I’ve learned a lot in the last year of my technical training, particularly in the field of network security and encryption. What used to be a simple relationship between myself and Microsoft SkyDrive (soon to become OneDrive), is now a bit complicated.
The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship
Like many restless techies, I format my computer often. One of the most tedious steps of this ritual is backing up my personal data to an external hard drive, praying that I got everything, and then restoring it once the operating system was re-installed. Because I never really trusted the process, I would create massive RAR or 7zip archives of my documents and leave them around on different media like so many pieces of digital clutter.
Fast forward to 2008, when Microsoft introduced SkyDrive. I embraced it immediately. Here was the solution to managing my personal files! Instead of backing up my files myself, I relied on Microsoft and their various clients to do it for me. Re-installing the operating system? No problem! SkyDrive’s got my back. It’s as simple as wiping, re-installing, and waiting for the cloud to send me a snow storm of my personal data bits.
Things Get a Little Rocky
2013 was a rough time for my relationship with cloud storage. First was the Edward Snowden debacle, which is still ongoing. It revealed many things, one of which was the high level of cooperation that private data service providers such as Google, Microsoft, and Apple were providing the government. This post isn’t about the NSA collecting data on US citizens, so I will just say that I started to feel uneasy about the cloud’s level of commitment to our relationship.
Further, I started to learn more about the nature of encryption. It isn’t enough to just encrypt your data while it’s in transit (on the wire), which is important. It’s also important that the cloud service provider doesn’t have access to the data either. So, I started looking for cloud providers who offered encryption for data at rest. After a fair amount of research, I settled upon SpiderOak
SpiderOak - My New BFF
SpiderOak offers 2GB of free storage, which is immediately upgraded to 3GB if you use a referral link. In fact, using referrals can increase your storage up to 10GB free. This is pretty small compared to the free storage offered by Microsoft and DropBox, however when you sync your files to SpiderOak you know that your data is safe.
What am I storing on SpiderOak? My document files that contain sensitive data, such as tax documents, employment records (the military sprays your SSN on nearly every document they process), and most recently, home-buying documents. Likely only a few identity thieves in Romania or Nigeria are going to want to peek at these documents, but I love feeling secure in my relationship with my cloud storage provider.
I’m still storing photos and other documents that aren’t sensitive on SkyDrive, because frankly 3GB isn’t enough for all my documents. But it is enough space for the few documents that I have that I don’t want prying eyes to see in the event of a security breach. If SpiderOak gets hacked, my data is still safe!
SpiderOak has a great knowledgebase on their security processes. They are forthcoming about the limitations of their technology, which incline me to trust them far above the companies that vaguely say that they “take security seriously”.
Go ahead, give them a try. If you use my referral link below you start out with 3GB free:
Update: It looks like the free storage tier is no longer available.
If you have any questions or other secure cloud storage providers, please leave a comment!
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