Recently Strato, the company behind this product, rebranded it, so what was previously known as 1&1 Hidrive is now 1&1 IONOS HiDrive. But we’ll buck this trend and call it HiDrive from this point onwards.
In a crowded SaaS market, what has HiDrive to offer that makes it an alternative to Dropbox and the other big players?
Most SaaS solutions offer either synchronisation or ad hoc file storage, but HiDrive is one of the few that does both in a single package.
Desktop clients (PC and Mac) can sync their folders to the cloud, and they can also place files into that space that aren’t stored on the computer.
On some documentation, Linux support is mentioned, but there is no desktop client for that platform. There is an app for Linux based Synology NAS boxes, and the now-defunct Windows Phone and Windows Phone 8 devices.
A nice extra twist is that you can also interface it to devices that support WebDav, FTP and rSync, like NAS boxes. Although, there is an extra monthly fee to use these services.
What the service doesn’t offer is any means to secure a computer so it can be restored entirely in the event of a storage failure. Instead, it’s meant as a point-and-secure mechanism where you highlight the folders you need to keep safe, and the software then dispatches them to HiDrive cloud storage.
Or that’s what we assumed when we first used the system.
In our testing we highlighted the Pictures folder on our PC, right clicked and selected ‘Save in HiDrive’. This content then arrived in the HiDrive folder and was synced out to the cloud.
We assumed, stupidly in retrospect, that from this point onwards any files that were placed in the Pictures folder would be secured, but that’s not how it works.
Files placed in the HiDrive\Pictures folder are secured, but those in the original folder are ignored, as no link is established.
The way this works gives the impression that you can pick any folder and have it secured online. The reality is that they must all must be under the HiDrive folder to be transferred, a solution that is less than ideal.
We already covered how confusing the desktop client is, and the web interface is also a bit of a mess too.
The developers must have realised this and are currently testing an entirely new web solution that you are asked to try out the new ‘HiDrive Beta Manager’ on a provided link. Except, when we clicked on this link, on a page dated from July 2015, the beta site wasn’t there.
That three years on this still isn’t ready for public consumption might hint that the developer may have taken his summer vacation that year, never to return.
With the exception of pictures file formats, HiDrive has no plan for what to do with different document types, as it doesn’t interface to Google Docs or the online version of Microsoft Office.
The web interfaces most useful function is to enable files or folders to be shared with others by sending them a link. These links can be password controlled, limit the number of downloads and have an expiry date and time.
What it doesn’t offer is any means to restrict access to a shared folder, allowing anyone who has a valid link to change and delete the contents.
You can also create shared photo albums, although as Google and Apple both do this intrinsically on their mobile products, it is of limited use.
It’s always someone else’s fault isn’t it, when things go wrong. Or, that appears to be the message coming from so many sources, including HiDrive.
Because looking at the HiDrive security solution, that would be the user’s issue, not anything to do with this company or service.
In the HiDrive documentation, it makes much of how important encryption is to secure files, and how it won’t allow unencrypted data on the servers. However, when you install the client and click on the tab for ‘Encryption’ you’ll discover that it’s a feature you must activate by creating encrypted folders on your machines. There isn’t an inbuilt mechanism to do this, so in reality, the responsibility for all this is entirely the users, and they’ll need to find a compatible software tool to perform this job.
HiDrive promotes the idea that by making you responsible for encryption your files is inherently safer than letting the system handle that, which is a convenient argument to avoid providing the functionality or responsibility.
In short, if you want end-to-end encryption, zero-knowledge passwords or even two-factor authentication, then look elsewhere.
One very confusing aspect to HiDrive is that depending on where you buy it you could pay an entirely different price for the same service.
For example, being UK based we went to Strato Hosting, and there we were offered HiDrive 100 providing 100GB for $9.10 (£6.90) per month with a minimum of a 6-month contract. To get 500GB on HiDrive 500 service costs a whopping $26 (£19.90) per month.
However, if you go to Free HiDrive you can get the same HiDrive 500 package for $14.31 (£10.90). And, the contract is just three months, not six.
Wherever you get it, this isn’t the cheapest online storage, although the bigger packages do allow you to have five users and share the storage between them.
There is a free 5GB plan, should you want to test out the HiDrive system.
The high price combined with the limited functionality, muddled methodology and missing-in-action encryption model would put most people off HiDrive. Those that aren’t should seriously consider other products before signing up to this one.
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from TechRadar - Technology Reviews http://www.techradar.com/reviews/1and1-ionos-hidrive