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Livedrive review

Verdict

A storage and synchronisation service with some nice additions, but it's too expensive.

Review Date: 11 Mar 2009

Reviewed By: David Bayon

Price when reviewed: Pro: unlimited storage, 10 PCs, £78 (£90 inc VAT) per year

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Microsoft's Live Mesh is a firm favourite at PC Pro, used almost universally across the team to synchronise files between work and home PCs. Although it's still in beta it works marvellously, so we're unsurprised to see others muscling in on the same territory. Livedrive has been in development for some time - its makers claim to have fought off Microsoft for the name back when it was starting what is now the SkyDrive online storage service.

But it's more than just a Live Mesh clone. At its core it works in the same way: once you assign files and folders for Livedrive to back up to its online storage space, any changes made to those files will be synchronised across your network of PCs, and you can access your files from anywhere via a web browser. It uses AES-256 encryption and multiple storage servers, as we've come to expect. What Livedrive adds to the formula is a layer of extra flexibility when it comes to manipulating your files.

For a start it integrates the open source applications Zoho, FotoFlexer and Scribd into its web interface. So, if you're accessing a document or image remotely, LiveDrive lets you view and edit it directly without downloading a copy to your local machine - making it ideal for use in internet cafes and on other public computers. It even lets you watch video files if the local connection is fast enough.

Then there's the downloadable Facebook plug-in which, once you've granted Facebook access, lets you drag and drop photos directly to and from your profile albums.

Drag and drop is a theme of Livedrive's web interface, with a Java uploader (which doesn't yet work in Google Chrome) acting as a drop-box for any files you want to quickly add to your collection.

The same applies for the desktop client, with a virtual L: drive that acts like any normal folder - drag a file to it and it effectively creates a shortcut to the file's location and adds it to your Livedrive. More traditional right-click menu methods are included too, and files can be easily shared via email with non-members. It's exceedingly easy to setup and use.

But these extra features come at a cost. Livedrive is aimed at the professional or small business, and with this in mind the decision was made not to offer a free version. Livedrive cites the superior support its users will receive as one of the key reasons to pay, but the limits seem awfully arbitrary to us.

The £40 inc VAT Standard package is limited to a single PC, which takes away the main strength of such services - synchronisation. The £90 inc VAT Pro version supports 10 systems, which makes it more tempting for a small office looking to share files easily. It still lacks a remote desktop function, though, which Live Mesh offers.

Admittedly Live Mesh is still in beta, so there may come a time when Microsoft too charges for use, but for now it remains the benchmark. While there's certainly a lot to like about what Livedrive does, at these prices it doesn't do enough to sway us.

Author: David Bayon

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User comments

Not What They Appear To Be

Livedrive is a false front. They have PR specialists that have designed a fancy web site with fancy claims. Many are lies, or worded in such a way to cover up the truth. They claim data is encrypted, yet we have proven otherwise. There are features that were listed as “soon” 8 months ago, like a Mac client & iPhone app, but have yet to see any light of day. They posted a screen grab of the iPhone app, but it turned out to be merely a photoshop pic. They advertise 24 hour support response, but that response is an auto-reply. It will probably take months for your issue to be resolved. They advertise unlimited storage, but one user got his account closed because he had too many terabytes of files on their servers. Some users have complained about files disappearing, and Livedrive won’t acknowledge it, let alone fix it. FTP service was released for public use, but was plagued with outages for months. Bug reports are ignored unless enough people complain about a particular issue. In a recent desktop client release, instead of fixing problems, they just disabled features as a way to resolve them. They put forth a beautiful looking car, but under the hood, it is a jalopy.

By dogspot on 6 Oct 2009

Livedrive is full of false promises!!

See there forums... currently its down... so i suspect they plan on tidy up there forums so no one will see deceitful practices.

When someone emails about potential data corruption.. they reply that they are not aware of it.. even when we know in fact that in may there were many problems. They dont fess up and admit there client has no encryption.. everything that is transferred to LD is clear and open. even there FTP is not using a secure SFTP protocol!! They have work to do to gain trust of people!

Beware of empty promises!!!

By BigJames on 7 Oct 2009

Livedrive is worth every penny

I have been using Livedrive since the beta and its turned into the best online storage service around. I used to use Mozy to backup my files but am now using Livedrive on all 3 of my computers. the ability to not keep a local copy of files on my computer is a genius and I've never had any problem with it. I don't use FTP but have uploaded files with the web a few times and that worked fine..but the real treat with Livedrive is the windows software that presents the virtual drive letter. Once you get used to using it, you'll never go back.

By Sundip on 4 Nov 2009

Very easy to use

Not sure where all of the negativity comes from in the comments... I've been using Livedrive for about 5 months and I find it really useful. I've tried other online storage like box.net before, but none of them make it anywhere near as easy to upload so much data quickly - I've literally got about 800 gigs on there. The subsequent control you have over keeping some files online and some files offline makes it really flexible - although it did take some getting used to. I use it on both my work and home PCs, so its great deciding which files are available on which PCs, and then bringing down the other ones just when you need them.

I just need the iphone app now - if they do that well and let you view photos and documents then that for me will make it complete.

By redsorghum on 7 Nov 2009

Best service I've ever used.

Same as the other comment, I have no idea where the negative comments have come from.

It's got everything you'd ever possibly want. I love Livedrive, and with a 30 day trial you've got nothing to loose.

The upload speed is fast also.

By tthaynes7 on 13 Dec 2009

Livedrive has got an iphone app and its great!

We are sorry if some people are disappointed with the Livedrive service. We are constantly improving the service and fixing bugs and problems and if you have not used Livedrive for a while I suggest you have another look because now there are very few problems.

There is a Livedrive iPhone app which was released for about 18 months. Go to the Apple app store to check it out. It is a cool app that allows you to view all your files from your Livedrive briefcase and backups. You can use it to stream music and even videos! It works on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

By Live_drive on 30 Jul 2010

Livedrive has got an iphone app and its great!

We are sorry if some people are disappointed with the Livedrive service. We are constantly improving the service and fixing bugs and problems and if you have not used Livedrive for a while I suggest you have another look because now there are very few problems.

There is a Livedrive iPhone app which was released for about 18 months. Go to the Apple app store to check it out. It is a cool app that allows you to view all your files from your Livedrive briefcase and backups. You can use it to stream music and even videos! It works on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

By Live_drive on 30 Jul 2010

no repsonse, ever?

I have used LD for 18 month and genrally its ok. it takes a lot of resource on my laptop though. Some navigation of deep folders is poor and there are some odd details. My main concern at the moment is I think my account was hacked and pasword changed - ok I coudl have forgotten I changed it my self I guess. But the reset button does not seem to generate me a reset email and I get no response from support even after 4 emails. I am not protected and cannot access my data - a great service ! :-(

By jules9902 on 28 Nov 2010

Great on paper but not practical at all

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.

By vtfirefighter19 on 21 Sep 2011

2012 comments

Has anyone other then the pcpro used this recently and able to comment regarding the livedrive to discuss their recent experience?

By Boot13 on 5 Mar 2012

Livedrive lt my files

I've been using livedrive for a while.Periodically I check that I can restore few few test files just for my peace of mind. Recently I had a disk fail. I tried to restore and wasunable to restore to folders (each with 100,000+ files). Upon contacting livedrive they suggested I reinstall livedrive and start a new backup; they advise that the new backup set could not be linked to the old backup! This is a bit like me offering to store your files and then when you lose your local copy I ask you to give me the local copy again because I ca't give you the backup. Utter madness. Anyone who subscribes to livedrive is wasting their money.

By bikeman01 on 10 Sep 2013

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