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Summary:

When I gave SugarSync a review earlier in the year, I was mostly impressed. This online file synchronization service offers cross-platform support and is drop-dead simple to set-up and use. While I’m still waiting for a file revision history function, the folks at SugarSync aren’t standing […]

SugarsynciphoneWhen I gave SugarSync a review earlier in the year, I was mostly impressed. This online file synchronization service offers cross-platform support and is drop-dead simple to set-up and use. While I’m still waiting for a file revision history function, the folks at SugarSync aren’t standing still. Today they launched a SugarSync application for the iPhone and it offers quick access to any files or folders you store on the service. SugarSync advertises the app as having "push-synchronization", but in my opinion that’s not entirely accurate. To me, this would mean new data I sync from a PC to the SugarSync server would automatically get pushed down to my iPhone. That’s not the case here, based on the press release (emphasis added by me):

"SugarSync for iPhone uses Sharpcast’s powerful push synchronization technology to quickly access files over the air. SugarSync works seamlessly across multiple computers so people can easily navigate to any of their devices to view Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF files, as well as photos. The files are synced to the iPhone over the air on demand, and stored in a temporary cache whose memory size is maintained automatically so that files viewed on the go use minimal memory on the iPhone."

To be honest, I’m not even sure I’d want full push synchronization withmy iPhone. I can store a bunch of data in the cloud, but my iPhone onlyhas 8 GB of storage, most of which is used for music and video. Regardless of semantics, I kicked the tires of the new application this morning and it works well. I can get at all of the files on my UMPC, PC and MacBook Pro. If a file type isn’t supported for viewing on the iPhone, you can only send the file to someone via e-mail; that’s not a SugarSync limitation of course, that’s an iPhone limitation in terms of file format support. You can view Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF files and photos for example, but I can’t view an RTF I have on the server.

While you could just use your browser for all of the same functionality, the new iPhone app is well polished and offers a nicer interface. The ring of computers reminds me of Microsoft’s Live Mesh approach, in fact. Currently Live Mesh for mobiles is only available through a web client, so we’ll have to wait and see how a dedicated client looks. You can find SugarSync’s iPhone program right in the App Store and it’s a freebie. Bear in mind that SugarSync is not free: accounts start out at $25 annually for 10 GB of storage.

  1. Mozy seems a bit antiquated compared to this. ~$5 with Mozy gets me unlimited backup from 1 computer where as ~$5 to SugarSync is limited to 30GB but covers multiple devices. It should be enough for all my documents and a good portion of my photos. I think I’m in.

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  2. I only had to a do print mag review and write about the product two more times for you to try it? You’re getting soft in your old age, Dave. ;)

    Seriously, there isn’t much not to like here IMO. A solid product.

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  3. As it turns out, there is a file revision history available – it’s accessible through the web interface [your_username].sugarsync.com – go to the file manager, navigate to the file and click it. In the pop-up menu you should see “versions”.

    Also, the concept behind “push synchronization”, if I understand it right, has more to do with the availability of your file, rather than actually having the file on your device. If you add a file on your computer, for example, the *entry* for the file is pushed to your iPhone – you don’t have to refresh the page, or redownload an index, or anything like that. The filename just appears. It seems to me the iPhone app is instantly aware of any change you make, but it still does download-on-demand to save you space. Best of both worlds :)

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  4. Versions is also somewhat available in the desktop client. Right click any file, and choose Versions. It sends you to the Web UI with the versions page for that client displayed.

    I wish the Windows Mobile SS client was this good. Going for anything but the photos kicks you into a mobile web UI in Pocket IE. It does work, but is pretty ugly.

    There are a few files I’d like to see automatically synchronized when the app was running, but with the iPhone’s bizarre file sandboxing, I don’t see that working very well.

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  5. There is an App in the App Store that features sync to phone for Live Mesh. It’s called iSMEStorage. I’ve been using it for a while now. You drop anything you want into a MySyncs directory and it syncs directly to the phone. You can also upload photos/videos directly from the iPhone to Live Mesh. It also works with SkyDrive, Google Docs and other clouds.

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