June 28, 2012

To SpiderOak, Freedom = Your Peace of Mind, Privacy Online

by with 3 comments

As we approach the Fourth of July in the U.S., we at SpiderOak can’t help but reflect on the importance of freedom online. After all, it is where many of us spend much of our time. To us, this freedom is accomplished through ensuring 100% privacy, and therefore your peace of mind (and ours too!). Since our founding in 2007, this is something we’ve really hard on and made a priority.

In an attempt to capture the continuously unfolding tale of how our love affair with privacy began, I sat down with one of our Founders and Chief Technology Officer, Alan Fairless, and asked, “How did SpiderOak come to be?”

A solution born out of frustration

Founders Ethan Oberman and Alan Fairless met previously while building a different company. Oberman had files everywhere on different computers and wanted to connect his computers and their contents to one central location. Fairless was frustrated that he didn’t have a reliable place to safely store all his files and data.

“Anyone who uses computers for long enough learns the necessity of keeping copies of whatever is important to them,” Fairless said. “They typically start by copying to other drives and emailing stuff to themselves. This combination of inconsistencies – files and data saved stored haphazardly over time – combined with the likelihood of your computer crashing or files suffering from human errors, gives limited protection.”

“All of these are deeply flawed strategies,” Fairless said, “because they are rarely current and require time and attention – you will lose data in that process. I remember before SpiderOak, I would buy a new hard drive, encrypt my data onto it, and give it to a friend to throw in a closet and forget about. I had a huge amount of data from two to three years of all kinds of projects.”

No other options

“At this time in 2006, there wasn’t an option for where you could store your data reliably and privately,” Fairless said. “The existing options didn’t do encryption, no support for Linux, and rarely support for Mac, which was important to us. We wanted to create a product that supported all the major platforms, especially Linux, and since privacy was a part of our personal philosophy, that would be included. The crypto required for meaningful privacy is hard, but also it is a problem that engineers are drawn to, which is why we’ve been able to attract the quality of engineers we have that also believe in our approach and focus on privacy.”

“I store my daily journals, financial records, and the embarrassing family photos on SpiderOak, and I prefer they are available only to me,” Fairless said. “I am not alone in this feeling. Others want to have a central place for their data that is only accessible to them.”

“With the way SpiderOak is oriented, your encryption pass phrase is something that only exists in your mind. This means your SpiderOak data is only useful in combination with the contents of your brain. What you store with SpiderOak becomes a giant extension of your own mind, that effectively you are simply remembering your own data, as if it were all stored in your brain in a giant USB drive surgically implanted behind your ear. You may share those things exactly as you chose. This puts you entirely in control, it’s your decision and no one else’s.”

“Freedom is being able to choose,” Fairless said. “Everybody loves choice.”

On the horizon: convenient, private collaboration

Over the years, SpiderOak has extended incrementally. At first we were just online backup, then we added sync, mobile components (which we’re still expanding), and now, we’re moving into the enterprise and collaboration space for groups that care about privacy.

“This could mean you collaborate and work privately with your coworkers on a project, or your own individual projects, or with your family, or maybe your wedding website,” Fairless said. “We’re keeping with our theme [of privacy], but finding more and more ways to make it convenient for people to access, move and manipulate their data.”

Celebrate your freedom online

Your peace of mind is our priority. And as Fairless said, freedom is being able to choose. It is with that spirit that all next week, SpiderOak is proud to offer you 4 (more) FREE GB for the 4th.

Whether you are already using SpiderOak, just signed up, or are ready to give it a try, celebrate with us by grabbing your 4 FREE GB. Stay tuned for details via our blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

Thanks from all of us!


  1. Thank you so much for a great product a for supporting Linux. For the 4th I'm going to celebrate by going premium (I don't know why I've waited so long)!

  2. I just wanted to say thanks for such an awesome service. I first signed up after someone stole one my ext drive. I use it for storing my music, and pictures. Stuff that is hard, or impossible to get back. And I just had to use it, after a miss writen rm -rf command. So, I just wanted to say thanks.

    And a big thanks for the nix support, yours is the best online storage out here, and the fact that it does nix makes it 10x better. So, thanks again.