iDrive One review: The faster, more affordable, nearly portable personal cloud

A portable package complete with wireless base station, encrypted local backup, and mobile support for iOS or Android.

Cloud-based storage is great—until your preferred service goes out of business or changes the deal after you’ve spent years uploading gigabytes worth of precious data. Instead of relying on someone else’s cloud, it might be time to find a more personal solution.

Little blue box

idrive one iphone videos

The no-frills iDrive One app is fast at streaming videos over Wi-Fi, sorted from newest to oldest complete with thumbnails.

iDrive One combines semi-portable storage with a fast wireless base station to create a personal cloud for backup and streaming media. Framed in a blue case measuring 3.75 x 5 x 1.25 inches and weighing just over nine ounces, the device includes your choice of a 1TB ($100) or 2TB ($150) hard drive, but can be outfitted with 128GB or 256GB SSDs.

The unit houses an 802.11ac wireless base station capable of simultaneous dual-band support for 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi connections within a 150-foot radius. That makes iDrive One not only faster (up to 1.3Gbps on supported devices like iPhone 6s) but more affordable than competing products from Western Digital and Seagate.

When plugged into a Mac or PC, iDrive One can also be directly mounted as a FAT32-formatted volume, but the wireless base station is disabled while used this way. The device includes an RJ45 Ethernet port for plugging into an existing network, but this winds up being slower than the on-board wireless, maxing out at a mere 100Mbps.

There’s no built-in rechargeable battery; the unit is powered by an included AC adapter and USB 3.0 cable. That makes iDrive One considerably less portable, but it’s too big to be considered pocket-friendly anyway. However, it’s a missed opportunity considering this product was designed to provide unencrypted backup for photos and videos on iOS and Android devices. (Local Mac or PC backups offer 256-bit AES encryption.)

Personal cloud

idrive one iphone settings

The free iDrive One app can be configured to automatically back up Camera Roll photos and/or videos each time it’s launched.

Mobile backup and streaming requires a free app on your smartphone or tablet, which must be connected directly to one of the unit’s dual Wi-Fi networks. Although iDrive One can be configured through a rather ugly web portal, there’s no way to piggyback onto existing networks; the unit can be set up to access an available Internet connection at the same time, however.

I found this approach unwieldy, although iDrive confirmed this is how the product was designed to be used. Switching networks takes just a few seconds, but doing it each and every time you want to access stored content becomes downright inconvenient after a while.

On the plus side, backup and streaming was lightning-fast on my iPhone 6s Plus and iPad Pro, which support 802.11ac connections. The app is a fairly basic affair, with separate tabs for the three supported media types, and thumbnails sorted from newest to oldest. (Music files must be copied to iDrive One from a computer.)

I’d use this a lot more if I didn’t have to hop between networks so much, but if you don’t consider this an inconvenience, iDrive One is better than what’s offered by the big storage vendors. It’s worth noting iDrive also includes 1TB of its popular cloud-based storage for the first year to sweeten the deal.

Bottom line

iDrive One isn’t perfect, but if you can overlook the more glaring limitations, it’s a pretty capable Wi-Fi storage device that delivers more for less.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags nas

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

J.R. Bookwalter

Macworld.com
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?