"2 'cloud service' enter, 1 'cloud service' leave"

It should be common knowledge by now that I am a huge cloud sync/storage enthusiast. It just makes sense – The ability to save your content in the cloud with anytime access on just about any device is a win-win. I am particularly cozy with the Dropbox solution as it has more than served my cloud needs.

Before, the FIRST and ONLY cloud storage option I would suggest was Dropbox. Now, I am not so sure. I’ve been testing out SugarSync for a while and I must say, there are some noticeable differences that may just force me to offer another option when folks ask me “What cloud storage should I sign up for”

The good folks over at SugarSync knew I would be a good candidate based on my affinity for all things Dropbox, so they sent me over a subscription to review and give my honest option (That disclaimer…it just happened).

SugarSync Rundown

Before I get into “which one is better” let me give you some background on SugarSync. It is a personal/small business cloud storage/backup service that enables users to access all of their data anytime, anywhere, from any device. By simply choosing which folders on your computer you want to sync, you can automatically store, share, and backup your content to the cloud. You can access those files via your mobile device, and backup your mobile pics, videos to the cloud. Collaborate/share your content with your team members or colleagues internally. If they update a file, the file is updated for the rest of the team. You can also create a public link to your files that is sharable via email, Twitter, and Facebook.

SugarSync also makes your file accessible via the web, just in case you’re without your laptop or mobile device, (which is crazy talk if you ask me). You can login to you account via the web on any computer with internet access and manage files with no problem. Finally, you can sync your files even if your don’t have internet access. Just work on your files like you normally would and SugarSync will update your files the second you connect.

When I initially set up my SugarSync account, I selected my documents and pictures folders to sync. It took a while for the sync to complete since those are probably the largest folders (with the exception of music) on my MacBook Pro. After that, adding files and folders was much smoother. Once they were synced, I could either open the SugarSync app on my laptop and work out of that or continue to use my laptop normally, and my files would sync like a champ. Just to be funny, I tried my add my Dropbox folder as well, thinking I would get a “why would you even try this with us?” message. Actually, the opposite happened. SugarSync welcomed my Dropbox files with open arms (I have a [cloud] Dream…)

I also connected my iPhone and Android devices and was immediately asked if I wanted to backup my photos to my SugarSync account. I thought to myself “Why not” and let it rip. Again, it took a while to get them all up there, but after that, I can choose to either manually upload photos, use the SugarSync camera function and snap images to the cloud (Android or iPhone), or choose to AutoSync photos and use my native camera app like I normally would (Android only).

I also added a couple of music files to test the streaming capabilities. Over Wifi = Yay; 4G = Pretty Good; 3G = “Don’t even think about it” (individual results depend on your location).

Cloud Storage Smack-Down

There are several places where SugarSync and Dropbox are the same:

– Synchronization of files across multiple devices
– Web access of files
– Can handle multiple file types
– Can share files with other users
– Different plans based on storage needs
– Restore older versions or deleted files
– Can work offline and automatically syncs when connected.

Here are some of the areas where Dropbox pwns SugarSync

Multiple 3rd Party clients integrate with Dropbox. This especially comes in handy with the mobile versions of the app. You can download note taking apps, document editing apps, photo and music apps. You are [almost] guaranteed they link directly to your Dropbox account.

2Gigs of storage free. I don’t pay for Dropbox and I save quite a bit a data to my account. Now I must admit, I am selective about what I save to the cloud, but for the longest, 2Gigs was enough for me. Additionally, since I am such a Dropbox whore, I have also been able to bump up my capacity by referring others to Dropbox (hence the banner in my site’s sidebar).

It’s just simple. Once you download, it adds a Dropbox folder to your computer or laptop, and you can start doing whatever you want to do with the folder. Everything in that folder gets synced across all your devices with access. Simple as that.

Here is where SugarSync sons Dropbox

You don’t have to manage another folder. SugarSync lets you choose whatever folders that’s currently on your computer to sync. Once the folders are synced, you can work however you normally would and your files are automagically synced up.

A Plethora of features and options. It Doesn’t matter if you’re using the mobile, web, or desktop version, you have greater control over your stuff. You can see all the files that are synced across all of your connected devices. The SugarSync web version is much more attractive and useful than the Dropbox web version. And the desktop version is killer too.

Other nice features include, auto upload/download for editing files via the web, upload/sync via email, assigning passwords and permissions to shared files/folders, and other cool features.

Cost
Even though SugarSync isn’t free, there pricing structure makes it a serious competitor as well. The first paid version of Dropbox gives you 50GB of storage at 10 bucks/month. While SugarSync starts you off at 30GB at 5 bucks/month. If you want to match the $10 dollar/month Dropbox price point, you can get 60GB of storage with SugarSync, versus Dropbox’s 50 gigs. So dollar per dollar, SugarSync has the edge.

CloudU
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years, and as a result of living under said rock, you’re not really sure what cloud computing/storage is and what it can do for you. SugarSync has taken upon itself the duty of creating an online repository of cloud knowledge called CloudU filled with tips, tricks, and videos that users can check out free of charge. Surprisingly, most of the information is NOT heavy on the Sugar (get it Sugar, SugarSync…nevermind). In other words, you can learn more about cloud computing/storage in general…with just a tad of SugarSync material spliced in here and there.

Outro
Overall, it seems as you can characterize Dropbox as a cloud folder that you can add stuff to and access across all of your devices. It’s super easy and free for most people without a ton of data to store in the cloud. SugarSync on the other hand, closer resembles that of a complete cloud storage platform that enables users with larger amounts of data to store, sync, and share in the cloud. SugarSync can be used in personal and business environments and gives users cloud control over the file structure they are already accustomed to.

Like I stated earlier, before I was Dropbox all the way. Now, SugarSync will be another tool in my technology database that I will dispense based on my evaluation of your requirements.

(read: I will tell more people about SugarSync more often)

Edit: I almost published this without noting that SugarSync NOW offers a free 5GB (no strings) version. I almost missed this feature because you have to look very closely on the pricing page of their website. You can also refer others to SugarSync and get even more free space. Its kind of hidden on the site, but since I do my reasearch/homework, I’m throwing up a link where you can sign up. Score another point for SugarSync!

As a final bonus, enter the code “BrothaTech” in the promotion box and…probably nothing will happen. Your computer might even freeze up. Instead, just sign up for the free 30-Day trial or download the free 5GB version and let me know what you think in the comments section.