ElephantDrive Review: Online Cloud Backup
|Sign up for ElephantDrive|
|Solid online backup with file sharing and the ability to back up to 3 computers, though the interface is not the best|
There are a number of companies that are competing for the job of keeping your important files safe from disasters, technical or otherwise. ElephantDrive is a powerful online backup service that successfully hits most of the right points in terms of security, features, and functionality. By uploading copies of your most important files to its secure servers, ElephantDrive protects your data in the case of disaster such as fire, theft, or hard drive crash.
ElephantDrive has some serious muscle behind it. It uses Amazon.com's rather mammoth data storage facilities to back up files. They are stored securely using military-grade 256-bit AES encryption in two geographically unique locations, ensuring that even in a natural disaster, customer data will be secured against loss.
ElephantDrive's operations are managed through the ElephantDesktop Manager. There you set up, manage, and monitor your online backup jobs. Each file type (word processing documents, music, photos and images, etc.) are considered jobs. These jobs can be set to use the default settings, or customized via the "edit job" function. While it's great that you get such individualized control, we do wish that some settings could be applied universally (such as the versioning function mentioned below).
Once you set up ElephantDrive, it will run an initial backup of your files, something that can take a day or more the first time you run it. Afterwards, ElephantDrive will run according to the schedule you've set out for each backup job.
You can access your files either through ElephantDesktop or by logging into your account on the ElephantDrive website. While there's quite a bit about ElephantDesktop that we liked, we didn't find the file browser to be as intuitive as some. Searching for a document brings up multiple results, which are confusing. Plus the program has a strange tendency to only show the results for about thirty seconds before removing the search results. We also couldn't figure out the time stamp, which seemed to be in an entirely different, uneditable time zone.
We were, however, glad to see that ElephantDrive includes support for file sharing. Need to give someone access to a file? Simply select the file, set up some basic options, and you can send a custom link via email, Facebook, Twitter, or a host of other services. You can even set up a password to limit access. This is a very useful function, and one not available with some other services.
Clearly ElephantDrive derives its name from that old cliche that an elephant never forgets. ElephantDrive can be configured to keep saved versions of every file for 30 days, so you can go back in time and access older iterations of documents you've backed up. This is immensely useful if you've accidentally deleted a file from your hard drive, or made an unalterable change. It's important to note that you must activate this feature for each backup job.
An ElephantDrive Personal Edition subscription is $9.95 per month, if paid month-to-month. An annual subscription gives you two months free, or the equivalent of $8.29 per month. The ElephantDrive Personal Edition will back up 3 machines, whether they're two computers, or a computer and a mapped hard drive. You'll get 100 gigabytes of storage, a pretty substantial amount that puts the service on par with Mozy.
ElephantDrive Enterprise Edition has a slightly higher price of $25.00 per month, if paid month-to-month. Just like the Personal Edition, if you sign up for a Enterprise Edition annual subscription you'll also get two months free which brings the monthly cost down to $16.67 per month. The Family Edition will back up an unlimited number of computers and offers a an unlimited amount of storage.
In regard to HIPAA compliance: Online backup services cannot legally state that they are officially HIPAA compliant. However, ElephantDrive contains all of the security features to protect data that is transmitted to and from their servers. ElephantDrive follows strict guidelines to meet factors that go into HIPAA compliance. If you want to know what HIPAA is, please visit our FAQ page.
Ultimately, we liked ElephantDrive, even if we weren't fans of its interface. It's very configurable, and the Personal Edition gives you the ability to back up three computers while the Enterprise Edition can back up limitless computers. The other key feature is the ability to share files, something which gives it an edge over rivals Mozy and IDrive. For us, the interface was a bit of a drawback, but the free two-week trial should give you plenty of time to decide if it's right for you.
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