Sync, Store and Share Files with SugarSync

Cloud storage products are hot services these days and while there is now an abundance of them, only a handful have really built something versatile and simple enough for the masses. Dropbox is one massively popular example, which we’ve reviewed before and even listed some really creative uses for. I recently asked my Twitter following which they preferred; Dropbox or SugarSync? Without question, the majority of my followers recommended Dropbox.

The two services are very similar, however, I prefer SugarSync. While similar to Dropbox, SugarSync offers a few features not found in Dropbox. Today we’ll take a look at SugarSync and a few of the features it provides, which Dropbox doesn’t.

Sync Tour

Sync Tour

SugarSync is a data storage, syncing and sharing tool compatible with Mac and PC as well as offering iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and Windows Mobile clients. It’s an easy way, like Dropbox, to keep access to your files only a click away — no matter where you are.

Overview

SugarSync offers several pricing plans, including a free one. The free plan gives you 2GB of storage space and most of the features of paid plans.

Price Plans

Price Plans

Their free plan has a few limitations though.

  • You’re limited to syncing two computers.
  • Only the last two versions of a file is saved.
  • Free plans don’t get priority upload speeds.

Update: SugarSync’s VP of Product Management (Drew Garcia) has informed us that the upload speed limit has been removed for free accounts. They’re now able to upload at the same rate as paid plans. Thanks Drew!

This shouldn’t really be an issue as I would imagine most people would sign up for a paid plan once they had a little time to test it out. It’s also important to note that SugarSync offers business plans which include additional administrative tools and features. This is something Dropbox doesn’t offer.

Features

SugarSync has a lot to offer when it comes to features. Personally, I like lots of features, but it’s important to maintain a balance between features and simplicity. Overcomplicating things will lead to a confusing and difficult to use application. This is perhaps, one of the reasons Dropbox is more popular in some groups. SugarSync isn’t overly complicated, but it isn’t quite as straight forward and simple as Dropbox.

SugarSync Features

SugarSync Features

The main features of SugarSync are basically the same as Dropbox.

  • Files and data connection are encrypted and secured.
  • You get full web access to manage your files.
  • All files get file versioning up to five previous versions, with only the most recent version counting towards your storage quota.
  • Multi-platform mobile apps.

Getting Started

Once you’ve signed up for the service, you’ll download the desktop application and setup your file syncing preferences. It’s all pretty straight forward and the software does a pretty good job of walking you through the necessary steps to get things customized as you’d like.

File Syncing

File Syncing

Once the software is installed, you don’t need to configure anything in order to start using SugarSync. Your Magic Briefcase syncs files between your computers, just like Dropbox.

In my opinion, SugarSync’s desktop software is one part of its feature set that I prefer over Dropbox. With the desktop software, you’re able to specify the files and folders you want synced to the web and/or to other computers. SugarSync uses what they call a “Magic Briefcase”, as a drag and drop directory that syncs between the web and all your computers running the software. This is the same idea as Dropbox.

Once you have the software setup and have customized your preferences, you’ll hardly ever use it. It will continue running in the background while you interact more often with its web application counterpart.

The Web Interface

The web interface is pretty straight forward, just like the desktop software. It’s not as minimalistic as Dropbox but that’s partially because it offers some additional features and capabilities.

Web Interface

Web Interface

You’ll notice that you have access to everything on the web that you’ve setup via the desktop application. One feature you may have noticed here, is the web archive. This is an important feature I couldn’t seem to find in Dropbox.

Web Archive

Web Archive

When searching for a data storage, sharing and syncing service, I expect to be able to upload files and store them via the web only. To the best of my knowledge, Dropbox can’t do this — but SugarSync can. With this feature, I’m able to upload files I don’t need desktop access to and save desktop hard drive space. Because SugarSync has a much better price per GB than Dropbox, long term storage of large amounts of data via the web only is cheap and feasible.

Another feature I really enjoy, is Mobile Photos via SugarSync’s web interface. If you own an iPhone, BlackBerry, Android or Windows Mobile running device, you’re able to upload your mobile photos to their own location. I’m always snapping photos with my iPhone and while it has plenty of storage, I’d rather not leave all those photos on the phone. Instead, I upload the majority of them to SugarSync and access them later when needed. It’s quick, easy and saves me a tremendous amount of time.

Sharing

Most of us are constantly sending files and images around the world. File sharing features can and will make or break services like SugarSync. While SugarSync doesn’t have the best implementation of file or folder sharing, it does a pretty good job. File sharing via cloud services has changed quite a bit over the last year so SugarSync has some catching up to do in the ease of use and simplicity departments.

File Sharing

File Sharing

Options to share folders and files are standard but also included is some additional options for better control of how folders are to be accessed.

Folder Sharing

Folder Sharing

Data Safety and Security

If you have a system meltdown, you’ll want to have peace of mind that you haven’t just lost the photos from your sibling or children’s wedding. It’s safe to say that your data isn’t going to suddenly disappear from SugarSync’s servers, so just reinstall the software and re-sync your files and you’re good to go.

Data Secrity

Data Secrity

As previously mentioned, all your synced files maintain up to five of the most recent versions in the event you need to roll back to that time you deleted some really important information from your school paper. Dropbox offers up to 30 days of file versioning with the option to get unlimited. So if file versioning is really important, Dropbox will be your better choice.

As with Dropbox, SugarSync encrypts the data connection between your computer and their servers. Also encrypted, is your data. It’s not as strong encryption as Dropbox touts, but 128-bit AES is used by banks and other financial institutions, other major online services and even government organizations. Your data will be secure leaving your computer and sitting on SugarSync’s servers.

Final Thoughts

Having used both SugarSync and Dropbox for awhile, both are top notch choices. In the end, I prefer SugarSync for a few features I need, which Dropbox doesn’t offer yet.

If you’re looking for cloud storage and data syncing between computers and mobiles with powerful web application access including sharing and collaboration features — SugarSync is going to be a great choice. It includes web archival, better mobile support, and lower price per GB plans with larger storage options.

This isn’t to say SugarSync doesn’t have a few drawbacks. It doesn’t offer as high encryption or linux support, where Dropbox does. As these are two of the major data syncing and storage service titans, I’m curious as to your thoughts, questions or creative uses — so please do leave a comment below!


Summary

SugarSync is a cloud storage and data syncing service for desktops and mobile devices, providing a powerful web application counterpart with many additional features.

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