- NAS compatibility via native integration
- Wide range of available plans
- Ultra-safe service
- Free 30-day Personal/Business trial
- User-friendly interface
- Trial versions are limited
- Pricey plans
- Desktop client doesn't render files
ElephantDrive is a Californian online backup service provider founded in 2005. It addresses individuals and businesses alike, and aside from offering secure access to critical data and automated backup, it also develops backup and restore software. Its name is a metaphor for its colossal, retentive and inexpensive service. The company claims its cloud storage software is ‘the best' on the market today, which is an outdated statement. Granted, it is one of the first storage virtualization services to offer remote access and collaboration to individuals, it was a pioneer of Amazon’s S3 app production and it had the acumen to team up with NAS device producers to produce a cloud storage solution that runs natively on these Network Attached Storage devices. ElephantDrive qualified as an Advanced Technology Partner with the Amazon Partner Network. The software was tested by Softpedia Labs and awarded a 100% clean certification.
If you're looking to keep your files protected in the cloud and you'd like to access them from several computers and devices, you can take advantage of ElephantDrive's backup and sync service. Aside from the basic features of the backup service that appeal to beginner users, ElephantDrive also offers share, collaboration and NAS-provider integration functionality for professional users.
ElephantDrive software comes pre-installed on a range of NAS devices, including NETGEAR, QNAP, Western Digital, and Synology, which conveniently allows you to back up any data you may have on your NAS device to the ElephantDrive cloud. As you download the ElephantDrive application on your PC or laptop, a shortcut icon will be stored in your taskbar tray and one in your Windows “All Programs” menu or Mac Dock. From then on, using ElephantDrive is child’s play even though it houses very advanced backup cloud technology.
The ElephantDrive software package is remarkably robust. It supports a good range of files, and it doesn't shy away from large uploads. While the first backup may be a bit lengthy, all subsequent backups are a breeze since the system uses incremental backups to save you time and bandwidth. It integrates with your file explorer and it creates helpful folders entitled “Backup” and “Everywhere” for your backed up and synced files, respectively.
The desktop client or “Vault” uses a tree structure with icons, sorters, search box and just about everything you need to access your files remotely. Unfortunately, it does not render files and your only option is to download them and to play them on whichever computer or device you're using.
“Adopted” Backup Folders
A special feature of the ElephantDrive package is that a right-click on any type of folder in your file explorer will bring an ElephantDrive menu from which you can share the folder directly, or choose to back it up without actually adding it to the ElephantDrive Backup folder. Any folder you select will therefore function the same way as the ElephantDrive files, with scheduled backup, versioning, etc.
ElephantDrive allows you to share your files for collaboration. You have the option to set a password for the file, which gives you complete control over it. You can also choose a date when you would like ElephantDrive to stop sharing your file, for instance the end date of a collaboration project.
A brilliant feature of ElephantDrive’s backup solution is that it allows you to set the number of versions you'd like to keep for your file, and the sky's the limit with unlimited file version storage. You can also set the number of days you'd like the system to keep these versions for you.
ElephantDrive allows you to keep your files on your computer indefinitely, delete them immediately, or select the number of days you'd like the files you deleted from your local disk to also be erased from your account. This gives you the chance to recover the files you need if an accident occurs. Of course, as with the versioning tool, you're allowed to set the type of files you'd like to include or exclude from your archiving rule.
Scheduling Backups and Syncing
Backups and syncing are equally easy to set up. Both tools have a ‘Scheduling' menu which allows you to select the frequency of the backup, which can range from continuous to just once per month.
ElephantDrive makes account management easy and enjoyable, regardless of which device you’re using the service on. You can track your activity from the desktop client “Manage Account” menu and you even have a graph showing your usage over time. On the ElephantDrive iPad app you can easily enable backing up of your tablet’s contacts and pictures and alter any other specific settings as you wish.
ElephantDrive's solution for idle backups gives users a more advanced feature called throttling. Instead of returning from your lunch break to find your computer is in the middle of a high usage backup, ElephantDrive enables you to set specific times of day to throttle up or throttle down the bandwidth and CPU usage ElephantDrive utilizes. As an example, the throttle can be set up starting at midnight and then back down at 5am. You can decide if you want your backup jobs to use less or a specific amount of bandwidth during the day and then return to normal at night.
ElephantDrive files are encrypted using a 256-bit key, the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), the same that a bank or governmental institution would use. It is an encryption standard whose use is approved by the NSA for top-secret information. This initial key, which is derived from the file, is encrypted using either your ElephantDrive account password or another one of your choice. For added security it is stored separately, so that ElephantDrive staff would never be able to access the files. The encrypted files are then transferred to ElephantDrive's geo-redundant servers via 128-bit Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) connections.
Devices and Operating Systems
ElephantDrive runs on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android-operated computers and devices. Furthermore it also works with Debian, Ubuntu and Linux Mint, which makes that ElephantDrive supports all of the major platforms in use today.
Having teamed up with a range of NAS producers, ElephantDrive's collaboration resulted in several shared software packages that run on a good deal of devices. A QNAP Turbo NAS module was developed in collaboration with QNAP, a WD NAS module in collaboration with Western Digital and the D-Link Vault module in partnership with D-Link, as the name suggests. Modules for the Ready NAS are the result of collaboration with NETGEAR. Other supporting devices are the Thecus NAS and the Synology NAS.
The desktop client works from any device with an Internet connection. The desktop client is available in a range of languages including English, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish. For mobile access, you can use the iOS app on an iPhone, iPad, while Android users can also access the Android app provided that you enable the Android App (Beta) on your device.
There are no limits to the number of devices and users you can have for a Business account. A Personal Account will allow you to use up to 10 devices to access the data and collaborate. However the On-Demand account and the trial version can only be used to backup and sync data from one device.
Ease of Use
Setting up an account online is a breeze. All it requires is to enter your e-mail address and name, verify your e-mail address once a verification e-mail is sent and you're good to go. ElephantDrive will take you through the download steps of your desktop application. Icons will be added to your Windows taskbar tray or Mac Dock, and you can run the application immediately. From then on you can use either the file explorer or the desktop client to manage files. An ElephantDrive folder will automatically be created for you on your computer with a “Backup” folder and a sync folder entitled “Everywhere”.
Everything is straightforward. You have a few basic options on the desktop client, namely to delete and upload files, share them and change your backup settings. There are also a few useful reports for you to monitor your usage, and a profile management menu is available for billing and security information. You can activate subaccounts by upgrading.
The PC application integrates with the file explorer to allow you to render your files and organize them easier. However, it doesn’t allow you to manage your account or backup settings as this can only be done through the online account management.
Plans and Pricing
There are three basic ElephantDrive accounts: Pay per Use, Personal and Business. They all share automated backups, everywhere synchronization and built-in file sending functionality.
An On-Demand account can be used for personal or business use, depending on your personal needs, but only offers up to 75GB of space when you choose to upgrade your backup space at $0.2/GB/month after the first 50GB. The Personal Plan and the Business Plan on the other hand come with 50GB to 5TB of space, and substantial savings are offered for yearly subscriptions. A no commitment free 30-day trial of the service is offered as soon as you register an e-mail address, and all Personal and Business account holders are offered an exclusive, enhanced trial version.
Pay per Use
The Pay per Use (On-Demand) account is ideal for smaller batches of documents, and it scales up or down depending on your immediate storage needs. The Personal variant of this account type offers 50GB for $4.95 per month, with $0.2 payable for every additional GB thereafter. The Business option comes at a cost of $25 per month for the first 50GB, and $0.4 for subsequent GBs. The added advantage of owning a business plan is that supports files larger than 5GB.
With the ElephantDrive Personal account, you can start with a limit of up to 100GB to be used across up to ten devices. The Personal 100 account (with 100GB storage space) costs $9.95 per month, the Personal 250 costs $19.95, the Personal 500 is $39.95, and the Personal 750 is $59.95 a month. A Personal 1TB service is charged at $85.95 per month, and a Personal 2TB account will go as high as $169.95 a month. However, a generous 16% discount is offered if you sign up to a one-year subscription.
Business accounts support server operating systems, large files, open/locked files and they can be accessed from an unlimited number of devices. The Small Business Account will incur the following charges: $25 per month for the Business 50 service (where the 50 stands for 50GB of storage space), $47 for the Business 100, $70 for the Business 150, $92 for the Business 200 and $115 per month for the Business 250 plan. The Medium Business 300, 350, 400, 450 and 500 plan fees are $135, $155, $175, $195, and $215 per month, respectively. As a Large Business 600/700/800/900/1TB user, you'd be charged $255/$295/$335/$375/$415 per month.
ElephantDrive does a great job at providing its customers information about its service through easy-to-use guides and series of instructional videos. The desktop application comes with an explanatory guide on how to use the Backup folder, the Everywhere folder and ElephantDrive software in general. The complete helpdesk does well in answering any specific questions you may have and has step-by-step videos on how to set up the software and get everything running.
You can use the helpdesk to submit a request, which will be handled by a ticketing system. The desktop client connects you to the helpdesk using a small help-button on the right side of your window. Customer service can be reached by telephone and email at firstname.lastname@example.org and there is also a live chat service available to customers who use the forums. ElephantDrive maintains an online presence through Facebook, Google+, YouTube and Twitter where it also addresses customer questions promptly.
All in all, ElephantDrive's backup offer provides a secure and convenient service, if only a bit pricey. Its mainstay is the NAS device-incorporated module, which is something most other online backup service providers fall short of. The fact that it uses Amazon S3, the Simple Storage Service, to develop its software is a testimony of its reliability. ElephantDrive is after all a trendsetter, but by releasing business-grade services to the masses it has opened the flood gates to numerous copycats who are now able to offer a level of performance which is slightly weaker, but nevertheless cheaper and more suited for personal use. That being said, ElephantDrive remains a quality go-to provider for business users. With server OS support, open and locked file support, unlimited device access and multiple user support, ElephantDrive comes through with flying colors.