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SpiderOak vs Dropbox: Which Is the Best for You in 2023?

Branko Vlajin
By Branko Vlajin (Writer)
— Last Updated: 2019-01-04T09:06:49+00:00

It can be difficult to pick a cloud storage service because there are so many on the market. It’s especially tiresome when you can’t decide between two services. That said, we at strive to make it easy for you to do so. In this article, we’re going to do a SpiderOak ONE vs Dropbox head-to-head to help you choose one.

Dropbox is one of the oldest cloud storage services and it’s in the top 10 in our best cloud comparison. SpiderOak ONE is not a proper cloud storage service, but a cloud backup service with sync storage space and sharing options. It’s one of the best online backup services, in fact. It is, however, among the most secure cloud storage, and rightly so. Read about another secure provider in our review.

If you want an in-depth look at the services, consult our separate SpiderOak ONE review and Dropbox review.

Over the next five rounds, we’re going to compare the services and help you decide which is a better fit for you. At the end of each round, we’ll declare a winner and conclude by naming our pick for the better overall service.

1. Storage Cost

Good storage cost is determined by the how much subscription plans offer for the money. If a service offers more plans, you’re more likely to find one that fits your needs. It’s great if a service offers a free plan or trial, too, so you can test it before subscribing. If you’re looking for a bargain, read our best deals in cloud storage guide.

SpiderOak ONE has four premium plans. The 150GB plan costs $5 per month or $59 for the year. The 400GB plan is $9 per month or $99 a year. The third plan has the best value because it offers 2TB for $12 per month or $129 a year. The fourth plan gives you 5TB for $25 per month or $279 if you pay for the year in advance. They all allow you to backup unlimited devices.

SpiderOak ONE has a 21-day free trial, which is sufficient time to test the service, but it doesn’t offer storage space with it.

Dropbox starts with Basic, a free plan that gives you a puny 2GB of storage. You can add to it in 500MB increments with referrals, though. That said, there are free plans with more storage, as you can see in our best free cloud storage piece.

Dropbox has two plans for individual users: Plus and Professional. Plus costs $10 a month for 1TB which is a decent deal, but not one of the best values on the market. If you pay for the year, the price comes down to $99. It gives you offline access, remote device wipe and priority email support.

Professional costs $20 a month and provides 2TB of storage. It has everything Plus has, as well as full-text search, 120-day version history, priority chat support, smart sync and more. There are better prices for that amount of storage, though.

SpiderOak ONE has solid plan flexibility and its plans are better values than Dropbox’s. It wins this round.

Round: Storage Cost
Point for SpiderOak One Backup

2. Security and Privacy

There’s no shortage of dangers on the internet, so having good security is a must. Hackers won’t hesitate to target your data with ransomware or man-in-the-middle attacks. They might try to steal your login credentials, too.

Cloud services use many methods to secure your data against such threats. They include protocols that protect your data during transfer and encryptions that work in-transit and at-rest. Encryption algorithms can be AES 128-bit or 256-bit.

Private encryption ensures that only you can read your data and the TLS protocol protects your data during transfer. Two-factor authentication is useful if someone steals your password.

SpiderOak ONE has private, end-to-end encryption. It helps protect your privacy, but it also prevents the service from being able to reset your password if you lose it. SpiderOak ONE uses AES 256-bit to encrypt files before they leave your computer and TLS/SSL to protect them in-transit.

To further protect your privacy, the service doesn’t keep a central database of your file metadata. Instead, it creates a local database on your computer. Metadata is encrypted when it’s shared between devices, which is a peer-to-peer approach that provides even greater privacy protection.

Though anything intruders could steal is encrypted using strong cyphers, SpiderOak ONE’s security efforts don’t end there. It has data centers that can withstand virtual and physical attacks, earthquakes, floods and fires. They are SAS 70 Type II compliant and classified as Tier 3 by the Uptime Institute.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer two-factor authentication to new users, despite some legacy users having it.


Dropbox has a bad history with security because it was breached in 2012 and connected to the PRISM project in 2013. The company took measures after the breach, though, and has much better security.

It uses AES 256-bit at-rest and the TLS protocol with AES 128-bit to protect your files in-transit. The level of encryption is good, but Dropbox decrypts your files when they arrive at its data center to extract metadata for indexing and then re-encrypts them. Your metadata will remain in plain text on a separate server.That’s not the best scenario for your privacy so consider using Boxcryptor, a private encryption add-on. That said, Dropbox does offer two-factor authentication.

It’s obvious that SpiderOak ONE takes much better care of your privacy with its native private encryption, policy that avoids storing your metadata on its servers and peer-to-peer approach to sync. It wins this round.

Round: Security and Privacy
Point for SpiderOak One Backup

3. User Experience

It’s best if a service has an enjoyable and straightforward user experience that allows you to focus on your work instead of handling the app. You shouldn’t need IT help because the provider has a complex or outdated interface. In addition, cloud storage services should work on most operating systems, as well as have attractive and intuitive interfaces.


SpiderOak ONE’s web interface has most of the features the desktop client has. Strangely, there’s no home tab to show your account activity and you can’t alter your backup plan. You can access your Hive sync space, though, as well as manage and share tabs. There’s also an account tab, which is where you can edit your personal and billing information.


SpiderOak ONE’s desktop app is available for Linux, macOS and Windows. Its interface is dated and clunky, but, thanks to its utilitarian nature, it’s clear and straightforward to use. You have to figure out some things on your own, though, such as the fact that you can only sync folders that have been added to your backup plan.

The five tabs at the top of the app help you navigate it. They are “dashboard,” “backup,” “manage,” “sync” and “share.”

“Dashboard” is the control center, “backup” lets you select files to backup and “manage” enables you to download or remove files from backup.

“Sync” lets you access your Hive sync space, which revolves around your Hive folder. The Hive folder performs syncs across your devices. You can’t move it, but you can choose other folder to act as syncs. We’d prefer to be able to sync any folder, though, not just those in our backup.

“Share” lets you share your data, but we’ll talk about that later.

The smartphone app is easy to use, but it’s limited in functionality. You can only access and download your files from backed up devices. You can also use it to get to your Hive sync space and ShareRooms. It’s available for Android and iOS.


Dropbox’s user experience is elegant and reflects that the service has been at the forefront of this category since it launched.

The web client has an attractive interface, it’s a breeze to navigate and it shows you information in a clear manner. Drag-and-drop and other features make it fluid and enjoyable.


The desktop client is also easy to use and consists of a system tray icon and sync folder. It runs on Windows, macOS and Linux. The system tray icon shows your notifications, enables you to quickly get to your sync folder, launches the web client and sets your preferences.


The mobile app is simple to use, too, and works on Android and iOS. It lets you upload photos and videos from your phone automatically and you can tap “photos” for quicker access to your favorite shots. You can also store files for offline access and get notifications.

SpiderOak ONE’s desktop app isn’t as easy to use or as straightforward as Dropbox’s. Both mobile apps are intuitive, but Dropbox has more features, such as storing files offline, choosing photo types and automatic uploads for photos and videos. The comparison in web apps is similar — Dropbox is more user friendly, has more features and doesn’t feel clunky.

Round: User Experience
Point for Dropbox

4. Sharing

Once your files are online, you’re more than likely going to share them. Doing so should be easy and fast and you should be capable of going directly to the big social networks, individuals and groups. You should also get proper content controls, so you can restrict unauthorized access with password protection, expiry dates and permissions.


SpiderOak ONE can generate a URL pointing to any file, but it will be hard to track and expire automatically after three days. A better way to share is to use its “ShareRoom” feature.

It lets you share folders with anyone you want. Each ShareRoom has a unique URL that you can protect further with a password. Those with access to your ShareRoom can download files in folders associated with it. Though it’s a secure way to share your files and folders, we’re used to the more user-friendly solutions that other cloud storage services, such as Dropbox, provide.

When you want to share a file or folder with Dropbox, you generate a link to it. You can email it or copy it and send it manually. To protect the link, you can add a password, expiry date or disable downloads. For folders, you can set permissions to “edit” or “view.” There’s a page that shows you what you’ve shared, too.

You can share from the desktop client, as well. The file request feature lets you invite others, even those who don’t use Dropbox, to upload files to your folder. “Showcase” enables you to share your files on a professional-looking page, which is a nice addition. There’s no way to share directly to social networks, though.

Dropbox makes it simple and easy to share content and has strong content control options. That’s enough to beat SpiderOak ONE in this round.

Round: Sharing
Point for Dropbox

5. Additional Features

We’re also going to look at features that go beyond the standard set for this comparison. Some examples are media preview and playback, integration with third-party apps and productivity tools.

SpiderOak ONE is more of a backup service than storage, which is an extra feature for the purposes of this match. You can use it to backup unlimited external devices, which is handy if you’ve got a bunch of them. That said, it’s surprising that it doesn’t let you backup your smartphone.

Another useful feature is versioning, which keeps previous versions of your files when you make a change. New file versions only store the data that’s changed from the previous versions to save space. You can delete versions you don’t need to reduce the space they take even further.

When you delete files, they are sent to SpiderOak ONE’s deleted item bin. You can get there using the desktop client, which you’ll need to do to truly delete the files. Otherwise, they’ll remain there. In tech, that’s called unlimited file retention.


Dropbox integrates with Office Online, allowing you to collaborate on documents. It also gives you a decent note-taking app called Dropbox Paper, which you can read about in our Dropbox Paper review. If you need one with a little more punch, though, we suggest you read our best note-taking apps article.

You can play music and video with Dropbox, as well. The native player isn’t great, but there are several good ones that integrate with the service. Because of that, Dropbox is on our list of the best cloud storage for video.

Selective sync is available, but we’re more fond of the improved version called “smart sync.” It allows you to turn off sync for a folder, but still  see it in your sync folder. That seems minor but, with it, you don’t need to use the web app to find out where your files are.

SpiderOak ONE and Dropbox have features that enrich your cloud experience. SpiderOak ONE lets you backup your files, make use of versioning and keeps your deleted files indefinitely. Dropbox integrates with Office Online, has media playback and lets you take notes coupled with media files with its notes app.

This category depends on what you need more, but Dropbox does a better job in productivity and has media playback, so we’re awarding it this round.

Round: Additional Features
Point for Dropbox

6. The Verdict

The math is clear: Dropbox has three wins, while SpiderOak ONE only has two. While SpiderOak ONE has stronger security, takes better care of your privacy and its plans offer much better value, Dropbox shares more easily, has more productivity features and an intuitive user experience.

It’s not all simple addition, though. Users who need good value and security should go with SpiderOak ONE, especially in light of the breaches Dropbox has suffered in the past. Those who want a hybrid solution that allows them to manage cloud storage and backup at the same time should consider SpiderOak, as well. 

What do you think about this comparison? Did it help you make up your mind?  Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading.