If you are looking for a good way to store your favorite music, photos, documents, videos, and many others, it’s hard to go wrong with using an external drive or thumb drive.
However, we all know that these storage devices are not immune to failure. So if your hard drive or USB drive breaks, there’s a good chance that you have lost your important data forever.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of cloud-based storage solutions that you can use to back up your critical files.
Today, we’re going to take a look at Amazon’s very own cloud storage offering, the Amazon Cloud Drive. In this Amazon Cloud Drive review, you’ll find out if this particular service is reliable and worth the subscription.
Amazon Cloud Drive Review
Pros & Cons
Amazon Cloud Drive
What is Amazon Cloud Drive?
Actually, Amazon Cloud Drive is no more and it has been re-branded to just Amazon Drive.
Launched in 2011, Amazon Drive is a service that offers secure cloud storage, file backup, file sharing, and Photo printing. With an Amazon account, users can transfer and manage files and folders from multiple devices which include web browsers, desktop programs, mobile, and tablets.
In March 2015, Amazon introduced Unlimited Storage plans that are catered towards non-business customer sections. The plan offers a free 3-month free trial for users who wish to try out the service before committing to an annual subscription.
However, the cloud storage party was cut short when Amazon announced in June 2017 that it will not have unlimited storage plans in the US anymore. Shortly after, Amazon removed the unlimited storage plans for Canadian users as well.
Amazon Cloud Drive Review
At a glance, here is the list of things that you can do with an Amazon Drive account:
- Back up your files to the cloud or local drive
- Restore files from the cloud using either the Web-based platform or the desktop manager
- Manage your photos and videos
- Preview photos or videos
- Organize them using the integrated timeline function
- Use the free Prime Photos and Amazon Drive apps for Apple, Android, Mac, and Windows, to share or access your files on the go
- Upload photos, videos, files and more on all your devices
Right from the get-go, you’ll see that Amazon Drive focuses more on photos and videos.
One of the main complaints about Amazon Drive is that it lacks versatility. However, the service is in a much better place now when compared to years ago when it was still called Amazon Cloud Drive.
The biggest complaint about Amazon Drive is the lack of a sync feature which is pretty much a standard for many cloud storage services. It’s a good thing that Amazon has finally addressed this by implementing a sync feature similar to Dropbox. Amazon Drive also now has mobile apps for both iOS and Android.
Even better, Amazon Drive now uses block-level file copying when syncing content. For the uninitiated, this method of file copying is faster since it only copies parts of the files that were modified instead of re-copying the entire file. From what I know, only Dropbox and Egnyte utilize this particular syncing feature.
Another noteworthy feature of Amazon’s cloud storage is the taskbar notifications. These notifications not only inform you about syncing events but it lets you configure sync speeds as well. You may also preview files with common extensions like MS Word text files. You can also view photos and videos.
You can store music including MP3s that you have bought from Amazon but you can’t play it through the web interface. For playing music, you can use Amazon Music to listen to your audio files.
Unfortunately, Amazon Drive still doesn’t have any sort of integration with work productivity apps like Office Online and Google Docs. The lack of productivity integration makes Amazon Drive less desirable than apps like Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive. Other noteworthy omissions include file versioning, at-rest encryption, and password protection for links.
Amazon Drive has some pretty good set of features but it clearly needs improvement in this department.
Ease of Use
Amazon Drive is a fairly good cloud storage solution if you are already a Prime member. With an Amazon Prime account, you can just log in to the Amazon Drive website using your main Amazon account. As you log in, you should have immediate access to 5GB of free storage.
The user interface of the web client looks like your typical cloud storage app and it’s fairly straightforward. The interface is clean and all the elements are organized in an intuitive way.
Uploading a file is as simple as clicking the “Upload” button in the top-left corner of the interface. From here, you can choose to upload a single file or an entire folder. Drag and drop operation is also supported by the user interface. There’s also a desktop client that’s available for both Windows and Mac. Installation is fast and easy.
There’s a sync folder that will be created upon installation of the desktop client. Any files that are copied into this folder will be synced to the cloud. If you have other computers with the client installed, those files will be copied to them as well.
There’s also the taskbar menu that allows you to quickly check file upload status. From the taskbar menu, you can also access the “Preferences” option for managing your settings. We also tested both the iOS and Android apps. The mobile apps let you access all the files and upload new ones if you need to.
Overall, all versions of Amazon Drive work well and easy to use. It doesn’t throw any curve balls that even cloud beginners should have no problem using it.
File Sharing and Syncing
Amazon Drive offers basic file sharing which can be done through multiple ways like the web interface, mobile apps, and your computer’s sync folder. Sharing is done by simply clicking on a file and then clicking the “Share” button.
A new Share window will appear where you are presented with various ways to share the file. You can generate a share link, send through an email, or post to Twitter or Facebook. It’s a relatively bare-bones approach to file sharing but it works. However, users are not given the option to password protect links or put expiry dates on them. On a positive note, there’s a Shared tab where you can quickly view all the shared files and folders.
Amazon lets you share folders as well but it’s very limited. While the recipient can view the folder, it’s not possible for him to upload anything to that folder. This greatly limits the program’s potential for collaboration use.
As mentioned, Amazon now has a sync feature for Drive and it’s quite good. For starters, the developers have added a block-level sync capability which makes Drive stand out from the competition. Drive also incorporates a selective sync which allows you to disable syncing for certain files so it doesn’t get saved to your computer.
The only downside to the selective sync feature is that when you disable the sync, you will not be able to see those folders in the sync folder. I still prefer how Dropbox does it which simply tags files that are not available offline but can still be seen in the sync folder.
The best cloud storage services offer top-tier security and it usually starts with encryption. Data encryption is about as basic as you can expect from a cloud storage solution.
This is where Amazon Drive stumbles hard.
It’s baffling that Amazon has failed to provide any sort of encryption for user data on its servers. So there’s no encryption that happens on the client side. If you want to encrypt your data, you can do it locally then upload them. Otherwise, Amazon’s support staff will be able to view your files.
When it comes to data center security, it’s safe to say that Amazon has got it covered. The Drive cloud makes use of the same server network as Amazon S3 along with the company’s internal data.
As for your account itself, Amazon provides a two-factor authentication for your login details. These are the login information that you use across all Amazon services and products, so make sure that you have credentials that are secure. With two-factor authentication, you can easily protect yourself from other people that might steal your account.
Amazon Drive’s customer support ties with the rest of Amazon’s other products.
With many products and services like Amazon Drive, Amazon Music, Amazon Video, the massive eCommerce platform, it’s no surprise that there are knowledge gaps between the support representatives. For this reason, you are stuck with a support that, while readily available, can’t provide a straight answer to your questions.
We connected with Amazon’s customer support to ask about encryption protocols, the block-level sync feature, along with other technical inquiries. Then, we reached out through live chat and we were able to quickly talk with a representative.
We asked about the security protocols and we were given answers that we weren’t looking for. Most of the answers are vague or just downright not specific. It really gives us the impression that the representative doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
At the end of the day, I was able to find an answer to my question regarding whether or not the data uploaded is encrypted. And yes, Amazon doesn’t encrypt the files that you upload to Drive and they will remain as is as they are uploaded.
It did take a couple of tries but I was able to find definite answers to my questions. On a positive note, connecting to Amazon’s customer support is a quick and painless process. However, you will need to be quite persistent if you want actual, relevant answers to your inquiries.
Upon signing up, Amazon Drive gives you 5GB of free storage. If you’re a Prime member, you can store unlimited photos and the 5GB will only count for your other files like music and video.
If you need more storage, you can opt for the 100 GB Amazon Digital Storage Plan which will only cost you $11.99 per year. Personally, this deal is not so bad but if you’re a heavy user, it’s not that hard to go over 100GB long before the year ends.
Another plan is a 1TB package which will cost you $59.99 per year. You can upgrade your plan up to 30TB but with increased yearly payment. See the pricing plans for Amazon Drive and how they scale. Overall, the pricing for Amazon Drive is quite good and is more affordable when compared to other solutions like Google Drive or Dropbox.
Amazon Cloud Drive Review: A Good Cloud Storage Solution
This concludes our Amazon Cloud Drive review.
While the core features and functionality of Drive are above average, it lacks a certain level of flexibility and usability when compared to its competitors.
Amazon Drive offers very flexible pricing plans which means you only get to pay for what you need. However, it lacks some very important features like data encryption. If you are a heavy media user, you’ll find a lot to love about Drive since it focuses more on photos, music, and other media files.
It’s a very serviceable cloud storage solution but there are other better options out there.
Featured Image via Amazon logo, text and banner added.