How to backup your files online using SpiderOak – in Linux

Ever since I wrote about backing up your files online using Mozy (and then the OS X version), I’ve been approached by folks from BackBlaze, SugarSync and quite a few others. Most I just ignore now – often they’re lesser versions (in terms of features, storage space and cost) of software/products I’ve already written about. SpiderOak is different. In a lot of ways. Most notably, they’re the first that I know of to offer a Linux client. Keep reading for plenty of screenshots, setup instructions for the Linux client, and why I think this might be the best online storage solution so far.

Before I go into the “how” part, here’s some background and info on the company. First, they offer GPLv3 code that they’ve developed for use with SpiderOak, to the general public. Any company with a “giving back” attitude like that, gets a big thumbs up in my book. Second – they offer a free 2GB of storage. Similar to other services yes, but there are some that don’t have any free storage, rather a “trial period”. So if you only want to backup 2GB worth of files using SpiderOak, you’ll never have to pay. Third – they are actually cross platform. Not just Mac and Windows cross platform, but Mac, Windows and Linux (Ubuntu/Debain). And they offer both 32 and 64bit versions of their Linux client. Instead of hanging a “coming soon” picture (for years) in the “Linux section” – they offer one right off the bat. Two big thumbs up.

On to the how part…

  1. The installation itself couldn’t be easier. Follow the instructions outlined on the SpiderOak download page for the Debain/Ubuntu client. Fire up SpiderOak from the Internet section of your Applications.

    The initial screen will offer a prompt – select First Time User and click Next.

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  3. Enter in the Captcha (which is one of those things they offer in the code section – Python Gimp Scripted Captcha Generation) and click Next.

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  5. Enter your info in the spaces provided, and once again, click Next.

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  7. Select a user name, password, password hint (if you want) and agree to the terms. Next.

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  9. You might have to wait a moment or two as SpiderOak confirms the user name you’ve requested is available. Once everything is ready, the Next button will become clickable, so clickit.

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  11. At this point you’ll get a confirmation email from SpiderOak containing a link that you have to follow to enable your account. Go check your email, and verify your account.

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  13. Now it’s backup time. The SpiderOak interface is very clear and straight forward.

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  15. You can use some of the “pre-created” backup categories found in the left column. If you place a check in the Desktop box, the contents of your desktop will be included as a backup source.

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  17. You can also just navigate through your files and folders, selecting what you want to backup as you go. A running tab of the size of your backup is kept and displayed in the bottom bar. Click the Save button once you’ve decided what you want to backup.

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  19. Select the Status tab to watch what’s going on at any given time. If you opted to back up a lot of files, since this is your first back up, it might take a while.

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  21. Once everything has completed, the Status windows will be empty.

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  23. When you want to restore/download a file, click the View tab and navigate to your file/folder. Then click the Download button.

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  25. Once the download has completed, you’ll be prompted to open the file/folder, go to the download folder, or close the window.
  26. If you go to the download folder, you’ll find your restored/downloaded file(s) there.

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  28. When closing SpiderOak via the X in the top right-corner (or wherever your theme puts the close button) you’ll be prompted with a “warning” message. If you want SpiderOak to remain active and in the background, backing up your stuff as it’s created/added etc, click Minimize (which is my strong recommendation). If you want to really close SpiderOak (note that your files and folders will NOT continue to be backed up until SpiderOak is running again) – click Close.
  29. If you opt to keep it minimized, you’ll see a new little SpiderOak icon in your system menu.