as a new user you will immediately be given 10GB of storage under a free account, this is very generous, especially given that IceDrive don’t make their users jump through hoops (e.g. downloading apps) to access the full storage quota on offer, a great start so far!
Once signed into the new account the web console will be immediately accessible and files can be uploaded and shared straight away. Whilst I feel this is a very smooth process so far it is very disappointing to see that multi-factor authentication is not currently supported, potentially weakening the security of the account (I just hope this is something IceDrive have in the pipeline).
Installing and Using the Windows 10 Client
Once an account has been created the IceDrive client software can then be downloaded form the menu found in the top right of the users dashboard page (under the “Apps” link). From here we can grab the installer for the Windows drive mounting software as well as the portable app which acts as a local interface to the cloud storage (this portable app is also available for MacOS and Linux users as well).
To start with I’m going to look at the IceDrive portable app which acts in much the same way as the web interface does albeit via an app running on the local PC. This means that whilst files might still be stored in the cloud they can be accessed easily on the local PC (for example via drag and drop) and any media files can be streamed without the need to download them first.
Once downloaded and running the software will immediately load up and ask for a login to the IceDrive account, it is important to note we don’t actually install anything here so you will need to keep the “.exe” file somewhere in which it can be run from when needed.
Once logged in it becomes clear this app resembles the web interface in many ways and (from what I can see) has much the same functionality. The big advantage to such an app is that any files being worked on (or streamed) can take advantage of local cache storage, this means when files are opened within other applications (for example Microsoft Word) it should behave like any other locally stored file despite being stored remotely on the cloud.
The other downloadable application is the drive mounting software which is currently for Windows PCs only, the installer for this can be downloaded form the apps page again.
Once downloaded and running I found the install ran very smoothly and with the download itself only measuring ~13MB the whole process was completed quickly. At the end of the install, however, the software does request a reboot which isn’t seen very often on such software any more.
After the restart (and of course logging in) the drive mounting software will be ready to use, if we start by looking at the settings page we can see options for configuring the cache as well as which drive letter we want to use within Windows.
After selecting a drive letter and saving these settings we can finally mount the drive from the home screen by clicking on the “Mount Drive” button, this will then create the virtual drive within windows.
Working with Files within IceDrive
Once an account has been created and the necessary software installed, IceDrive can easily be used via a web browser or from a local PC with ease. Uploading files or folders is straightforward and as simple as dragging and dropping content into the mounted drive or directly over the relevant folder on the IceDrive web console.
Once any files or folders have been added to the IceDrive they will immediately become available on all devices, this means in addition to cloud storage IceDrive can also be used as a form of folder synchronisation between multiple devices.
Files stored within IceDrive can also be used directly within Windows apps (such as Microsoft Office) directly from the mounted drive within Windows. This is possible thanks to the clever software which makes use of local cache storage and allows the application to work like normal with the synchronisation done in the background after any work is saved locally.
Sharing files within IceDrive
So far IceDrive has proved itself as worthy cloud storage with an emphasis placed on ease of use along with some very good drive mounting software being available for Windows. One of the other main functions (as with any form of cloud storage) is, of course, how easy it is to share files using this service. When right-clicking on any file or folder within the IceDrive web console we are greeted by two sharing options, both of which offer different levels of access to specified files.
Firstly there is the “Sharing Options” page which allows an email address to be entered and should the recipient have an IceDrive account themselves the shared file will become visible in their “Shared with Me” folder in their account. If it is not the case that they have an account then the link sent to them will act as a public link.
The other sharing option available is a straightforward public link which can be generated again by right clicking on the files / folder to be shared and selecting the option for a public link.
Once a public link has been created it will remain downloadable by anyone with access to the link until it is turned off by the account holder. IceDrive do, however provide some additional sharing features to holders of premium accounts whereby this link can (optionally) be password protected or set to expire after a set time period.
IceDrive Free vs Premium
IceDrive have both a free account offering a very generous 10GB of storage for no cost as well as multiple premium accounts offering differing amounts of storage up to a total of 5TB at time of writing. Whilst the basic features are the same on both free and premium accounts the premium accounts do have some additional features such as advanced sharing options, more storage and access to a client side encryption tool for additional security.
Use of both the portable client application and the drive mounting software are available to both free and premium accounts with no restrictions which is great to see, especially when considering how useful this software actually is. Both account types also have access to the file sharing functionality albeit with more security options available for premium users evident in this area.
Finally, it should be noted that in addition to monthly and yearly plans IceDrive do give their users the option to move to a lifetime premium plan should they so wish. With a lifetime plan a specified amount of storage is allocated to he users account for a fixed one-off fee, at time of writing these tiers are:
By default the IceDrive service makes use of TSL/SSL security to make sure all files are transported safely between your local devices and the IceDrive itself, the files themselves, however, are stored unencrypted by default.
IceDrive do offer a solution to this whereby premium account holders can make use of IceDrive’s own client encryption software which securely encrypts specified files using the TwoFish algorithm. This is a zero knowledge process with encryption being performed locally on client devices so be aware that IceDrive have no knowledge of the files you have encrypted, this means if you do forget your password IceDrive have no way of helping you recover your data!
With encryption aside, the only disappointing thing I could really find was the lack of support for multi-factor authentication which doesn’t seem to have been implement at time of writing (April 2020). Given this is a fairly standard thing now I would hope to see IceDrive implementing this very soon as a priority!
IceDrive operate a good help and support section on their website which covers many of the main details of the service in an FAQ style question and answer fashion. Anyone requiring further support can send a ticket to the support team and it is stated these are usually answered within 24 – 48hrs.
IceDrive offer a free account (with 10GB of storage) alongside three Premium accounts. These premium accounts are:
LITE: 150GB for £17.99/year or a lifetime payment of £49
PRO: 1TB for £3.99/month or a lifetime payment of £119
PRO+: A massive 5TB for £16.99/month or a lifetime payment of £399
Overall I think IceDrive are being very fair with these pricing plans, especially so with the lifetime deals which provide excellent value to those committing to the long term with IceDrive (although they are still a fairly new company so bear this in mind when purchasing lifetime plans).
Overall I have been very impressed with IceDrive, during my testing the service worked very smoothly and transfers seemed quick and responsive regardless of whether I was uploading to or downloading from the service.
The interface itself is also worthy of special mention, it is clear the team at IceDrive have put a lot of effort into making a good user interface and what they have come up with is nothing short of amazing! The web client as well as the portable application and the drive mounting tools are all an absolute pleasure to use!
The value of the premium plans is also very noteworthy, especially for the lifetime deals which provide very healthy amounts of storage along with access to the advanced link sharing and encryption tools for very reasonable one-time fees.
The only slight issues which (sadly) are noteworthy are the lack of any multi-factor authentication at present and the inability to pay for the premium accounts via any form of cryptocurrency. Both of these things are important for privacy and security conscious users and are becoming rapidly commonplace else-ware, as such I really hope IceDrive gets on board with both of these sooner rather than later!
All in all a very impressive cloud storage service with a very bright future, well done IceDrive!