Livedrive Pro Suite review
Livedrive is one of our long-standing favourites when it comes to online backup, with its unlimited storage and, unusually, the ability to back up content from network shares as well as local drives. It's easy to set up and use, too, although we encountered a few quirks, including an inability to get through our corporate firewall. You or your network administrator must open ports 50234 and 50235 to use it.
After you've installed the client software and linked it to your Livedrive account, you'll be prompted to give a name to the PC you're backing up and given the option of selecting a few common folders from a list, such as your documents, videos, Outlook contacts and Firefox bookmarks.
You can also set up your PC with a Livedrive Briefcase folder, the contents of which are automatically synced between every PC on which you've set it up. You're asked to select the hard disk partitions on which you wish to store the local copy of files. An advanced settings menu lets you choose between automatically downloading all files to every briefcase, automatically downloading files of a certain size only, or only pulling down Briefcase files when they're accessed locally. Unlike many synchronisation services' shared folders, Livedrive maps its briefcase to a drive letter.
A clean and simple interface, but there's a wealth of options and features here
If you didn't opt to back up any of the suggested default directories in their entirety, you can easily add them at a later point. The Livedrive notification area icon's right-click menu includes a link to the client's backup manager, which presents you with a filesystem browser from which you can select directories to back up. The manager also lets you switch between a scheduled backup mode, which scans your files for changes once an hour, and real-time backup mode, which uploads modified files instantly. The same screen lets you add file-type exceptions which will not be backed up. Only .log files are exempt by default. Adding extra files and folders to your backup later is also made easy by an option that's added to Windows Explorer's right-click menu.
Livedrive’s web interface looks clean and business-like, if a little less approachable than that of its rival, SugarSync. A web-based audio player lets you browse, cue and stream audio files, although it didn't recognise our OGG and FLAC test files. There are also integrated image viewing, editing and slideshow utilities and tools that let you view the contents of Microsoft Word and Excel files. You can also share files in your Livedrive Briefcase with others, either making them accessible to anyone who has the link or requiring a password to access them.
It's less immediately obvious how to restore files once you've backed them up. You can't directly restore your backup folders from the web interface and the backup utility is just that - a backup utility. Instead, you must download Livedrive Restore. It isn’t very well signposted on the website, but restoring individual files or entire directories is remarkably simple once it’s downloaded and installed. We're not sure why it isn't part of the main Livedrive client application.
Livedrive Pro Suite lets you back up and sync on up to five PCs or Macs, as well as supporting access from Android and iOS devices. You get unlimited space for your backups and 5TB of sync space, which means it’s effectively unlimited for most people. However, this massive functionality comes at a cost. This package costs £15 per month or £150 per year, making it one of the most expensive online storage services around.
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