Review: DrivePop

DrivePop had an interesting Black Friday special:  Unlimited storage backup for life for 5 computers for $89.99.  There is an annual maintenance fee of $4.99.  Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it.  We’ll I tried it.

The following is what I learned:

  • DrivePop does not backup external hard drives.
  • It does not backup network drives.
  • It does not backup NAS servers.
  • What it does backup are logical drives internal to your computer.  This includes internal hard drives, internal SSD’s, and internal RAID arrays.
  • It is not like Dropbox, Skydrive, or Google Drive.  It is more on the same level as iDrive.   DrivePop is more like a backup service than a file syncing/sharing service.
  • If you upgrade the operating system on your computer from Vista to Windows 8, DrivePop will treat the upgraded OS as a different computer instance than the old OS even though it is the same hardware.  Making no change to the computer name makes no difference.  As far as DrivePop is concerned, the upgraded OS is a different computer then the old OS.  The result is that DrivePop will back up the same files all over again as if it was never backed up before.
  • If a file was backed up by DrivePop and then you delete it on your computer, the file will be in DrivePop cloud storage for 30 days.  After that, the file is deleted from cloud storage.  DrivePop is not a archive service.  DrivePop is like a disk mirroring service.  You have to keep a file in your computer in order to have DrivePop keep it in cloud storage.
  • DrivePop encourages only personal data files to be backed up, not system files.
  • DrivePop has versioning up to 30 versions.  That means that DrivePop will store 30 versions of the same file.  If you make changes today but want when to restore a change made some time ago, DrivePop can restore 30 versions of the same file.
  • DrivePop seems to use LiveDrive servers for the cloud services.  When you subscribe to DrivePop you’ll get a LiveDrive address for your account.  Oddly, you’ll get separate accounts for DrivePop and LiveDrive.

I have about 3.5 TB of data.  I learned it will take a long time for DrivePop to backup all 3.5 TB of data.  I set the DrivePop upload speed to 50 KB/sec.  I set this speed to 50 KB/sec instead of maximum because the maximum setting was adversely effecting my regular web browsing.  My maximum Internet upload speed is about 100 KB/sec.  According to my calculations, if I keep my computer running 24 hours every day at a backup speed of 50 KB/sec, it would take 2.2 years to back up 3.5 TB of data.

Moreover, I don’t keep my computer on all day.  I keep my computer on for about 6 hours per day.  That means that six hours a day is spent backing up files to the cloud. So for me, it may take 8.8 years to upload all 3.5 TB.

DrivePop is not really a good replacement for external hard drives.  I wouldn’t throw away external hard drives because of DrivePop.  One time, I had to destroy and restore a RAID array of about 3.5 TB of data (I was upgrading a motherboard and that meant migrating to a new RAID controller.)  Backing up 3.5 TB of data took about 1.75 days in a USB 2 connection.  A USB 2 had a transfer rate of about 20-25 MB/sec.  In USB 3, the rate was about 90-100 MB/sec and it took about 9 hours.  As for DrivePop, I don’t know what the maximum download speed is during a restore.  My Internet connection has a download speed of about 2.3 MB/sec.  So let’s say the download speed for a restore is 2.3 MB/sec.  So according to my calculations, it would take 17.6 days to restore 3.5 TB.

Now, DrivePop is a pretty good solution for not so large data files.  Let’s say you had a Quicken data file that suddenly got corrupted.  (I had this problem.)  If DrivePop was configured to back up the data file, you can log in to DrivePop and you can restore up to 30 versions of the file.  I had a similar problem with source code.  I thought I accidentally deleted some source code, so I restored a backed-up copy of the source code from DrivePop.  DrivePop was handy in two occasions.

Now, DrivePop is not so good with large data files, like Outlook .pst files.  If your .pst file is about 1 GB in size and you open it every day whenever you open Outlook, DrivePop is not going to have time to completely back the up the file because it is changing too frequently.

I use DrivePop to back up my personal files which are mostly in the Documents folder excluding the .pst files.  I also exclude Photoshop .psd files because they are too large and DrivePop would take too long to back them up.

There is one weird thing about DrivePop.  If you connect to your account through the LiveDrive application, you’ll get an unsecured connection to your account.  In this connection, you can change your password.  If you change your password, the new password is transmitted unencrypted.  As a test, I sniffed my own connection using WireShark and entered a fake old password and fake new password.  On WireShark, I saw the passwords being transmitted unencrypted.  There is a fix – add https:// to the URL and you get a secured connection. Strange that the connection isn’t https by default.

I ran a little test to test the maximum upload bandwidth to the LiveDrive servers, and I was surprised. On my home network, I have a DSL connection with an upload speed of about 100 KB/sec. I didn’t measure the speed but I had to limit the upload speed to 50 KB/sec because at any higher speeds my web experience would suffer. I tried DrivePop on a cable network with an upload speed of 1 MB/sec. I could not get the upload speed to go higher than 30 KB/sec! I tried iDrive on the same cable network and it uploaded 1.59 GB of data in 24 minutes. It seems DrivePop might be faster on my DSL than cable. I can’t explain it.

So is DrivePop worth it?  Maybe. It really depends on a number of factors. If you normally save your files on an external drives, DrivePop isn’t going to help you because it does not backup files in external drives. If you have large files, like .pst and.psd files, I would look for another solution because it will take a long time to back them up.

If you have many small and medium size files, then DrivePop might be worth it. Just turn on DrivePop and let it do its thing. It may take months to back up the documents but it’ll get there.

Links:  DrivePop

One thought on “Review: DrivePop”

  1. Thanks for the informative article. Wished I read this before I bought the unlimited plan.
    I take RAW pictures and have them backed up into a 2TB HD external USB drive.
    As you rightly pointed it out, it takes forever to upload the files for back up.
    My questions for you are:
    1) Does it upload the entire “mirror” every time I back it up?
    2) What would be a reasonable alternative online backup to consider in your opinion?

    Thanks!

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