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Reviews and expert opinion SugarSync

Madeleine Bate Madeleine Bate Cloud Hosting Expert

SugarSync has been around for a while and I can see why – it’s a simple cloud backup solution that doesn’t complicate the main task of quickly and reliably backing up your files. You won’t find excessive in-app editing features or over-the-top encryption in this service, but is all this simplicity also excessively priced?

Overview

Pay More, Get Less for A Simple Cloud Backup Service?

SugarSync cloud backup features
SugarSync lets you access, sync, share, and backup unlimited files across multiple devices.

“Less is more” is a noble approach to life, but does it work for a cloud backup solution like SugarSync? If you like minimalism, maybe it does, but I have a few reservations after conducting a comprehensive test of what this service offers.

I should clarify one thing: I don’t need extensive features to make me feel that I’m getting my money’s worth from a cloud solution – sometimes all I want is a reliable backup, say of my music and photo files, from my computer or mobile. And for basic needs like these, SugarSync ticks the right boxes.

But, for example, if I wanted to check a photo or song that I’ve just backed up, SugarSync offers a media player only on its mobile app (not on the desktop app or web client). Or, if I want to sync my iPhoto library, SugarSync only supports syncing it on one device at a time, instead of the usual unlimited devices supported.

And this is when I start to wonder why certain features aren’t offered in full across SugarSync’s platforms – and whether these small, inconvenient details shouldn’t be reflected in more reasonable subscription costs.

With pricing top of mind, I’ve covered more complex features like file sync speeds and security features – and additional small inconveniences – in my review.

Honestly, though, for similar functionality and a smaller price tag, I’d rather suggest iDrive or Backblaze. Still, SugarSync does have some redeeming qualities that I share below.

Features

4.0

SugarSync Offers Cloud Backup and Syncing with No File Size Limits

Data Server Locations Throughout the USA (exact number and locations are not disclosed publicly)
Backup Options Customizable backup schedule. No backup from external drive, no offline backup/restore, no mirror image backups, no backup status reports, no idle backup option
Limits and Restrictions Web app limits uploads to 300MB, file type restrictions, bandwidth throttling, no fair use limits
Applications and Operating Systems Windows 10, 8, 7; macOS 10.12-10.15, Android, iOS
Encryption Keys Enterprise-grade AES-256, no private encryption keys
File Access Web, desktop app, mobile app
File Sharing Yes

As far as online backup and file sharing services go, SugarSync does as it advertises. But it’s also a worthwhile consideration if you want a solution that integrates with many third-party apps.

SugarSync can be used with productivity and automation tools, including JotForm, Google Drive, and Asana, so it’s a good option to use at work. For example, a Microsoft Outlook plugin connects with your SugarSync account to let you share files that are too large to email.

Let’s take a closer look at four important features: Backups, Data Restore, Security, and Remote Wipe.

Backups

Once a file or folder has been added to your account, SugarSync will back it up almost immediately after each change or edit. This means your data is constantly being backed up and saved online.

For added peace of mind, you can create a Protected Folder, which allows you to schedule backups at continuous intervals and saves up to 12 versions of each file instead of the usual five. Note that the additional versions will take up more of your allotted storage space, though.

Also worth noting that SugarSync doesn’t give you the option to backup your entire harddrive. Instead, everything is backed up at the file or folder level.

SugarSync protected folder feature
SugarSync’s Protected Folders allow you to choose the frequency of your backups.

In addition to cloud backup, SugarSync’s business plans also support network-attached storage devices.

Restoring Data

Restoring previous versions of files is quite straightforward, and I like the added versioning that Protected Folders gives you. This lets you have more control over what to restore in the case of unwanted changes being made to your files – say, if you’re working on files collaboratively.

If you decide to delete a file or folder, these are moved to a Deleted Items folder, which can be accessed via your desktop app or mobile app. SugarSync keeps any deleted items for up to 30 days, which I think is a good amount of time to change my mind or revert an error.

Security

Security is where SugarSync falls a little short. While two-factor-authentication is something that I expect as the bare-minimum protection offered by apps and software, SugarSync does not provide this. (You’ll want to select a strong password instead.)

The service also doesn’t provide private encryption keys, which is an important security feature when sharing sensitive files. That said, this drawback could be mitigated by integrating with end-to-end encryption software such as BoxCryptor.

More positively, the service uses AES 256-bit to encrypt your files and the TLS protocol to protect them against man-in-the-middle attacks. On top of this, Protected Folders also help you if your files are attacked by ransomware – you can restore versions from before the attack.

Remote Wipe

One of SugarSync’s more interesting features is Remote Wipe, which allows you to remotely log out of SugarSync from all synced devices, as well as delete your files from those devices.

This will only delete files from synced devices, leaving your files accessible from the web client – if you lose your laptop or phone, or have them stolen, you won’t have to worry about your backup being accessed or compromised.

See full list of features

Ease of use

4.2

Simple, Intuitive Interface on the SugarSync Apps

The user interface of SugarSync’s desktop app is attractive and uncomplicated.

SugarSync ease of use
The contrasting colors of the left hand navigation bar make it easy to spot what you are looking for.

While navigating through folders, you can use the breadcrumb navigation to go back. To find a specific file or folder, simply use the search tool at the top of this bar (this will even yield results from within your Deleted Items folder).

The web client, on the other hand, feels outdated and does not offer the service’s full set of features. This didn’t matter as much to me, as I primarily use the desktop and mobile apps (more on the latter below).

SugarSync web app dashboard
One plus of the web app is that it offers a quick walk through upon your first visit.

Let’s take a closer look at some of SugarSync’s key features that boost its ease of use.

A Mobile App That Complements the Desktop App

The mobile app looks almost identical to its desktop counterpart and both allow you to share files by copying a link, emailing, or sharing via any of the communication apps you use. Some additional, useful features are available on the mobile app, such as automatic backup of photos and videos from your device.

SugarSync cloud backup app
I like that you can save files for offline access and create shortcuts to your most frequented folders using the mobile app.

While no media playback is offered on the web client or desktop app, you can play music and video files directly from the mobile app.

Easy Syncing and Sharing of Files to Different Platforms

SugarSync’s file sync and sharing capabilities are easy to use, and allow you to share your backup folders and files on the web client, or the desktop and mobile apps.

In a few clicks, you can share your files with anyone you choose – even if they don’t have a SugarSync account – via email or by creating a public link. When you share by invitation, you can choose to give permission to edit or view only.

SugarSync cloud backup interface
The Public Links and Shared by Me tabs help you keep track of the items you’ve shared publicly or via email, respectively.

You can also share links directly to social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, from the web client.

Dedicated Email Address to Upload Files

Another helpful feature offered by SugarSync is Upload by Email, which lets you backup files by sending them to a unique email address tied to your account. This makes backing up email attachments very easy.

What’s great is that anyone with this unique email address can send it files for backup – a good feature to have if you’ve got many collaborators on a business account. These files will then be stored in their own dedicated folder.

Setting Up an Account

SugarSync doesn’t have a complicated setup. You can set up an account online prior to downloading the desktop app or set one up through the app itself. Either way, this is quick, and the service should be up and running in a few clicks.

Setting up a backup is easy, too. When you first open the app, go into the menu and select the folder(s) you wish to backup and hit SaveYour files are then backed up to the SugarSync Cloud and they can be accessed from any connected devices.

SugarSync file structure
It’s helpful that the app uses your device’s own file structure, making it simple to find what you’re looking for.
SugarSync cloud backup interface
It’s easy to find the folder menu again, by clicking the folder icon in the top left corner.

If you want to schedule backups, you’ll need one last step, which is to create a Protected Folder and choose a frequency option – daily; every three, seven, or fourteen days; or monthly.

I wish the service had a few improvements that made backups even easier. It could offer updates on the progress of your uploads or downloads, or provide a summary of when your last backup was, how long it took, etc. Currently, the activity page just shows you the date and time each individual file was added.

See if SugarSync is Right for You

Performance

4.6

A Fast Service with Some Inconsistency

To test SugarSync’s online backup services, I used a test folder holding 4.7GB of files. I’m based in Sayulita, Mexico, which means I am relatively close to SugarSync’s US servers. As SugarSync does not disclose where its servers are (or how many it has), I can’t be sure how close.  

It’s important to note that connection speeds in Mexico can fluctuate, especially over WiFi, and that  download and upload speeds vary a lot throughout the day. On average, my download and upload speeds are 18.69Mbps and 7.85Mbps, respectively.

My first full backup was conducted at 9:22 a.m. during a weekday and took 2 hours and 45 minutes and 29 seconds. Recovering my files  was simple and required only a few clicks. It took 1 hour, 24 minutes and 39 seconds to restore all the data. Now, this is quite slow, but this is also the time of day that my upload and download speeds are at their lowest.

SugarSync uploading backup tests
I found it interesting that PDFs, image, and doc files all uploaded in the first 10 minutes, leaving the two larger video files to take up the rest of the time.

I ran a second test that same day at 4:56 p.m. using the same test folder, after I deleted the original backup. I was shocked when the backup finished in under 3 minutes and thought it was perhaps an error. I restarted my computer and tried again, yielding the same result. Then, just to be sure, I made an exact copy of the original folder and repeated the backup. This final test took exactly 3 minutes and 39 seconds. The restore took much longer, with a time of  1 hour, 1 minute, and 24 seconds. Again, most of that time was taken up by the video files. NB: we say ‘Again’ here, but the first instance of mentioning this was in the photo caption above, which may easily get missed by the reader.

My third test was conducted on a Saturday afternoon at 2:18 p.m. The backup took an astonishing 55 seconds and the restore took 55 minutes, and 25 seconds.

During all three tests, I did not notice any significant slowing of any other computer functions. But, you can throttle speeds from the preferences menu of the desktop app, if you do feel SugarSync is taking up too much out of your bandwidth.

See if SugarSync is Right for You

Privacy

5.0

A Clear Privacy Policy

SugarSync’s Privacy Policy is strong and the best part is that it’s simple enough for non-lawyers to understand. Let’s hit on some of the highlights:

  1. The company won’t sell your information to advertisers.
  2. It won’t monitor your data unnecessarily .
  3. It doesn’t seek to collect or process your sensitive personal data (race or ethnicity, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, physical or mental health, sexual life, any actual or alleged criminal offences or penalties, national identification number, or any other information that may be deemed to be sensitive under applicable law).
  4. Processing your personal data is required for: providing services to you, financial management, conducting surveys, investigations, compliance with applicable laws, and other operational or health and safety reasons.
  5. It doesn’t disclose your personal data to third parties unless they’re legal and regulatory authorities, external advisors, or in connection with legal proceedings.
  6. If you choose to close your account, SugarSync promises not to retain your personal data for longer than necessary.

In addition to being compliant with the Patriot Act in the United States, it also complies with Five Eyes (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK, and US), and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the EU’s privacy law.

See SugarSync Privacy Features

Support

4.8

Helpful Online Support on Weekdays Only

If you have a Personal account, the support options available include the Help Center (with articles), chatbot, live chat, email, or submitting a ticket for email response. Phone Support is only offered to Business plan subscribers.

I had a question about offline backups and restores and first checked the Help Center. Several articles came up, but I could not find any definitive answer quickly.I then moved onto the Zapier chatbot  which, not surprisingly, only pointed me towards the same articles I had already found.

Once the chatbot is unable to help you, you’re given the option to live chat with someone over text. I got put into a queue and waited 10 minutes for a response from an agent. I got connected with Ken, who was polite, helpful, and quick.

SugarSync live chat support
The live chat option has a clean and standard user interface

Ken also advised that SugarSync’s customer support center is only available between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. PST from Monday to Friday. This applies to live chat, email, and phone enquiries. For email, your response is typically responded to within a day, but there may be longer wait times for requests sent Friday or Monday.

Pricing

3.6

Expensive When Compared to Similar Services

While SugarSync may seem average at first glance, when I compared it to similar services, like Carbonite and iDrive, I thought it offered quite a low value, especially with the business plans.

SugarSync online backup plans
With SugarSync, you’re primarily paying for storage space

The pricing structure is simple. All three personal plans offer an identical set of features and each can be used with unlimited devices. The plans only differ in price based on which storage capacity you choose.

The smallest personal backup plan you can purchase offers 100GB of data, while the mid- and high-level plans offer 100GB and 250GB respectively.

Each of these plans is initially set up as a 30-day free trial period – you’ll be asked to provide credit card information when you sign up. However, you aren’t charged until your 30 days are up and you’re able to cancel at any time prior.

SugarSync also offers a free option  with 5GB of space that does not require any payment information, but which expires after 90 days. To keep your account after the 90-day period, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan. You can do this easily through the web app – and you might even receive a significant discount on your first year

For payment, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover cards are all accepted. If you want to upgrade your Personal plan to get  more storage, you can do so on your account page.

SugarSync account dashboard
SugarSync offers an incentive to refer friends to their service in the form of additional storage space

If you need cloud backup for your small business, then opt for SugarSync’s Business plan,  which offers 1TB for 3 users. If you have more than 3 people in your company, you can request a custom plan for up to 10 users. Within this plan, there is an option to pay for unlimited storage.

Comparison

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SugarSync REVIEW: BOTTOM LINE

As a cloud backup and file syncing software, SugarSync delivers fast file transfer speeds, easy-to-use apps, and decent versioning for added file protection. The interface is well designed, making it simple and intuitive for its users.

It falls short in a few areas, including lack of added features, minimal security, and the high price tag. While this may not be a deal breaker if you have a Personal plan, those looking for a more cost-effective business solution may want to consider alternative options.

FAQ

Is there a difference between online backup and cloud storage?Yes, there is. Cloud backup, or online backup, is specifically designed for making copies of your data, in order to prevent total loss should something happen to the original files. These backup copies of your data can then be restored to your files or devices. Cloud storage, on the other hand, is designed to supplement your hard drive space and creates a gateway to access information from anywhere.  Can I back up my files for free?Yes, certain services will offer a limited amount of storage space for free, such as DropBox or GoogleDrive. SugarSync does offer a free 90-day period with 5GB of storage, but you’ll need a paid plan to continue using it. Is SugarSync good for beginners?Yes. SugarSync is super simple to set up and straightforward to use. Even if your level of knowledge of cloud backup is basic, you should have no issues learning how to use this software.Does SugarSync have unlimited storage?For Personal plan subscribers, no. If you are on a custom Business plan, there is an option to pay for unlimited storage. If you’re looking for unlimited storage on a personal cloud backup plan, BackBlaze is a great choice.   Does SugarSync work on Mac?Yes. SugarSync works on both Mac and PC computers. This entire review was conducted by a Mac user.

Madeleine Bate Madeleine Bate
Madeleine Bate is a freelance creative professional specializing in content writing, digital marketing, and project management. She has written on a wide array of topics including organizational health, social media trends, and travel and is not known to shy away from a new challenge. When she’s not researching an unfamiliar subject, writing articles, or working on client projects, you can find her reading, spending time outdoors, listening to live music, or planning her next trip.

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