SpiderOak ONE Review
SpiderOak ONE is a super-secure online backup provider with a host of features more common to cloud storage, including file sync and sharing. Improved pricing has only increased its standing.
For technophiles looking for a first-class online backup solution to safeguard their files against corruptions, crashed hard drives and lost or stolen computers, SpiderOak ONE doesn’t disappoint. While the price tag runs higher than competitors like Backblaze (read our Backblaze review for more on that), SpiderOak also comes equipped with several capabilities uncommon in the backup space.
The ability not only backup unlimited computers but sync data across them, too, is a huge advantage when trying to manage file libraries spread out across multiple machines. On top of that, SpiderOak ONE comes equipped with share features that rival those of the best cloud storage offerings.
Those perks, along with strong security, help rank SpiderOak ONE among the best online backup services on the market today. Keep reading to find out why Cloudwards.net gives SpiderOak ONE mostly high marks and where we see room for improvement.
If you’re ready to give SpiderOak ONE a go yourself, you can sign up for a 21-day free trial before committing (make sure to use the case-sensitive code “Cloudwards15” for extra savings). If you’ve decided it’s not quite the service you were looking for, we have plenty of other options to ponder in our online backup reviews library.
- Fast syncing
- Great interface
- Secure link sharing
- No 3rd-party tools
- No monthly plans
- Backup unlimited computers
- Sync files across computers
- Good file sharing options
- Private encryption
- Decent backup speed
- Unlimited historical versions
- Unlimited deleted file retention
- Command line option
- No mobile backup
- No courier service
- No NAS backup
SpiderOak ONE doesn’t skimp on features, which is why for some users it will be worth its above average cost. You can compare those features to those offered by the competition by making use of our cloud comparison tool if you’d like to conduct a more thorough search before making a decision.
First and foremost, SpiderOak ONE is an online backup tool, and does most of what a good online backup tool should do. Backup plans can be created using a desktop client available for Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems. Command-line control of your backup is also available for each of these OSes.
Unlimited external drive backup is also supported; however, smartphone backup isn’t supported (see our IDrive review if that’s a need), though you can use SpiderOak mobile apps for Android and iOS to access your files.
Backup is performed at the file level, without an option for image-based backup or cloning. Check out our roundup of the best image-based backup tools for some suggestions on that front.
Files are encrypted prior to transfer to SpiderOak’s remote data centers, where they remain encrypted until you restore them. SpiderOak makes use of client-side, end-to-end encryption and only you know the encryption key, making it a zero-knowledge service.
Backups take place continuously be default, though you can opt for scheduled backups, instead. SpiderOak also makes use of incremental, block-level backups, meaning when a file changes, only the delta gets transferred instead of the entire file, saving time and bandwidth.
Whenever you make an alteration to a file, a historical version of the previous file state is kept in storage. New file versions only store the data that’s different from previous versions. All other file information deduplicates, saving file space.
While you can’t restrict the number of versions SpiderOak keeps, you can delete previous versions manually to reduce space. There’s also an option to purge all versions at once using the command line.
Files deleted from your backup get sent to the SpiderOak deleted items bin, accessible through the desktop client. Files in this folder are never deleted unless you delete them yourself. Unlimited deleted file retention is rare for backups, so it’s a nice feature to see.
Files can be recovered using the desktop tool or logging into the SpiderOak web interface. A big miss is the absence of courier recovery like you get with Backblaze and IDrive.
Lack of courier service aside, most of the SpiderOak ONE approach to online backup is consistent with any online backup worth its salt. Where SpiderOak ONE stands apart is in the implementation of two features more commonly associated with cloud storage: sync and share.
Sync, short for synchronization, lets you connect files across devices. That way, you can make edits on a file on one computer and see those changes reflected on another computer almost instantly.
By default, SpiderOak ONE sync is run through a file system folder called SpiderOak Hive. This folder looks just like any other folder in your file system; the difference is that content placed inside of it gets synced to the cloud.
Unfortunately, you can’t move this folder to another location and it tends to get installed in rather inconvenient locations. For example, on our test computer, it installed under our OneDrive folder. While that’s inconvenient, SpiderOak ONE does give you the option to sync any folder included in your backup plan, so you can follow that route instead.
We’d have preferred to be able to sync any folder — not just those we’re backing up. That, plus the inclusion of selective sync, would allow you to save large files to the cloud and not on your computer, saving hard-drive space.
The SpiderOak team has also added some nice sharing features to their backup solution. While you can generate a URL link pointing to any file, those links expire automatically after three days and are hard to track. A better bet is to make use of SpiderOak’s nifty “ShareRoom” feature.
ShareRooms let you share entire folders with anyone you want. Each ShareRoom has a unique URL and you can set a password for added security. Those with access to your ShareRoom can download the files contained in folders associated with it.
ONE also supports routing through an HTTP proxy server, if that’s a need.
The bottom line is that while SpiderOak ONE’s sync and share features are excellent relative to the online backup competition, carving it a unique niche, they’re not nearly as advanced as those you’ll get with a good cloud storage service.
SpiderOak ONE Features Overview
While still a touch expensive, SpiderOak ONE did itself a huge favor in early 2018 by greatly increasing storage capacities on all personal plans. Unfortunately, the company pulled its business “Groups” plans off the table as well, although it at least looks like it may offer them again in the future (you can signup for a notification when the plans are available again).
|SpiderOak ONE Trial|
|SpiderOak ONE 100GB|
1-year plan $ 4.92 / month
$59.00 billed every year
|SpiderOak ONE 250GB|
1-year plan $ 8.25 / month
$99.00 billed every year
Save 8 %
|SpiderOak ONE 1TB|
1-year plan $ 10.75 / month
$129.00 billed every year
Save 10 %
|SpiderOak ONE 5TB|
1-year plan $ 23.25 / month
$279.00 billed every year
Save 7 %
140GB of backup for $5 a month might be fine for some users but 2TB of backup for $12 a month should hit the sweet spot for just about everyone. SpiderOak doesn’t have an unlimited backup; the most you can get is 5TB for $25 a month.
If you’re looking for a secure approach to both backup and storage, a combination of Backlaze or IDrive and a low-cost, zero-knowledge cloud storage service like you can read about in our Sync.com review might provide more value for about the same price as a 2TB SpiderOak ONE subscription.
However, for those who don’t mind spending extra for a more technically advanced backup solution, or for those who don’t want to manage both an online backup and cloud storage solution, ONE is worth shelling out $12 per month on (the case-sensitive code “Cloudwards15” will give you a 15 percent discount, to boot).
The SpiderOak ONE client isn’t the ugliest interface we’ve ever seen, though does feel a bit clunky and dated. Then again, most online backup clients do thanks to their largely utilitarian nature. The biggest difficulties in using SpiderOak are figuring out the little things, like only being able to sync folders that have been added to your backup plan.
The client itself is organized into five tabs: dashboard, backup, manage, sync and share.
The home tab contains five sub-tabs: overview, activity, actions, completed and details. Together, these tabs give you a concise overview of everything going on with your account. Using the “devices” pane to the left, you can even monitor activities on other devices connected to your SpiderOak account.
The backup tab is used to set up and alter your backup plan, while the manage tab can be used to restore files, delete files and create links to files. The sync tab lets you sync various folders in your backup plan and the share tab lets you set up ShareRooms.
Other settings can be customized by clicking on the little “preferences” link hidden near the bottom of the client.
Moving on to the SpiderOak web interface, you’ll find that it partially mirrors much of the functionality of the desktop client once you login.
You can’t remotely alter your backup plan and, more weirdly, there’s no home tab to overview account activity. However, you can access your Hive sync space and the manage and share tabs. There’s also an account tab to alter your personal and billing information.
The SpiderOak ONE smartphone app is relatively easy to use, though limited in functionality. Tapping the menu icon on the top-left side lets you browse and download files backed up from your various devices. You can also access your Hive sync space and ShareRooms.
Creating backup plans for SpiderOak takes places via the backup tab of your desktop client. File backup is location-based, meaning you’ll need to manually tag files that you want to add to your backup plan.
You can browse your file system using the central pane to find folders and files you want to protect. To save time, you can click higher level folders or use the “select categories” pane to automatically backup desktop items, documents, favorites, movies, music and pictures.
If you do create your backup plan by tagging higher level folders for backup, you may want to add some file-type exclusions so that application and temporary files don’t consume your backup space. You can add file extensions you don’t want saved by adding them to the exclusions list found in the backup tab of the preferences windows.
In terms of backup routine, by default SpiderOak backs up files continuously. That means that as soon as a new file gets added to a folder tagged for backup or a file is changed, it gets added to the queue and sent to the cloud as soon as possible.
While continuous backup gives you the best possible protection, for some users it may impact system resources. In that case, you can alter the regularity with which backup occurs from the schedule tab in preferences.
You can set continuous backup to check for new or changed files by interval. Options range from five minutes to 48 hours.
Alternatively, you can tell the client to only backup at a certain time of day and even only on certain days. The same scheduling options are available for sync and share.
To restore files from the client, use the manage tab. You can browse for files by hierarchy or use a search feature. Once you find what you want, click the “download” button near the top of the client.
A pop-up window will appear, giving you the option to download files to a specific location on your computer (like your download folder) or restore them to their original locations.
Files can also be accessed remotely from the web interface or mobile app.
The absence of courier backup and restore service means all file copying takes place over the Internet with SpiderOak ONE. Thankfully, SpiderOak seems to have a pretty slick network as far online backups go.
According to SpiderOak, average backup speeds for customers are around 1GB per hour, meaning you can backup around 24GB a day. While this may seem slow, that’s about right for an online backup service.
Rather than take the company’s word for it, we performed a series of tests using a 1GB compressed folder made up of different file types. These tests were performed from Bangkok, Thailand, over an Internet connection with 55/22Mbps speeds.
Here are our results:
|Test One:||Test Two:||Average:|
We came in just under an hour for our file upload test, which is a bit under what SpiderOak indicated as the average. That’s not bad for a file upload from Thailand (SpiderOak’s servers are in the midwestern U.S.).
Even so, initial backups are likely to take several days or even weeks if you have quite a bit of data to protect. If time is of the essence, you might be better served with IDrive, which offers free courier backup.
Once everything is in the SpiderOak cloud, backups should run much faster thanks to the use of block-level backup. Additionally, if you find that ONE’s backup processes are impacting your other work, you can also manually limit data speeds.
SpiderOak ONE defaults to private end-to-end encryption. That means that files are encrypted before they get sent to the cloud and that only you can decrypt them because only you know the encryption key. That makes SpiderOak a zero-knowledge service, although the company more accurately uses the term “no knowledge,” instead.
Note that files placed in ShareRooms are no longer protected by zero-knowledge encryption. These files are converted to plaintext, even when you set a ShareRoom password.
Additionally, if you log into SpiderOak ONE over the web or your mobile device, your password will be stored in SpiderOak’s server memory during your session. During that time, however, your password is encrypted and upon logging out it’s deleted from server memory.
While zero-knowledge encryption provides an extra measure of security, it also means SpiderOak can’t reset your password if you lose it. Make sure your store it somewhere safe like a cloud password manager.
The level of encryption used by SpiderOak is 256-bit AES. AES is commonly used by banks, the government and other cloud services, and is not known to have ever been cracked. Files are further protected in transit with SSL. You can read more about AES and SSL in our cloud security overview.
One of the more fascinating aspects of SpiderOak’s approach to security is that the company doesn’t even maintain a central database of your file metadata. Instead, a local database is created on your computer, which also contains data for other computers attached to your SpiderOak account. Metadata is encrypted when being shared between devices. This peer-to-peer approach is a nice touch.
While files stored in SpiderOak’s data centers are encrypted and there’s no metadata to steal, SpiderOak still takes a strong approach to making sure its data centers are protected against virtual and physical attacks. They’re also built to withstand natural disasters like earthquakes, floods and fires.
Datacenters are SAS 70 Type II compliant and regarded as Tier 3 by the Uptime Institute. They’re routinely audited and staffed 24/7.
SpiderOak does not maintain a HIPPA Compliance officer for self-certification, though the company does claim its data centers meet all of the regulations detailed for compliance by HIPPA.
The only real miss with Spideroak ONE is that it doesn’t yet offer two-factor authentication (2FA) to most users. However, the feature is in beta and hopefully will be released soon.
SpiderOak maintains a searchable central support portal for all of its products. The section devoted to ONE includes sub-sections for getting started, backup, restores, sharing, advanced techniques, command line instructions and more.
Most of the articles we surveyed were pretty short on content. Internal links to other content will usually leads to answers, however.
If you can’t find the answers you’re looking for in the portal, you can click the “submit a request” link on the top right to get help from a support technician. This will redirect you to a form where you can enter your email address and a description of your problem.
Responses come within 24 hours, which isn’t bad, though we’d hoped for better given that SpiderOak doesn’t provide live chat or telephone support channels.
SpiderOak ONE isn’t going to be an online backup service that appeals to most users. However, thanks to some unique features, it succeeds within the niche it’s carved out for itself and still ranks among the best online backup services available today.
The question potential subscribers need to ask themselves is whether or not features like the ability to sync backed up files and create ShareRooms are going to get any use to them. If you already have a cloud storage service like Dropbox or one of its many alternatives that you use, the answer is likely no. In that case, you’re better off paying half the cost for IDrive or Backblaze.
For those users that are shopping for a service that blurs the lines between online backup and cloud storage, however, SpiderOak ONE is a great option. For that, it earns Cloudwards.net’s conditional recommendation.
Thanks for reading. If you’ve got experiences of your own you’d like to share about SpiderOak ONE, feel free to let us know in the comments below.