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Expo Notes: IDrive offers online backup and cloud-based syncing services

In its first year on the Macworld/iWorld show floor, IDrive told a compelling story about its cloud-based services. In fact, IDrive offers a pair of services: The core IDrive product is an online backup solution, and IDrive Sync provides Dropbox-style intra-Mac file syncing.

IDrive, the online backup service, is a true archival offering. That is, when you delete your files from your Mac, IDrive holds onto them--optionally, forever. Some of the company's competitors only archive such files for a finite window, like 30 days, before removing them.

You can sign up for a free IDrive plan with 5GB of storage. For $5 per month (or $50 per year), you get 150GB of storage; for $15 per month or $150 per year, you get 500GB. Archived files count against that quota, so you get the option to delete archived files that are gobbling up too much of your storage space. The company offers business storage plans, too.

IDrive's Mac app for handling the backup duties runs natively on OS X, while some of its competitors like CrashPlan rely on technologies like Java instead. On the other hand, CrashPlan offers unlimited backup storage, which IDrive doesn't currently match.

Should you lose everything, IDrive will ship you a 1TB drive with all your data. If you ship the drive back at your expense, there's no fee for the service. If you choose to, you can instead keep the drive for $100.

IDrive Sync works an awful lot like Dropbox, complete with a menubar icon, and superimposed icons in the Finder that indicate whether a specific file or subfolder has been saved successfully to IDrive Sync or not. You can get 10GB of storage for free, which compares impressively to Dropbox's free 2GB storage offering. For $5 per month, you get 150GB of storage. The company claims that IDrive Sync is 31.3 percent faster than the average sync speed of its competitors.

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