Conversations about life & privacy in the digital age

Intro – How SpiderOak Was Built

Welcome to SpiderOak University. If you’re a student, new user, or a lover of continuous learning, this month we’re focused on you.

We’ll be posting a couple video shorts each week where SpiderOak CEO Ethan Oberman uses a whiteboard to explain some of our basic product functionalities. School yourself and keep an eye out for an occasional quiz so you can receive extra GBs.

Ethan explains how SpiderOak began in 2006 in an attempt to solve two distinct problems.

Do you have a .edu email address? Don’t forget – you can enjoy 50% off your private backup/sync/share account:

Sign up today.

How we got here

Welcome to SpiderOak University. If you’re a student, new user, or a lover of continuous learning, this month we’re focused on you.

We’ll be posting a couple video shorts each week where SpiderOak CEO Ethan Oberman uses a whiteboard to explain some of our basic product functionalities. School yourself and keep an eye out for an occasional quiz so you can win extra GBs.


Ethan explains how the backup industry as a whole got to understanding and using cloud technology, and how the movement from the firewall to personal devices is causing companies to look at different solutions.

Do you have a .edu email address? Enjoy 50% off your private backup/sync/share account:

Sign up today.

SpiderOak To Open Up The Doors To SpiderOak University

School should not only be a place where learning occurs, but a state of mind. When children – or adults – approach school, they should open their minds, brains, and hearts to learning, unlearning, and relearning. Here at SpiderOak, we are always learning and always encourage others to learn – whether it is our Zero-Knowledge privacy policy or the way our SpiderOak client works on your computer.

Enter SpiderOak University

Tomorrow, we are opening our doors to SpiderOak University. We will be hosting classes taught by our very own Ethan Oberman. Once a week, all students of SOU (SpiderOak University) will be able to take a quiz to get FREE storage!

Are you ready to put your thinking cap on? We sure hope so. We look forward to seeing you on the first day of class!

In the meantime, please enjoy this open letter to students by Vblogbrothers.

SysAdmin Day Follow Up

Hello terminal hackers!

We had a really great turnout for the promo last week. Over 600 of you successfully plumbed the depths of SOTSS and claimed 5 extra bonus gigs. Some of you found the bonus gigs program but got the DEVICE BUSY error. That was a bit of rate limiting we put in to prevent abuse. If you never got bonusgigs to work, please mail support@spideroak.com and we’ll hook you up.

For the rest of you who found SOTSS a little daunting, don’t worry. We’re sorry that you felt left out, and we have plenty of prizes left in our promo bag!

Here’s the solution for those of you who who were wondering:

There are two ways you can get started off. The more obvious way is that you can load help and then run help to view the help. From there you can manually load the various programs listed, including the backup program. The less obvious way is to load autoboot.bak, which will load all the items in the help automatically.

Then you can run backup to dump all the programs to the terminal. Inspection of this dump reveals a bonusgigs program. Load this program and run bonusgigs username, where username is your SpiderOak username. That’s it.

Thanks for playing!

Happy System Administrator Appreciation Day!

EDIT: The day is over, and we have shut down the bonus gigs system. Thanks to everyone who participated. We’ll be keeping SOTSS active for a while longer, so you can still tell all your friends about it!

Hello, fellow SysAdmins (and other assorted peons)!

Today is our day! Enjoy it. You earned it.

And to show our excitement and appreciation for all that you do, we’ve created a special kind of bonus for you. It’s a bit of a brain-teaser, and a bit of a retro homage to the bad old days of computing, when a remote terminal was a VT100, memory was measured in kilobytes, and your only hope of understanding a problem was a shelf full of manuals.

Welcome to the SpiderOak Time Stealing System.

Your goal is simple. SOTSS is broken, and you have to get it working. Buried inside the system is a program that will grant you an extra 5GB to your SpiderOak account. Run that program, and the 5GB is yours. That’s it. You’ll need to dig around to figure it out; there’s no manual and the online help is broken. Get creative.

Since this puzzle is for our SysAdmin friends, we’d rather you didn’t post your solutions.

Oh, and have fun. :)

Get Ready for SysAdmin Day!

WiFi Logo. Image credit: Sysadminday

(Image credit: Sysadminday.com)

In today’s day and age, it is easy to take a system administrator’s work for granted. They tactfully bite back the snark every time someone forgets how to setup their email, update a browser, or insists that their passwords aren’t working when – in reality – the passwords are case sensitive…

SysAdmins are brave and talented souls who keep us all connected. And for all this work, they deserve a big ‘Thank you!’. We certainly could not function or do business without both their skills (and snarkiness).

This is why we are going to celebrate SysAdmin Day, and why you should too.

Tomorrow, all SpiderOak users will be able to play a virtual computer puzzle game. Solving the puzzle will grant players 5 additional free gigs.

We look forward to tomorrow and we hope you will help us in thanking all the SysAdmins out there!

Celebrate SysAdmin Day With Us Friday July 27

It’s easy to take a system administrator’s work for granted. Many of us have the expectation that everything we use on a daily basis – from our computers to our company’s internal networks – will work flawlessly. But this is rarely the case. It takes constant effort to make sure that everything operates smoothly and the way we want it to work.

Just because you don’t see the person who maintains the network doesn’t mean that they aren’t there doing the important work involved. We certainly can’t function or do business without their mad skills.

This is why we are going to celebrate SysAdmin Day, and why you should too.

Pay homage to those hard-working server warriors with us this Friday:

All SpiderOak users will be able to play a virtual computer puzzle game. Solving the puzzle will grant players 5 bonus gigs.

Stay tuned, and learn more about SysAdmin Day in the meantime…

Announcement: Get 4 Additional Gigs All Week

This promotion is now closed. Thanks for the overwhelming response!

Last week, we shared why freedom online is important and how we blaze our own trail. As we approach the Fourth of July in the U.S., we at SpiderOak can’t help but reflect on the importance of freedom online. To us, this freedom is accomplished through ensuring 100% privacy for you and your business.

We provide a FREE 2 GB account to all our users who sign up. Starting TODAY until the end of the week, we would like to offer all our users 4 GBs of storage! Here is how you can claim them:

New users with 2 GB accounts

First, we’d like to thank you for becoming a SpiderOak user. Here is how you can claim your storage:

  • Go to www.spideroak.com/signup if you are not a currently signed up.
  • You must first activate your account on your computer by opening the SpiderOak downloaded application and selecting “Activate First Device.” If you have not yet downloaded SpiderOak, you may do so here: Download SpiderOak.
  • Once activated, go to our homepage.
  • At the bottom left side, you will see “My Login.” Click here and enter your credentials.
  • When you are logged in, you will click “Account” in the top right corner.
  • You will then select the orange “Buy More Space” button.
  • Once on the Account Details page, you will select “Change” under Account Type.
  • On this page, you will see a “Promotional Code” box.
  • Type “Freedom4” in this box and select “Update”
  • You should see “6 Gigs: Free” beside Monthly Billing. If so, click “Next.”
  • Your account is now updated! Enjoy!

Non-paying existing users

Note: You must be a non-paying user with 5 GBs of storage or less. Also, your plan will be replaced with 6 GBs.

First, we’d like to thank you for being a loyal SpiderOak user! Here is how you can claim your additional storage:

  • At the bottom left side of our homepage, you will see “My Login.” Click here and enter your credentials.
  • When you are logged in, you will click “Account” in the top right corner.
  • You will then select the orange “Buy More Space” button.
  • Once on the Account Details page, you will select “Change” under Account Type.
  • On this page, you will see a “Promotional Code” box.
  • Type “Freedom4” in this box and select “Update.”
  • You should see “6 Gigs: Free” beside Monthly Billing. If so, click “Next.”
  • Your account is now updated! Enjoy!

Paid users and users with 7 GBs of storage and more

  • Email Freedom4@spideroak.com and include your username and I will personally increase your account 4 additional gigs.

Remember, this promotion ends at the end of the week so please be sure to share with your friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors! Of course, don’t forget about our Refer-A-Friend program which means you can get even more storage!

We would like to thank you for being a part of SpiderOak! It’s because of you that we are so passionate and vocal about privacy. We’d love to hear from you what freedom online means to you. Please share in the comments below and maybe you can include what you will do with your additional storage.

Thanks all!

To SpiderOak, Freedom = Blazing Our Own Trail

In yesterday’s blog post, Erin and Alan spoke a bit about how freedom means your peace of mind. We achieve that through our dedication to privacy online.

Another way we embrace freedom online is through blazing our own trail. We’re proud to say we’ve done this intentionally in several ways:

It’s smart to have ‘Zero-Knowledge’

Though it makes work for our developers and engineers a little challenging, the idea was to create an environment where Fairless and Oberman didn’t have to trust the people hired on to work at SpiderOak. So they methodically developed a system which is called “’Zero-Knowledge’ privacy.” This means, there is no point where a SpiderOak employee, even with direct access to the servers that are storing the data, can access your information. It is a very important distinction and gives you (as an individual or a business) the freedom to upload your embarrassing videos (like waving around golf ball retrievers) or backing up your grandma’s super-secret recipes. Should the government or anyone else come busting through our digital offices, asking for grandma’s recipes, we would have to give them the data by law. BUT it is encrypted and there is nothing we can do to decrypt it. Read more about this in our recent newsletter.

YOU

It’s because of you that we are so passionate and vocal about privacy. Providing a private and flexible product, with real feedback and support is something we’re proud to offer. Our customers often say, “I love working with real people!” We have a virtual team scattered around the world, and when our users can identify us as being real people who really help them, it brings smiles to our faces. Our loyal following of people like you who care about privacy is one of the things that sets us apart from the rest of the cloud storage / sync / share companies in our space.

Complete cross-platform support

In yesterday’s interview with our CTO, Alan Fairless, you probably read where he recalled there being very few online backup options during SpiderOak’s inception in 2007 that were compatible with all platforms. The need for heterogeneity has always existed, but it’s becoming more pronounced as devices proliferate, devices that run diverse operating systems, especially Linux. In fact, a large chunk of our customers run Linux OS. Being a heavy Linux user himself, Fairless saw the need. So that is where we started, and worked our way across platforms, giving our users the freedom to backup, sync, and share their important data from any device. We continue to provide flexible multi-platform support.

What’s in a name

I often get the question, “What exactly is a SpiderOak?” “Does someone in the company have a fascination with spiders and oak trees?” Believe it or not, there was actually a method in creating our name. Alan Fairless and Ethan Oberman did not want to come up with a name everyone had in the industry, but wanted something unique. At the time (and to this day) it was pretty hard to find a good domain, so they started taking concepts that they liked and started placing them together to see if they were available. They slowly started plugging in different concepts and they liked the concept of spiders and webs of data. The word “Oak” was brought to the table to mean very strong and stable. And that is how the SpiderOak name was formed. Since it is so different and not specific, this gives us the freedom to be flexible. There is also an interesting ancient story that uniquely describes the name we chose.

Let’s celebrate!

As a special thank you and to celebrate, all of next week SpiderOak is going to offer you 4 additional FREE GB for the 4th.

Whether you are already using SpiderOak, just signed up, or are ready to give it a try, celebrate with us by grabbing your 4 FREE GB. Stay tuned for details via our blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

To SpiderOak, Freedom = Your Peace of Mind, Privacy Online

As we approach the Fourth of July in the U.S., we at SpiderOak can’t help but reflect on the importance of freedom online. After all, it is where many of us spend much of our time. To us, this freedom is accomplished through ensuring 100% privacy, and therefore your peace of mind (and ours too!). Since our founding in 2007, this is something we’ve really hard on and made a priority.

In an attempt to capture the continuously unfolding tale of how our love affair with privacy began, I sat down with one of our Founders and Chief Technology Officer, Alan Fairless, and asked, “How did SpiderOak come to be?”

A solution born out of frustration

Founders Ethan Oberman and Alan Fairless met previously while building a different company. Oberman had files everywhere on different computers and wanted to connect his computers and their contents to one central location. Fairless was frustrated that he didn’t have a reliable place to safely store all his files and data.

“Anyone who uses computers for long enough learns the necessity of keeping copies of whatever is important to them,” Fairless said. “They typically start by copying to other drives and emailing stuff to themselves. This combination of inconsistencies – files and data saved stored haphazardly over time – combined with the likelihood of your computer crashing or files suffering from human errors, gives limited protection.”

“All of these are deeply flawed strategies,” Fairless said, “because they are rarely current and require time and attention – you will lose data in that process. I remember before SpiderOak, I would buy a new hard drive, encrypt my data onto it, and give it to a friend to throw in a closet and forget about. I had a huge amount of data from two to three years of all kinds of projects.”

No other options

“At this time in 2006, there wasn’t an option for where you could store your data reliably and privately,” Fairless said. “The existing options didn’t do encryption, no support for Linux, and rarely support for Mac, which was important to us. We wanted to create a product that supported all the major platforms, especially Linux, and since privacy was a part of our personal philosophy, that would be included. The crypto required for meaningful privacy is hard, but also it is a problem that engineers are drawn to, which is why we’ve been able to attract the quality of engineers we have that also believe in our approach and focus on privacy.”

“I store my daily journals, financial records, and the embarrassing family photos on SpiderOak, and I prefer they are available only to me,” Fairless said. “I am not alone in this feeling. Others want to have a central place for their data that is only accessible to them.”

“With the way SpiderOak is oriented, your encryption pass phrase is something that only exists in your mind. This means your SpiderOak data is only useful in combination with the contents of your brain. What you store with SpiderOak becomes a giant extension of your own mind, that effectively you are simply remembering your own data, as if it were all stored in your brain in a giant USB drive surgically implanted behind your ear. You may share those things exactly as you chose. This puts you entirely in control, it’s your decision and no one else’s.”

“Freedom is being able to choose,” Fairless said. “Everybody loves choice.”

On the horizon: convenient, private collaboration

Over the years, SpiderOak has extended incrementally. At first we were just online backup, then we added sync, mobile components (which we’re still expanding), and now, we’re moving into the enterprise and collaboration space for groups that care about privacy.

“This could mean you collaborate and work privately with your coworkers on a project, or your own individual projects, or with your family, or maybe your wedding website,” Fairless said. “We’re keeping with our theme [of privacy], but finding more and more ways to make it convenient for people to access, move and manipulate their data.”

Celebrate your freedom online

Your peace of mind is our priority. And as Fairless said, freedom is being able to choose. It is with that spirit that all next week, SpiderOak is proud to offer you 4 (more) FREE GB for the 4th.

Whether you are already using SpiderOak, just signed up, or are ready to give it a try, celebrate with us by grabbing your 4 FREE GB. Stay tuned for details via our blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

Thanks from all of us!

Erin