November 12, 2012

What people are saying about SpiderOak (Pt. 2)

by with 7 comments

We’re thankful for you. We said it Friday, and we aren’t quite done.

One of our favorite things is getting to know SpiderOak users. Our loyal customers and fellow privacy fanatics have continually helped us create a better product and develop and grow as a company.

Meet a few more users who were willing to share their SpiderOak story:

Angela, the mother of four:

Gary, the traveler:

“Thank you again for your organization’s fabulous gift of your ‘cloud,’ to me and the friends to which I’ve referred to your company. Your tool allows me to:

  1. Reduce my stress and feel safer because I know that my roughly 25 years of docs are backed-up more securely than on a memory stick or DVD (which I used to use).
  2. Save energy, time and frustration because I no longer need to remember to and, then, manually back up my docs and sync my computers.
  3. Have enhanced convenience and travel about Toronto more lightly without having to drag my laptop because I can access my docs wherever I am in the world via the net.

You won’t be surprised, given the above benefits that I receive from SpiderOak, that I have it loaded into my “Start-up File” on each of my desktops, laptop and wife’s computer so your [client] loads and runs automatically when I start to write. This enhances SpiderOak’s convenience even further for me.”

Christopher, the Linux, Ubuntu and Windows user:

“I am a person who has a certain amount of data I often need to access when I’m away from my workstation. Of course, I’m also concerned that just backing-up to my external drive could have risks. An excellent solution to these needs is the online backup service provided by SpiderOak.

What’s striking about SpiderOak is the elegance and simplicity of the product. A small, easy-to-setup application sits on my Ubuntu and Windows desktops and backs up the data I have specified when it’s created or changed. It’s wonderful that it just gets on with the job without needing my intervention. I can easily make changes to my backup set, check my backed up data, or see how much of my free online storage I have used – which, by the way, is a really attractive feature with 1GB being allocated for each friend referred. I often setup networks and PCs for friends, etc, and I have found that SpiderOak is a great tool for storing useful files in a central location that I can access any time I need to. By using the simple web interface and downloading them I save myself the bother of constantly remembering to have to load a USB stick to carry them around. The same advantages apply when I setup new Linux distros on my own machines.

I’ve also found SpiderOak a great tool to enhance security while travelling. I often travel in Europe on business and previously would carry a laptop or USB containing sensitive data. Yes, it was encrypted, but it gives me much more reassurance that I can now simply access that data securely from my company’s network by logging into my secure SpiderOak account.

Last, but certainly not least, I really like how SpiderOak comes across. The website is simple to navigate and tells me all I need to know. There’s also an element of humour there and in the Twitter feed from @SpiderOak. I really appreciate this. Although I’ve never had a problem with the product, I have the feeling that although SpiderOak people take what they do very seriously, they don’t take themselves too seriously. It’s refreshing to discover a business that is not laden with empty marketing-speak and actually comes across as if it has pleasant human beings working for it who are interested in what I as a customer need. It must be a great place to work! Thank you for an excellent service.”

What about you? What has been your SpiderOak experience? Leave a comment below.

  1. Simplicity? Is this a joke?
    I use SO for backup. This works pretty nice, although I've already run in some deadlocks after an OS upgrade. I've had to use a SO command line option to sort this out.
    But synchronization between multiple computers is definitely not simple or obvious to set up. And it runs soo pourly that I decided to only use it on a small numbers of files. And I definitely did not suggest my noob family to use this. I had them use dropbox which (on this subject) is much more reliable.
    I can't believe that such a major sync bug has still not been fixed after a year:
    I can't beliveve I can get locked out of my SO account because old versions of files are not automatically deleted if I get overquota.

    Bottom line, SO Zero knowledge is a great concept, but the implementation really needs to get more professional. I don't want to be rude here, that's not my goal, but all those silly bugs make me fear for my data, and I would love to see SO as reliable as Dropbox is.

  2. There are many other questions people need to be asking here… I have my comments deleted because i questioned SO inability to turn off file versoning and tracking for example? If the platform is so secure, why such basic option to turn it off such backup ups? SO want to control everything you do within their system… THAT IS A VERY BAD CLUE…. Any system, no matter how secure they claim…. if they do not offer complete control and restriction of your own data once using the system… DO NOT USE…. false sense of security is worse then no security at all….

    They are deciding how data is distributed, when, and how, by claiming its because of backups…. What? Sorry… something fishy going on here… Why is no password section for public shares and urls? These URLS will probably be compromised very easily in the future…. Strong long password protection for public share rooms must be implemented, independently from the so called "zero knowledge" protection already in place…for the feature to have even the most basic of trust….

    There are just too many issues with the privacy policy as well… Which are very worrying indeed….

  3. @ Alex: Thank you for sending your thoughts and ideas. And please don't worry about being rude – we very much enjoy hearing the feedback as it is a critical part of the process. As such, don't hesitate to keep it coming.

    Please do remember that these are the comments of one our users. We did not script this video. Everyone surely has a different reaction to software and how easy or hard it is to use. I will say that we as a team have always focused on the application's flexibility as opposed to strictly concentrating on ease-of-use; that said, we have many users who – like the user in the video – don't find SpiderOak difficult to organize and deploy.

    Again – thank you for your comments.

  4. @ Alex: Oh – and in regards to your comment about not automatically deleting data so you can stay under your quota, we do not see that as our job. In fact, we specifically see it as our job to retain absolutely everything unless the user takes distinct action to remove data from the backup set. After all, what good would a backup company be if we deleted data that you may find out you need someday. That said, if you need some additional space to house this overage, I would be happy to place additional GBs into your account.

  5. @ Gavin: Thank you for sending in your comments. Unfortunately I am a bit confused by your first paragraph and would greatly appreciate you sending more clarification. From what I can gather, you are commenting on the controls within the application which don't speak directly to our 'zero-knowledge' privacy approach we put forward. The basic tenant behind SpiderOak is that we don't know what data you are storing other than the encrypted data blocks.

    In regards to your question about ShareRooms, you are correct that any data you share does become public in the sense that it is visible to both the guests who visit your ShareRoom as well as SpiderOak as we need to decrypt the data so that it can be visible to others. That said, we use a nested series of encryption keys when we encrypt your data such that when you push data into a ShareRoom we are ONLY publishing the keys specific to that data and nothing else in your backup set. As such, you are ONLY exposing the data in the ShareRoom for which you intended to make public anyhow. Furthermore, the ShareRoom URLs are not searchable via search engines and once the ShareRoom is deleted the data goes back to being fully private again.

    I will add that we launching the additional password option on ShareRooms soon as this is something we have already deployed in our SpiderOak Blue product.

    Thank you again for sending in your comments and please do add further clarification on the point above if you don't mind.

  6. As my subscription is coming to an end, I am thinking to close my account completely.

    At first I was happy about the flexibility and depth of the software. I started using it to backup my important documents, photos and game saves and it worked well.

    But then the problems started. Files that would not sync. The program constantly stuck at random in the finalization phase for hours on end. And the latest, Spideroak becoming unusable on some of my computers after deleting the device for it. Even with uninstallation it became impossible to get recognized as a new device, as the program just waits for a server update perpetually as if the service was down, even though it works fine on another laptop ay the same time.

    I've created a Wuala account since then, and it looks like it offers most of the same functionality, except with a much simpler UI, and most of all, it just works without glitching out all the time. I was starting to get stressed with my Spideroak account, never knowing if the program got stuck again or didn't back up something properly.

    Like I've seen many people post, it's impressive software, and it truly shows that you guys care about what you do. But at the end of the day it's usability and reliability that win the day, and right now SpiderOak is crushed under the weight of its own ambition.

    I'm still not sure what I'll do, and if I switch to Wuala I might be open to check the service again in a few years to see if things have improved, but my experience and that of quite a few other users hasn't been as rosy as in those testimonials.

  7. @ERO – SpiderOak.

    Thanks for your response, especially regarding the share rooms. Sorry about not being clear. I do understand the answer and thank you very much for the reply.

    What i was essentially trying to suggest, is that regardless of the features and security employed with SO, what is this obsession with tracking, versioning and syncing file data? Why is there no option to turn all these functions off completely? Surely its for the user to decide these things? Making such backup and tracking processes the default tells me that there is a reason for this beyond the convenience of backing up user data automatically… Forgive me if i misunderstand the system, but spideroaks ambition to control this without providing the options to turn them off worries me. When i log in, i want total and complete manual control over everything if required, including any backup regimes spider oak uses, including tracking, backing up, file versioning ect… If a user does not want these functions then why no provision for turning them off? That strikes me as very strange…

    Spideroak seems to be saying, oh as your data is secured and encrypted, let us do what we want with your data, how we back it up, how its tracked, whats been deleted, time stamps, ect,ect

    The argument that this is the point of using apideroak is not the point…. The user should have full control and knowledge of what the system is doing transparently or not.. What makes SO think that all users want to use the services as just a cloud backup-up service?…

    Why is spider oak so obsessed with making it mandatory by default…. Why no option, not to sync, not to track files changes, back up files and let the user do these tasks manually if the user so wishes..

    On a simple level i guess i am simply trying to say, it is not for spider oak to assume how users data is manipulated and backed up, i use manual sync tools for example to do what i want, when i want, how i want…Example: IMAP email…. I choose not to use IMAP email, and use POP3 to download and store my data and use manual sync tools and back up stuff manually, while having the flexibility of having access to cloud versions if and when i need it? Also, another reason for doing things this way, is that i may not want to register devices centrally with spider oak as sync devices? As This surreptitiously gives spider oak knowledge of all the devices i may have access too? I may not want SO or third parties knowing that? I very much doubt your system encrypts the IP address of users and devices that access SO? This for many reasons could be very sensitive information that could be used for other nefarious activities by anyone… If you log IP address that log into accounts, you can almost certainly track the IP address of each and every device/type used? That is potential security issue all on its own, or at the very least potentially massive privacy issue in my mind….

    I want the same level of control and transparency on any cloud service?
    Does SO really saying that cant provide this? If not why not?