SpiderOak Review: Cloud Storage
|Sign up for SpiderOak|
|Good option for more advanced users looking for extra encryption capabilities and lots of space to store files online from an unlimited number of computers|
Spideroak is a robust cloud storage solution with many advanced capabilities not seen in most of its competitors. At $8.33/month (annual plan), which includes 100 GB of storage and sync space, this cloud storage service is on the pricey side but still gives you a little more bang for your buck when it comes to sync space than other services. Spideroak even offers 2 GB of storage and sync space for free, no credit card information required. With Spideroak, you can add an unlimited number of devices, including external and network drives, to sync with at no additional cost; you only pay as you need more space. Though Spideroak has an attractive user interface with a lot of different features, it may seem complicated to the cloud storage novice. However, once you get the hang of it, this service can really help you stay organized with its unique file syncing and sharing methods.
Once you sign in with your username and password, the Spideroak manager will launch. Initially, you must choose the categories you want to backup (i.e desktop, documents, movies, etc...) If you want to be more specific, click "advanced." Here you can select particular folders that you want to backup. Like most of the other services, the initial backup took a bit of time. You can check the status of your backup by clicking the "status" tab. This tab shows you your backup, syncs and shares. You may also select the frequency of backups and syncs in this tab. Note that for how advanced the service is, we really wish the help section would be a little more extensive. There are useful video tutorials on the Spideroak site; however, the FAQ section is lacking. Thankfully, their email support is pretty fast!
Spideroak has a somewhat different approach when it comes to syncing. Instead of installing its own dedicated sync folder to your hard drive, this service asks you to create a "new sync" by selecting two or more of your existing folders and syncing them together. To sync folders, go to the "sync" tab and click "add new." You can then add an optional description to the sync as well as file types that you want to exclude from the sync. All of your syncs will be listed and you can choose the frequency at which they are synced.
You can do this with folders on the same computer or different ones, just make sure the folders you want to sync are in your Spideroak backup selection. If you make a change in one folder, that change will show up in the other folder no matter what device it's on. If you don't want to combine folders, but want to keep files on one device constantly updated with other devices, we recommend creating a new empty folder and simply syncing it with the folder on the original device.
This different type of sync was a bit confusing at first, especially because other services we reviewed require that you save the files you want to sync to a designated "sync folder." However, depending on your specific syncing needs, Spideroak's approach may be more helpful to you. Even the tiniest change like switching the order of files in a folder will be recognized and show up in its corresponding folder. This type of syncing also keeps your synced files more organized, especially because now you do not have to mix all different types of files in one designated sync folder.
Data is extremely secure on Spideroak. In addition to standard triple-encryption on backup, during transmission, and on the storage end, you create your password on your own computer. Spideroak servers will never receive your password, so make sure to write it down and store it in a safe place if you're prone to forgetting. While this is an option with most online backup services, it's mandatory with Spideroak. Advanced, security-conscious users will like this feature.
Spideroak also has a mobile app for iPhones/iPads, Androids and the N900 Maemo that's totally free to download. Here you can access your files on the go and backup your phone. It was very finicky on the iPhone, exiting out and making us re-enter the username and password. Re-entering our information wasn't too big of a deal though, considering Spideroak's love for security features. The application also took a long time to load — it was definitely disappointing compared to SugarSync's application.
A nice feature of the mobile app is the ability to access your Spideroak share rooms. With share rooms, Spideroak takes yet another unique approach to a popular cloud storage feature. Instead of just using email to send a file sharing link, Spideroak actually creates a webpage called a share room. This page even has its own custom link composed of a password of your choosing. Once a share room is created, you can keep adding files to it. This is a great way to share projects with someone, especially because they will be notified via RSS feed every time you make a change to the share room. You can either email the link to someone or they can access it on the Spideroak homepage using the share id and room key.
If you choose to go with the annual plan, Spideroak will give you 100 GB for only $8.33/month ($100/year). If you don't like the whole paying up-front deal, it will cost you a little more at $10/month. Need more space? No problem. It's $10 more a month for every 100 GB increment you add. Remember, before you become a paid subscriber you can always test Spideroak out with the 2 GB of free space they give you.
Great for more advanced users of cloud storage and online backup, Spideroak's plethora of options can at first glance seem confusing to the cloud novice. Once you get the hang of it though, Spideroak is easy to use and very comprehensive. Its unique syncing and sharing features separate it from the pack, and if used properly, can really help you stay organized. If you're not sure if Spideroak is for you, they are not greedy with their free services and let you use 2 GB of space, absolutely free!
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- Spideroak Review
Here is NextAdvisor's review of Spideroak Cloud Storage: http://www.nextadvisor.com/cloud_storag ... review.php