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Summary:

I got a demo earlier this week of SugarSync‘s new features, then Kevin over at jkOntheRun beat me to the punch with his features announcement post (SugarSync Adds Email Attachment Uploads, 500 GB Plan). Like Kevin, I agree that these new features are a good thing. […]

I got a demo earlier this week of SugarSync‘s new features, then Kevin over at jkOntheRun beat me to the punch with his features announcement post (SugarSync Adds Email Attachment Uploads, 500 GB Plan). Like Kevin, I agree that these new features are a good thing. But unlike Kevin, I have yet to actually start using SugarSync.

Each time I hear, think or blog about SugarSync, I feel the pain of my virtual team. I hang my head in shame because, yes, we still use back-and-forth emails with attached documents with painstakingly modified file names so we know who made the changes and when. We also have started sending deliberate, emphatic emails to each project team saying “I am now giving up this document. So and so is the Keeper of This Document.”

To say that our process is antiquated is being kind. To say that it is inefficient, confusing, and painful is more like it. So once again, I experience a demo of SugarSync and get into a great discussion with the company’s CEO Laura Yecies about work process, document sharing, backups and working in the cloud. I want what she’s selling, but I’m also feeling a different kind of pain: The Pain of Adopting New Applications and Processes.

Anyone who has started and grown a company will tell you how some of the greatest challenges come as you add more people and your processes must change, but you’re so entrenched in “the way we do things” that you can’t seem to budge. The beauty of small companies like ours is that we can be nimble and flexible for our customers. But when your company is small and growing rapidly, internal flexibility can stall.

How Does SugarSync Compare to DropBox?

One of the applications my company uses now and then for file sharing and, more recently, in document versioning is Dropbox. While we like the “instant” file sharing for large files, I’m not convinced it is the way to go for sharing files that will experience further revisions over time, mostly because there isn’t a revision history. If you move something into your DropBox, the new version is now available to anyone you’ve shared the DropBox folder with and you cannot go back to an older version unless you change the file name before sharing.

SugarSync keeps a version history and renames new versions in the cloud for you to return to older documents.

DropBox is great for desktop and web working, but SugarSync beats it in terms of mobile access. SugarSync has set out to cover a set of processes that I think confounds many companies: Sync, Share, Access (including mobile). And it doed these things instantly and securely, whereas DropBox requires specific actions.

The Business level of SugarSync gives administrative controls such as adding and removing users at any time and setting specific access and storage limitations for each team member. With DropBox, I have to always remember that if I move something into my DropBox, it is now “gone” from my own computer files and now resides in the DropBox. With SugarSync, your files stay on your computer but sync into the cloud as well.

How Can SugarSync Ease the Pain?

I posed this question to Yecies on our call: “What do you say to people who are hesitant to adopt a new technology because they’re overloaded?”

Her reply resonated with me. “It’s easy to get started.”

Easy? I’m there. I signed up for the 2GB Free plan that allows only two users to sync and share to test the waters.

Here’s a summary of the benefits of SugarSync that I find immediately attractive for my own global virtual team:

  • Our data is accessible across multiple devices and platforms.
  • We can upload to SugarSync with email, which is already a tool we most commonly use anyway.
  • Administrative controls helps us manage data per team member i.e. “selective sync” capabilities.
  • It cuts out the need to same something locally and then to a pre-determined folder to share.
  • It works behind-the-scenes so we don’t have to remember to do something to trigger syncing or sharing.

I’m sure as I start actually using SugarSync, I’ll uncover additional benefits, but when an app and service comes out that already has a lot of useful features going for it, resistance is futile.

How are you sharing and syncing your files with your team?

Photo by stock.xchng user amandaism

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub req’d):

Who Owns Your Data In the Cloud?

By Aliza Sherman

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  1. Interesting article.

    I’ve made the switch from Dropbox to SugarSync recently and found both sites just as easy to use.

    The main reason for switching is due to the lack of Android support in Dropbox. Now my Nexus One can dive in to my SugarSync account to pull up any file anytime.

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  2. Dropbox does save versions. Right click > Dropbox > View Previous Versions.

    Dropbox (and SugarSync, probably) is best used as a replacement for your user folder. Just move everything in, and you get full backup, sync, and version history for every file in the folder.

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  3. The lack of Android support for Dropbox is a big negative, though. Dropbox supports more platforms for computers, but not for phones.

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  4. Aliza, thanks for this. I have been a Dropbox user for some time and it was only when I got the press release for the email to Sugarsync facility earlier this week that I revisited it for the first time in some months. Looks like I have some serious checking out to do.

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  5. Sam – Thanks for your input on the versioning. I’ll keep that in mind!

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  6. I use Microsoft’s Mesh tool (www.mesh.com). It stores a copy of data online and accessible from anywhere, plus it syncs with any number of desktop clients. I believe it provides Remote Desktop capabilities to the machines that participate in the sync, but I’ve heard it doesn’t work that great.

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  7. Does Sugar Sync work as a Service? In other words, does one have to be logged on in order for the sync to work?

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  8. WARNING DO NOT USE SUGARSYNC! SUGARSYNC lost all of my data and could not retrieve it from their own server. This company is a joke, they held my company hostage for 2 weeks trying to find my files that Sugarsync some how deleted from my desktop! Their horribly inept techs could not figure out where my data went so they just decided not to call me back. I finally got in touch with Debbie, Sr. Director, SugarSync Customer Care and she tried to make me feel stupid and that the whole thing was my fault. Sugarsync does not care about small businesses and their customer service is horrible.

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  9. [...] backup, file sync and file sharing “on-the-go” on any Mac, PC or mobile device (check out my review here). Here are some other useful [...]

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  10. I’ve been using SugarSync for about a year now and I’m really satisfied. Very little system load compared to other similar products I’ve tried and it has never once crashed.

    If you sign up via my referral link below we both get an extra 500 MB if you sign up for a free account or 10 GB if you sign up for a 30 GB account or larger:

    https://www.sugarsync.com/referral?rf=hvcrnjz57xeq

    Pros:
    Many features, very stable, easy on system resources, ability to shut it down completely from tray menu (Dropbox wouldn’t do this when I used it).

    Cons:
    Sometimes if you choose manually to move the files to all synchronizing computers (instead of just moving them to the shared folder of ONE computer and then letting SugarSync sync the others via the internet) Sugarsync creates duplicates even though we’re dealing with completely identical files (same checksums). Sugarsync renames the duplicates according to where they we’re found again so you’ll get to versions of the same file (but with different names) on your computers.
    Sometimes you can circumvent this by pressing CTRL-SHIFT-R thereby ordering SugarSync to do a clean restart. But how it really works I don’t know….

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