Spideroak is not a good enough alternative to Dropbox (or Crashplan) for me 7

EDIT 5/19/2012
As per this item in SpiderOak Realease Notes (4.5.9939):
Looks like they do include a LAN sync feature now!!  I left my original post below intact, but wanted to point out this update right away. I am going to download for my Mac, Ubuntu 12.04 system, and my Windows 7 PC and start testing again. I am very excited to see this feature added. They are some other features I do not prefer, but with LAN sync, and their reasonable pricing, and super-high-security values they place on their product/service, I may very well be switching a good portion of my “cloud files” to SpiderOak.  I’ll post more news as I test in the coming weeks.

Original post:

That’s right, I don’t like SpiderOak enough to switch from Dropbox.  Why? No LAN sync!   SpiderOak is also a backup service. I use CrashPlan along with Dropbox on my computers (Mac, Linux, Windows, even a FreeBSD server) and SpiderOak is not quite good enough to replace CrashPlan either.

Let me just say first that I do like SpiderOak and it works well.  It’s nice looking, easy to use, and does what its supposed to do.  It runs on Linux! It does it securely too! And I really like that! I can’t really complain about its functionality.  So my opinion here is based primarily on how its feature set can fit into my computer use and needs.

Here’s what I don’t like about SpiderOak.

1. It doesn’t have LAN sync. Therefore, I can’t replace DropBox.

2. It doesn’t have a background service, so you have to be logged in for it to backup. (and therefore, I can’t replace CrashPlan)

3. It doesn’t have multiple destinations, and specifically, destinations to my other computers or friends computers as backup.  This is a major reason why I use CrashPlan too. Not having multiple destinations and on local systems is big negative for me. (more on that in a minute, because it DOES have a local backup option)

4. Sync folders must be inside a backup folder. What?  That’s not going to work for me.  You CAN backup multiple and different folders, unlike Dropbox, but those must be inside of a “Backup” folder. You can’t just select one to sync.  That’s partially useful feature, but I don’t want that restriction. And considering that it DOES NOT have LAN sync (#1 above), it really makes it less useful to me. Although its true, I typically want to backup what I an syncing.

If security were a top priority, I’d definitely NOT use Dropbox and use SpiderOak, but that lack of LAN sync makes it tough to want to use it.  Files that start to sync have to be backed up, then redownloaded on another computer.  I watched progress on this and it was moving and the speed of my internet connection, which is 1.5Mbps.  When you want your files to sync up quick, like Dropbox does on my 1Gbps network, you really begin to loose interest in SpiderOak. For me, personally, I will not be using SpiderOak until they at minimum have LAN sync.

Now, if they were to also add multiple destinations, get me the ability to backup to/from Linux, Mac, Windows, and FreeBSD, setup a system service/daemon, and have backup sets on top of LAN sync, I’d seriously consider ditching both Dropbox and Crashplan.  (Ditching Crashplan will be tough though, there’s a lot of nice features and its been extremely reliable for me.)

There’s another option on the Dropbox side of things I am playing with, Windows Live Mesh.  As a replacement to Dropbox, it is working pretty well.  Not perfect, not as fast, and NOT on Linux, but it is on Mac.  It does allow me to sync any folder, over the LAN or Internet, to multiple systems, and its fairly quick once it syncs up. But its kind of a resource hog, and sometimes it seems to hang on some files.  Not a good replacement for Dropbox, except if you are concerned about security, because you can set syncing between your computers only if you want.

I did want to mention that SpiderOak does have a “local copy” type of feature. So your backup folders can be set to keep a local copy on another drive or on the network for fast recovery. That’s a nice feature. But it had one huge flaw, in my opinion, it only backed up to the local storage from that point in time.  What that means is, anything you had backed up before that, wasn’t in your local storage.  This is a huge drawback for me, and compared to how Crashplan works with local backup storage (destinations), I just don’t like it.

SpiderOak is an “O K” backup program that can also sync some folders. Its secure, if you don’t trust Dropbox with your data. For that reason alone, you could use SpiderOak as a Dropbox alternative.  I just don’t keep anything in my Dropbox that would require that security, or I use a Truecrypt drive on it.

I service small businesses in my area with anything from virus cleanup to network setup to backup systems. I cannot recommend SpiderOak to them.  But, SpiderOak people, if you are listening, if you can make your program LAN sync and give me a good multi-destination-running as a service-file-delta-level-backup like Crashplan does, I’ll seriously consider using your product and recommend it to my clients.  On the other hand, if you just add LAN sync, I’ll drop Dropbox and use your product. :)