SugarSync: Fresh Take on Synchronization

ScreenshotThere are certainly plenty of ways to synchronize files among multiple computers: we’ve looked at entrants in this field including BeInSync, Dropbox, and GoodSync. New entrant in the field SugarSync is trying to stand out by offering support across a larger-than-usual breadth of devices, as well as some innovative features.

ScreenshotWhen you sign up for a SugarSync account, you get access to a secure, private web site immediately. This site serves as both the repository for your online backups and a way to access files from any device. To make this really useful, you need to download and install the SugarSync client software on one or more of your computers – there are Windows and Mac versions available. After installing the client, you can choose which folders should be synched up to your web site. Once on the site, files can be renamed, emailed, downloaded, or viewed in the browser. You also get a web archive area that does not automatically sync with changes on your computer – this lets you, for example, move a folder and then delete it from your desktop to free up local space.

ScreenshotMeanwhile, the SugarSync clients will also synchronize files among themselves (if you install them on more than one computer). This doesn’t require direct connectivity; sync is performed via the web site, so it works even if the two computers are not online at the same time. One nice touch is the existence of both full and lite sync folders. A full sync folder keeps changed reconciled between the two computers; a lite sync folder makes files available for access on demand while not taking up space anywhere except on the computer it’s shared from. For my way of working, this is one of the most useful features: I can make big chunks of stuff available from my desktop, but not have the files take up any room on my laptop until I actually want to grab and work with them.

In addition to Windows, Mac, and Web support, SugarSync also offers mobile versions for BlackBerry and Windows Mobile, as well as a mobile web site for browsers on unsupported phones (and one customized just for the iPhone). This makes it easy to have, for example, your entire photo collection available to your phone without having to keep it all there.

SugarSync isn’t perfect, of course; in particular, you need to watch out for the same sort of file locking and overwriting issues that most synchronization software suffers from. For example, if you have a Word document open on two different computers, changes saved on one can’t be automatically synchronized to the other. But in its target area of wide access and safe backup (files on the web site are stored on two different servers, including Amazon S3), it works well. You can get a free 45-day trial of a 10GB account. Pricing starts at $49.99 yearly for 10GB, but until April 15 they’re offering a 50% discount on this price.


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