Operating system support: Windows Vista/7/8, Mac OS X 10.6+, Storage space: Unlimited, Mobile device support: Android, iOS, Sync support?: Yes
Livedrive is an online backup service that offers an unlimited amount of Cloud storage space, so you can back up every file on your computer without worrying about going over any limits.
Paying £5 per month gets you unlimited backup space for one device, and extra computers can be added for £1 per month each. If you choose to pay for two years of the service up front, you will pay the equivalent of £3 per month instead, which is excellent value. Sadly, in order to back up a NAS device, you'll have to pay an extra £5 per month, which is fairly expensive considering Memset SquirrelSave allows you to do this for free.
Other products available from Livedrive include its Cloud synchronisation service Briefcase, for £10 a month extra, and Pro, which includes 5TB of Briefcase storage and unlimited storage for five computers for £15 per month. This is a large investment, but if you make full use of it, it's fantastic value for money. 14-day free trials for each of Livedrive's products are also available.
The desktop software for Livedrive, available for Windows and Mac, is about as good as backup software gets. Backing up and restoring files is extremely easy; by default the application checks for updates to the files and folders you've asked to be backed up every hour, but you can make this less regular if you wish. You can also tell the program to upload every change you make to a file in real time, meaning every time you save, the change you made will instantly be reflected in Livedrive's backup, which is really useful for working with complicated documents where each save you make could involve many changes.
There are plenty of options make sure you're backing up what you want, in the manner you choose. You can have files encrypted before upload, and set upload and download speed limits. You can also choose to ignore specific file types such as executables and log files, and Livedrive will also automatically ignores some system files which can get quite large, such as web browser cache files and image thumbnails. Certain file types can be given priority, too: if you value your photo collection more than your documents, you can make sure that during each backup session, your photos are the first to be uploaded.
Restoring is equally easy. Simply right-click the system tray icon and click the restore button, and you'll be given a list of all the files and folders that are currently backed up. When you choose to restore, you can either overwrite existing files and folders or create a new folder for the restored files, so you can sort through them at your leisure to ensure you get the version of each file you need.
If you pay extra or subscribe to Livedrive Pro, you'll also get access to the Briefcase synchronisation feature. Any files you place in your Livedrive Briefcase, which is a separate mounted drive on your computer, will be uploaded to the Cloud. This is perfect for sharing large files with friends and colleagues, or for giving yourself access to files on another PC if you work on multiple devices.
Livedrive's web interface is easy to use, and lets you to download backed-up files to any computer. If you need to open a document but are accessing your files from a computer without the relevant software installed, you can use the Livedrive service to view images, documents, spreadsheets, videos and audio from within your browser. The service couldn't play our .flac or .ogg audio files, but it handled the other media files we threw at it.
This interface also allows you to download up to 30 versions of any given file, which Livedrive will keep indefinitely. This means that if you edit a file by mistake or delete information you later needed, you'll be able to get it back.
Livedrive has mobile apps for Android and iOS devices, as well as one designed for the BlackBerry PlayBook and Windows 8's Modern UI.
You can share files stored in your Briefcase if you pay for that feature, and you can also keep track of files other Livedrive users have shared with you. Interestingly, there is a built-in music player and you can browse your audio files by album and artist, which means you could conceivably use LiveDrive as your own Cloud jukebox and music streaming service.
The Android app is a little sparse for our liking; there's no image or document preview function, and the interface is starting to look very dated. The iPad app is considerably better than the Android version, although it does still look rather old hat. You can add folders as favourites in order to permanently store them on your device; a feature which isn't available on the Android app.
Considering how much storage it gives you, Livedrive is excellent value. It's up there with the best in terms of features, and our only slight concern is the high price you'll pay to back up NAS devices and the dated look of the mobile applications, as well as the high price you have to pay to add synchronisation functions; even though 5TB is a huge amount of sync space, almost no-one will ever get near that limit.
If you only need to share a few files there's nothing to stop you using Livedrive in combination with a free sync service such as Dropbox, however, and for pure Cloud backup there's nothing that can touch it. It's a Best Buy.