A New Online Backup Solution

by Josh Anon

In case you haven't noticed, part one of my article on backing up with Aperture is now posted on Inside Aperture. Part two will cover online solutions, but I received an email yesterday about a solution I didn't cover in the article. I wanted to take a minute to mention this new service, SpiderOak.

The basic idea is similar to other services, like Mozy, where your files are uploaded to an encrypted, remote server. However, there are a number of key differences. SpiderOak actually creates versions of your files, instead of just uploading the latest copy, and the versions are updated each time the file changes. Furthermore, multiple computers can share the same SpiderOak account. One very interesting concept is that SpiderOak can act like your iDisk, too, in that since multiple computers can access it, you can login and retrieve a file whenever you need to. Their free client tool is cross-platform, and you could even login from a PC (unfortunately this also means that it doesn't behave or look quite like a native application).

The most unique idea is their concept of "share rooms." Essentially, you have the ability to setup sets of files that different groups of people could access. For example, you might make a NetworkShare so that a group of people can work on a set of files, like your website, together. You might make another ShareRoom with a set of edited images for a client to download, available for a given number of days at a special URL. Plus, because the images are stored on SpiderOak, you don't have to worry about creating a backup of the client's images. As long as your images are in a format that SpiderOak can understand, when you look at the share in a web browser, you'll see thumbnails and large previews of your images. There is even a slideshow feature!


I spent a few minutes playing with a trial account (2GB of storage free) yesterday, and it seems straightforward. From what I can tell, to really take advantage of their system, it's best if you have referenced files. Even if you have managed files, every change you make to your images in an external editor will be versioned and backed up, but it's easier to setup shares of your photos if you don't have to dig through the Aperture library to find your files. No, I haven't experimented with how the versioning works with an Aperture database, but I would imagine that it has similar problems to Time Machine--if you backup while Aperture is running and then restore from that backup, your Aperture database might end up in a bad state. I, like many of you, am still waiting for a backup solution that handles Aperture libraries in a smart way.

All that being said, if you want a generic, one-stop, automatic online backup solution for multiple machines that also lets you access your files remotely, SpiderOak might fit that bill! At the very least, their free trial account is worth checking out, and for $10/month, you receive up to 20GB of storage.


2007-11-07 08:53:08
The article doesn't mention that SpiderOak is not publicly available yet and requires an invitation code. I'm assuming the author got a free code to try it out and write about it but I found it somewhat annoying to go to the site only to be denied access.
Josh Anon
2007-11-07 08:59:41
Oh geesh, I didn't realize it was still in trials! Well, in that case, there is a form to fill out to request a code at: https://spideroak.com/download_invitation. Thanks for the heads up!
Alan Fairless
2007-11-07 09:18:17
We apologize for the inconvenience. However, the product is still in soft launch.

The first 100 users here may use the invitation code "aperture"

Thank you very much,

- The SpiderOak team

Bryon Paul McCartney
2007-11-07 13:13:05
I agree, looks promising, but it is annoying to go there only to find out I can't use it.
Josh Anon
2007-11-07 13:15:37
Hi all, I just received this from the folks at SpiderOak. It sounds like 100 of you will get to give this a shot! "Due to the feedback, we wanted to provide 100 of your readers with an invitation code to download the application (invite code being 'aperture')." Enjoy!
Bryon Paul McCartney
2007-11-07 13:17:40
hey cool, thanks Josh
2007-11-07 15:23:39
Do not forget http://mozy.com/
4,95 US$ = Unlimited storage !
Josh Anon
2007-11-07 18:32:06
Hi Frederic, no, no one has forgotten Mozy! In fact part 2 of my backup article discusses it in more detail. However, SpiderOak offers features beyond Mozy, which I describe above, explaining why it costs more.
Dave Friend
2007-11-12 07:14:29
Josh: I’m Carbonite’s CEO and it’s great to see so many good articles coming out on online backup. It seems like everyone is waking up to the risks of local backup solutions. Since you’re in the graphic arts world, I suspect that you are a Mac user. I just wanted you to know that there will soon be a mac beta version of Carbonite’s popular online backup -- $49.95 a year for unlimited storage. We’d be delighted to have you join the beta program - just send an email to beta@carbonite.com and ask to be put on the list.

BTW, sites that focus on backup, like Carbonite and Mozy, do a good job at security. Everything stored in the data centers is encrypted at the PC, so we don’t have a clue what’s in your files. That’s usually not the case with services that promote sharing and remote access. To be convenient, these services generally have to store data in unencrypted form. So they are not a very good place to store things like your financial records, password lists, and so forth.


David Friend

CEO, Carbonite Inc.
Carbonite Online Backup

Ethan Oberman
2007-11-13 21:23:44
Thank you for bringing to the fore this issue of security - a most critical point as it relates to online backup and storage. As there are interesting considerations mentioned, the SpiderOak Team would like to respond:

SpiderOak has build a 'zero-knowledge environment'. This means a user's data is encrypted from the moment it leaves his/her computer through transmission to storage. Further, SpiderOak does not retain our users' passwords (or the plaintext of our users' encryption keys) so there is NEVER a scenario where a SpiderOak employee or anybody else can know what a SpiderOak user is storing (not even file names) - a true 'zero-knowledge environment'.

To address the matter on sharing - we believe it is important for our users to have the ability to easily share portions of their SpiderOak Network with family, friends, colleagues, or clients. Whereas it is true that when a user shares a file it will become public or viewable, only shared files are ever exposed in this manner. The non-shared items remain encrypted and secure.

Lastly, as one further point of differentiation, our multi-platform support (Mac, Windows, Linux) allows a user to add any number of computers to his/her SpiderOak Network. This allows a user the ability to view and access all of his/her folders and files, from any computer, in the same 'zero-knowledge environment' detailed above.

Again, thank you for providing us the opportunity to make these distinctions more clear.

John DeRegnaucourt
2007-11-26 06:10:46
I would greatly appreciate it if you would take a look at MyOtherDrive.com. Our site offers 5GB free online storage with sharing. Our sharing feature permits sharing publicly, or to groups of friends, or not sharing at all. A friend (email address) can be in more than one group. Also, your uploaded content can be reached via a URL (hyperlink) so that you can store your content on our site for eBay auctions, photos for MySpace and Facebook, etc.

Our site permits bulk upload, with recursrive support - that means you can upload an entire directory structure, which will be kept intact on the server. Files are compared for changes and encrypted on the upload.

I think you will find that the "ease of use" factor of MyOtherDrive is one of its most appealing attributes.

Thank you for your time and I hope you have time (and space) to include it in your reviews.