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TMCNet:  IDrive can help keep digital records safe [Ventura County Star, Calif. :: ]

[April 21, 2014]

IDrive can help keep digital records safe [Ventura County Star, Calif. :: ]

(Ventura County Star (CA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) April 21--With the growing need to handle business and personal records that exist in digital form, consumers are relying more on companies such as Calabasas-based IDrive to protect their data.


IDrive offers online backup and storage services to protect data that cannot be replaced, whether client records or family photos, said Shane Bingham, IDrive's director of business development.

"Instead of putting your photo album in a safe, you now put a digital album in a storage safe online," he said.

While the most common way to back up information is to upload it online, demand began to arise for something that sped up the process.

Bingham said people often do not realize how long uploading large amounts of data for backup takes. Rather than asking people to change their expectations, IDrive sought to make the process quicker, he said.

The company started offering clients the option last year of receiving external drives in the mail that can be used for doing a backup and then mailed back free to the company. IDrive employees transfer the data from the drives onto servers in the company's data centers, eliminating the need for the client to upload the data online.

The service is free once a year for IDrive personal clients and three times a year for business clients, with the option to pay $60 for each additional drive shipment.

In January, the company announced an IDrive Safe service that uses physical drives to back up information that does not need to be updated or accessed often. Clients may choose from several plans, including a one-time backup of up to 1 terabyte of data, stored at a cost of about $100 a year; annual backup for $200 a year; or monthly backups and an annual archival for about $1,000 a year.

Backup plans Company executives said backups using physical drives appeal to businesses that have a lot of information to back up at any one time and people who have little bandwidth at home or work.

Everything is encrypted, and clients hold personal encryption keys, protecting the privacy of their data. Not even company employees can read the data, which IDrive executives said is something the company is trying to impress on customers who may be wary about sending their information to the cloud.

IDrive started offering online storage for business customers in 2000 and launched its consumer services around 2007. The company targets a range of customers, including students and teachers and businesses in the medical, legal and financial industries.

Company leaders said IDrive is the largest online backup provider in Southern California. It owns and operates four data centers in the state.

Robert Maclean, of Ventura, started using IDrive's cloud backup service about a year ago. He pays about $5 a month for 150 gigabytes of storage. Maclean said he started using the service to create another layer of protection for his documents, particularly family photos. His wife is a photographer, so they have plenty of them.

"I realized that you can't just rely on your computer," he said.

While Maclean has a backup drive at home, he started to worry about what would happen if there were a fire, the hard drive crashed, or someone stole his computer equipment. When he looked around for companies that met his needs -- being Mac-compatible, offering reasonable prices and allowing backup of multiple devices -- IDrive offered the best solution, he said.

"It's just so easy to use," he said. "You can set it and forget it." Maclean said he schedules his backup to run each evening. Because he uploads a little bit at a time, the process is quicker as well, he said.

Retrieving data Maclean said retrieving the data is simple, too. Though he has not had a data catastrophe, he retrieved data from his IDrive storage after he replaced the hard drive in his laptop. Doing so was a lot easier than transferring files using a thumb drive, Maclean said: All he had to do was download the program and retrieve the files online.

He sees his IDrive account as "cheap insurance," especially after watching a friend spend thousands of dollars to recover photos from a crashed hard drive.

IDrive plans range from $50 a year for 150 gigabytes of personal online backup storage to $3,000 a year for 5,000 gigabytes of business data storage, though the company often has discounts that can halve those prices.

The company also offers 5 gigabytes of online storage free so potential clients and those with little to back up can try out the service.

"Everybody has something that they can't afford to lose," Bingham said, citing family photos, videos or a novel-in-progress. "There is a sinking feeling when something you want to go look for isn't there anymore. That's why we offer a solution for free, across platforms." At the end of March, IDrive announced it was integrating data synchronization services into its storage and backup services.

It's a feature that company CEO Raghu Kulkarni said allows customers not only to back up and store information but also to keep their documents up to date across all their devices.

"It's a natural, organic requirement from customers who have multiple devices," he said.

That way, the data is backed up from every device and accessible from any other device the person may be using.

"There is a need to have the same data across all these devices," he said.

Kulkarni said the combination of synchronization with backup and encryption will set IDrive apart from the competition. He called it the company's "unique strength going forward." -- Backing up Information technology company GFI Software commissioned a survey last year asking IT administrators at small and medium-size businesses about backing up data. Here are some of the findings.

Failing to back up company information has led to lost financial records, email and confidential information, affecting customer relations, business operations and brand reputation, as well as causing revenue losses.

Fifty-three percent of the companies did not back up information daily, with one-third of administrators saying backing up was an inefficient use of their time. Some said they lacked the resources to do so daily or that backups disrupted productivity.

Asked how their backup process could be improved, the top answer was to speed up the process. Half of those surveyed said they wished backups were faster and more efficient.

-- IDrive Inc.

Founded: The company started in 1996 as a software consultation firm and moved into online storage for business and enterprise in 2000. It targeted consumers with the launch of IDrive services in 2007.

Headquarters: Calabasas Employees: About 50 in Calabasas, with many from Ventura and Los Angeles counties. Many of the programmers are based out of a company office in India.

Users: About 2 million users store about 45 petabytes of data. That's up from about 30 petabytes of data at the beginning of 2013.

___ (c)2014 Ventura County Star (Camarillo, Calif.) Visit Ventura County Star (Camarillo, Calif.) at www.vcstar.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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