In case you haven’t noticed, part one of my article on backing up with Aperture is now posted on Inside Aperture. Part two will cover online solutions, but I received an email yesterday about a solution I didn’t cover in the article. I wanted to take a minute to mention this new service, SpiderOak.
The basic idea is similar to other services, like Mozy, where your files are uploaded to an encrypted, remote server. However, there are a number of key differences. SpiderOak actually creates versions of your files, instead of just uploading the latest copy, and the versions are updated each time the file changes. Furthermore, multiple computers can share the same SpiderOak account. One very interesting concept is that SpiderOak can act like your iDisk, too, in that since multiple computers can access it, you can login and retrieve a file whenever you need to. Their free client tool is cross-platform, and you could even login from a PC (unfortunately this also means that it doesn’t behave or look quite like a native application).
The most unique idea is their concept of “share rooms.” Essentially, you have the ability to setup sets of files that different groups of people could access. For example, you might make a NetworkShare so that a group of people can work on a set of files, like your website, together. You might make another ShareRoom with a set of edited images for a client to download, available for a given number of days at a special URL. Plus, because the images are stored on SpiderOak, you don’t have to worry about creating a backup of the client’s images. As long as your images are in a format that SpiderOak can understand, when you look at the share in a web browser, you’ll see thumbnails and large previews of your images. There is even a slideshow feature!
I spent a few minutes playing with a trial account (2GB of storage free) yesterday, and it seems straightforward. From what I can tell, to really take advantage of their system, it’s best if you have referenced files. Even if you have managed files, every change you make to your images in an external editor will be versioned and backed up, but it’s easier to setup shares of your photos if you don’t have to dig through the Aperture library to find your files. No, I haven’t experimented with how the versioning works with an Aperture database, but I would imagine that it has similar problems to Time Machine–if you backup while Aperture is running and then restore from that backup, your Aperture database might end up in a bad state. I, like many of you, am still waiting for a backup solution that handles Aperture libraries in a smart way.
All that being said, if you want a generic, one-stop, automatic online backup solution for multiple machines that also lets you access your files remotely, SpiderOak might fit that bill! At the very least, their free trial account is worth checking out, and for $10/month, you receive up to 20GB of storage.