SugarSync review

The sweet experience with a sour note

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Our Verdict

As cloud sync software goes, SugarSync is some of the best designed we’ve seen. Unfortunately, these tools are welded to a pricing scheme that is living in an alternate universe, where Amazon, Google and Microsoft don’t exist.

For

  • Easy to use
  • PC, Mac and mobile devices
  • Excellent software

Against

  • No free to use tier
  • Very expensive

More than a decade ago we reviewed SugarSync, so it’s about time that we revisited this popular and well-respected cloud storage service.

SugarSync, Inc. was bought by J2 Global back in 2015 and has continued updating and developing the software platform as SugarSync ever since.

How does it compete with the big services, and what about it makes SugarSync stand out from the crowd?

PC desktop tool

Features

The feature set of SugarSync has most, of the critical functions that anyone wanting a cloud storage facility needs.

That includes the ability to back up any folder on the computer, sync multiple machines, versioning and the ability to handle files of any size.

It also has excellent platform coverage, with Windows 7,8,10 support, Mac OS, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android Devices and even the Kindle Fire.

With the mobile SugarSync, it also promises to instantly back up any photo taken on an Apple iOS or Android phone, even if the operating systems in both those products do that inherently.

One curiosity and something that only Box also supports is the ability to sync machines via email. One concern about this option is the security implications, but the other is that if you have sufficient service to download an email, then surely you should be able to sync to the cloud.

The only scenario we can imagine where this might be useful is when you are trying to sync to a location where the SugarSync service is blocked, but email is available.

What this tool lacks is much in the way of collaboration tools, other than the ability to share files for others to see or edit. There is no way to see if another person is working on a document you’ve opened, or allow you both to work on the same document simultaneously.

Web interface

Interface

Once you’ve signed up for a service, SugarSync will direct you to one of four applications tailored to Windows Desktop, Mac OS Desktop, Apple Mobile (iPhone or iPad) or Android Mobile.

Also, the files stored online can be accessed by a web interface, where you can also review those files and folders that you are sharing with others.

The SugarSync software is very simple to use, and for most users, they’ll configure it once and probably never need to alter it afterwards.

Adding folders

By default, stored files have five previous versions held from subsequent updates, but you can mark a folder as ‘Protected’ and define a larger number of changes to be tracked in the future.

This option is especially useful considering the rise of ransomware, allowing you to recover files before any nefarious encryption occurred, should that scenario arise.

From the SugarSync application, you can also share files or folders with others, merely by sending them an email with an enclosed link. And, if you so choose, those people can add, edit, delete or sync the files that are shared with them.

What’s best about these tools is that SugarSync has managed to make them as clean and uncomplicated as possible. If a user can grasp the concept of files and folders, then they can probably manage SugarSync without trouble.

Security

A concern for many customers of cloud storage these days is how secure their files are when they make it to the Cloud.

SugarSync uses TLS (SSL 3.3) AES-256 bit encryption to process all the files to and from its Cloud storage location, as it should be.

However, there isn’t any two-factor authentication option, so all that sits between a hacker and your content is a basic characters and numbers password.

Pricing

It’s interesting to read Christopher Phin’s 2008 review, as a few of the complaints he made about this service have yet to be addressed a whole decade later.

One of these is that there is no free level of service, just a 30-day trial. And, the 30-day trial also insists on taking payment details, and you must contact customer services to cancel.

That’s an overly aggressive sale pitch in our book, and it might well put many people off trying it forever.  

For those willing to hand over credit card details, the cheapest tier of SugarSync is $7.49 (£5.78) per month, for which you get just 100GB of online storage.

To boost that to 1000GB of space with a business plan costs a whopping $55 (£42.37) per month, although this is for 1-3 users, and is a facility mostly aimed at business customers.

The most space offered to individuals is 500GB, revealing a major disconnect between how much storage SugarSync thinks people need online and almost every other Cloud service expects.

That makes SugarSync one of the most expensive per GB Cloud storage solutions around, and multiple times the cost of Microsoft OneDrive or Google Drive.

When you consider that these competitors give you online office applications and the full Office 365 on Microsoft’s 1TB option, SugarSync isn’t value for money.

Final verdict

Overall, SugarSync is easy to configure and use, but the expense of putting any significant amount of data on to its servers will torpedo most individual users, irrespective of the excellent feature set. The lack of two-factor authentication might also put off Business customers who aren’t as concerned about the price.

Without that failing, this is a solid product that could be security-enhanced, but at current pricing, it is not competitive or even approaching being so.