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Reviews and expert opinion SpiderOak

Josh Fasulo Josh Fasulo Expert

“SpiderOak One sets the standard when it comes to security and privacy. It delivers reliable cloud backup for an unlimited number of devices, and once you get comfortable with the interface, backing up and restoring your files is a breeze.”

Overview

Secure Cloud Backup for All Your Home Computers

SpiderOak One home page
SpiderOak One gives you the most secure cloud backup on the market

As a company, SpiderOak’s mission is to protect the world’s data. Its consumer cloud backup service, SpiderOak One, offers industry-leading security and privacy for the most important files on your home computers.

I’m talking personal files like documents, photos, music, and videos. SpiderOak One wasn’t designed to mirror or clone your computer or to back up an entire system hard drive. If that’s what you’re after, SpiderOak One’s not for you.

What SpiderOak One does let you do is back up, sync, and share files with an unlimited number of computers.

SpiderOak One works with Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems.

Plans get a bit pricey for the amount of storage space you get, but if security and privacy is important to you, read on to see if SpiderOak One has what it takes to be your cloud backup service.

Features

4.3

Missing Some Basics, but Its Unique Features Shine

Data Server Locations Midwestern US
Backup and Restore Options Automatic (default), continuous (optional), scheduled (optional), backup from external drive, multi-device syncing
Limits and Restrictions File type restrictions, fair use limits, no file size limits
Applications and Operating Systems Windows, macOS, Linux
Encryption Keys “No Knowledge,” 256-bit AES, private encryption keys
File Access Desktop application, web
File Sharing Yes

SpiderOak One boasts some exciting and unique features. It’s missing a few basics, though – like offline backup or restore, email backup reports or notifications, and a mobile app. But you can still access your account and download or share files from any mobile device with an internet connection.

And SpiderOak One has cross-platform functionality, so you can access your backup, sync your devices, and share your files no matter the operating system.

Backups

SpiderOak One gives you two ways to back up your data: through the desktop app or using the SpiderOak Hive folder it places on your computer. Both will back up your files to the cloud, but backing up your files with the Hive will give you added functionality. (See Ease of Use for more.)

You can back up an unlimited number of computers, as well as external hard drives, removable devices, and some network volumes.

While SpiderOak One doesn’t have “hard limits” on file sizes, there are “practical limits” of 10GB for individual files uploaded via the desktop app. This means you might have trouble uploading files larger than 10GB.

You have the choice of automatic, continuous, or scheduled backups. After your initial backup, subsequent ones are automatic by default. If you prefer continuous or scheduled backups, you just need to go into the desktop app preferences to make the change.

SpiderOak One schedule preferences
You can run backups from every five minutes to once a week

Restores

Restoring files from the SpiderOak One desktop app is fast and easy, but you can’t restore directly from the Hive. (See Performance for my experience with restores.)

And, unfortunately, you don’t get an offline restore option with SpiderOak One.

One thing I like is that SpiderOak One retains every file on your account until you delete it. That includes every historical version of your files. This point-in-time recovery gives you the security of knowing that if you suffer any type of data loss, your files will be protected and you can restore any version you want.

While there’s no mobile app, you can still download files to your mobile device through your SpiderOak One account online.

Security

SpiderOak One uses “No Knowledge” encryption to give your data NSA-level protection on your computer, in transit, and while it’s stored on SpiderOak’s servers. This gives you arguably the best data protection on the cloud backup market.

What does “No Knowledge” mean exactly? It means no one but you can decrypt, see, or access your password, files, and folders. The only downside: SpiderOak One can’t help you recover your password if you forget it.

Security starts with your password (private encryption key) that you create on your computer, not a web form. SpiderOak One uses layered encryption, so a new key is created for each of your files, folders, and versions of your files. These keys are unlocked with your password.

Your transfers use 256-bit AES encryption and industry-standard SSL. They’re also protected by certificate pinning (validation of trusted hosts) to prevent attacks.

The only security feature SpiderOak One doesn’t have (that some competitors do) is two-factor authentication.

State-of-the-Art Data Centers

The data you back up is stored in state-of-the-art server facilities in the midwestern US owned by SpiderOak. These data centers meet some of the strictest compliance, infrastructure, and audit schedules in the business. They’re physically staffed 24/7 and have sophisticated security that keeps your data protected at all times, from all threats.

See full list of features

Ease of use

4.4

Easy to Use Once You Know What You’re Doing

When it comes to ease of use, installing the SpiderOak One desktop app and setting up your account is as simple as it gets. But the desktop app interface isn’t the most user-friendly, so it takes some time to get used to and some effort to get comfortable with it.

But once you know what you’re doing, using SpiderOak One is a breeze. And it does offer some additional features that make life easy.

SpiderOak Hive

This is a unique feature that lets you back up files by simply dragging and dropping them into the Hive folder SpiderOak places on your desktop upon install.

SpiderOak Hive on a Mac
SpiderOak Hive is presented like any other folder on your computer

When you drop files into the Hive, they’re automatically backed up to the cloud, but the Hive is not the same thing as the backup application itself. The Hive is actually a premade sync folder. The files you put in it are automatically copied across every device on your account, as well as being backed up.

One of my favorite things about the Hive is that it acts just like any normal folder on your computer. You can edit files within it and they’ll automatically update on every single device you have synced.

SpiderOak suggests there is a practical size limit of 3GB for files you place in the Hive. So while you can technically upload large files, you may run into some trouble with them, such as slow uploads or failure to upload.

Sharing Files

SpiderOak One lets you share read-only copies of your files with anyone, even if they’re not a SpiderOak One user. You can share files in two ways: Share an individual file with a link, or share multiple files and folders using a SpiderOak One ShareRoom.

Sharing links is done from the Manage tab on the desktop app. Just copy and send the link to anyone you want. These links are temporary and self-destruct after three days.

SpiderOak One Cloud Backup Review
Sharing individual files is as easy as clicking, copying, pasting, and sending

ShareRooms let you create a space within your SpiderOak One account for people to view and download your folders and files. All you have to do is go to the Share tab on your desktop app and follow a few easy steps to set one up.

Creating a SpiderOak One ShareRoom
ShareRooms let you share read-only copies of your files with anyone

SpiderOak One suggests a size limit of 3GB for files you share.

Selective Syncing

With many cloud backup services, everything is synced by default and you must opt out if you don’t want certain folders synced to your other devices. But with SpiderOak One, only the folders you select are synced.

You can also set up as many different syncs as you want and sync them to whatever combination of devices you desire. But each sync must contain different folders. If you try to set up a new sync that includes folders you’ve already backed up and synced, you’ll get an error message.

SpiderOak One sync Folder Overlap Alert
You can’t put the same folder into more than one sync

You can manage your syncs from the desktop app and set your syncing schedule via Preferences in the same way you do for your backups and ShareRoom shares.

Setting Up an Account

Installing SpiderOak One onto your computer is quick and easy. As soon as you choose your plan (or free trial), SpiderOak One will take you to a web page where you can select your computer’s operating system.

SpiderOak One supported operating systems
SpiderOak One works with various Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems

This will let you download and run the appropriate installer. The installation process takes less than a minute, and the only thing you need to do (if you pick the free trial approach, like I did) is input your email address and name, and create your password.

Once the desktop app is installed, you’ll name your device, and then your account will be up and running. Since I chose the free trial, SpiderOak One automatically set me up with a 250GB account.

Everything you need to do you can do from the desktop app. But if you want to log in online, you can access your Hive, devices, and ShareRooms and manage your account from any internet-connect device.

On the desktop app, the Preferences tab gives you quite a few advanced settings options, but some of them can get confusing for the average user. Especially the network preferences.

See if SpiderOak is Right for You

Performance

4.3

No Gold Medals Here

I tested SpiderOak One’s abilities by running three backups with a 3GB folder of documents, photos, and videos. What I discovered is that while SpiderOak One might lead the race in terms of security, it’s not as impressive when it comes to performance.

Since there’s no offline backup option, your computer must be on and connected to the internet for the entirety of your backup.

I ran my first backup via the desktop app. It took several steps to get it going, but it was pretty straightforward once I figured out how the user interface worked.

SpiderOak One steps to choose files for backup
To select your files for backup choose your category, find your files, hit Save, and then click Run Now

I started my first backup at 10:35 a.m. on a Tuesday morning.

SpiderOak One says it doesn’t have bandwidth restrictions, but it does have fair use limits that ensure you’re not hogging the line. This means you might see slower uploads with more data or large files.

My internet speeds aren’t super-fast – usually around 29Mbps for downloads and 8Mbps for uploads. I ran a speed test during my backup and got an even slower 22.33Mbps for downloads and 6.37Mbps for uploads.

My first upload, via the desktop app, took 1 hour and 32 minutes. This was more than twice as fast as Carbonite but 40 minutes longer than IDrive.

To run my second backup test, I first removed the 3GB folder from my SpiderOak One backup. Removing files from your backup is basically the same process as adding files for backup, but instead of hitting Download, you click Remove.

When I did this, a warning window popped up asking if I was sure I wanted to remove the folder. It also gave me the option to no longer include it in future backups. I hit Remove and the folder was immediately removed from my backup.

SpiderOak One remove file warning
SpiderOak One’s permanent removal warning keeps you from accidentally removing files

I ran my second backup test on a Thursday at 2:10 p.m. But this time, I dragged and dropped my 3GB folder into my SpiderOak Hive.

Files are immediately available in the Hive, but they still need to go through the upload process to be backed up on the cloud. This process starts automatically, and you can track its progress on the SpiderOak One desktop app.

My second backup took 1 hour and 25 minutes. Close enough to Tuesday’s time to say there’s no real time difference between backing up via the desktop or via the Hive. My internet speeds were basically the same too.

I ran my third and final backup test on a Saturday morning at 10:35 to see if backing up my 3GB folder on the weekend would be faster than during the week.

My internet speeds were similar to mid-week, but my backup only took 1 hour and 9 minutes. I don’t know why it was faster than the other days, but I have a hunch it has to do with SpiderOak One’s fair use limits. Meaning there may be fewer people running backups on Saturday than during the week, so I was allowed more bandwidth.

SpiderOak One gives you a status report on your Dashboard during your backups, but it’s not very helpful because you can’t see how much time is remaining or what percentage of your files are complete. It only shows you that your upload is currently active and how many items and GB are remaining.

SpiderOak One status update
SpiderOak One’s backup status report doesn’t give you much of an update

Unfortunately, SpiderOak One doesn’t notify you when your upload is finished, and the status update doesn’t tell you what time it finished. In fact, when your backup is done, the only thing the status update tells you is when you started your backup. Not helpful at all. I asked support about this issue. (See Support for more.)

SpiderOak One upload complete notification
I don’t like that SpiderOak One gave me my upload’s start time rather than its completion time

Once your upload is complete, you can restore your files via the Manage tab on the desktop app. To do this you simply choose your folder (or file) for restore and click Download.

SpiderOak One download button
Restoring files is quick and easy with SpiderOak One

SpiderOak One will ask where you want to download your restored files. It defaults to the Downloads folder on your computer, but you can pick any location you want. Once you pick your location, a Download Manager status update window will pop up. This is a very basic status update, but I preferred it to the status update for backups.

SpiderOak One Download Manager status update
The status update for restores is basic but better than the one for backups

I was absolutely shocked to see that the restore of my 3GB folder finished in just two minutes! I didn’t even have time to run an internet speed test during the restore. I’ve tested dozens of cloud backup services, and this was by far the fastest restore I’ve seen.

Restore functionality works basically the same on the desktop app and web console, the main difference being that you can’t remove files from your backup via the web.

See if SpiderOak is Right for You

Privacy

5.0

Top-Notch Privacy That Reflects Its Commitment to Security

SpiderOak One personal data protection commitment
SpiderOak One protects your privacy as well as your files

SpiderOak One is a lot like a conspiracy theorist who thinks the world is out to get them: It doesn’t trust anyone. If it were a person you’d call it paranoid. But since it’s a cloud backup service, you can call it secure.

SpiderOak One never has any knowledge of or access to your password or any of the data you store on its servers, including your files’ metadata. In fact, its “No Knowledge” approach means even though it’s under the jurisdiction of the US Federal Trade Commission, not even the US government can access your data, even under threat of subpoena.

So while SpiderOak One takes your name, email, and a credit card for your account, it never knows anything beyond that.

It doesn’t get more private than that.

And rather than an “end user license agreement,” it asks you to agree to a “password policy” that basically says only you have access to your password and it’s up to you to remember it. SpiderOak One lets you create a password hint, but it will never be able to recover your password for you.

The only time you don’t get this level of privacy is if you choose to access, restore, or share files online. In the case of sharing, files are temporarily stored and cached in plaintext and the people you share them with have access without your email or password. SpiderOak One is transparent about this.

SpiderOak also offers small business and enterprise cloud backup solutions that comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

At the end of the day, SpiderOak One is an industry leader when it comes to privacy.

See SpiderOak Privacy Features

Support

3.2

Less Support Than a Belt That’s Too Big

I’ve never seen a cloud backup service with fewer support options than SpiderOak One. If you run into issues and want a quick answer, I hope you like reading because that’s your only choice. So make yourself a cup of coffee, snuggle up on the couch, and enjoy more than 250 articles in the SpiderOak One help center.

Sorry, there’s no phone number or live chat. So if you want answers from an actual human, you need to submit a request via the SpiderOak One support form.

SpiderOak One support request form
The only option to contact SpiderOak One support is through a support form

I submitted a request to ask some basic questions and see why my completion status report didn’t give me the end time for my backups.

I got a response within six hours, which was faster than any other cloud backup service I’ve tried. The support agent gave me direct, honest answers to most of my questions – but not the one about my completion status report issue. So I had to email back.

SpiderOak One support response email
Support responds quickly and gives you honest answers

I got my follow-up response from the same support agent in just seven hours, and I have to admit, I was shocked by his transparent and product-damning response.

SpiderOak One support follow-up response email
The support agent’s email notes some flaws with the SpiderOak One service

It’s kind of refreshing to get such an honest response from a support agent. But it also sheds light on the fact that maybe SpiderOak needs to give its own product a bit more support.

Pricing

3.8

High Prices and Only a Limited Number of Plans

SpiderOak One plans and pricing
Limited plans to choose from and some of the highest prices in the industry

If you subscribe to SpiderOak One, it’s because you’re willing to pay a premium for security, privacy, and reliability.

Every plan gives you the same features and functionality and lets you back up an unlimited number of devices. But SpiderOak One costs more per GB than any of its competitors.

You can get a 21-day free trial, which includes 250GB of cloud-data backup. After that, you can pick from six monthly plans or four annual plans based on your data-limit needs.

Monthly plans start at 150GB of data and go up to 5TB, while annual plans start as low as 5GB and go up to 5TB. Unfortunately, SpiderOak One charges for its 5GB annual plan – you could get a free 5GB plan for one device with IDrive.

SpiderOak One accepts Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, and PayPal.

Comparison

How does SpiderOak match up to the competition?

AcronisCompare4.6Compare
IDriveCompare4.6Compare
SpiderOakCompare4.1Compare
LivedriveCompare4.0Compare

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SpiderOak REVIEW: BOTTOM LINE

SpiderOak One sets the standard when it comes to security and privacy. It delivers reliable cloud backup for an unlimited number of devices, and once you get comfortable with the interface, backing up and restoring your files is a breeze.

The service lacks some of the features you’ll find with competitors like Backblaze and iDrive, but it offers great ease-of-use tools to simplify your backup experience. Its performance is middle of the road, and its per-gig price is a bit of a turnoff. You don’t get many support options, and a SpiderOak agent even admitted that the product could use some updating.

But if top-notch security and privacy is what you want out of a cloud backup, SpiderOak One is worth considering. 

FAQ

How does online backup work?Online backup, also known as cloud backup, is designed to protect your files from loss. With online backups, you transfer encrypted copies of your files from your computer or device directly to a secure cloud server. And there they stay as an insurance policy against cyber attacks, theft, and natural disasters. Similar to syncing services, cloud backups will automatically maintain up-to-date copies of your files. But unlike syncing services, if you delete a file from your device, it will not be automatically deleted from your online backup.What should I look for in secure cloud storage?Encryption level is the first thing you should look for when it comes to cloud-storage security. AES is better than Blowfish, and 256-bit is better than 128. Transfer Layer Security (TLS) 1.2 or Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) are nice-to-haves during transfer too. You should also look for two-factor authentication, if you want the option to require a generated code in addition to your password for login, and a private encryption key, if you want to be the only one who can access your account. Does SpiderOak One have iOS and Android apps?No. If backing up your mobile devices is important to you, look elsewhere – iDrive and Backblaze are great alternatives. But you can access your SpiderOak One backup from any internet-connected device, so even though you can’t back up your mobile devices, you can still download your data and share files on the go.Does SpiderOak One work on Mac?Yes, it does. It also has cross-platform functionality, so if you have a Mac but want to access your data from another platform or share files with a Windows or Linux user, you can.

Josh Fasulo Josh Fasulo
Josh is a longtime writer and editor with experience in everything from content writing and copywriting to screenwriting. He has an MBA and loves analyzing and overthinking everything. His passions include creative writing, film and TV, sports, spreadsheets, and most of all, spending time with friends and family by the lake. Josh grew up in Maine, lived in California for many years, and now calls jolly-old England home.

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