Redesigning the Management of Backups for a Cloud Storage service

The Scenario

Livedrive provides a range of cloud storage products for consumers, including Livedrive Backup. Using Livedrive Backup, customers can select folders that they want to backup on their Windows PC or Mac, and Livedrive will work in the background to monitor those folders and backup them up the customer’s Livedrive account.  If the customer later loses or deletes a file, then they can log in to the Livedrive website to download the file and restore it.

The Desktop Software

As soon as a customer signs up for Livedrive Backup, they are prompted to download and install the Livedrive Desktop software. During installation, the customer is presented with a wizard, during which they can select the folders that they want to back up by selecting from a list of defaults:

The existing Livedrive Wizard
The existing Livedrive Wizard

Some customers tick all of the boxes, some customers tick none of them. Some customers use the Add Folder button to add folders other than the defaults, such as NAS devices.

After the customer has completed the wizard, the desktop software works to monitor and backup any files in the selected folders. The customer cannot go back to the wizard to change their settings, but instead, if they want to modify their folder selection they need to go to the Manage Backup screen, which looks like this:

The Existing Backup Management screen
The Existing Backup Management screen

Users can navigate the folder structure on the left to select and deselect the folders they want to back up. On the right they can see the files in each folder.

Users can navigate the folder structure on the left to select and deselect the folders they want to back up. On the right they can see the files in each folder.

The Problem

The Manage Backup screen is far more complicated than the simple backup selector in the Welcome Wizard.   If a user did not backup any folders during the wizard but then wanted to add folders to their backup later, they are dropped straight into a very technical screen, which asks them to navigate their entire file system.

Some users visiting that screen select all folders on their computer, which is unnecessary – most users will only want to select folders that are in their user directory.  Only when selecting NAS devices or network volumes should the user be required to select folders further up the tree.

Exclusions

The Manage Backups screen could not look exactly like the backup pane in the Welcome Wizard because it needs to handle exclusions.  Exclusions are folders that are within the selected backup folders, but that the customer doesn’t want to backup.  For example in the following screenshot, Livedrive is backing up everything in “documents” except the folder “workspace”:

The existing Backup Management screen with selections
The existing Backup Management screen with selections

Settings

The Manage Backup window also includes a tab called Settings, which lets the customer chose advanced settings for their backups:

The Livedrive settings screen
The Livedrive settings screen

The Brief

To redesign the Manage Backups user interface so that:

  • It is easy for non-technical customers who just want to select or deselect from a simple list of folders.
  • It still supports exclusions – folders that are beneath the selected backup folders, but that the customer doesn’t want to backup.
  • It still allows advanced users to configure the backup settings from the Settings tab.

You do not need to be restrained by any of the current Manage Backups layout – it does not need to use tabs, or use a two pane layout for the folder selection for example.  You can completely redesign the UI from scratch.

The Problem

The current user interface can be a little intimidating to users who do not know where their files are located in the directory structure.

The existing Backup Management screen with selections

If the user is backing up files from many disparate places, there is an additional difficulty; it is difficult for them to get a clear idea of what is and is not being backed up. They may back up files that they no longer want, and may not notice that they are not backing up a folder that they believed they had selected. That is because there is no single summary of what is selected for backup outside of the current folder.

The Solution

Taking a core concept from the Wizard, the idea of selecting “Documents” “Movies” “Music” and “Pictures” has been taken as a starting point, and expanded upon.

When the user clicks on “Manage Backups” they are greeted with a familiar looking set of options: Whether or not they selected anything in the wizard.

Manage Backups - nothing selected

Upon selecting items (e.g “Documents”) the “Contents” panel will be populated with the folders that contain documents.

Manage Backups - documents selected with no exclusions

The user can then select any of the folders included, and exclude them.

Manage Backups - documents selected with exclusions

They can repeat the process with the other file types.

Manage Backups - documents and music selected with exclusions

Subfolders will inherit the exclusion state.

  • The default state is for the folder to be included.
  • The exclusion state is toggled on and off by clicking on the “x” by the name of the folder.
  • If the folder is inside of an excluded folder, it is automatically excluded. It can be included in the backup by clicking on the “x” to toggle it’s exclusion state.
  • Excluded folders are highlighted and the text greyed.

The “Advanced” page brings up the more traditional 2-panel Manage Backups screen that the user would see today. There are times when it will be easier for the user to specify the folder directly, or for when the user wants to specify a NAS device to backup, in which case this option will be available. As it already exists, there should be minimal development resource needed except to ensure that the user selections are reflected back onto the first page. In most cases, the user will not want or need to use these options, although they will appreciate the existence of it as it shows them that if their needs become more advanced, Livedrive’s backup program can handle it, but whilst their needs are still simple and straightforward, they will be glad to know that it can still do everything for them with the high level of automation that makes their lives easier.

The “Settings” page allows for users to access the settings and features that are currently located there, and there is no need for change.

UX Research and Design consultancy

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