<firstimage=”//static.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/intro.gif”>There are many applications that abound for users concerned with online storage and local backup. You might be comfortable using something like Dropbox, but when you have important files outside of your Dropbox, or simply crave a little more than the simple options you get with Dropbox, you can’t go wrong with SpiderOak.
The beauty of the latter, which has been featured before in our directory, is that it puts you in complete control over which data gets backed up, synced, and shared. It also offers many options to choose or exclude files to back up by type, size or age.
For those interested, the installation is pretty straightforward, without any third-party toolbar offerings of any kind. The program does require about a little over 18 MB of hard drive space. Note that you’ll need to create an account so that you can log onto SpiderOak’s website and access your backed-up files.
Backing Up Your Data
SpiderOak lets you choose which folders you wish to backup in the Backup tab of the desktop client – either Music, Movies, Pictures in the default Basic view. If you have specific folders in mind that you want to backup, simply click on the Advanced button at the top right. You’ll be able to select any folders in your main drive here, as well as external and network drives. On the right, you can still pick pre-selected folders, such as Desktop, Documents, etc.
Since SpiderOak comes with 2GB of free storage, you can preview how much space each folder will take by looking at the bottom storage bar (which becomes red if your folder selection exceeds 2GB), making it easier for you to pick your folders accordingly.
Whenever you finish your selection, click on the Save button to start the backup. SpiderOaks saves any changes in existing files as well as new files. You can modify the backup schedule by clicking on Preferences and heading to the Schedule tab.
Over in the Backup tab to the left, you have more options to maintain control of what files get backed up. You can choose to exclude files that exceed a certain size or age.
Archiving Your Data
If you deselect folders in the Backup tab, future changes in those folders will not be backed up.
However, those folders will remain archived in your SpiderOak account. This also means that those folders will occupy part of your 2GB of storage unless you remove them on the View tab. This can helpful for users that need to archive currently-unused-but-important folders.
Syncing Folders Across Devices
Unlike syncing applications like Dropbox, SpiderOak lets you sync any folders in your computer (which must also be any currently backed-up folder in SpiderOak). You can be very specific about which folders get synced across, say, your external drive and your computer’s internal hard drive. Just create a new Sync on the Sync tab, give it a name, choose the folders to sync, and voila!
Sharing Folders Via Password-Protected ShareRooms
You can create ShareRooms to share specific folders for different audiences. First, you’ll need to create a public login ID, which is known as ShareID in SpiderOak. Then select a name for the ShareRoom, a RoomKey (the password), the folders to share, and you’re done!
Any changes you make to the folders will be instantly reflected on the ShareRooms (and to your guests via RSS feeds). Your guests can access the ShareRoom if you provide them with the URL, but they can also log in on the SpiderOak website, under Share Login.
Viewing Your Backed Up Data
Over in the View tab, you’ll be able to verify which folders are backed-up and shared. You can also view the previous versions of files, which are indicated by the numbers in parentheses in the filenames.
In this tab, you can also remove archived or backed up folders on your SpiderOak account to get back space, without having to worry about getting those same folders deleted from your computer.
Downloading Your Files
You can either download your files in the SpiderOak website, once you’re logged in, or in the desktop client, under the View tab, by highlighting a folder and clicking on the Download button. SpiderOak also comes with a handy Merge option (view a demo here) that you can use when you don’t want to delete any folders.
There may be a bit of a learning curve for this application as it offers so many options, so I highly recommend watching SpiderOak’s video demos, which are short and sweet, but also explain visually what I’ve detailed here.
If you’ve tried SpiderOak, feel free to tell us in the comments whether you find it useful and better than other applications or not!