Dropbox and SpiderOak are pretty different. Dropbox is a sync utility which uses a sync folder as it's only method of transferring files between devices while SpiderOak is an all-in-one backup, syncing and sharing utility which has software that supports each of it's functions independently.
1. Plans & Pricing
Each company prices their plans around at the same level. To start off with either company you will pay around $10 a month for 100GB's of storage. Here is a closer look at how the plans break down:
- Free, 2GB's, unlimited computers, 1 user
- Pro 100, $9.99, 100GB's, unlimited computers, 1 user
- Pro 200, $19.99, 200GB's, unlimited computers, 1 user
- Pro 300, $49.99, 300GB's, unlimited computers, 1 user
- Save 17% on all plans when you pay yearly
- Business, $795/Year, unlimited storage, unlimited computers, 5 users (pay per user added after that).
- FREE, $0, 2GB, unlimited computers.
- PLUS (+), $10/Month per 100GB increment or $100/Year per 100GB increment, unlimited computers.
- Save 20% on all plans when you pay yearly
- Hosted Storage, $600 per TB per month, unlimited users & computers
- Private Cloud, on-premise data Storage for $5 per user, unlimited users & computers. Call for estimate.
2. Software & User Interface
Dropbox has a very simple design which requires minimal user intervention while SpiderOak has a more complex design which requires more user intervention.
The look and feel is very simple. The website has very friendly and lighthearted with it's hand-drawn graphics and storytelling tour of the company. The brand is strong and reinforces it's uniqueness everywhere you look on the site.
When it comes to organization, Dropbox keeps the need for software to a minimum. Instead of using a standalone application to choose files for backup, you move the files you want into a folder that sync's your files (this is called a sync folder). The Dropbox folder looks just like any other folder on your computer (a Finder window on Mac and a Windows Explorer window on Windows). To open the Dropbox folder, change settings or see other syncing information click on the Dropbox task bar icon.
Dropbox has a great design and it's extremely easy to use, which I prefer. This is because it minimizes the need for software and additional setup. Since it uses a folder as it's primary syncing function there is no confusion about whether or not a file is synced; if it's in the dropbox folder, it gets synced to all your devices.
As a fan of minimal and clean design, I have to say SpiderOak's design could be better. The look feels unrefined because of its uncomfortable amount of information displayed on the home screen, the use of drop shadows under gradients and lots of sections separated by tabs. It's not unforgivable, but it's definitely not up to par with companies like Dropbox.
Because of they treat backup, syncing and sharing as three separate functions with their own sections, I understand why they split them into tabs. It's not bad, but some of the layout and organization suffers as a result. This is best demonstrated on the home screen where there is a summary of each function.
3. File Syncing & Backup
Dropbox focuses only on syncing files while SpiderOak has file backup and syncing. The main difference between them is process used to backup your files.
Dropbox is simpler to use but has less features than SpiderOak
File selection - Any files added to the dropbox folder will be transferred to all Dropbox connected devices. Syncing files is as easy as moving files into this folder. From there the files are automatically synced.
Scheduling - There is no schedule for Dropbox. When you copy a file to the Dropbox folder it automatically starts syncing.
File Exclusions - Dropbox does not have any file type or file size exclusions. That means you can put in any type or size file in Dropbox to be synced.
Speed - When I tested the sync speed, it took me 1 hour to sync a 990MB file across the Dropbox account on a 25Mbps upload connection. Thats around .275MB's a second.
SpiderOak has more features but is more complex than Dropbox
File Selection - SpiderOak uses a manual selection method to backup files. You can either choose basic categories like, "Desktop", "Documents", "Email", "Movies", "Music", and "Pictures" or you can choose advanced mode and select all of the folders yourself.
Scheduling - SpiderOak has advanced scheduling capabilities which allows you to set a specific time of day and day of the week to backup. You can also set the backup frequency your files every 5 minutes to 48 hours. Both sharing and syncing have this scheduling too.
File Exclusions - No preferences are set by default but you can exclude files based on size, type, keyword, and age if you want.
Speed - It takes around 1GB an hour on a 7Mbps upload connecting. Thats around .278MB's a second.
4. File Restores
Dropbox and SpiderOak both use syncing so manually selected files are updated automatically as soon as the computer connects to it. SpiderOak also has a backup utility which can be used separate of syncing.
Restore Options - The website and sync folder can be used. Download files from the website or connect to your Dropbox to sync devices to Dropbox.
Restore Process - The easiest way is to restore files is by re-syncing your account. Use the software to set up your computer or device (install and setup again if you had to do a system restore) and the files will start downloading instantly. You can also use the website to download your files. Once logged in navigate to your file and hover the mouse over your folder or folder and click "Download".
Restore Speed - Syncing a 1GB (990MB) file took me around 1 hour on a 25Mbps upload connection. It's important to note that as soon as it uploaded from the source computer (the 1 hour time frame) all connected devices could see the device instantly.
Restore Options - The website and software can be used. Download files directly from the website or restore files using the "View" section of the software.
Restore Process - The most effective restore method is the software. Go to the "View" section of the software. Navigate to the files you want and select them by ticking the checkbox next to them. Click the button that looks like an arrow pointing to a bracket turned on it's side.
Restore Speed - It took me around 10 minutes to restore a 452MB file using the software to restore on a 16Mpbs download connection.
Dropbox and SpiderOak have similar technical support options. They have email support tickets, forums, and knowledgebase.
I have sent them an email a day ago and I haven't heard back yet. Their knowledge base and forums are helpful and it appears that the technicians spend time answering questions there.
When I wrote them on a Friday morning, I did not hear back until sunday. I had resolved the issue, so I did not need help anymore.
Dropbox and SpiderOak have their similarities, but overall they are pretty different.
Dropboxis one sync folder that you move all of your data into and it syncs automatically. This system works very well and it's one of the best out there. Since it's not complicated customers either like it or they don't. Their branding is great because it's unique, but, in someways it works against them.
I'm not too fond of the way you have to move or duplicate files into the Dropbox folder because this can mess up your current file structure and lead to duplicate files. The lack of many sync options like scheduling, for example, leaves me wanting more.
SpiderOak has a great system in place, but they haven't quite mastered their own functionality or design. You may find yourself wondering around the tabs trying to figure out how to use the different sections: backup, syncing and sharing. Once you get used to it it's not bad. In fact, they way they have built the software to work is pretty cool, it's just not immediately apparent.
They do a great job with features and tools. You will find it capable of customizing your backups to a great extent. Fans of managed backups, sync folders, and sharing will like the large amount of control you get with SpiderOak.