SpiderOak ONE is one of the best online backup services available today, mixing in components more traditionally associated with cloud storage and adding a few unique tricks of its very own to provide a versatile experience that’s unmatched by most of the competition. However, all that power comes at a price tag that’s twice as much as competing services like Backblaze (read our Backblaze review for more on this service).

The good news is that for technophiles looking for an advanced online backup service that out-features the competition, it’s well worth the cost. Then again, it’s kind of like buying Jaguar F-Type. It looks slick and exudes power, but without knowing its ins and outs, you might as well have gone with a Ford Fiesta.

To help our readers maximize their SpiderOak ONE experience and realize just how much it can enhance their digital lives, we put together this SpiderOak ONE guide. We’ll be covering both sides of ONE, walking you through both its backup and storage capabilities. We’ll also be looking at the web and mobile experience, in addition to walking your through basics of the desktop client. Buckle up.   

SpiderOak ONE: Online Backup with a Cloud Storage Flavor

Before we get into the basics of ONE, a refresher on the differences between online backup and cloud storage should help keep things in perspective.

Online backup is a means of protecting the data encoded on your hard drive in the event of file corruptions, a crash or a lost or stolen computer. It’s about disaster recovery. You tag which files you want protected and copies of those get stored in a remote data center. You can access them from your web browser or a smartphone app, and restore them to their source computer or a new computer if you ever need too.

Online backup does not augment your hard drive capacity. That’s the purview of cloud storage, which is where it gets its name.

While SpiderOak ONE incorporates many features that more traditionally belong to cloud to improve the user experience, providing offload space for your video and images files isn’t one of them. For that, we’d recommend a dedicated cloud storage service.

We have a whole library of cloud storage reviews that can help you find a suitable service. We also have a buyer’s guide to finding the best cloud storage solution for your needs.  

Cloud storage today is more than just about keeping big files from hogging hard drive space, however. Features like file synchronization (sync) and sharing let you quickly distribute content, and these are two features that ONE does incorporate.

In both cases — sync and share — you’ll need to have first backed up the content. While we’d like to see sync processes managed separately so that you aren’t restricted to content you’re backing up, the addition of both features is what gives ONE an edge over many other online backup options.

We’ll talk about both features in more depth. First, let’s look at how you go about setting up SpiderOak ONE and creating a backup plan.

Setting Up SpiderOak ONE

If you’re on the fence about SpiderOak ONE, there’s a 21-day free trial you can play with prior to committing. In fact, you’ll need to download the trial software before upgrading to a subscription plan, anyway. 

You can do that from the SpiderOak ONE website by clicking the “download ONE” button on the top-right side or clicking “start your 21-day trial now.” Both will initiate a download of the desktop client for your operating system (Windows, Mac or Linux). If you’re looking to sign up straightaway, the case-sensitive coupon code “Cloudwards15” gives you an added 15 percent discount.

Once you’ve downloaded the installation file, run it to be walked through the setup process. You’ll be asked to confirm the location of the installation and will be given the option of installing a feature called “shell integration,” a command line operation utility.

Click “next” and you’ll be able to begin installation. The process should take under a minute.

Once you’ve got that squared away, start the SpiderOak ONE app and to create your account by inputting your email address and creating a password.

Make sure that you keep this password recorded somewhere or use a really good password hint. Because SpiderOak ONE is a zero-knowledge cloud service, it isn’t kept onsite and SpiderOak won’t be able to reset it for you if you forget it. Your best bet is to store it in a secure cloud password manager like LastPass.

Next step, name your computer. If you plan on connecting multiple devices to SpiderOak ONE, it pays to use something that makes it easy to identify which device is which. A single SpiderOak subscription lets you backup and sync unlimited devices, so you might as well take advantage.

Once that’s done, ONE will launch and you can get started moving files to the cloud.

Working With the SpiderOak ONE Desktop Client

The bulk of your work with ONE will be managed through a desktop client. The client itself can take some getting used to, mostly on account of the fact that the SpiderOak team has packed so many features into it. That said, given those many features, they did a nice job streamlining things as much as possible.

The experience  is organized into five separate views, which you can navigate between using tabs lined up along the top of the client:

  • Home: provides an overview of account processes
  • Backup: create and alter your backup plan
  • Manage: delete, restore and link files
  • Sync: create new sync folders
  • Share: create new ShareRooms

At the bottom of the client, regardless of what view you’re on, the amount of storage space you’ve used and how much you’ve got left are displayed. There’s also a button to upgrade to more space and another called “scan now,” which will run a scan to check for new changes to your backup, sync and shares.

We’ll break down each one of these views in more detail coming up.

SpiderOak ONE Home Tab

The home tab provides a quick, concise overview of everything happening on your account.

There are five sub-views within the home view to facilitate this capability:

  • Overview: check number of shares and time of last backup and sync
  • Activity: check ongoing activity, such as files being backed up
  • Actions: displays actions occurring in your account
  • Completed: shows a log of completed activities/actions
  • Details: shows account details like total size, number of files, etc.

Along the left side of the client, you can also switch between various devices connected to your account, getting tailored overviews for each of them. That saves you from having to login into all of the computers you have connected to your SpiderOak ONE account to make sure everything is running as expected.

SpiderOak ONE Backup Process

For most people, the chief use of SpiderOak ONE is as online backup service, and that’s a process you’ll manage from the backup tab on the client. With SpiderOak ONE, you create your backup plan by selecting folders and files you want to backup.

The process can be a little tedious. To speed things up, ONE lets you auto-select files by clicking on the desired category to the left: desktop, documents, favorites, movies, music and pictures. There’s also a search field if you know the name of a specific file you’d like to add to your backup plan, as well as a toggle to show hidden files.

Once you’ve made your selections, you’ll need to click save to add them to your backup account. Under normal circumstances, ONE will start backing up immediately to the SpiderOak servers. That’s because the client defaults to continuous backup, saving files as they’re added or changed.

However, you can alter the frequency of backups by clicking on the “preferences” link near the bottom of the client. This will open up a preferences window. Click the “schedule” tab to make changes.

You can change the frequency from automatic (i.e., near real-time) to periodic backups. Options range from every five minutes to every 48 hours.

Alternatively, you can indicate an exact time of day for backup processes to kick off. That way, if you’d like, you can plan backups for overnight while you’re not actively using your computer. Options include running backups at a specific time every day or on a specific day. You can also choose to run backups only on weekdays or weekends.

The preferences window also has a tab called “backup” that lets you customize the behavior of your backup plan.

Options include the ability to cap the max file size allowed for backup (by default, there is no hard limit with SpiderOak ONE) and an option to exclude files from backup that are older than a certain date.

More useful are fields that let you exclude files and folders based on matching wildcards. With these settings, you can prevent SpiderOak ONE from backing up things like temporary and system files, saving valuable backup space.

SpiderOak ONE Restoring Files

Files can be restored from the SpiderOak desktop client using the manage tab. Navigate to the folder or file you want to recover using the center pane, highlight the desired object and click the “download” button near the top of the client.

A pop-up window will appear on screen.

You can save the files to your download folder or choose a specific location. That’s really all there is to it.

SpiderOak ONE Sync

SpiderOak’s sync capabilities revolve around the use of a sync folder, which is basically a folder installed in your file system that’s connected to the cloud. By installing this sync folder on multiple devices, file changes should be reflected in near real-time across them.

The team at SpiderOak has dubbed the default sync folder “Hive.”

Using it is as easy as using any file system folder. Just drag or save files inside of it to send them to the cloud and your other devices

The issue with SpiderOak Hive is that it’s automatically created on your file system and you don’t have a say in its location. For example, on our test computer, it was created in our OneDrive Documents folder, which is a bit inconvenient since that means it’s also saving files to OneDrive.

There’s no option to move Hive. SpiderOak states this is because it’s meant as an out-of-box sync solution and that moving it would be a headache. We don’t quite buy that logic, but SpiderOak does let you create new sync folders — as many as you want — in locations of your choosing, so ultimately it’s not a big deal.

It’s important to note that sync can only be set up for folders in your backup plan.

Within the client, navigate to the sync view and click the “new” button.

The client will walk you through you through creating a sync folder in four steps.

The first is to name your sync and provide an optional description.

Click “next” to select a folder or folders to synchronize. You’ll need to browse your backup to find them.

After you make those selections and hit next, you’ll be able to add exclusions to your sync plan. This will help reduce the amount of space your sync takes up if there are specific file types you don’t really care about syncing.

The final step is to click “start sync.”

From the preferences tab, you can set the frequency at which sync occurs. Generally, you’ll want to leave this on “automatic” to achieve near real-time sync. However, as with backup, you can pretty much schedule it anyway you want.

If you’re looking for a selective sync option to turn sync off for specific files, you’re out of luck: SpiderOak doesn’t support this feature. Selective sync lets you store files only on the cloud and not on your desktop to augment your hard drive capacity.

SpiderOak ONE File Sharing

There are a couple of different ways to share using the SpiderOak ONE desktop client. The first is to create links to files, which you can do from the manage tab. Just navigate to the file you want to create a link to, highlight it and click the “link” button near the top of the client.

Make sure you copy this link because there’s no way to look it up later.

Link shares with SpiderOak ONE expire automatically after three days. You can’t extend that by setting your own expiration dates like you can with Sync.com (read our Sync.com review for more on this) and a handful of other cloud services. There’s also no option to password protect links.

SpiderOak ONE ShareRooms

For more precise control over shared content, it’s best to make use of ONE’s ShareRoom feature. To do so, navigate to the share tab and click the “new” button.

You’ll need to give your ShareRoom a name. You can also create a room key and optional password for web access.  

Click “next,” and there’s an option to create a description for your room. Fill this in if you want and click “next” again. You’ll now be asked to select folders in your SpiderOak backup to add to your ShareRoom. You can add as many folders from your backup as you want.

The final step is to verify your ShareRoom settings.

There will be a URL displayed that you can share with your friends, family or associates. Once you’ve decided everything looks ok, click “start” to create it.

Use the URL to access your ShareRoom via the SpiderOak web interface.

Those with the URL and password (if you set one up) can download any files contained within it.

It’s a pretty handy feature, though be warned that folders added to your ShareRoom are no longer protected with zero-knowledge encryption. To delete ShareRooms later and restore zero knowledge, just click the “delete” button at the top of share tab of the desktop client.

SpiderOak ONE Proxy Setup

For added safety, you can run all of your SpiderOak ONE connections through an HTTP proxy server. A proxy server provides an additional layer of security by acting as an intermediary between your computer and the Internet. While it can slow backup processes down, using a proxy server has various benefits like allowing you to share Internet connections on a local network, spoofing your IP address and scanning outbound content for DNS leaks.

SpiderOak ONE lets you connect to HTTP proxy servers so long as they use SSL. Note that SOCKS proxy servers are not supported.

To set up a proxy server connection, click on the preferences link near the bottom of the client and select the network tab.

Fill out the relevant fields with the information for your proxy server.

SpiderOak ONE Web Access

Rather than use the desktop client, you also have the option to manage your ONE account by logging into the SpiderOak website. While you can’t edit your backup plan, you can access files that you’ve backed up and those that you’ve synced using Hive.

Note that while logged into the browser, your SpiderOak password is stored temporarily in server memory, meaning you lose your zero-knowledge protection. The password is encrypted, however, and gets deleted once you end your session.

Click on the manage or Hive tabs to access files.

Highlight and click a file to download it. You can preview image and .pdf files first to make sure they’re what you’re looking for. Most other files types cannot be previewed.

The manage tab also lets you “deauthorize” devices, which is to say you can remotely cut them off from your backup.

Because backup and sync are linked with SpiderOak ONE, this will stop synchronization for that device, too. It’s a nice feature to have case your device is lost or stolen. It won’t delete the files that are on it, but it will prevent sync updates from going through.

You can also access your ShareRooms by going to the share tab.  

Finally, the web interface has an account tab that can be used to manage your account. This is where you’ll go to manage your user information and upgrade your subscription. There’s also an option to turn on two-factor authentication, but it’s in beta and not yet available to most customers.

SpiderOak ONE Mobile Access

SpiderOak ONE can’t backup up your mobile devices — even photos — but you can use smartphone apps for Android and iOS to access files in your repository.

You’ll first need to download and install the app from Google Play or the Apple Store. Then, use your login credentials to connect the app to your backup. Just as with web access, logging in on your smartphone means your password is temporarily stored on the SpiderOak server.

The mobile app lets you access files for different devices, Hive, ShareRooms, favorites, recent files and settings. Just tap the menu icon in the top-left corner.

To download any file, tap it. Unfortunately, the mobile app doesn’t provide a preview feature, so you’ll have to know what you’re looking for. Once downloaded, the file can be opened by another program on your mobile device, like Office 365 Mobile.

Final Thoughts

SpiderOak ONE is more than your typical online backup service. Whether or not it’s added capabilities make it worth its price tag will not only depend on your needs, but your ability to use those features effectively. Hopefully, this guide gave you a better understanding of precisely what those capabilities are and how to use them.

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That said, it’s unlikely we covered everything that will flummox users. If there are any features you need clarification on, be sure and let us know in the comments below and we’ll do our best to both get back to you and update this guide.  

Otherwise, thanks for reading! Be sure to check out our SpiderOak ONE review for a look at some of the other aspects of backup with with SpiderOak ONE, including security and support. Also, for those looking to improve their knowledge of online backup in general, our best online backup guide is a good place to start.

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