SpiderOak ONE: not the best treatment after the trial ended

I had signed up for a free 21-day trial account of SpiderOak ONE, and used that to write my SpiderOak ONE review. As a small addendum that didn’t fit in my review, I’d like to talk about how I was treated after my free trial had expired.

I was given a three weeks and a 250 GB account to evaluate a SpiderOak ONE. All they asked for was an email address, and they didn’t require me to give away my credit card details to evaluate the service. For trail offerings, that’s a respectable offer.

If you haven’t read my feature review of SpiderOak ONE yet, then I can summarize it by saying I wasn’t too thrilled about their cloud backup service, and especially not their backup client software.

After my three weeks were up, I received the following email titled “ACTION REQUIRED: Your SpiderOak ONE trial ends today”:

Your trial ends today

I hope you’ve enjoyed your 21 day trial of SpiderOak ONE. Today is the final day of your trial; to continue using your account and retain the 13,68 GB of data you’ve already uploaded you’ll need to upgrade to one of our paid plans.

As a reminder, we have a special deal for you — 10 % off our most popular plan. Get 1 000 GB of storage for 10 % off the normal annual price. To take advantage of this deal, simply click the button below to log in to your Account page, click Change in the ONE Plan section, then select the Welcome to SpiderOak 10 % Discount.

[Log in to your account to upgrade]

If you’ve any questions or feedback for us, please reply and our team will be happy to work with you.

All the best, Adam Tervort, Customer Success Director

I read the above email as “you’ve got to update or the clients will stop working and we’ll eventually delete your data”. However, please note that the email doesn’t say exactly what will happen to your account.

In lack of more clear instructions, I thought I’d wait and see what would happen. I believed I’d receive one or more emails urging me to pay-up or have my backed up data deleted.

After three–four days, my SpiderOak ONE clients all switched from saying “Connected” to “Disconnected”. When I clicked Account within the client I received the following error message:

SpiderOak can’t reach the server to retrieve a secure login URL for you account.

I though maybe they were experiencing server difficulties, and noticed that SpiderOak was apologizing to customers on Twitter for outages on other SpiderOak services. I assumed my problem was related and ignored the situation for another few days.

Less than a week later, I received the first email update since the notice calling me to action. This email was a promotion saying that “Today is a once in a lifetime opportunity”, promising “20 % off of any of SpiderOak’s annual plans.” I thought that was a good deal and decided to keep SpiderOak ONE for a couple of months while I evaluated other backup providers.

However, the SpiderOak ONE client still gave me the same error message as before. I tried logging in through their web interface where I was given the following error message: “Incorrect email/username or password.”

As it turns out, you don’t get any further email notifications before your account is deactivated. You’re locked out when you don’t pay-up, and SpiderOak don’t even send you an email to inform you that your account has been locked.

I don’t quite see how they expect to turn trial members into paying subscribers when they won’t let us login to our accounts to make the payment.

I don’t believe I’ve experienced anything like this before from any online service provider of any kind. Yes, they may suspend your account service, and yes, they may even delete all your files. But they never lock you out of your account and prevent you from paying up!

I’m not sure whether this happen because of a bad technical solution where SpiderOak disables user accounts to turn off their clients, or whether this is by design. However, this can’t possibly be good for business.

All the time, I was also unclear what had happen to my files. Where they still stored at SpiderOak? Had they been deleted? Without any further information, I reached out to SpiderOak Support to clarify my account status.

Support got back to me in 17 hours and told me that my account had been disabled, and they would reactive it for 48 more hours. I quickly logged in to my account, and discovered that my files hadn’t been deleted.

I ended up deleting my account instead of extending my trail period to a paid subscription. I felt that was the best decision all things considered. I didn’t like the ONE backup client, SpiderOak aren’t competitively priced, and I don’t appropriate their poor communication and policies governing trial accounts and account termination. Surely, there must be better backup providers out there?