Operating system support: Windows Vista/7/8, Mac OS X 10.6+, Storage space: 60GB, Mobile device support: Android, iOS, Sync support?: Yes
SugarSync is a Cloud synchronisation service that makes it easy to synchronise files stored anywhere on your computer to the Cloud and your other devices. The service is extremely flexible, meaning you could have a folder full of photos stored on your C: Drive of one PC and on the D: Drive on another synced with each other. This ability makes SugarSync an excellent backup tool in addition to its synchronisation prowess, as you can have files backed up seamlessly on multiple PCs as well as in the Cloud.
SugarSync has discontinued its free subscription, and now only offers 30- and 90-day free trials. SugarSync's pricing options are closer to those offered by Dropbox and Box, which means that per gigabyte the service is significantly more expensive than Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive. Around £4.50 per month will get you 60GB of storage, and you can get two months for free if you subscribe for a full year in one payment.
SugarSync can connect any folder on your PC to the internet, meaning that any changes made to files within that folder will instantly be uploaded to the Cloud and synchronised to any other PC which is also connected to that folder. This differs from the likes of OneDrive and Dropbox, as those products only allow for files and folders stored in a single directory to be synchronised. SugarSync means you can sync files to the Cloud without changing how you organise your data. Once you have SugarSync set up to your liking, it's a fantastic example of how seamless the Cloud can be, as you always have the latest version of each file without having to think about it.
SugarSync also mounts itself as a separate drive on your PC, and syncs all the files on this drive to the Cloud automatically, Dropbox-style. You can access these files in Windows Explorer, but you'll need an internet connection to do so. This is useful to give you quick access to individual files without you having to sync the whole folder to a computer.
The SugarSync website makes all the files you've synchronised available for download. It also allows you to see up to four previous versions of a file in addition to the current one. We would have preferred to see more previous versions of a file available to view and restore, especially since Dropbox keeps all previous versions for up to 30 days.
Previewing files is very limited, with only image files available for preview within the web browser; documents, videos and audio must all be downloaded in order to view and edit them.
There are SugarSync apps available for iPad, iPhone and Android devices, older BlackBerry phones and the older Symbian and Windows Mobile platforms. There are no official apps designed for BlackBerry 10 or Windows Phone 8, so you'll need to install a third-party app and give it access to your SugarSync account if you want to sync your files to those devices.
The Android and iOS apps are both well designed and easy to use; choosing folders to be kept in sync is very easy. However, despite their classy looks, we found several problems. For instance, if you're synchronising large files on iOS, you'll need to babysit your device as Apple's operating system restricts how long SugarSync can synchronise while the device is in standby mode. We had to prompt our iPad to continue downloading three times for 100MB of files. You could get around this by setting your iPad's screen timeout to a very long value, but this is still a hassle.
We also had problems with files that were synchronised to our iPad: when we modified a spreadsheet on our PC, then opened the file in the iPad SugarSync app, the file on the iPad was the older version, and we had to re-synchronise the app in order to see the latest version of the file. There are also problems with the Android app: despite an entire folder having been apparently synchronised, when we tried to open a file when we weren't connected to internet, the app displayed an error telling us the file couldn't be downloaded. Sure enough, when we reconnected to the internet, we were able to download the file, even though it should have already been stored on the device.
SugarSync's unique selling point of being able to synchronise any folder to any device remains its key strength. While its price is fairly high and the mobile apps not as good as they should be, as a desktop PC service for those who work from different locations and on multiple devices, it's invaluable and a Best Buy.
|Operating system support||Windows Vista/7/8, Mac OS X 10.6+|
|Number of computers||Unlimited|
|Folder and file restrictions||None|
|Redundancy/data centres||Amazon S3|
|Back up open files||Yes|
|Back up entire disk partitions||Yes|
|Back up external disks/NAS devices||No|
|Save backups to local media||No|
|Send backups by post||No|
|Recover previous versions of files||Five versions|
|Recover deleted files||Yes|
|Restore from DVD/USB drive sent in the post||No|
|Web access to backups||Yes|
|Share selected backup contents||Yes|
|Media browser||Photos, video|
|Mobile device support||Android, iOS|
|Sync folders||User selected + dedicated|
|Price per month||£4.50|
|Price per year||£45|