- Want to try Syncplicity? Check out the website here
We’ve seen many prestigious cloud storage solutions where the back end is marvellous, but the client tools are woeful. Thankfully, Syncplicity has a pretty good desktop tool on the PC and Mac.
It achieves the two critical requirements; a virtual network drive and a multi-folder sync mechanism.
The folder sync is especially well considered, as it doesn’t force you to bring all the folders you want together to be secured. Although, it won’t work on Network connected storage, only folders that are physically part of the computer.
When you define the folder sync, you can also dictate if the folder is to be shared with others.
In addition to the desktop tools, Syncplicity also provides a web portal and mobile apps on both Android and iOS.
The web portal has some elegant collaboration options and more features than we’ve come to expect.
However, the mobile app is a little odd in that it is entirely focused on bringing the cloud files to the mobile device, rather than securing images and video captured on that device to the service.
It can be made to do this, but surely this is something users would want from the outset, and not need to configure specially?
What Syncplicity lacks from a business perspective is mostly integration with external apps.
Most businesses use Microsoft Office or Google Docs, and there is no connection to Google, and the only integrations to Microsoft are one that works with Microsoft online editions and an add-in for Outlook 365 that allows you to avoid putting large attachments in emails.
We also noticed that the full integration with Office 365 requires a commercial Office 365 subscription to work, it won’t function with a student or personal account.
What others have is integration to the desktop version of Office 365, and that isn’t something Syncplicity currently offers unless you install the client app and use the virtual network drive, and then not in a way where other users will know if you are editing the file.
And, there are other aspects to this service that don’t quite add up.
You might initially welcome that you can sync files of unlimited size to the service, but you won’t if you regularly change those big files. Because this service didn’t implement block-level syncs, and so the whole of a 5GB or 10GB file might have to be transferred if only a single byte of it changed.
That’s a very inefficient model and undermines the value of offering unlimited file sizes for many customers. And, we found it to be a slow service in general, with a 700MB file taking the best part of 12 minutes to transfer over a broadband connection that can move the same file to other services in less than 2 minutes.
And, the final issue is the three plans on offer, that’s we’ll get to later. For now, let’s just say that Syncplicity has entirely different notions of what constitutes enough space for business users than we do.
There are good things about Syncplicity security, and less wonderful aspects too.
What most businesses require as a minimum is encryption both as the files travel across the internet, but also when they come to rest on the cloud servers. And, Syncplicity achieves both those objectives.
The service creates a TLS tunnel for transfers and enhances that protection using industry standard 256-bit AES encryption before sending.
However, you can’t hold your own keys, they’re held by Syncplicity. To partially negate the problem that this could create, should Syncplicity be hacked, the keys are held on a different server on a different continent than where the data resides.
That makes the challenge of getting both the keys and the data a more complicated problem, though potentially not impossible.
At the admin level, you can also specify the strength of passwords that users can use, enforce two-factor authentication, and use SSO (single-sign-on), providers.
Those that insist on the highest levels of security won’t accept that they can’t hold their own keys, but for most businesses, this level of protection is more than adequate.
Syncplicity has four plans; Personal, Business, Enterprise and Enterprise Edition for U.S. Gov PrivacyRegion.
With the Personal Edition, you get 10GB for signing up, at no cost and you can pay $60 per year for 100GB of storage if that’s enough for your data.
That’s the same cost as the Business edition, although as you must have a minimum of 3 users, tripling the outlay. For three users you get 300GB of space plus 5GB per user (315GB) and that costs $180 per year.
In addition to the basic tools of Personal, Business includes group and user-based policies, links to Active Directory and the ability to remotely wipe user devices.
The Enterprise solutions are quote only, are a minimum 25 users and they can be configured for cloud storage, On-premise of a combination to create a hybrid storage solution.
They come with access to the Syncplicity by Axway APIs and developer portal, mobile SharePoint access and the ability to share folders from a business’s internal network storage.
Those wanting to access the Syncplicity by Axway DataHub for migration and ECM system connectivity will find that it requires a sperate license.
While we can’t access how affordable the Enterprise tiers are, the Personal and Business Editions are relatively cheap. However, the amount of space seems overly modest for most businesses that create all their documentation using computers or are in any way a design bureau. Many single users could consume the base 300GB capacity single-handed, leaving very little for anyone else.
It’s also worth noting that retained historical versions of files count against the capacity, so updating a 5GB file sixty times will eat your entire allocation.
However, you can set retention of deleted files to a set timescale and previous versions to a specific number, to manage this.
That Syncplicity don’t have a 1TB Business tier or a selection of larger capacities appears to be funnelling its customers to the Enterprise level, when most small businesses won’t want or need those features.
The Achilles-heel of this service is the lack of saleability for those customers where 300GB isn’t an acceptable start point.
If you don’t have terabytes of data you use every day, then this might be right for you.
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