File backup is not a new conversation or topic by any means. If you search Google for “file backup” you will likely be overwhelmed by services and articles on the topic. It is a vast market and there is a lot to choose from. Within this market, however, only a few stand out. We know most of them: Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive and others like Mozy, SpiderOak, and on and on.
Among all of those there is still one that rises above the rest and that is SugarSync. Many of the services have great features, and although there is no perfect service or application, SugarSync is about as close to perfect as you could want. It differentiates itself with small additions and details, but even its core model is different from all the rest. Let’s see how sweet SugarSync really is (terrible pun there, I know).
My Testimonial: Why You Should Use SugarSync
As you have probably gathered already, SugarSync is a file synchronization program. How it actually works is quite simple: It allows you to sync any files from your computer, to the cloud, and other devices. That’s correct. If you have a smartphone, tablet or another computer, whether for work or personal use, you can synchronize your files throughout all devices.
Now, what if you don’t want your personal files intermingled with your work files? Or what if your smartphone doesn’t have the physical storage space to hold all the files that you may be syncing from a computer? SugarSync not only allows you to sync any folders to the cloud, but it also allows you to specify which devices are synced with certain folders. So you may have all your files from your work computer synced to a “work folder” on your personal computer, but not your personal files (or maybe just specific ones, if you choose) synced to your work computer.
To me, that’s why you should use SugarSync. Aside from the obvious being that you need to have a backup of your files, it works how you work. There’s no need to change your current workflow. If you don’t feel that having a backup to the cloud is necessary, let me tell you a story that will change your mind.
A couple years ago I was applying for an internship in Alaska. I had been working away from home and my laptop had been giving me some issues at the time, but I was able to work around the problems and get everything (resume, cover letter, letters of recommendation, etc.) prepared to email to them. I just had to bundle it up and do it.
To understand the story, I’ll quickly tell you the issue I was having. My battery was short-lived and I didn’t have my power cord so I had to go home to finish my work there. When I got home, I plugged in my computer, and it didn’t turn on. The power input on the laptop was shot. How? I don’t know, but I had bigger concerns. How was I going to email all of my information? I had worked so hard to get this internship and a broken power input was the only thing standing in the way. There was one last hope. I went to my dad’s computer, signed in to my SugarSync account. I knew the files would be there, but I had been making a lot of changes and I just hoped that the most recent ones were synced to the cloud. I downloaded and opened them to find out that they were!
I was then able to upload those files to an email and send them off before midnight. PHEW! Talk about a close call. But when it mattered, SugarSync came through because of its real-time update feature. As long as you’re constantly saving the file you’re updating, SugarSync will be constantly syncing it. Oh, and I got the internship (which I owe to SugarSync).
Another use that I’ve found for SugarSync is that it can be a complete flash drive replacement. I actually lost mine, but it didn’t affect me while in school, going from computer to computer because all I had to do was sign into SugarSync and all my school files which were on my laptop, were now in front of me on a public computer. I could then download to print it or make changes and upload it back to SugarSync and find the changes on my laptop again.
Dividing the Competition: SugarSync’s Unique Features
We’ve already talked about the competition in the cloud storage market, and I’ve made the claim that SugarSync outdoes them all, but now let me show you how and why it does. The story above about how SugarSync saved my files, could likely be a story of anyone who is regularly backing up to the cloud. However, SugarSync makes it extremely easy to regularly backup.
Backup and Sync ANY Folder
In SugarSync’s words, it “works the way you do” and currently, is the only service that does. There really aren’t any other services which sync any folders the way SugarSync does and offer all the other great features as well, such as expandable storage. There are a couple options to add folders to SugarSync. One way is to right click the folder and choose “Add Folder to SugarSync.”
Another method, which I feel is much easier, is within the SugarSync File Manager.
Click “Add Sync Folders” and a window will popup displaying some of the most common folders. I like the way SugarSync has set this up to enable users to easily add these folders, since they likely contain the files they use most often. In the image below the “Pictures” and “Documents” folders aren’t included because they’re already being synced to my account. This really came in handy when I didn’t have my computer at all (while it was being repaired) since I had previously synced all my folders to SugarSync.
In addition, you can add more folders by clicking “Add More Folders.” Now you can scale through your “C:\ drive” and add any folders you desire.
The concept behind Magic Briefcase actually isn’t unique at all. In fact it’s basically the same thing as Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive and Box. But the fact that SugarSync has this feature, along with enabling you to sync any folder on your computer too, is awesome. This alone takes it a step above these other services. It’s kind of like having a Dropbox right in SugarSync… no, it IS having “Dropbox” right in SugarSync (just with a different name of course). So if you are thinking of trying out SugarSync for the first time, don’t think you won’t have that feature – you will. And so many more.
The primary difference in having an “one folder sync” system versus having an “any folder sync” system is you don’t have to manually move or copy your files into that folder. In the past I’ve set up my own system by using another program to sync files between my Dropbox (or other sync/backup application) and my local folders, but this means that those files are only updated when the program runs. Even if I had been using that method and running it every day when my computer broke down, I still would have been history because my files wouldn’t have been synced.
Upload By Email
Dropbox has this functionality through third-party plug-ins, but SugarSync is the only service, besides Box, that offers this “out of the box.” When you create your SugarSync account, you are given a unique email, only relevant to you (don’t give this out). Simply add it to your email contact list and send files away. This might be helpful if your work doesn’t allow you to download software onto your computer. Instead, you can just attach the file and place your SugarSync email in the Bcc field if you’re sending the attachment off to someone else too.
Local File Manager Application
I feel this is often an overlooked feature of SugarSync. Sure there are some other programs that have “file managers,” but SugarSync is superior to them by far. It’s just easy to use. The functions that you need to access are right in front of you and the interface is clean.
This may not be a “feature” by some users’ terms, but I feel the ability to use a program on almost all platforms and devices automatically puts it above the rest. The one drawback is that SugarSync doesn’t work with Linux. I’m not sure why, for certain, but it doesn’t. I know there is a lot of demand for it though and hopefully they will open up to that platform as well.
In the meantime, however, it is compatible with virtually every other device: Windows, Mac, iOS (iPhone and iPad), BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Android (including Kindle Fire) and Symbian. It also has a mobile website for “non-app” devices and an Outlook plugin (sure would be nice if they had a browser plugin for Gmail and other webmail clients too though).
It’s also important to note to developers that SugarSync offers an open API allowing integration with third party apps.
Storage, like “Broad Accessibility,” may not be a direct feature, but it certainly is a major player in the decision making for which application to use to backup and sync your files. Many times, even if there is a program that has better features, if it offers more space it may win your vote simply because of that. Thankfully, SugarSync doesn’t just have awesome features that separate it, but also an excellent referral system to earn more storage and a storage capacity that soars above the rest.
Aside from extra storage, SugarSync offers 5GB at startup instead of Dropbox’s 2GB. Google Drive offers 5GB and SkyDrive does offer 7GB, but combined with all the other features that SugarSync offers, 5GB is very generous.
To be honest, I am not sure if SugarSync currently puts a cap on their storage. I haven’t found that anywhere, but I do know that in the past they haven’t as they’ve claimed some users have earned up to 200GB of free storage. However, on the Features Comparison page, it shows “Up To 32GB,” so if anyone finds out for sure, I’d like to know. Still with 32GB, SugarSync is the only service of it’s kind to offer such a generous amount of free storage. The key word here is free. There are plans that you can buy storage of 100GB and more, but all other services cap off free storage long before 32. The only possible contender to this is SkyDrive, but only if you had an existing account before they made the change. Otherwise as a new user you are only granted 7GB for free.
There are a few ways to get extra free storage. You can refer your friends through an email, Facebook or Twitter post, or a custom link that you can post anywhere. Another way you can get some free storage is to sign up off of a referral. This is an “oh duh!” kind of tip, but it’s one I wish I should have done. Find a SugarSync user and privately ask if they would want to send you a referral like. Chances are, they want the extra space too. How much do you get for referrals? 500MB per user if just a free account is created. Of course, if you refer someone who upgrades to a paid account, you end up rolling in the gigabytes of free referral space.
Another way is to complete the “Getting Started” guide. This not only gets you free space, but also helps you get more comfortable with using SugarSync. As you can see in the image below, I have all but one completed which is setting up the SugarSync mobile app, which will be the first thing I do when I get a smartphone.
Helpful SugarSync Reference Links
There are many other features within SugarSync and I’ve barely scratched the surface of them. Below is the link to all of SugarSync’s features, as well as links to the comparison chart to other services (obviously biased, but nonetheless is still helpful) and other great sources on the SugarSync website such as CloudU, which is a page dedicated to educating all kinds of users on using the cloud.
If you need assistance with the initial set up of SugarSync, below is a video that should help you through the process. I’m more than happy to help with any questions and I’m sure the SugarSync team will be as well.
Also, don’t forget to get that startup referral bonus from someone else prior to signing up. But please don’t post your referral links in the comments.
SugarSync has long been my favorite. I don’t keep using because I’m “stuck in my ways” or I “despise change.” I use it because it keeps getting better and is the most logical service for my use. Now, maybe you feel that there is another service that is most logical for you. Great! I definitely disagree with changing something if it will create a dip in productivity and workflow. However, the great thing about SugarSync is you can use it along side of it’s competitors and try them all out. You might notice a slight decline in your startup time, but to be honest, I use them all. Because I’m a nerd. But if I was forced to chose one and only one, I’d go with SugarSync, hands down.
What are your thoughts on SugarSync as a service? Do you use it? Do you even back up your files to the cloud at all? Looking forward to your thoughts and opinions of SugarSync and cloud storage as a whole… and perhaps a personal testimony if you have one.