Backup, Sync and Share with SpiderOak

There’s an abundance of data backup and sharing apps, regardless of which platform you use. However, there are only so many that do a great job and run on all the major platforms (OS X, Windows and Linux). If you’re seeking a quality backup and sharing app, you might consider giving SpiderOak a try.

Today I’ll review the backup, sync and sharing app SpiderOak.

Update: Be sure to check out SpiderOak’s new iPhone app!

Overview

SpiderOak is a multiplatform (including iPhone) backup, sync and sharing app with an accompanying web interface. SpiderOak offers a free account with up to 2 GB of available storage space and lots of additional storage available if you need it.

SpiderOak Home

SpiderOak Home

Interface and Sign Up

I have to start off mentioning SpiderOak’s website design, because I like it. All too often I see complicated app websites that just don’t accomplish the goal as well as they could, which is making it incredibly easy and foolproof to sign up and get started using their app or service.

While I do think SpiderOak’s website could use a few adjustments, it may just be a difference in personal taste. Their site is easy to navigate and includes the information I am looking for and actually care about. All too often I find myself searching for the pricing page or how I’m supposed to actually download the app. It’s frustrating and needless.

Visiting SpiderOak’s website, we’ll see front and center DOWNLOAD. It’s impossible to miss! The left 1/4 of the large button looking image takes you to their Plans & Pricing. The first two things I look for. Kudos SpiderOak!

SpiderOak Web Design

SpiderOak Web Design

I won’t get too much further into their site design but I do want to mention that their navigation has also been done nicely. Navigation links are grouped and separated appropriately making it easy to find what I’m looking for.

Signing up for SpiderOak is easy. In fact, it might be so easy it’s a little confusing for some people because you have to actually download the SpiderOak app to sign up. I like this method because it streamlines the whole process.

Pricing

Pricing

Once you’ve downloaded SpiderOak’s app for whichever platform you’re on (OS X, Windows or Linux) and you’ve completed the simple sign up process, you’re automatically signed in and ready to get started backing up, syncing and/or sharing your files.

Desktop App Interface

Considering we cover web apps here, I won’t go into too much detail in SpiderOak’s desktop app. It all ties together though so it is necessary. Once sign up is complete, the app will display the Status page which summarizes what the app is currently doing, the level of network health, your current storage level and other basic information.

Desktop App Interface

Desktop App Interface

The app is easy to navigate and find important information. Sections of the app are animated when active, such as the backup, sync and share icons on the status page. I have to say, this is a nice touch making it really quick to identify what and where the app is active.

The bottom bar is used to show tips when the app isn’t active but displays the name and location of files currently being backed up.

Other tabs on the Status page help dig deeper into the current and past activity of the app such as the queue, log and stats. For some this information won’t be that interesting but for others it will be great to have available.

Status Queue

Status Queue

Backup Files

Visiting the Backup tab we’ll be able to customize which files to be backed up, including files on external hard drives. The basic view is pretty limited so if you don’t plan on backing up entire directories then you’ll want to switch to the advanced view (shown below). In this view you’ll be able to select specific files and folders you want backed up.

Backup Files

Backup Files

View, Sync & Share

Navigating to the View tab we’ll be able to view a list of navigable devices to view the files that have been synchronized or shared—which are indicated with specifically colored folder icons. Syncing files works just like you might already be familiar with in other apps like DropBox.

Sync Files

Sync Files

To sync files you simply create a new sync and specify it’s settings, then once complete you’ll save the sync. settings.

As I said before, I won’t be getting into the desktop app too in depth but I do want to mention that you’re able to share files. Once you’ve setup a unique share ID you can create custom shares to share folders or files as necessary. It’s not as simple as other web based-apps but it’s nice that the capability is there.

Resource Usage

From the brief period of using the desktop app, I was pleasantly surprised. Initially the app was using a large percentage of processing resources but it didn’t seem too bothersome. I can certainly see that for some, however, it would be best to start the backup process and leave the computer alone for awhile. I wasn’t able to find a way to set the app to reduce processing resources when the system was in use. Once the initial burst of processing was complete, the app hardly used any resources at all.

Web Interface

Unfortunately the web interface is quite limited, offering very few options. I assume that SpiderOak’s primary purpose is for backing up files via desktop and not so much managing them via the web. With the capabilities of today’s backup applications though SpiderOak will need to implement additional options in this area to remain competitive among the many data backup and sharing apps out there.

Web Interface

Web Interface

As you can see in the image above, files are navigable via basic interface and provide basic file information. You’re able to download individual files or entire folders, which download in .zip format. I think the ability to select multiple individual files to download at once is a necessity that isn’t included here.

Files you’ve backed up also include full version history and the ability to restore deleted files, which can be done via desktop or web interface. Of course all the regular capabilities are included such as automatic backups, great security and privacy, multiple devices, etc. For more details, visit SpiderOak’s overview of features and why you should give them a try.

iPhone App (Android, Blackberry and Windows coming!)

SpiderOak iPhone App

SpiderOak iPhone App

SpiderOak has gone the extra mile and developed an iPhone app allowing users to access all their backed up data, even enabling them to view documents, PDFs, pictures, videos and other files. Users using the iPhone app will even be able to email any file from SpiderOak using the iPhone’s email app.

If you’re not an iPhone user, don’t feel left out just yet. The SpiderOak team has plans to release mobile apps for Android and Blackberry platforms, followed by Windows. Not only that but along the way the iPhone app has exciting new features planned.

It may seem like everyone has an iPhone app these days but think again. Some of SpiderOak’s competitors don’t even offer an iPhone app, or any mobile app for that matter. This goes to show that the SpiderOak team isn’t sitting around, they’re hard at work improving their already great service and apps.

Pricing

Pricing is pretty basic; 2 GB is available via free account which includes their full feature-set. For additional space you can purchase 100 GB at $10 per month or $100 per year—saving some cash. While SpiderOak’s storage costs might be more expensive than someone like Mozy, I think they make up for it in the additional features they offer.

Pricing Details

Pricing Details

Final Thoughts

SpiderOak is a fantastic contender in today’s data backup, sync and sharing market. The app ran very well for me, using little system resources once the initial processing stage had been completed. The overall interface of SpiderOak’s website is great, the desktop app’s interface is also well done, however the web file access interface is quite lacking in both features and design. I fully expect this aspect to mature with time though.

SpiderOak is priced competitively but for those who succumb to the word “unlimited”, their pricing might seem quite a bit more expensive than other apps like Mozy. In reality, I really think SpiderOak’s pricing is set at a good point but might need to change a bit to continue competing with so many new backup apps coming out at the “$5 per month, unlimited data” level.

Overall I’d like to give SpiderOak an 8/10 but it has the potential to move up with some web interface enhancements and capabilities. I definitely think SpiderOak is well worth trying as I’ll continue doing myself, especially their new iPhone app!

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Summary

Spideroak is the technology leader in free online backup, Online File and Folder Sync, Share, Access, and Storage - Back up and Sync data on any Windows, Mac, or Linux device online free with SpiderOak.com

  • SpiderOak  | 
  • Free / $10+ per month  | 
  • SpiderOak Inc.
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