SpiderOak Cloud Backup Review

Backing your data up to the cloud and living out of the cloud is all the rage.  SpiderOak cloud backup has a lot of features that I have been looking for in an online backup solution.

First, to get started with SpiderOak, you need to download the software for Windows, Mac or Linux and install it.  The version delivered for Ubuntu works on pretty much any version of Ubuntu.  You can install it with standard dpkg commands or double-click on it and us the graphical package manager, GDebi package installer.  Click on install, enter your system password and it installs. Once the package is installed, you just start the SpiderOak client and sign up for an account.

Once you are signed into your account, the basic interface let’s you automatically backup items on your Desktop, your Documents folder, your Music folder and your Picture folder going by the default folders for your operating system.  Click on Advanced Mode will let you backup any folder you have access to on your system.

SpiderOak also includes a file synchronization feature similar to how Dropbox and Ubuntu One works.  This makes it easy to share data between multiple systems using SpiderOak.  To test this, I selected a folder in my home directory and installed the client on another system.  Any change on one system resulted in a change on the other system just like Dropbox and Ubuntu One.  I like that I can select not just one folder, but any number of folders to sync.  The folder doesn’t even have to be the same name on each system.  Synchronization even works across an external device.  The nice feature I noticed with this is even though the SpiderOak client is running, I can still unmount or safely remove the external device that I made part of a sync.  Then if I move the drive to another system, copy files to the synced folder and then put it back on a system with SpiderOak running, it will automatically sync the change to your other systems you have configured.  So, in a way, Spider Oak is Dropbox on steroids.

SpiderOak also has a share feature that let’s you share a folder on your system with friends and family.  The great p[art is they don’t even have to have an account with SpiderOak.  Once setup, you get a URL that you can copy paste in a e-mail and the pictures or files are made available to them.  Very important to note here that you do not want to use this for valuable files.  They would be available to any crawler so I would not share valuable files in this way even though the files do transfer over an https connection.

Not only can you share with friends over the web, but your data is secured and is accessible from any web browser from the SpiderOak website.

One item with any cloud type service like Spider Oak is the security of your data.  All transfers to the cloud for backups and syncs happen over a SSL connection.  You don’t have to worry about anyone sniping your packets while en route to SpiderOak.  In fact, if anyone at SpiderOak was asked to divulge your data, they claim they cannot do that since you own the encryption keys in the copy of SpiderOak on your account.  All SpiderOak can tell anyone is how many encrypted blocks of data you have stored there.  They can’t read your data even if they wanted to.  This only pertains to data you have not shared with others.  If you share a folder of pics with your family, that link is open to the public and SpiderOak as well.  if you never use the share feature,then even with physical access to the servers, the data can only be decrypted by you.  This sounds pretty secure to me and more than secure enough to back my data to.  I still might not put my financial data there but I would definitely trust this for my family photos and other data I just want to keep to myself.

SpiderOak also uses compression and de-duping technology that can help you store more in the cloud than you might think.  Compression is what it sounds like.  SpiderOak compresses what you send it.  De-duping means that if you have the same file in multiple folders in your backup, it will only store one copy of the file and save you storage for other files.  In the short time I have used this, I have not come close to the 2 GB, but I eventually will and hopefully these two features will help.

When I first heard of Spider Oak, I did not think that it would be all it was cracked up to be but I am happily surprised.  I may actually consider paying for more storage at some point in the near future.

The base 2 GB of storage/backup is free.  You can upgrade to a paid account and get 100 GB for 10 a month or 100 dollars a year.  If 100 GB is not enough, you can upgrade in 100 GB increments for an extra 10 per month or a 100 per year.

What I liked: Easy to use.  Works on multiple platforms.  It can be used for backup or synchronizing files between multiple systems.

What needs improvement: I cannot find much at fault with the software.  It works as SpiderOak says it should.  However, I do wish I could automatically schedule backups during idle time periods.  In fact, SpiderOak is indeed listing this as a possible future update to their software.

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