SugarSync Review: Back Up and Sync With Multiple Computers – Better Than Dropbox

SugarSync automatically copies your chosen folders between multiple computers and makes them available online for later access and sharing. It has been a popular service, but admittedly stays in the shadows of the more ubiquitous and popular DropBox. Can SugarSync measure up to DropBox? Is it worth the trouble to switch if you are already a DropBox user? We attempt to answer these questions.

I have been using DropBox for more than a year after seeing that my previous favorite – Windows Live Mesh – was not developing quickly enough. When SugarSync upped its free storage total to 5GB from 2GB, it got my attention. When the SugarSync people offered to give us a look at the service I jumped at the opportunity.

How SugarSync Works

If you haven’t heard of SugarSync, check out the company’s promo video below:

The service has three parts. First, SugarSync is a file syncing service. After installation, you select which folders on your hard drive to sync between your computer and the other computers you own. Second, there is an online backup function. There are a few special folders that are available when you log into your online account. They are as follows:

  • Magic Briefcase – a folder that you can use to quickly backup files online and to sync with other computers
  • Web Archive – a place to store files you may not need on all or any of your computers; think of it as a file attic where you can clear out the clutter from your computer without throwing it away
  • Shared Folders – folders shared with specific people who are also SugarSync users – this is the third part of the service
  • Public Files – a folder of files that people can access if they know the URL without being SugarSync users – also part of the third part of the service
  • Contacts – your contacts backed up to the web
  • Deleted Files – these are the files you deleted from your synced folders which are automatically backed up in case you would like to restore them later

The third part of the service is file sharing. It uses the Shared Folders and Public Folders listed above to let you quickly share files either with specific people (shared folders) or anyone (public folders). I would use the shared files folder to send family pictures but the public file folders to post a link to a file online, like at Facebook or a blog.

Advertisement

Differences Between Other Services

The folks at SugarSync know that DropBox is more popular right now. They just don’t understand why. When you look at some of the key differences we have to say we understand their confusion. SugarSync produced a comparison chart that shows the benefits their service offers over the other major syncing services. We are usually skeptical of such lists since companies often skew the information to make their service look better. They might leave off ways that the other services are better than theirs. We don’t think SugarSync has done this. The list is comprehensive and clearly shows that many of the other syncing/backup services are nearly as feature complete as SugarSync. In one category it shows that DropBox has the edge (see last bullet point below). However, our own objective comparison agrees with theirs.

  • Free storage is 5GB compared to 2 with DropBox
  • Backup any folder on the computer while DropBox restricts the user to one special DropBox folder
  • SugarSync allows users to email files to your online storage
  • SugarSync allows some online editing of files
  • SugarSync has a built-in media player that streams to web browser, iPhone, Android, Symbian and other devices via mobile browser much like the new Amazon Cloud Drive with more features
  • SugarSync has more international language support
  • DropBox supports Linux in addition to Mac and Windows while SugarSync only has a client for Mac and Windows

You can check out the list to see how the service compares to other sync services like MobileMe, Carbonite, Mozy or Windows Live Mesh.

Client Software

The SugarSync client software helps the user work with their files and make sure they are properly synced, backed up and shared. When it is installed on a Mac it runs in the menu at the top right of the screen, while on Windows it runs in the system tray in the lower right. The two are functionally the same regardless of which platform you use. We used it mostly on a Mac for this review, but the Windows installation we have was not significantly different and performed as well.

SugarSync Client Menu

You can click the menu/system tray icon and instantly see how much of your storage is being used and how much you have left. You can also do things like add storage, sync more folders and manage which folders are synced with which computers. Here is also where you change preferences.

SugarSync File Manager

Click on the SugarSync File Manager to open the above window where you can control most of the features of the service and access files from your other computers. You will notice above that all of my computers show up at the top of the left hand list. Special folders are below them. The toolbar has controls for handling which folders are synced or not and which are shared with others.

SugarSync Web Interface

The online site looks a lot like the file manager (see above). This also where you can add a new computer. Click the “Add a Computer” link to download the client software so you can install it to the new computer. SugarSync supports Mac OS X and Windows.

Your files are stored both on the computer and in this online storage. That way you can easily access the files synced from a specific system even if that computer is not running.

Mobile Apps

A lot of us use mobile devices like smart phones or tablets and need access to files from our computers while on our mobile devices. SugarSync has a pretty good iPad app. You can download all the files you have backed up using the service from any device or your special folders like the Magic Briefcase or Web Archive. When you open a file in the app it has the iOS “Open In…” feature where you can open the documents in other supported apps. For example, you can open documents in Pages, presentations in Keynote or PDFs in your favorite PDF viewer like PDF Expert.

SugarSync iPad App

The new photo features are very good. You can take a picture through the app if you have an iPod Touch 4th Gen, iPhone or iPad 2. They will automatically upload to your SugarSync’s mobile photos folder which is then automatically synced with your computers. This also works on the Android app. You can also upload photos from your camera roll too.

SugarSync iPad App

Below is the Settings page in the iPad App.

Sugar Sync iPad App Settings

On the Android side our editor Josh Smith did the review. He said:

The Android app gives easy access to your SugarSync files and thanks to the new photo backup feature you can make sure that you have backups of your photos, which is more important than ever with the recent crop of smartphones with great cameras.

There are a number of other apps that have SugarSync support including the following:

Conclusions

We were really impressed with SugarSync. For people who are starting from scratch, this is the service to use. The free 5GB of storage is more than double what DropBox offers. It is fast and is more versatile allowing any folder on your computer to be synced. DropBox only gives you 2GB and requires all the files to be stored in the DropBox folder. If you are a Carbonite user, you will like that even external drives can be backed up and synced using SugarSync, something not possible on Carbonite. The uploading process was much faster with SugarSync than it was with Carbonite. It is worth noting that Carbonite is unlimited in backup size.

DropBox has sharing features, but they count all of those shared folders against your capacity limit. Let’s say you have a shared folder for pictures that you and your parents use. It contains pictures of the grandkids, so your parents can see their grandkids grow up even if they live far away from your family. If grandma accidentally uploads a GB of her own pictures of the senior citizen’s picnic to the folder, then they will be downloaded to your computer and count against your 2GB limit. This will slow down your connection as they download or worse put you over the top of your 2GB limit. With SugarSync those shared files don’t count against the limit. If you have 3.4GB of files and your mom accidentally shares her gig of pictures with you, you still only have 3.4GB of files according to SugarSync. The other 1.6GB is still free for you to use. The 1GB of picnic photos will count against grandma’s limit only.

DropBox does have one advantage. It is used by more people and incorporated into more apps and services. For example, there are more iPhone or iPad apps with DropBox integrated than SugarSync compatible apps. Be sure your favorite apps work with SugarSync before you switch. If your favorite apps don’t work with SugarSync, then see if there is a suitable alternative or request that the developer add support. Some app developers are quick to respond to user requests, especially if a lot of users are asking for it.

For users who need extra storage, SugarSync is cheaper than DropBox. SugarSync costs $100/year for 60GB while it only gets you 50GB/year on DropBox. SugarSync charges $149 for 100GB while DropBox will charge $199 for the same space. DropBox offers incentives and games to upgrade your storage for free. You can get up to 5GB. SugarSync also has incentives that will potentially double their free storage too. Their limit is 10GB.

I had one issue with SugarSync while using the iOS app Documents to Go, which is an office style suite for the iPad. It works with both services, but when I really needed to download a file to my iPad from my MacBook Pro, the app gave me the following error.

Documents To Go Server Error

The good news is removing my account and then adding it back fixed the problem. The support folks from both SugarSync and Documents to Go were quick to respond. If you use the service with this app and see this error, then be sure to try removing the account in Settings and see if that fixes the issue.

Despite the above issue, SugarSync is the best option available for syncing, backing up files online and for simple file sharing. The good news is you don’t have to limit yourself. Go ahead and use both. Pay for SugarSync if you need more than 5GB and use it to back up, sync and share files. Use DropBox to back up your most important files so that you have them backed up in two different services. This also gives you interoperability with others who haven’t seen the value of SugarSync over DropBox. When someone sends you a DropBox link you can access the shared folder. Then send them an invite to SugarSync and if they sign up you get extra free storage. Combining the two you can get up to 15GB of free storage if you participate in all of each company’s upgrade incentives. You will get 7GB if you don’t.

  

Comments

  1. Jomer Galeos says

    I have SugarSync on all the computers I use and my iPhone. It works really well. One thing that I like most about the application is that it automatically updates the files you have synchronized whenever you make changes to them.

    • anthony rallo says

      I also have it on my iphone & ipad! Can’t beat the fact that it practically works on any device (windows phone 7 coming soon)

      And you can actually get 5.5GB of free storage for signing up through this link. Almost TRIPLE what you get with dropbox. http://bit.ly/SugarSync500MBBonus

  2. Anonymous says

    Last time I tried sugarsync out you needed to be running an admin account for it to start up properly.
    This is just sloppy and inexcusable.
    Though I know a lot of people (most probably) like to run cowboy anyway.
    Windows is crappy about the way it deals with admin and non-admin accounts and how program installations etc react in such a multi-profile environment anyway.

  3. Gustavo Flores says

    actualmente uso sugarsync con mi netbook, pc y smartphone, todo funciona muy bien. solo recomendaria que den una solucion al programa, cuando hago el cambio de contraseña, no se ejecuta en mi pc, por lo que tengo que reinstalarlo para que funcione con mi nueva contraseña. saludos

  4. tivoboy says

    Well, I think one of the issues with the PERCEPTION of sugarsync was that they were not always a free service, or at least the amount of storage one got was very limited (read unusable) on the free service. It is very hard now to RE-EDUCATE the potential customer base that sugarsync is now a free service with 5GB of storage (although it is hard from their website to see WHAT one gets with the free service)

    That said, with dropbox one can ALSO very easily enable ANY FOLDER to be sync’d with dropbox. Granted, dropbox directly doesn’t offer this in their client app, but there are many simply apps for all platforms (macdropany) that create the path for dropbox to sync. So, it does NOT have to be only in the dropbox folder.

    I think what dropbox needs to do is create a new awareness campaign for old and new users.

    Also, get onboard with companies/products like goodreader and others so that one has direct access to dropbox items from within those apps on ipads, xoom and the like

    • California Girl says

      Access to GoodReader, iFiles and such are great from within SugarSync. This is is a really good value. I’ll try Dropbox since a lot of people have it just to compare but it sounds like SugarSync has them beat.

      Using both services together on the free end is an excellent tip.

  5. Anonymous says

    I agree with all the basic comparison points here, but there is an item missing.

    What keeps me with Dropbox is the strong built in support for it in the iPhone apps that I use. Sugarsync seems to be lagging in this area.

    It’s a great time saver for me to open a specific app and grab a file from Dropbox directly rather than have to use the Dropbox (or Sugarsync) app and then ‘open with’. I also feel much happier that files I save in apps are automatically sync’ed back the other way

    Dave

  6. Anonymous says

    Great in-depth article, thanks so much! I personally have been using Sugarsync for a long time now and am more than happy. Not only are they cheaper than most of its competitors, they also offer by far the best product in the market today.

    Also, if you use the following link to sign up for Sugarsync, you now get 5.5 GB of free online storage forever: https://www.sugarsync.com/referral?rf=ejjfpyq3n6nmz

  7. Online Backups Review says

    SugarSync is a great backup & sync service. I like how you outline the differences between SugarSync & other services, specifically Dropbox. While some people use Dropbox for online backup, I don’t feel it’s built to do that. Dropbox is great for syncing files.

    However, SugarSync is great at both online backup AND syncing files between computers.

    My SugarSync review is posted at http://www.onlinebackupsreview.com/sugarsync.php

  8. Evtubay says

    Evtubay.com: Online Shopping for Clothing, Shoes at low prices

    When it comes to online shopping – http://evtubay.com, you don’t have to leave your home at all. You simply sit down at your computer, browse around the various online stores, and find what it is you need. However, there is usually only one way to pay. You can only pay via credit card. There are some websites that allow you to use your PayPal account or they will permit you to send them a check before they send you the item. The check method doesn’t work so well when you need the item right now.

    http://evtubay.com. Get reward miles by shopping online. You can earn reward miles on all purchases that are made online for clothing, Shoes at low prices.

    Type your comment here.

  9. Brad says

    I’ve been using Dropbox and Sugarsync for some time now.
    The reason that I’m transferring everything to Dropbox is that it doesn’t slow the computer processes down as much as Sugarsync does. Sugarsync is just too much of a CPU hog.

  10. antnyc says

    As an IT professional, I’ve specified SugarSync for a while now for friends and clients as I love some of the great functions. I always use multiple backup methods and primarily use SugarSync as my redundant backup/instant access cloud device. It offers more free storage out of the box (versus Dropbox) and the integration across mobile devices is second to none. The functionality is top notch and I found that you can get a bonus of 500MB storage through this link – for a total of free 5.5GB Online Storage. http://bit.ly/SugarSync500MBBonus

  11. Gemma Weirs says

    I like SugarSync but it has problems. One being that if I upload via my browser, I can only upload larger files one at a time otherwise they tend to fail. The other thing is the pending upload issue. One other thing I wish they would do is to figure out how to allow people to link two or more accounts to one SugarSync Manager.

  12. Guest says

    I have been using both Dropbox and SugarSync for over a year now in a business setup. While it is true that SugarSync has more features and is more flexible than Dropbox, a key advantage to keep many PC’s synced is the LAN sync feature that Dropbox offers. It speeds up the syncing process significantly and it is less demanding on your bandwidth. Apart from that, it was always our impression that the sync was already much faster with Dropbox than with SugarSync. So while my heart wanted to go with SugarSync, we are now concentrating our operations on Dropbox.

  13. Carnini says

    I have been using sugar synch for about 1.5 years and really like it. The best reason is as the reviewer stated, the shared files don’t count towards your cap. I have my files and then many GB worth of shared files that would push me over the limit for sure.
    I would say sugar synch is not the fastest for sure, but even a laptop has several cores nowadays so I don’t worry about that much and hope they will fix it in the future.

  14. W0qj says

    Good review – here are a few recent changes as of June 2011:
    You get 5GB of space with the FREE version, but now there is no restriction to the number of computers you can sync/backup (up from 2).
    It gives you the ability to upload and sync any folder on your computer.
    It is the only service that offers such a broad device and OS support with apps for BlackBerry, Android, iPhone/iPad, Symbian, not to mention your computer!

    Also if you use the below referral code you get a bonus 500MB extra on top of your Free 5GB!

    https://www.sugarsync.com/referral?rf=tbtp0asbw9pt

    Hope it helps someone.

  15. An says

    I’ve been using SugarSync and sugarsync  for about a year now and I’m
    really satisfied. Very little system load compared to other similar
    products I’ve tried and 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:

     http://goo.gl/JEN9Z

    or dropbox

    http://db.tt/7UuDW32

  16. Anonymous says

    Horrible service!! Avoid at all costs, or you’ll be paying for a long time. Like the Hotel California: “You can check out any time you’d like, but you can never leave.”

    I was happy with their service until they deleted a file of mine, without me doing anything!!! When I asked them to restore a previous version (they say they save the 5 previous versions) they restored thousands of files in no order with no way to sort or search. I could never find the one file I specified.

    So I downgraded the account to the 5GB free level, deleted my files (so I thought) unsynced my computer, and deleted the program from my computer and went back to DropBox. That was that, or so I thought.

    Then they hit me with a renewal charge for a 100GB service!!!! Everything I could delete, I deleted, but they’re still charging me for the files on their servers that I can’t delete. Whoa! Do a search for “SugarSync” and “Scam” and you’ll see I’m not the only one. AVOID!!!!

  17. Lary says

    I’ve been using SugarSync and sugarsync for about a year now and I’m really satisfied. Very little system load compared to other similar products I’ve tried and 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:

    (http://)  goo.gl/JEN9Z

    Pros:
    Many features, very stable, easy on system resources

    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).

  18. Mark says

    I have been using both services especially when we have projects in school that needs collaboration and file sharing. It is very easy to share files/folders between groups of people. Both services also keep an online backup and keep my files sync on my macbook and my PC at home. The iPhone app of both services works great and is very handy. 

    Try ‘em both from these links to get bonus storage. Start with Dropbox (2.25GB) vs. Sugarsync (5.5GB). If you sign up for 30GB or more at sugarsync, we both get 10GB free. 

    Dropbox: 
    http://db.tt/lASbne6

    Sugarsync: 
    https://www.sugarsync.com/referral?rf=cf487rkpp9inh&utm_source=txemail&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=referral

  19. Sophie la Francaise says

    ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥
    Salut, moi c’est Sophie. Je viens de l’installer mais j’y comprends rien. J’ai Dropbox, c’est super simple par rapport.
    Quelqu’un peut m’expliquer ?
    Je me permets de plaçer mon lien de parrainage, je comprendrais si vous l’effacez.

    https://www.sugarsync.com/referral?rf=ecehfecx5dx75&utm_source=txemail&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=referral&sn=fb&d=1322170428294

    ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

  20. Petre says

    I’m using SugarSync since a few month and can only recommend it to you
    guys. It’s fast and supports multiple OS like Windows, Mac, iOS and
    android.

    You get 5 gb for free and when you use the b.m. Link you will get 5,5
    Gb for free. If you go for a premium membership (starts at 30 Gb) each
    of you will get additional 10 Gb for free.

    Check this out and get a 5,5 Gb account for free.

    https://www.sugarsync.com/referral?rf=fc0dmqb8y4oz&utm_source=txemail&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=referral

  21. Jurgen Spreutels says

    One more thing with sugarsync u can view files offline by syncing complete folders to your device.

    With dropbox u have to download every single file one by one to your device

  22. Non ThruUser says

    Depending on whether you
    want to use DropBox for consumer or businesses purposes, it may or may not be
    right for you. For businesses in many regulated industries, DropBox is not
    compliant. Their website clearly states this:

    https://www.dropbox.com/help/238

     

    Dropbox Enterprise File Transfer from Thru is the secure solution
    for businesses and enterprises. Their solutions have been working for large
    businesses for ten years without a single security breach. http://www.thruinc.com/solutions/dropbox-enterprise-file-transfer/

    http://www.thruinc.com/products-services/secure-file-transfer/

  23. calswim says

    Beware, on my system, a windows 7 with a quad core cpu and 4 gb of memory, sugarsyncs slows my system down to a point where it is unusable until it finishes syncing or until i exit sugar sync. I’ve resorted to leaving the system on 24hrs a day to try to avoid the slow down. If this continues, I’m going to have to go to another service. I’m syncing about 58gb of data and photos.

  24. David Kuek says

    The only one thing that pull me back to take up the plans is that the shared folder, which you can only place in C Drive. whereby for dropbox, i can decide where to store my working folder.

Leave a Reply