There are a lot of online backup apps that let you backup and access your personal files from anywhere, like Dropbox and Apple’s iDisk. But isn’t it risky to put your personal files online? After all, Google recently fired someone for looking at people’s personal data on Gmail and Google Voice, and Facebook’s privacy problems are already well known.
Most makers of online backup apps only emphasize how convenient they are, in their marketing material. But SpiderOak says they have your “Complete Privacy Guaranteed,” with a “zero-knowledge privacy approach” that means that even if they wanted to access your personal data, they couldn’t.
Here’s how to get started saving your personal files online, with SpiderOak’s “cloud computing” backup service.
Step One — Install SpiderOak
Go to spideroak.com/install to get the version of SpiderOak’s cloud computing backup software that runs on your computer, whether it’s a Mac, Linux or Windows machine. While you’re there, click on their “Learn more” link to watch videos that explain how it works.
Once SpiderOak is installed, just run it from the Start Menu (or wherever your computer puts apps). Note that while you’re setting it up they say that they won’t remember your password! This is possible because of encryption technology. You’ll need to write down a password hint to help you remember it, because they won’t be able to email it to you if you forget.
Step Two — Live the Cloud Computing Life
You’re ready to go! Again, if you aren’t sure how to use SpiderOak, just click their “Learn more” link online. In a nutshell, though, it’s like using a CD or memory card; you’re just saving the data online, instead of on a thingy you plug into your computer. And no matter where you are, as long as you have internet access you can go online and access your files.
The first thing SpiderOak will do when you run it is let you backup your files on their service, so that you won’t lose them in case your computer’s hard disk dies. After that you can “sync” your files between multiple computers, or “share” files online easily, and give your friends a link to access the files that you want them to see.
Step Three (optional) — Download the Mobile App
If you have an Android phone like the Verizon Droid, just look up SpiderOak in the Android Market and download the app for free! It’ll let you access your files from your phone as well.
Step Four (optional) — Subscribe to get extra space
SpiderOak gives you up to 2 GBs of online cloud backup space for free, which is about as much as will fit on a digital camera’s memory card. You can buy a “plus” account for just $10 a month or $100 a year, though, and it gives you up to 100 GBs. Each $10 a month or $100 a year you add onto that will give you another 100 GBs, which you can access from anywhere and share with your friends (if you like). Visit SpiderOak’s pricing page for more details!
Besides their privacy guarantee, one thing that I like about SpiderOak is that they give back to the community by “open-sourcing” some of the code that they used to build SpiderOak. This is what the Mozilla Foundation, the makers of the Firefox web browser, calls “organic software,” and it’s something I’ve written about before.
The upcoming SparkleShare online backup service is going to be completely organic, or open-source. It’s not ready for most people to use, though, and it doesn’t have a mobile app yet. So I wouldn’t feel comfortable recommending it to people I know, although I’ve certainly been watching them.
Which online cloud backup service do you use? Scroll down and leave a comment; and whatever it is, I hope you have fun with it!