1&1 HiDrive Business review: An affordable but sloppy offering

Dave Mitchell

8 Jan, 2019

An affordable cloud service for small businesses but let down by limited features and weak online help

£10 exc VAT

1&1 Internet has decided the time is right to provide its own hosted file sharing service and gets the ball rolling with a tempting proposition. The HiDrive Business plan on review starts at only £10 per month for a one year contract and supports five users, plus a total of 1TB of shared cloud storage.

Deployment is swift, as the HiDrive account holder has admin privileges for adding team members from the cloud portal. From the My Team page, you can invite new users by entering their email address and deciding whether to dish out admin privileges and access to shared resources.

The WebDAV protocol is enabled for each user so they can mount their HiDrive cloud storage as a network drive. You’ll need this for macOS and Linux clients as although they can use their personal web portal to access files, HiDrive doesn’t provide desktop apps for these operating systems.

The Windows app handles real-time syncing and provides right-click menu options to open your HiDrive folder in Explorer. However, the app’s web portal link only takes you to the main 1&1 web site where you have to login again, while its help link directs you to a non-existent web page.

Every user gets a public folder and if they choose to sync this, it becomes available to other team members that have this option enabled. This makes a great general shared repository as any user can drop files into it from their desktop or cloud portal and make them instantly available to the whole team.

You can control access to the public folder for selected users from the admin portal. Their profiles can be edited to block access to this folder or you can permit read-only or read/write access.

The desktop app can sort out WebDAV mappings for you. From the HiDrive Drive panel in the app settings, just choose a drive letter, enter your account password and it’ll map a new drive with direct access to the public folder and your personal cloud storage.

Folders and files can be securely sent to anyone by selecting them from the portal or Windows Explorer and entering an email address in the pop-up window. Password protection, download limits and expiry dates can be applied to the link but the basic spelling mistake in the pre-configured email message body won’t impress potential clients.

The same process is used to invite recipients without a HiDrive account to upload files to your share. This time, you enable write access prior to sending the email and at any time, you can revoke the folder share.
A right-click save feature in Windows Explorer allows selected local folders to be copied over to your cloud storage. These initially appear in the user’s personal cloud folder and can be moved to the public folder if required.

HiDrive provides a simple backup service where you can create a schedule from the admin portal that secures all your team’s cloud data. You can run backups as often as every four hours, retain them for up to a year and restore selected backups as copies.

If you want to run HiDrive backups directly from the desktop app or iOS and Android mobile devices, you must upgrade to the Pro version. You can backup NAS appliances to the cloud but you’ll also need the protocol pack upgrade which adds CIFS/SMB, Rsync and SFTP/FTP support.

HiDrive Business is a simple cloud syncing and sharing option well suited to small businesses but 1&1’s lack of attention to detail doesn’t inspire confidence. The poor online help and sloppy presentation takes the shine off what is arguably an affordable solution.