Sync software

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SugarSync Review

Reviewer: Stephen Qualtrough
Developer: Sharpcast
Overall rating:
Price: $49.99

Review summary

Good points

 Easy and reliable

 Computers that you sync don’t have to be online at the same time

 File transfers and online storage very secure

 Free mobile applications

 High transfer speeds

Bad points

 Doesn't synchronize outlook files

Our verdict

If you are looking for a no fuss synchronisation tool that allows you to sync files between your Windows PC, Mac and mobile device, SugarSync may just be the answer. The service tops our list - earning our gold award - because of its ease-of-use, data security and its ability to sync in real-time as well as share files with devices that are powered off.

Full review

Services like SugarSync use a web-based clearinghouse (also known as a ‘server in the sky’ or ‘cloud’) to store your files, making them instantly accessible from any location with an internet connection and the service supports Mac, PC, Windows mobile phones as well as PDAs. By simply installing a small piece of software on each of your personal computing devices, the SugarSync web server can automatically synchronise your files as soon as a device comes online. This eliminates the need for your devices to be powered on and continuously connected to the internet in order to retrieve important data.

Even if you cannot or don't want to install the software on every machine you own, you can still access your files remotely through any internet browser by logging in to your ‘personal web space’ on the SugarSync website.

The only disadvantage in using a cloud-based server is that its capability is directly linked to your internet access speed. So, if you are trying to access your files from a mobile phone over a WAP connection – you will be in for a long wait. This same issue also limits the types of files you can retrieve from the cloud. For example, video, music and large data files would take far too long to download in any reasonable timescale, making this service unsuitable for both business users and multimedia junkies.


Installation of SugarSync Manager is quick and easy. During the set-up you will be asked to pick an icon to represent your machine and to select which folders you would like to sync. If you are planning to use this capability on several personal devices, the SugarSync manager software will need to be installed on each device. Thankfully all subsequent updates and upgrades are automatically installed. So, you shouldn’t have to repeat this process.

The desktop application allows you to manage all of your shared folders and files directly from your computer or mobile device. Unlike previous editions, the new manager also allows users to send sync requests to all other devices on the same account. This can now be done from any device; the function is no longer exclusive to the source computer.

Patience might be required on your first sync, depending on the amount of data you are sharing. However, subsequent syncs should be much faster as the program will only update those files which have been recently modified.


The first and foremost question for anyone considering a synchronisation program is ‘how secure is my data?’ SugarSync uses SSL and stores files in an encrypted 128 bit AES format – a protection level used by many major banks. The data is stored in ‘geo-redundant’ data centres. This means that your data is stored in several geographic locations; so if one centre goes down, another can pick up where it left off with minimal gaps in the service.

SugarSync also provides file-level versioning that is capable of recovering the last five revisions of your files. So, if you accidentally click save or delete, you can quickly recover your previous document.

One of the strongest arguments for using a cloud-based sync service over traditional sync software is its ability to store and synchronise files on several devices even if they are powered off. SugarSync will automatically update your data as soon as a machine is powered on – creating a seamless and efficient workflow.

Important files and folders that you need to access from every location can be stored in your Magic Briefcase, a folder which is automatically created when you install the SugarSync manager software. Anything placed in your Magic Briefcase is automatically replicated to every device on your account.

You can also specifically select which folders are synced with which devices. For example, you may want your documents to be accessible from your work computer but not on your mobile phone. This feature is particularly useful when dealing with devices that have small storage capacities such as PDAs and netbooks.

Another very useful feature is the ability to selectively share files with friends and clients through a customised URL on the domain.

SugarSync apps are free and are currently compatible with iPhone, BlackBerry, Andriod and Windows Mobile. However, you can use any web-enabled phone to access your files online and development to support other mobile phones is ongoing.

Ease of use

In terms of user friendliness, this program comes up spades. It’s clear that the designers created the system with end-users in mind because SugarSync is exceptionally easy to use. Users at any level will feel instantly at ease with both the desktop manager and the website.

Help & support

Currently SugarSync provides live chat, email and online support free to its registered users. For an annual fee you can also access ‘SugarSync Live’, which provides telephone technical support during their normal hours of operation.

However, it’s unlikely you will need those support options because there is a fantastic knowledge base which contains a quick start guide, FAQs, tutorials, troubleshooting and glossary on the SugarSync website. Active user forums and blogs also provide plenty of useful tips and updates that can answer most questions.


Though the SugarSync free version is limited to only 2GB of storage and will only sync two computers or devices, it is still a very useful service for anyone who needs to share small files between two different locations or computers. However, you may find the service so useful that you opt for their paid services which are tiered and provide extra advantages such as improved upload speeds, multiple PC support and more storage space. Either way, we feel SugarSync provides an excellent service that is just as useful as it is easy to use.

Looking for more sync software reviews?
See our side-by-side comparisons and in-depth reviews

1. GoodSync Personal V11
2. SugarSync
3. PCsync
4. ViceVersa
5. Syncovery
6. Allway Sync
7. SmartSync