In this day and age, cloud storage has become an integral part of digital life. Every smartphone user requires cloud storage and backup for their application data, photos and much more.
The hacking threats go hand in hand with the growing importance of online cloud storage with the last decade witnessing some of the worst online data hacking scandals which included some prominent cloud targets among others. The online backup and cloud storage market has been dominated by the three main players that survived several cybersecurity storms: Google Drive, Dropbox, and Microsoft Onedrive (formerly Skydrive). Spideroak has been around long enough to give it a try. Their emphasis on security has been their unique selling point along with their feature-rich sharing option. In which ways is Spideroak different and similar to other services?
While other cloud services like Google Drive, Onedrive or Dropbox provide the option to sync and access files from anywhere, SpiderOakOne goes one step further. They create a folder named “SpiderOakOne Hive” on every trusted device that is connected to your account. There is also the option to sync the files to only some of the devices in a specific manner.
How to Install Spideroak One
The installation is simple and generic in nature. At the end of the installation process, the registration window will appear. Filling the required information will take you to the next step where the desktop’s name has to be entered. It can be anything and can include numbers, symbols, etc. When finishing this process, you will be taken to the SpiderOak One application dashboard.
The service provides end-to-end encryption, meaning that the data is encrypted even before leaving your device. The key to the encryption is on your device(s) only. The transit servers also have encryption. Sync.com, a cloud storage with the similar principle on data security also uses end-to-end encryption.
Point in Time Recovery of Data
If your files or folders are lost at any time due to ransomware or hard disk failures, they can be restored to a point before this happened. The only downside to this otherwise valued feature is that it requires using the command prompt/terminal for the process of restoration. The graphic user interface is of no use for recovering data. This can be confusing and intimidating to a user who is unfamiliar with using a command prompt. However, it is simple if you follow the steps and copy-paste a few commands into the CMD.
How to restore your data with Point in Time?
- Close the SpiderOak One program and its services.
- Launch the command prompt. You can either search the start menu or press Alt+R. A run dialogue window will appear. Type CMD and press enter.
- You need to know THREE things.
– The first is the path to your SpiderOneOak executable program, which signals the command prompt to run the right file during restoration;
– The second is “–restore”, which tells the command prompt to restore file or folder as mentioned succeeding this command;
– The third is “–point-in-time” which signifies the point in time back to which the files and folders need to be restored.
SpiderOak One: Default SpiderOakOne application location (please note that this may vary)
- Windows: “C:\Program Files\SpiderOakONE\SpiderOakONE.exe”
- Linux: /usr/bin/SpiderOakONE (You can also specify it as SpiderOakOne)
Example of command that should run in the command prompt/terminal
SpiderOakONE –restore /desktop/John/Documents/ –point-in-time 2018-06-19/10:30
This should download the contents of the folder Documents as they were on the 19th of June 2018 at 10:30 PM
For more information regarding restoration, you can refer to their support article.
Sync and Upload queue system
Files and folders can be queued to be uploaded if their number is quite high and takes a considerable time to process.
The batching system for one file and folder at a time helps in prioritizing uploading the files that are required more urgently than others.
Unlike Google Drive, One backup has a full-fledged desktop application along with a two-click storage upload feature. The desktop application consists of a windowed user-interface with different tabbed sections such as Dashboard, Backup, Manage, Sync, and share.
The Dashboard features a summary of all the operations that are happening in real-time. Backup, share, or sync – all of these can be tracked from the dashboard itself because otherwise, it would be a ghost-fest with no information whatsoever about the operations. Refer to the dashboard for any operation that you think might be happening.
The Backup tab has a somewhat confusing interface for manually locating files, folders, and uploading. It is rather confusing for a novice user to operate. It took us good 15 minutes to figure out the way around the nooks of it. You need to select the files and folders and click on Run Now to back up and upload files to the server. The uploading process feels more mechanized and out of touch, not really helping the case in the ease of operations department.
The right-click menu saves the day for a typical user who is looking to back up files on the cloud. After adding the file to the backup, all other greyed sharing options become available for that particular folder/file.
As the name suggests, Manage Tab has the option to upload, download or delete files. Historical version of the files and folders can also be viewed in case if you need to restore a previous version of a file. It offers unlimited version history as long as the storage quota is not full.
To download any file or folder, select it and then click on the Download button. The presence of the Sync tab provides real-time updates about the syncs that are currently active across devices. Sync is an automatic process to synchronize different files and folders in identical forms across different devices.
How to create a Sync?
- Open the SpiderOak One desktop application and head over to the Sync tab
- Click on the new button and enter the name of the sync. The description box is optional. Click on next.
- Add folders to sync in this Sync.
Click on the browser option to choose the files and folders that are to be synced.
The thing to remember is that SpiderOak One only syncs folders that are already backed up. You need to backup folders before proceeding to sync using this method.
This is where they redeem themselves. Users who are seeking a collaborative and secure sharing option over the Internet can benefit from this feature.
The share functionality allows users to share folders over the Internet with others using a ShareRoom key and password.
Other SpiderOak One users can enter the key and password to join the room and access the shared folders. Non-SpiderOak One users can also access the folder by using the access URL and password that is asked for authentication accessing the folder through a web browser.
How to create a ShareRoom?
- Click on the new button in the share tab.
- Fill the ShareRoom name, Roomkey, and the password. Click on next. ShareRoom name is the name of the room where the shared folders will appear. Roomkey and password are needed for authenticating the identity of the user in order to provide access to the shared folders.
- The option to add description is optional and you can leave it blank.
- The next step involves browsing the backed folders that can be shared.
- After you are done locating the folder to be shared, click on START when it appears in step 4 of the process.
The Share tab shows the status of the ShareRooms joined, created by the user.
Unfortunately, the app fails to start at times as their syndicate process takes forever as their servers fail to respond. We do not recommend quitting the desktop application for any reason as it may result in an endless loop of an attempt to syndicate data with their servers, a process that always seems to be stuck on acquiring metadata from their servers.
Let us move on to Preferences. This option can be accessed from the bottom of the One backup window. It has four sections, namely general, backup, schedule, and network.
The General tab includes options like launching the application on startup, launching the application minimized, etc.
One useful functionality found in this tab is the password authentication at startup. Every time the app launches at startup, it will prompt for the login credentials.
If you want to set up limits for the size of the files that can be uploaded, then the backup tab will come in handy. This tab has the option to:
- Prevent the backup of files larger than a pre-set limit
- Prevent the backup of files older than a pre-set date
- Exclude the files matching certain file formats, for example “.iso”
- Exclude folders that match certain pre-set keywords. For example “Windows”
Right next to the backup tab, there is the Schedule section that offers the feature to set specific times of the day for processes such as sync, backup, and share as well as their frequency. Limiting the bandwidth used by the application for uploading, syncing can be achieved by using the Limit Bandwidth feature from the Network tab. The tab also contains the proxy settings that can be installed for additional security.
SpiderOak One’s mobile application provides you with access to the backed up files on your trusted devices. It is a basic view-only app for your files and folders. There is no option to add/upload new files to the backup from the mobile app. There is a leftward collapsible menu containing the key sections and the settings option. The SpiderOak Hive contains all the files and folders synced across devices. Next below are the folders that are created to be uploaded via the desktop application.
The ShareRooms function on the mobile app allows the users to access or add any new ShareRoom by adding a ShareID and RoomKey. New rooms cannot be created on the mobile app. While the navigation is limited because of the absence of a search option, the favorites and recent options are something that helps to an extent in browsing the data. The security of the mobile app can be increased by setting a password, which is a 4 digit numeric code that can be set from the settings.
The One web-interface can be accessed from the login page in the One Backup landing page.
Similar to the mobile application, the web interface only allows the download of the backed up folders in the SpiderOak Hive, synced folders from the desktop application and ShareRooms.
ShareRooms can be directly accessed from their separate login page. The Manage tab of the web panel has the option to deauthorize devices. Authorized devices are those devices from where the files and folders are synced. Therefore, the mobile app is not shown in the device authorization list as it does not have the functionality to add backup or upload files. The Share tab has all the ShareRooms created by the user with the files and folders shared in those rooms.
Is Spideroak One Secure?
SpiderOak’s unique selling point has been its emphasis on security. They are offering end-to-end encryption with Zero-knowledge security protocol. This means that while the data is encrypted while in transit and storage on the servers, the keys to the encryption are not stored on SpiderOak’s servers but on the user’s authorized devices.
However, when a user logins using their web-interface, the passwords are temporarily stored on the SpiderOak servers. Therefore, the developers themselves do not encourage using the web-panel in order to ensure maximum security. The 2-FA (Two Factor Authentication) is the basic security measure that is still in beta and is not available to many users as of yet. Overall, there is room for notching up the security especially considering the fact that their rivals such as Sync.com and Google Drive have plenty of authentication measures to beef up the security cover.
The desktop application interface is confusing and takes time to work around. Users are advised to peruse through the starter support articles from their knowledge base to get acquainted with the basics. This is in no way ideal for a novice user who looking for a quick turn around with setting up a new cloud storage account. Adding and managing the backup can turn into a nightmare for a general user who is trying it for the first time. On the other hand, the mobile application and web-panel are a respite in disguise for viewing and downloading files.
The quality of the support from the designated team is average. We raised a ticket on their website, messaged their support handle on Twitter, and messaged them on Facebook. They took 2 days to respond, which is below par for a premium service. The ticket was not acknowledged by sending a confirmation mail either like we are accustomed by the support systems of other software services.
The knowledge base in their support section has a significant number of articles which may help a user get around the service.
Is Spideroak One Fast?
We tried uploading a 10 MB file since it took an unusually long time to upload a 20 KB file. Before we reveal the results of our speed test, users must be aware that the speed of our Internet connection is 50 Mbps Upload and Download, constant on a fiber optic cable. It took over 35 minutes to upload the file to the backup server. The average speed is 25 Kb/sec which is from the pre-ADSL Modem era. Since there is no free plan, there is no leeway to discount the abysmal speeds either. Paying users expect a certain level of quality of services from the staff and the servers and rightfully so.
What you get with the PAID subscription
Since there is no free plan other than the 21-day trial plan, the only difference is the amount of data used for cloud storage purposes, which ranges from 150 GB to 5 TB per month. All other features are the same across all plans. The group enterprise, which requires a minimum of 500 users has a centralized management system from the web-panel and dedicated customer support staff.
- Enhanced Zero Knowledge security
- Extensive Sharing feature
- Broken, buggy Desktop Application
- Low-grade servers offering unstable speeds
- Difficult to operate for a normal user
- Lack of features on the mobile application and web-panel
- Abysmal, unresponsive customer support
There is a steep learning curve for SpiderOak One if they plan on acquiring customers from the likes of BackBlaze, Google Drive, etc. Being a premium/paid cloud storage server, they have many areas to work on. The unstable servers, broken Desktop Application or the vanilla mobile application are the key problems that should be addressed with priority amongst other things. If you are looking for a one-time easy setup and hassle-free cloud storage experience then we would suggest looking somewhere else.