Saturday, April 12, 2014

SpiderOak - A Dropbox Replacement With Your Privacy In Mind

A brief explanation of Dropbox. Dropbox is a popular service that allows you to backup files and sync files across multiple devices. A service like this is great for automating home user backups, because honestly most home users can't be bothered to perform regular backups. They provide users with 2GB of free storage, with the option to purchase more space.

Personally, I had been reluctant to use Dropbox service due to privacy and legal concerns. I have some business documents that I need to backup, but these documents must be kept completely private and confidential. Dropbox claims to encrypt user files, but I have heard questionable things about the methods they use. In the past, Dropbox used to store the user password in plain text in a file. I think that is a telling sign they might not highly value user privacy. There was also a short incident in 2011 when it was possible to access any users data without a password. Also, it is known that Dropbox has a master key which they can use to decrypt the data on any account. They actively use this master key to delete files they suspect of copyright infringement. If the master key ended up in the wrong hands, every account would be compromised.

A new service...
About 6 months ago, I was introduced to a new backup service called SpiderOak. SpiderOak operates in a similar method as Dropbox, except one primary difference- they explicitly put data encryption and privacy as a very high priority. All user data is encrypted before it ever leaves your computer. SpiderOak has never had a reported case of security breach. They claim is that there is no master key, and they cannot access your data ever. If you lose your password, your data will be unrecoverable.

Though in disclosure, I must acknowledge that the privacy claims of SpiderOak aren't 100% verified, because the client software is not fully open source. On the other hand, everything that can be verified appears to be accurate. Also, the software is partially open source, and SpiderOak organization has said that they intend to eventually release 100% of their client software as open source in the future.

After learning of SpiderOak, I felt that it was reasonable for me to try using their services to back up my documents. My results were positive. They offer 2GB for free. The software is stable, and runs reliably in the background while I use my computer. I have never had it crash or malfunction. There are a decent amount of configuration options and I think the graphical layout could be a little more intuitive, but the basic operations didn't take very long to understand. It allows me to set a speed limit on data uploading, which prevents it from hogging all of my internet traffic. I really like that it let me individually select which files and folders I want to backup (unlike Dropbox, which forces you to put everything in their special folder). SpiderOak software runs on all popular Desktop and Mobile operating systems.

After 6 months of use, I would say that it has been excellent. I'm very pleased with SpiderOak service. I would recommend it to anyone who has a little bit higher than average concern for privacy. SpiderOak has proven reliable and trustworthy for my needs. I hope to use the service for a very long time to come.

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