Software

SugarSync

With a {{ZIFFARTICLEfile syncing service, you can access all of your files on any device you choose and keep a backup copy in the cloud. A service needs to be simple to configure and reliable, but pricing, storage space, and extra features matter as well. While SugarSync is intuitive to set up and use, it’s expensive and lacks standard capabilities such as collaborative editing and two-factor authentication. Further, it’s unnecessarily difficult to cancel an account once you start paying. In the crowded file syncing market space, competing services offer more features for less.

Editors’ Note: SugarSync is owned by j2 Global, the parent company of Ziff Davis, the owner, and publisher of PCMag.com.

Price and Storage Space

SugarSync does not offer a permanent free account, unlike OpenDrive and Google Drive. Oddly, it offers two trial versions, one of which is a free 30-day trial that requires a credit card. Alternatively, there’s a hidden option for a 90-day trial with 5GB of storage that does not require a credit card. SugarSync should either remove the credit card requirement for the 30-day trial or make the 90-day trial the default.

SugarSync’s basic plan includes 100GB of cloud storage for $7.49 per month, which equates to $90 per year. The price jumps up to $9.99 per month for 250GB of storage and $18.95 for 500GB. As for business plans, it offers a 1TB option for up to three users starting at $55 per month. The cost increases from there as you add more users and increase storage capacities. It’s also worth noting that you need to upgrade to the business account to use external drives with the software.

For comparison, Dropbox Plus costs $9.99 per month for 1TB of storage and OneDrive offers a 50GB storage plan for $1.99 per month. You can also opt for an Office 365 Personal subscription for $69.99 per year, which includes the Office 365 suite in addition to 1TB of OneDrive storage. Both Dropbox and OneDrive respectively offer free 2GB and 5GB accounts. IDrive, one of our Editors’ Choice picks for online backup, offers 2TB of storage for $69.50 per year.

Setup and Security

Setting up SugarSync is a breeze. After you sign up for an account and choose a level of service, you can download the SugarSync apps for your computers and mobile devices. The apps are compatible with Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. There’s also a plug-in for Outlook on Windows that lets you send large files via a shared SugarSync link instead of as an attachment.

One of the biggest strengths of SugarSync is that it allows you to select existing folders to sync. When you set up SugarSync for the first time, it shows a folder tree of everything on your hard drive and lets you choose which items to sync to online storage. You can also specify the My SugarSync folder as the storage destination.

SugarSync encrypts files during the upload (TLS), storage (256-Bit AES), and download (TLS) process, but you can’t set up two-factor authentication (2FA). Both Dropbox and Google Drive let you use 2FA to secure an account. It also does not go as far as some dedicated online backup services to ensure the utmost privacy and security. For example, SpiderOak ONE allows you to maintain private encryption keys that never get sent to the server, and Acronis uses a ransomware scanner to prevent viruses from corrupting your files.

Desktop Experience

The SugarSync desktop app is clean and functional. Its left-hand navigation menu features a flat dark gray background with colorful navigation tabs. In the upper left corner, there are icons for the application settings and adding backup folders. We like the remaining storage indicator in the top bar, but wish it showed a breakdown of storage when you click it instead of redirecting to the online portal. Browsing through the integrated file tree and navigating between the modules is snappy.

SugarSync

From the desktop application, you mainly control folder syncing and sharing options. The easiest way to add a folder to cloud storage is to use the in-app button (folder with a plus icon) in the upper left corner. Once you select a folder, you can add individual files and folders via the drop-down icon next to its name. Alternatively, you can right-click to add a file or folder in File Explorer or drag items into the My SugarSync folder. Similar to how a folder works, anything you place in the My SugarSync folder is accessible online or from any device with SugarSync installed.

SugarSync’s best feature is its cross-device and per-folder synchronization options. To set up folder syncing, you first need to install SugarSync on the device you want to use. When you choose to sync a newly created folder or one from another device, you have the option to either merge it with an existing folder or leave it as a separate entity. Some benefits of syncing a folder to another device are that you can access it offline from that device and that it serves as an additional backup, in case something goes wrong. One drawback is that you can only control syncing that relates to the device you’re using. In other words, if you upload Folder A on Computer A to cloud storage, but want a synchronized copy of the folder on Computer B, you need to use the SugarSync application on Computer B to set that up. Once in the application, all you need to do is click the + button next to the desired folder to add it to the device.

The Folders tab shows all of the synced folders linked to your computer as well as all of the devices on which they appear. The Devices tab organizes the same information in a chart format. If you click on any of the folders, you can view its content. The software syncs files continuously, a system which we prefer, but an option to set up a file-syncing schedule could be useful when dealing with large files or limited internet bandwidth.

SugarSync

Once SugarSync successfully uploads your data, you can view file contents from the Folders menu. We like that the app shows image thumbnails and that it lets you directly delete items. The Share and Create Public Link options are only applicable to folders, but we appreciate how easy it is to manage your shared content. We do wish that the permissions options were more granular. To round out the features, there is a tab for viewing current file transfers, as well as a 30-day repository for deleted items. You can control how much bandwidth it uses and restrict the cache size from the preferences.

Working on the Web

SugarSync’s web interface isn’t as well organized as the desktop app, but switching between sections is quick, as is browsing through the folder structures. Across the top, there are separate tabs for viewing cloud content, managing sharing options, and viewing all of your account activity. There’s also an ever-present search bar that lets you search for metadata keywords, such as the filename or file type. You can also manage most account preferences from here, save for canceling your subscription (more on that later).

The web dashboard lets you remotely manage files and folders stored on other devices; you can upload files, create new folders, or rename existing ones. If you intend to use SugarSync like Dropbox, just add files to the My SugarSync folder, since it syncs with all your devices on which you installed SugarSync.

SugarSync

SugarSync lets you view image thumbnails on the web, but you can’t preview any audio or video clips. Google Drive lets you view or play nearly any file type that you upload. SugarSync keeps the five most recent versions your files, plus the current copy. These additional copies do not count toward your storage limit. To view any of these versions, just click on the file in question and then select the See Versions icon, which is a series of papers stacked on top of one another. From the desktop, you need to right-click on a file in the File Explorer and select Show Versions. This takes you to the same view on the web, from where you can download any of these versions directly.

Some options are hidden in the My Account menu, accessible from the icon in the upper right corner. This section lets you manage all of your basic account information, update email preferences, and manage your storage plans. The Connected Devices option is noteworthy, in that it gives you the option to remove or remotely wipe any connected device linked to your account.

Sharing and Collaboration

Like other services, SugarSync lets you share files and folders with specific people or the public, but it doesn’t offer anything unique. Notably, the recipient does not have to be a paying SugarSync member to see or edit your files, but they have to create a login to access them. One perk, however, is that you do get 10 GB of additional storage space for each paid customer you refer to SugarSync. Alternatively, you can extra 50MB per friend that you invite. You can view and edit basic contact information from the web interface or import new ones from Google, Yahoo, or Outlook. One drawback is that it’s not possible to password-protect a shared folder. Both Box and Dropbox allow you to set up a password requirement for shared links.

SugarSync

SugarSync does not integrate any online collaboration tools either. Contacts are limited to editing, adding, and deleting items from a folder. There’s no option for multiple users to simultaneously make edits to a file or even communicate with each other through SugarSync. Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive both offer real-time document editing and make it easier to manage sharing permissions.

Not So Sweet

As we mentioned, getting a free trial of SugarSync requires that you hand over your credit card details (unless you find the option to try the 5GB account). When your trial is up, SugarSync starts charging you for its services, unless you cancel first. However, you cannot cancel your account directly from the Account settings page. Instead, you have to visit the “Canceling your SugarSync Account” support page between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. PST on business days to contact a cancellation agent or call the support number during those hours. This process is needlessly difficult and unfriendly to consumers.

SugarSync

Going Mobile

SugarSync offers mobile apps for Android and iOS devices, and we tested it on a Google Pixel with Android 8.0. The apps are responsive and share the desktop’s menu interface, which creates a nice sense of consistency. One design complaint is that the left-hand menu is very wide and cuts off practically all of the information from the main view. The mobile app has nearly all the capabilities of the desktop counterpart, so you can access all the folders synced with your account and share files publicly or privately. We like that you can filter items based on the file name or modified date and that it allows you to directly upload files from your device. That said, instead of letting you directly download files from your folders, SugarSync confusingly requires you to export it to an app on your device instead.

There are also a few mobile-specific features of note. For example, SugarSync can automatically upload any photos and videos you take with your phone. It also lets you designate files for offline access and create shortcuts for items that you regularly access. Like most other file-syncing apps you can preview photos, music, and videos without issue. Most file syncing services have the same features as SugarSync.

Slick and Simple

SugarSync is easy to use, has a great interface, and offers all the file-syncing basics. However, it hasn’t kept pace with competitors, which offer more space for less money, advanced collaboration options, and perks like two-factor authentication. Finally, SugarSync’s convoluted cancellation procedure leaves a sour taste in the mouth. The file syncing and cloud storage services space is competitive, and with major players such as Google, Microsoft, and Dropbox in the mix, SugarSync just isn’t as compelling an option. We recommend Editors’ Choice picks OneDrive, Google Drive, Box, and CertainSafe for your file syncing needs.

Check out our roundup of the best online backup services if you are interested in more permanent and secure solutions for storing your files online.


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