Keep Your Files in Sync With SpiderOak

There are a myriad of online file storage, backup, and sync services on the Web. Some of them are specific to particular devices, such as the Asus EeePc. Others are tailored for specific operating systems, like Windows or Ubuntu. Then, there are some that work well with all kinds of devices and OSes and keep them in sync. SpiderOak is one such service.

SpiderOak is a free and paid service that offers storage, backup, and syncing to Windows, Mac, and Linux users. Users can access their data through the website or using the cross-platform desktop application. SpiderOak also has an iPhone app available through the iTunes AppStore.

As a Kubuntu Linux user, I have been disappointed with the lack of KDE support by Ubuntu One. Also, I was looking for something that would allow me to start writing an article on one computer, save it, close it, and then pick up writing on another computer, without any file management. SpiderOak does that and more.

SpiderOak status tab


The first step to getting SpiderOak is to download the application from the website. The makers of the website make a big promise about protecting your privacy and that they will never violate it. I will leave it up to you to decide what type of data to trust with them.

The pricing scheme is one feature that makes SpiderOak unique. Like Dropbox and others, it offers a free basic account with 2GB of storage space, which includes all backup and sync features. They then offer a plus account, which is $10 per 100 GB per month, and it increases in 100GB increments. With this, you can essentially setup your own plan.

1. Click Download SpiderOak to begin (it attempts to detect your operating system version, but always failed on mine, so I had to click Ubuntu Lucid Lynx).

2. Once the download is complete, click the package and proceed through the normal installation process.

3. After installation, run SpiderOak or find it in the applications menu.

4. When you run SpiderOak for the first time, it will ask you to provide your account information or to sign up for a new account. Choose new account.

5. Enter your contact information.

6. On the next screen, it will ask for username and password information. Enter it, click Next, and then enter the security code.

7. Click Next again, and it will take a while to create your cryptographic code.

Backup and Sync

SpiderOak’s first start will show you the Backup tab. If you have some typical folders, such as Documents and Photos, it will display those and give you the option to back them up. If you do not or if you have specific folders not listed, click Advanced to get your full file tree. Check the files you want to backup, and click Save. As soon as you do, it will start the backup process.

You can add as many folders as you want, assuming they all fit within your storage limit. A meter at the bottom will keep track of your online storage space. If you have no further files to backup, you can minimize SpiderOak to your system tray.

SpiderOak view directories and storage meter

Now, if you want to sync, go to the other computer and download SpiderOak. The two computers need not have the same operating system. After it is installed, start SpiderOak, and instead of choosing new account, enter your existing account information. It will then ask you if you want to add a new computer or reinstall on an existing one. Choose the new computer setting, and give your second computer a distinct name.

Next, choose the folders and files you want to backup, just as you did on the first computer.

1. Click on the Sync tab and click New.

2. Enter a name and optionally, a description

3. For folder one, click Browse and find the folder you want to sync on computer number 2.

4. Click Select to finalize.

5. For folder two, click Browse and find the folder on computer number 1.

6. Click Next

7. Save

SpiderOak sync setup

SpiderOak will begin the sync process, copying files to and from each folder until the folders match. In the future, anytime you add or edit files in one location, they will be synced with the other location.

In Preferences ->Schedule, you can change the timings for backups and syncs to make them as frequent as you like. In the Backup section of Preferences, you can also tell SpiderOak to ignore certain file types, sizes, and ages.

SpiderOak is free and easy to use. I am now able to write an article like this and then find the same article on my desktop computer. I can also make some files public and share them with friends and family. Best of all, SpiderOak has released many components of their technology to the free and open source community under the GPL v3 license.

Tavis J. Hampton

Tavis J. Hampton is a freelance writer from Indianapolis. He is an avid user of free and open source software and strongly believes that software and knowledge should be free and accessible to all people. He enjoys reading, writing, teaching, spending time with his family, and playing with gadgets.

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