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
Great for users looking for a big brand name
Available on Mac, Windows and mobile platforms, Mozy fits the standard commercial pattern, but can handle unusual synchronization jobs like Exchange, Outlook and SQL databases. Mozy is owned by Carbonite, and claims to provide protection for some 700 billion files, and indeed to have recovered no less than 60 billion files.
Users can opt for a 256-bit AES personal encryption key, a 448-bit managed Blowfish key, or their own corporate key to protect their data. Prices are reasonable for what Mozy offers: 10GB of storage from £6.99 (around $8.90) a month, with discounts for annual subscriptions, but you will have to pay extra for additional computers on your account and extra storage.
There’s a 125GB tier as well, and those looking for more business features can opt for MozyPro or Mozy Enterprise. The former provides up to 4TB online storage for unlimited servers, desktops and laptops, while the latter adds Active Directory (AD) integration, custom installations and managed services. You can try out Mozy’s service thanks to a free file syncing account that comes with only 2GB of storage, but offers all the features of the paid services.
- Sign up for Mozy Home
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 $59.99 – that’s about £47) 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 as little as $3 (around £2.35) 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 five plans for personal and (small) business users. The first tier is free and includes 5GB storage with limited data transfer and sharing and collaboration.
The paid-for versions are far more interesting, with the 500GB tier costing as little as $49 (around £38) per year, one of the cheapest around. Amongst the highlighted features are unlimited version history, advanced share controls, 2048-bit RSA, SSL/TLS encryption and unlimited data transfer.
Should you need more storage space or business-grade features, then Sync for Business is better suited. Detailed log analysis tools allow for checking that your sync has gone swimmingly and remote share wipe/device lockout means that you can keep your devices (and data) secure. Business Solo costs $96 (£75) per year, while Business Pro, which requires two users, halves the file storage capacity but drops the per user cost to $60 (£47) per year. Another tier, Business Advanced, offers up to 10TB per user with priority email and a $15 (£12) monthly fee.
The fact that Sync.com is based in Canada means that your data has US, EU, UK and Canadian compliance built-in, including Canadian data residency.
- 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.
The more expensive Google Drive for Work costs £6.60 per month per user (or $10 in the US) with unlimited storage and business Gmail to boot. The personal version cost £1.59 ($1.99) per month for 100GB data and £7.99 ($9.99) per month for 1TB.
Oddly, those seeking loads of storage space will find it’s far cheaper to get a business account which secures you unlimited storage for under £40 (around $55) per month. In comparison, 10TB on the personal tier costs twice that. Using Backup and Sync is as simple as 1-2-3: sign-in, choose your drive, and backup.
- Sign up for Backup and Sync for Google Drive