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SugarSync for Business review

Cloud storage that almost hits the sweet spot

Cloud sitting on laptop with memory stick
Price
$55 (approx £36) per month, $550 (approx £358) per year
  • Syncs any folder on any of your computers; Excellent admin controls
  • Some rival services are cheaper and provide more storage capacity

SugarSync is unusual among online storage and synchronisation services in that it allows you to sync any folder on your computer, rather than giving you just a single sync folder. SugarSync for Business works in much the same way as its consumer equivalent, with a few extra features. The most important of these is that admin users have access to and control over other staff accounts. This means that, if someone leaves the company, their data stays under your control. You also get the ability to remotely wipe work files from devices connected to any of the accounts you manage.

By default, SugarSync for Business gives you 1TB of capacity to share between your users. Accounts start at $55 (£36) per month or $550 (£358) per year for three user accounts. If you have more than ten staff who need to use your cloud storage, custom plans are available, giving you more seats, more space, and an individual quote, but you can also add users to a standard account as you go, for an extra $13 (£8.50) per user, per month.

Admin access

The account you sign up from is your main administration account by default, but you can give other accounts admin access. You can also set a space limit for each of your users, or allow them unlimited space. This means they can use as much of your business account’s shared storage as they need.  If you set storage quotas for staff, you’ll be notified by email if they start to approach them, although these alerts can be disabled.

SugarSync provides powerful administration options to help you manage your staff’s devices and accounts. You can remove selected computers from an account without removing the data in their synced folders, or you can wipe and remove them. Alternatively, you can remove a user from your business account, taking their data out of your SugarSync storage but not wiping it from their computers. When you take this option, the storage capacity and user licence can be issued to someone else. Unfortunately, remote wiping is currently only available for Windows and Mac OS X computers, although SugarSync say that support for wiping Android and iOS devices is “in the works”.

User experience

Once you’ve created an account for a user, they’ll be sent a confirmation email and prompted to set a password. SugarSync makes stored data available via a web interface, mobile apps and, most importantly, a desktop client for Windows and Mac OS X.

Unlike most syncing services, such as Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive, SugarSync doesn’t just give you a single synchronised folder into which you can save or drop files (although you do get one of these, conveniently added to your Documents folder). You can also sync any folder on your PC. Directories on external or network drives can’t be added, but there are no other limits to what folders you can sync.

When you install the desktop app, you’re prompted to log in, and then to select which folders you’d like to sync. In the case of work PCs, this means that your users can easily set their document and pictures directories, or even their entire user directory, to be synced both with online storage and, if needed, with any other computer they install the desktop client on. When installing the client on additional systems, you get to choose which folders you want to sync to that PC - only the default SugarSync directory inside your Documents folder is synchronised by default.

SugarSync adds an option to Windows’ right-click menu that allows you to quickly add folders for synchronisation and share synced folders with others. SugarSync retains five previous versions of each file, while deleted files are stored in its Deleted Items folder, accessible online or via the apps, until you either restore or permanently delete them.

Bear in mind that although SugarSync gives you a fairly substantial 1TB of online storage to share between your users, the speed with which files are uploaded is entirely dependent on your internet connection. The same applies when users sync to and from their home computers. The desktop client helpfully allows you to set upload speed limits to prevent SugarSync from hogging your internet connection.

Sync and go

Regardless of whether you choose to sync a specific folder to other computers or not, the content of folders selected for synchronisation will, once uploaded, be available via SugarSync’s web and mobile interfaces. This makes it easy to access vital work files no matter where you are.

SugarSync apps are available for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Blackberry, and Symbian, although the first two are the most strongly promoted and supported. Both the Android and iOS apps can automatically back up photos and videos from your mobile devices to SugarSync. The Android version can also sync any folder you select from your phone or tablet with your online storage. Similarly, you can choose to sync any of your other SugarSync folders to your phone, giving you full access to important files as and when you need them, even if you can’t get online.

For extra security, you can add a PIN to the app and its settings allow you to control how often it checks in and syncs with the server. Other options determine whether it’ll sync while you’re roaming, or only sync when your phone is plugged in. SugarSync also integrates with a range of web, desktop, and mobile apps including Zapier’s SaaS connection service and BoxCryptor’s encryption tools, as well as Fujitsu’s ScanSnap range of sheet-fed document scanners.

Conclusions

SugarSync’s uses space on Amazon’s S3 servers in a variety of locations to store your data with geographical redundancy. It can’t guarantee that your data will only be stored in specific countries, but the company complies with the Safe Harbor framework, bringing it into line with EU and UK data protection laws. Those who require greater security, however, may wish to consider SpiderOak which guarantees that only you will ever know your password, or the open source OwnCloud software which allows you to host your own cloud-based storage with a slick interface. However, neither of these services shares SugarSync’s remarkably convenient ability to sync any folder on your PCs.

It’ll take most businesses quite some time to fill up a terabyte, but we still wish SugarSync offered more storage capacity as some of its rivals are more generous. Dropbox gives you 1TB per user, rather than 1TB between all your users, while SpiderOak Blue SMB gives you unlimited storage and is also cheaper. Despite its slightly higher costs, we’re great fans of the way SugarSync gives your users precise control over the folders and data they sync, making it easier to work with than single-sync-folder services, particularly if you need to synchronise files and folders that have to be kept in a specific path.

Verdict 

A powerful synchronisation service that lets your staff sync any folder on their computers and mobile devices

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