A relatively new player in the online backup market is making some news recently. SpiderOak promises encrypted backup to the cloud. As a longtime Dropbox user, I would really need something special to pry me away from the ease of use of Dropbox. SpiderOak may have provided just that “something special.”
Cloud backup is great. But one of the major concerns for lawyers (and I am assuming many other professions) with sending their files into the web is the security and confidentiality of the files. Lawyers have an obligation to keep client information confidential. It can be hard to argue that you are keeping files confidential when you are sending them unencrypted and stored on remote servers you have no control over (see Megaupload).
SpiderOak is the first service I am aware of where a lawyer can be certain that the backed-up files remain confidential. SpiderOak performs client-side encryption before transmitting to the cloud. That means, all files sent out are encrypted and confidentiality is maintained. It should be noted that this does not mean files on your computer are encrypted. To do that I would recommend TrueCrypt (free).
Differences with Dropbox
SpiderOak, however, is not simply Dropbox with encryption. Dropbox gained prominence because of its ease of use. Dropbox creates a folder on your computer and any files in that folder were automatically synced to the web and any other device you had installed Dropbox on.
SpiderOak splits the backup and sync functions and allows a much more granular backup and sync. When a user starts SpiderOak, they select a folder to backup. You can choose any existing folder or set of folder already on your computer. So you do not need to re-organize your file structure. Once the backup is set up on at least two devices, you can also choose to sync one folder from one device with another folder on another device. The folders do not have to be named the same (although I am sure that would help). The level of control SpiderOak gives is very convenient but does make the setup process more involved.
The other major difference at the moment is cost. Both Dropbox and SpiderOak give 2gb of free storage. Dropbox gives 500mb additional storage for referrals while SpiderOak gives 1gb. For users wanting more space, Dropbox charges $10/month for 50gb while SpiderOak charges the same for 100gb.
Both Dropbox and SpiderOak have their uses and I will probably use both moving forward. However, professionals should take a look at SpiderOak for its encryption feature as a way to ensure that cloud backups stay confidential.