If you're anything like us, you're probably using multiple devices every single day, and you'll need access to the same files on each one.
A few years ago, the obvious solution would be to carry your important work around on a USB stick, but nothing beats having access to fully synced copies of your files online.
Fortunately, given the ubiquity of fast wireless connectivity – which is now almost everywhere thanks to affordable 4G mobile plans – and robust wired broadband connections, file syncing has never been so easy to put in place.
In this article we’ve picked out the five best services for synchronizing, and of course also backing up, your files.
- We also show you the best ways to share big files
- Want your company or services to be added to this buyer’s guide? Please email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org with the URL of the buying guide in the subject line.
Great for users looking for a big brand name
GoodSync is an established company that provides file synchronization and backup software services. Set up is easy, and just requires you to install the software, select target files and folders, then set up automation functions for backups and syncing. And that's pretty much it.
The simplicity of use hides the fact that this is a powerful solution that comes in a couple of different forms. One is GoodSync ServerOS which provides backups and synchronization for Windows and Linux servers. The other is the GoodSync File Server, which allows specified files and folders to be backed up and synced to a private cloud, with various rules and automation options available to ensure everything is easily managed.
Whichever type you opt for, there are home and business versions available, with the home version offering a free tier with limited features. However, it's the business solutions we'll focus on here, which offers a number of features as standard, not least multi-threading, block-level data transfer, as well as local and remote file support. The File Server option allows for unlimited connections and users.
Pricing initially seemed quite expensive, with the business Server OS priced at $1,194 (£1,000) for a year's licence, while the File Server option costs $2,995 (£2,500_ for a year's licence for up to 10 workstations. However, there is a more advanced Backup Control Center option which provides more advanced management and reporting features, which is priced at $39.95 a year per workstation, or $499.95 a year per server.
A good option for those seeking advanced features
Easy to install on Mac or PC (with native clients for Android and iOS as well), Syncplicity – now owned by Axway – backs up folders and files of your choosing to the cloud.
Working transparently once configured, you get 10GB of storage on an unlimited number of devices for free, with 100GB costing only $60 (£47) per year for a one-user, personal edition. Even this tier is laden with enterprise-grade features like secure mobile editing and PDF annotation – you can also choose your public cloud storage location (EU or US), plus you get real-time document versioning and backup.
The business edition ($60 per year per user) offers 300GB of pooled storage with 5GB per user, and includes additional goodies like user-based security policies, AD integration and single-sign on, as well as MDM (mobile device management) integration and remote wipe for any user device. File syncing and access functionality is excellent with the ability to sync any folder, and you’re given granular control over what can be excluded.
- Sign up for Syncplicity
Ideal for sending large files
Resilio has an interesting background story: it was spun out of BitTorrent Inc, which means that it has peer-to-peer (P2P) technology as part of its DNA. P2P is a tried and trusted protocol that is particularly useful for sending large files swiftly. It is one of the very few services that is compatible with Linux (and FreeBSD) as well as a slew of Network Attached Storage solutions (FreeNAS, Synology etc).
Unlike most of what we’ve covered here, Resilio is not a cloud-based file syncing solution. Instead, it relies on devices connected in peer-to-peer mode for the syncing process. There’s a free version and a paid offering (costing a one-time fee of $50 – that’s about £40) which links all your devices, has a one-time send feature, a selective sync feature and the ability to add folders to all your devices automatically. You will need to install this on all devices that you want to sync between.
Businesses will be better served by Sync Business which is a subscription service charging $29 (£25) per month, per user, with unlimited devices per user, file-level deduplication, data reduction, end-to-end encryption, and server support. Resilio Connect, an enterprise-grade version of Sync Business, offers WAN Optimization as well as advanced management capabilities.
- Sign up for Resilio
Superb all-rounder for personal or business usage
One of the more complete file syncing solutions out there, Canada-based Sync.com offers three different plans for business users. The first tier, Business Solo, costs $10 per month and comes with a respectable 3TB of storage. All the tools for managing your backups and syncing are provided with unlimited data transfer.
The next tier is the Business Pro, which caters toward business teams where each individual user requires a significant amount of backup storage space. This is priced at $5 per user per month, for a minimum of 2 users, and each user has 1TB of storage space to work with. There is also a multi-user admin panel, the ability to transfer in synced accounts, as well as centralized billing to cover all users.
Business Pro Advanced increases the storage for backups and synced files to 10TB per user, and also adds live chat support as a feature.
All plans comes with sharing and collaboration options, 2048-bit RSA, SSL/TLS encryption, version history and restore, as well as remote wipe and lockout if required.
- Sign up for Sync.com
For those looking for a simple solution
It’s hard to beat Google’s backup, syncing and sharing solution if you are a small business or a personal user. Backup and Sync does what it says on the tin. Copy files from your computer, smartphone, or memory cards to the cloud. Find your files on any device or PC using Google Drive and see your photos in Google Photos – which is great as you can upload an unlimited amount of them online.
All versions of Google Drive, personal, pro, or enterprise, come with support for documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, as well as video and voice conferencing.
- Sign up for Backup and Sync for Google Drive
Other cloud storage and sync solutions
IDrive is another popular backup and sync file storage solution, offering 5GB for free at its basic level. There are paid-for personal and business editions, with the personal editions being cheaper and starting from $69.50 a year for 2TB of storage, with a discount applied for the first year. Business options are more expensive and start from $99.50 for 250GB, again with a discount for the first year.
SugarSync offers files and sync storage solutions for personal and business users, and has extra security protections built in to protect files stored offline, on top of permissions options. Personal plans start from $7.49 for 100GB, whereas multi-user business accounts start from $55 per month for 2TB of storage for up to three users, with a custom quote required for more than ten active users.
SpiderOak offers a number of cloud-storage options, and although they provide a service for home users they are more focused on the needs of business users, especially where online collaboration may be required for file use. Personal plan pricing begins at $6 per month with the SpiderOak One platform, and that provides 150GB of storage. Business users can choose between different editions, but enterprise storage requires a minumum of 500 users.
Apple iCloud is a service provided for macOS and iOS users, offering 5GB of online backup for free. There are options to pay to upgrade to 50GB, 200GB, or 2TB, and there are family sharing options available. Curiously, though, rather than using its own servers Apple instead uses cloud storage from Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud.
Microsoft OneDrive is the popular edition to the online Office 365 suite, offering 5GB of storage for free, with additional backup options available for home and business users. For home users, storage-only for 100GB costs $1.99 per month, but with Office 365 Personal edition you get a whopping 1TB of storage bundled with it for $6.99 per month. Business editions cost $5 per user per month for 1TB of storage only, with a full-featured suite of officer applications and services available from $12.50 per month per user.