We put five free online storage services, which let you upload your files to a 'virtual hard drive' and access them from your other devices, to the test to find out just which is the best one for you.
SpiderOak has the professional look of a cloud-sync system designed for enterprise users who need to back up gigabytes of files across a broadband connection. It was first launched its product in December 2007.
How it works
SpiderOak's client works like a hard drive backup application.
Every computer that you link to your SpiderOak account appears under a menu within the SpiderOak desktop client. Clicking on a computer's name will open up a branching list of the folders and files that you have uploaded to your SpiderOak account. You can download, erase and perform other maintenance on your files by interacting with this virtual computer network in the same way you would with a typical file manager program.
You can set backups and syncing of files and folders to happen automatically on a regular schedule.
You can grant other people access to your files or folders by setting up a 'ShareRoom', which is a password-protected link that the SpiderOak desktop application will generate for a file or folder you designate for public sharing.
The application has a feature that groups the files on your local computer's hard drive into categories ('Documents', 'Movies' ,'Music', 'Pictures' etc). You can then back up the files in any of these categories to the SpiderOak servers, provided you have enough space on your account. But you can also use SpiderOak to select specific files and folders that you want to sync across multiple computers.
What needs to be fixed
The SpiderOak desktop software may be a bit of overkill, with more features than you need if all you want to do is sync a few folders and files between your online storage space and local hard drive. But, regardless, its overall user interface and functions are easy to use.
SpiderOak seems to have been designed to be mainly an online hard drive backup system rather than a simple service for syncing files and folders to the cloud. Thus, you would probably get the most out of it if you paid for additional online storage space and had all of your computers that are linked to your SpiderOak account connected to the Internet with enterprise-level broadband.
OS: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7, OS X 10.4 or later, various Linux distros
Mobile apps: None
Storage size: 2GB
Maximum file size: None
Daily data-transfer limit: None
Paid plans: $10 (£6.39) per month or $100 (£63.90) per year for each additional 100GB
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