SpiderOak Review – Security above Everything Else

If you’re currently on the lookout for an alternative to Dropbox or Tresorit, then you might want to check out our SpiderOak review. Because we know just how hard it is to find the perfect hosting and backup service, we are going to pen down the pros and cons, advantages, and disadvantages of using this client.

SpiderOak Review – Company & Products

As a company, SpiderOak was established back in 2007, by Alan Fairless and Ethan Oberman. From the beginning, SpiderOak has declared itself as a follower of the Zero Knowledge gospel, one of the most secure solutions out there.

Platforms operating under the Zero Knowledge policies ensure that the customer’s data isn’t visible to anyone apart from the customer themselves, not even to SpiderOak’s staff.

Starting with 2013, SpiderOak has designed and implemented an open source Java-based platform called Crypton. This Java-based platform employs the same Zero knowledge policy while allowing the third-party based developers to add extra layers of security.

Presently, SpiderOak offers two types of services: SpiderOak Semaphor, which is a cross-platform collaboration tool, and one of the most powerful out there, we might add, and SpiderOak One, your run-of-the-mill cloud storage, restore, and backup service.

Another product offered by SpiderOak is Encrypt, which is a powerful password manager, pretty handy if you’re running multiple SpiderOak accounts.

As part of our SpiderOak review, we are going to take a closer look at SpiderOak One, the cloud storage service, but we will surely come back with a Semaphor review.

SpiderOak One Overview

As we’ve mentioned before, SpiderOak One is cloud-based hosting and backup solution built on the Crypton Java-based platform. Customers using SpiderOak One can perform the following actions:

  • Backup files and folders to SpiderOak’s cloud;
  • Retrieve/restore files and folders from the cloud;
  • Access files and folders from across multiple devices;
  • Share multiple files and folders using web-based ShareRooms (notification through RSS is available);
  • Sync across multiple platforms;
  • Review and edit multiple versions of the same file.

There are two methods to work with SpiderOak One: either by using the web-based interface or by downloading the desktop application. Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages of working with the platforms, and, as part of our SpiderOak review, we will teach you what’s the easiest way to work with this amazing cloud-based service.

Setting Up Your First SpiderOak One Account

Setting up your first SpiderOak account is very easy. All you’ll have to do is to head over to SpiderOak’s official page, and click on the SpiderOak One Service and then on the “Get started for free” button.

In just a few seconds, your browser will begin downloading the desktop application. Just follow the on-screen instructions to install the application. After you’ve installed the client, you will be free to access the login/create account section.

Just type in your email account, a username, a valid password, and optionally, a password hint. Frankly, one of the first things that we didn’t like during the registration process is that the client doesn’t have a password strength calculator like other cloud-based services like iDrive or Touro.

After filling in your details hit the “Create account” button and you’re all set to go.

SpiderOak Pricing

For the SpiderOak One product, the company offers various price tiers depending on your cloud storage needs. Basically, there are two types of offers: one for individual users, which spans from no cost to $25 per month, and one specifically engineered for groups, like SMEs, enterprises, or families.

Let’s take a closer look at SpiderOak’s One price tiers.

PlanPriceStorage AllotmentFeatures
FreeFree2 GBComes with a 60-day trial;
Does not require a credit card;
Comes with no obligations.
Personal One$7/month or $79/years30 GBIdeal for all your favorite files and folders.
Personal Two$12/month or $129/year1 TBIt’s a very popular plan.
Personal Three$25/month or $279/year5 TBIdeal for pros.
GroupsFree Setup, after that $9/month/userUnlimitedIdeal for jump starting your business;
Requires at least ten users.
Enterprises$299 setup fee and $5/month/usersUnlimitedRequires at least 100 users;
LDAP features;
On-Premise$599 setup fee and $5/month/userUnlimitedLDAP;
Requires at least 500 users.

*Note that all of the plans come with a 60-day trial.

Working With SpiderOak One

As part of our SpiderOak Review, we were able to tinker around with One’s basic backup functions, as well as some of its more advanced features such as SpiderOak Hive, exclusions, and keeping track of archived data blocks.

First of all, we would like to say that the UI looks impeccable: fully functional, light and packed with features. The Windows desktop version we’ve managed to try out has a fine design, but it pales in comparison with the UI designed for Mac OSX.

The web-based UI also combines good looks with functionality, granting the use all the tools he needs to manage his uploads.

One thing we’ve noticed when working with the web manager is that you can switch between list view and the grid view. For example, if you want to back up your camera roll, it’s much easier to review those pictures in grid mode, since the manager will display them as thumbnails.

Another thing we’ve liked about SpiderOak is that it offers the same integration shell as OneDrive and Dropbox. With these features, backing up a file or folder to the cloud will become easier.

File Backup

Backing up your files will seem like a breeze with SpiderOak One. You can do this by using the desktop manager or by using SpiderOak’s cleverly-designed web-based interface.

Using the desktop application, to back up your first files and folders, you must access the “BACKUP” section. SpiderOak offers quite a lot of choices when it comes to choosing which files should go to the cloud and which one should stay on the local drive.

Unlike other cloud backup services offer rudimentary search boxes and dropbox menus, SpiderOak One employs multiple selection filters. Using the category menu, you will be able to tell SpiderOak for what kind of files should it start scanning.

You can select between desktop, documents, favorites, movies, music or pictures. Another way to start backing up your files is to use the central panel, which shows you a detailed overview of your local drive. If, by chance, the file you want to backup it was hidden, SpiderOak’s One desktop app has a “show hidden files” button that displays all you hidden files.

Alternatively, you can use the search bar to type in the name of a specific file. After you’re done selecting your files, just hit the “scan now” button and the app will start migrating your data to the cloud.

Unfortunately, you cannot back up your files and folders using the web-based application. You can only manage your previously uploaded files, check your account details, and restore deleted files.

However, the desktop-based app is more than able to handle any heavy-duty folder backups.

Restoring Your Files

SpiderOak One offers two methods for restoring your files and data: either by using the web-based application or the desktop manager.

In order to restore one or mode deleted a file or folder, just head over the to the “Manage” tab, and choose the files you wish to restore. You can either restore individual files or restore all of them.

SpiderOak One will restore all your stored files in the Download folder. Alternatively, you can set up the restoration folder for yourself. Unlike IDrive, which automatically restores files and folders to their original destination, SpiderOak One will download all your data in separate folders in the download folder, and lets you figure out which goes where.

It’s fine to use the restore function for a couple of files, like a few photos or Word documents, but it may become problematic when you want to restore files in bulk.

Another thing we’ve appreciated about SpiderOak’s restoration manager is that it allows you to view certain types of files before restoring them to the desktop. Unfortunately, file viewing is only confined to png, jpeg or other types of pictures extensions. You cannot view documents or videos.

File Versioning

One of the thing that makes SpiderOak One quite the star is that it keeps a record of virtually any action. By comparison, Touro only keeps 30 versions of each folder. On the other hand, SpiderOak maintains a record of each change committed to the same file, no matter how old it is.

Furthermore, thanks to SpiderOak’s impeccable storing centers, all the available file version will not take up you monthly storage allotment.

To view the version of each file, just head on over to the “MANAGE” section and click on a file. The manager will display all the changes committed to the file over a period, and will also show you a timestamp.

SpiderOak Review – File Sharing

During our SpiderOak review, we’ve discovered that SpiderOak One has one of the most intricate file-sharing systems on the market. In fact, it’s so complex that the users will have to throw in even the kitchen’s sink to be able to share a file with someone.

For SpiderOak, download links with a predetermined half-life are kind of overrated, and so are social shares.

To be able to share something with a contact, you’ll first need to create a ShareID. You can create a ShareID by accessing the “Share” tab. After creating a ShareID, you will need to create a ShareRoom, and, of course, a ShareFolder.

Why is all the extra security you ask? Probably the Zero Knowledge policy has something to do with this. Whatever the case may be, you will need to go to great lengths just to be able to share your folders with your contacts.

Alternatively, you can create a simple share link, which has a 3-day availability.

Overall, we have to say that SpiderOak’s sharing function isn’t exactly the service’s strong point.

Mobile Platforms

When it comes to cross-platforming, SpiderOak One is, without a doubt, one of the most versatile cloud-based storage services on the market.

Currently, SpiderOak is available on the following platforms:

  • Windows XP or newer;
  • Mac OSX 10.8+;
  • Android;
  • IPad or iPhone;
  • Linux: Debian, Fedora, and Slackware (both 32 and 64-bit versions are available).

As part of our SpiderOak review, we were able to test out the Android version of the software. From what we can figure, there isn’t much difference between the mobile and the desktop/web app. Using the Android version, you can manage and view your favorite files and folders.

Unfortunately, the mobile app doesn’t offer live streaming support for audio or video files. One great feature of using SpiderOak One mobile is the SpiderOak Hive. Using Hive, you can quickly sync your files and folder across all affiliated devices.

Furthermore, as part of their privacy policy, SpiderOak mentions that you can affiliate an unlimited number of devices to your cloud. To sync your files across devices, you simply have to drag and drop them in your SpiderOak Hive folder, which is usually located on your desktop.

Security

When it comes to security, SpiderOak is kind of a control freak. We’ve already mentioned at the beginning of our SpiderOak review, Crypton, the newly-designed Java-based platform, employs the Zero Knowledge Privacy policy.

Apart from adhering to the Zero knowledge policy, SpiderOak has many other tricks up its sleeve to ensure that all your data is safeguarded. For example, your password is encrypted using a PBKDF2 salted and multi-round key.

Furthermore, all your keys are created using AES-256-CFB and HMAC-SHA-256 encryption protocol. To make things even more complicated, SpiderOak will also add an extra layer of TLS/SSL encryption.

Download And Upload Speeds

As part of our SpiderOak review, we were also able to test out the service’s average download and upload speeds. At the first impression, we were impressed by how fast it is compared to other services. In terms of speed, SpiderOak is only surpassed only by Dropbox and OneDrive.

So, to test out the average speeds, we’ve tried to upload a 10 MB folder that contained various types of files. The average upload speed held steadily at 5.12 Mbps, with a max of 7.16 Mbps. In turn, the average upload speed held steadily at 17.00 Mbps, with a max of 64.7 Mbps.

All in all, as far as speed is concerned, SpiderOak is out there with the stars.

SpiderOak Review- Pros:

  • Excellent cross-platform compatibility;
  • Above the average upload and download speeds;
  • Excellent OS integration;
  • Enhanced security;
  • Keeps each version of your file;
  • One-key backup;
  • Drag-and-drop sync feature;
  • Unlimited devices;
  • Easy to deploy;
  • Unlimited storage for business plans.

SpiderOak Review – Cons:

  • Interface is hard to use;
  • Sharing a file is nearly impossible;
  • No video streaming option;
  • Desktop application is bugged;
  • Prices are quite high;
  • Can’t perform backups from the web-based platform.

SpiderOak Review – Our Verdict

As part of our SpiderOak review, we had the hard job of weighing the pros and cons of using the service. SpiderOak One is an excellent cloud-based storage and backup service, capable of accommodating any of your cloud storage needs. However, since the service stresses out security above everything else, it may be hard for a beginner to get the hang of it.

Upload and download speeds are above the average, meaning that retrieving files in bulk will be a piece of cake. All in all, we believe that this service is promising and quite versatile.

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