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I’ve been using DropBox to sync files between my two Macs and my iPad for six months now, and while it does a great job (and the free version is all I need), it has always bugged me that everything must be in that folder. Yes, it can handle subfolders, but it still must be within that main DropBox folder.

I recently read about a similar service, SugarSync, so decided to give it a try. It works on the same mobile platforms as DropBox, plus Symbian and Windows Mobile. Unlike DropBox, it doesn't do Linux. Still, for my use, I think DropBox may be history. Instead of one specific folder, SugarSync allows me to select which folders to back up. 

That first folder listed? Magic Briefcase? That's the folder to use if you want something to automatically sync across all of your systems. It's the instant, all-purpose folder, and the software automatically creates an alias on the desktop for you. The rest of them? They are only backed up to their server until you tell the system to sync them with another computer. This next illustration show the folders currently being backed up from my iMac, the folder on my MacBook being backed up, and the folders that are automatically shared between the two.

I've added SugarSync to my iPad, too. 

And this is how the photos from that Family Photos folder looks:

I can select any photo to see it full size, and it will show them at either lo- or hi-res. Want to email it? You have the option to email just a link or the full photo. Not too shabby. DropBox gives you 3 GB of storage for free, but you can add more free space with referrals. SugarSync starts you with 5 GB, and you can add to that pretty much the same way, but also by going through a few tutorials. It's painless. Like DropBox, SugarSync will give you a menubar icon.

The bird icon changes to a spinning double arrow when a sync is in progress. Like DropBox, it also shows how much space you are using. 5 GB not enough space? You can have 30 GB for $4.99 a month, 60 GB for $9.99, 100 GB for $14.99 or 250 GB for $24.99 a month. Pay annually and get 12 months for the price of 10. I've heard a few people claim that DropBox is faster, but honestly, I haven't noticed a big difference.

Almost forgot. Want to share an entire folder with someone. Yep, you can do that easily. Send an email or just grab the link, make it read-only or Add & Edit. Password protect it, too. All in all, I like it. Give it a try. You might like it, too.

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  • MM

    Have you taken a look at SpiderOak?

    • Phyllis Evans

      Less free space than DropBox.

      • Jeff

        But SpiderOak is encrypted at the client side! 2GB for free and I think cheaper than SugarSync, but I might be wrong. I get an edu discount for SpiderOak.

    • Ace

      On the other hand, the client that is installed on the computer uses up all of my memory and processor. =o(

      • Phyllis Evans

        Just double-checked on my iMac, and neither uses a significant amount of memory or processor. Check your configuration settings.

  • Michael

    I just went to sign up and try SugurSync. It is a pay service after 30 days. You really should mention this in you’re article.

    • Phyllis Evans

      Look again. The 5 GB service is free. https://www.sugarsync.com/free/

      • Michael

        My apologies – with a caveat…
        I hunted around the site, took the tour even. Attempted to sign up as well. As of 12:50pm today I could not find any way to prove to me before signing up that the service was free.
        I just bounced back to this page to see if there was a reply…(4:55pmEST) and then clicked on the link you have provided in your reply. The website has been updated to reflect the 5Gb Free option when you attempt to sign up.
        Now I’m going to give it a try!
        Thank you for the article.

  • http://dtoub.wordpress.com/ David

    I completely agree. Having to migrate from iDisk, I compared all the alternatives and SugarSync was the clear winner. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darned good.

  • Rich

    Check out MacDropAny as a way to add folders to DropBox.

  • lookforandrew

    I downloaded SugarSync to test it as well, but once again it becomes about my data being stored somewhere else.

    Here is one you need to seriously look into. The only caveat is that you might want to look at your home machine or home server as the base. Thing is, it is fully controlled by you and encryptable.

    http://www.tonido.com/

    Check http://www.tonido.com/software_what.html

    That page tells you all the details. It is Mac/Linux/Windows/Blackberry/iPhone/iPad/WinPhone7/Android. Pretty much covers everything out there.

    You can share and SSL lock folders available to anyone.

    Again, to repeat, I like the fact that I have complete control over my data as it stays on my own computers.

    The only thing is that it can not be used as a “backup” per say as people tend to think of DropBox and SugarSync are one.

    Oh ya, and is completely free.

  • Sanford Lung

    V. cool! Thanks!

  • Atom W

    Great article! SugarSync recently did a 2 minute video on how its different than Dropbox. It does a good job if you’re still on the fence. I personally have both, although I back up my Dropbox folder via SugarSync. :)

  • Randy Moore

    I agree as well. SugarSync is the winner. I’ve been “using” both for almost 6 months; although I haven’t really used DropBox in nearly 3 months now.

    I’ll keep my iDisk until Apple takes it away, but SugarSync has some advantages over both DropBox and iDisk, in my opinion. Also, SugarSync has (or at least had) some educational incentives too.

  • Julia G.

    Phyllis, have you also tested CloudBackupBank? There is a free version with 2 Gb of remote storage, it appeared last week on the store.

  • http://www.iteachGuitar.com Mary Jo Disler

    I guess I need clarification on “backup” for Dropbox. When I do a SuperDuper backup to a local external drive, the Dropbox & its entire contents are included.

    Is the term “backup” in this discussion referring to Dropbox itself as a backup method?

    • Phyllis Evans

      Think of DropBox as off-site backup. Ditto SugarSync and the other cloud-based services. When you put anything into the DropBox folder or a folder that is linked to SugarSync it is automatically copied to the off-site server. Remove it from the folder and it’s automatically deleted on the server.

      • asheenlevrai

        no its not… they keep a copy of all your files. They just hide them to your eyes when you delete them….

  • http://www.iteachGuitar.com Mary Jo Disler

    One more thought: Looks like demand for this capability has become a growing-edge competitive business. Keep your eyes open for more opportunities. We’re still waiting to see how iCloud compares.

  • colin

    We love giving away free storage! For every friend you refer to SugarSync, we’ll give you both 500 MB of bonus space. If your friend joins a paid plan, you each get whopping 10 GB storage!

    Get 5GB + 500 MB FREE!

    http://goo.gl/JEN9Z
    or
    http://db.tt/7UuDW32

  • alex

    I’m switching to sugarsync!!!
    Thanks for posting screen shots with this review.
    Give me a referral link to Sugar Sync so that you can get some extra space.

    -Alex

    • Phyllis Evans

      Invitation sent. Enjoy.

      • alex

        You sent me a referral to dropbox :(

        • Phyllis Evans

          That’s what I get for doing things when I’m half asleep. How embarrassing. Have sent the proper link. Please forgive me.

          Phyllis

          • Dmitry

            Hi, Phyllis, thank you for the review, short and conscience. May I ask you to send me invitation so you could get some extra space as well?

  • Mark

    I have been using both services especially when we have projects in school that needs collaboration and file sharing. It is very easy to share files/folders between groups of people. Both services also keep an online backup and keep my files sync on my macbook and my PC at home. The iPhone app of both services works great and is very handy.

  • Franck

    I have used SugarSync and DropBox simultaneously since September and I think that SugarSync has more useful features that DropBox.
    I use a lot SugarSync to sync my courses documents (I am a French student) from my computer, my iPhone and my iPad. Everything works perfectly and is very convenient.
    The sharing features are very interesting and collaborative work is very convenient.
    I used both but I will now be just focus on SugarSync that I find best. I recommend you to use it because it is great!

    Franck

  • John

    The more I use SugarSync the better it gets. Working a number of projects worldwide and various partners share their own folder. Perfect.

  • Eric

    I assume none of you have tried to use their support. I liked the idea of SugarSync, it’s like dropbox plus extras, but trying to get help will take a long time and you will get an angry response. At least that’s what I have had with different accounts over a few months. SugarSync must only have one programmer to deal with bugs, updates, and support. Cool idea, terribly implemented.

    Going back to dropbox for syncing, backblaze for back up (dropbox isn’t cheap).

  • fernman

    I’m currently using both Dropbox and SugarSync free versions.
    As I was filling up DB’s 2 GB, I added SS to get another 5 GB.
    DB is best in my opinion because it is the simplest to use and it is much faster than SS.
    One important thing no-one seems to have mentioned is that with both DB and SS you can edit docs etc offline. They’ll sync next time you’re online.
    Many of the others I’ve looked at can’t even be accessed without an internet connection, let alone worked on.

  • Jerry

    I still don’t know how to use dropbox or sugar sync. I just want my photos automatically synced between my tablet and my phone. When I take a pic on my phone I want to see a copy of the pic on my tablet ( i do not want to sugarsync or dropbox website to see the pic) how do I do this?

    I do really do not need my PC synced to any of the devices.

    thanks!!

    • Phyllis Evans

      If you are running the latest system software on both the iPhone and the iPad, you should be able to sync photos using Apple’s iCloud.

  • Craig Warhurst

    Looking through all the glowing reviews, what no one seems to mention is integration. Most of my favourite iPad apps have Dropbox integration so I can work directly with my cloud files. I’ve yet to see an app that does this with Sugarsync. Last years’ security fiasco at Dropbox made me a little twitchy and I’ve been looking for alternatives but really they’ve got me nailed down with the way other apps support them. Sugarsync need to get app developers on their side if they are really going to challenge Dropbox.

  • http://KKIFF.com forrest

    Hi Phyllis, nice post, agree with above commenter, give me a referral link to Sugar Sync so that you can get some extra space.

    • Phyllis Evans

      Thanks. Referral sent.

      • Amjad

        Hi Phyllis,

        Nice article you have there. Can you invite me to SugarSync so we both get some extra space? :) Thanks.

        I agree with Craig’s comment above. Dropbox has the unprecedented advantage of being much more popular among developers and consumers alike. Let’s see if SS would ever manage to compete with Dropbox in that.

        • Phyllis Evans

          Thanks. Invite sent.

  • Marc

    I have been using Sugarsync and have been pretty happy with it until I attempted to uploaded a couple 300mb files. I was able to upload both files to Dropbox faster than I could upload one file to Sugarsync. I wish you could share files on dropbox from the mobile app as well as email files to your dropbox account. If so, I would purchase a Dropbox account in a minute.

    • Phyllis Evans

      With Dropbox, you can email a download link for any file from the mobile app. Just tested it with my iPad. Don’t understand why you would want to email a file to your DB account. It’s easy to add a file, whether I’m on one of my computers, my iPad, even my Nook Tablet has an app.