Dropbox vs. SugarSync–A Battle of Online Synchronization Service Titans

by Jawwad in Internet, Linux, Software, Windows | 11 comments

image23 | Dropbox vs. SugarSync–A Battle of Online Synchronization Service TitansThese days use of online cloud storage for data backup and online syncing services is becoming very popular and many startup companies are providing very promising and cost effective solutions to the users to save and sync their critical data through online services. One of the most famous such services these days is Dropbox and we have already talked about it here in different contexts. Market for online data synchronization services to keep all of your computers as well mobile devices synchronized is heating up and some new contenders are entering the market. One of the most promising from them which can also be a potential threat to the Dropbox is SugarSync. In fact there is already a great deal of conversation going on around the web that which one of them is the best one and at which price. This article as ever is an attempt to enlighten the users on the relative strengths and weakness of both of these services and then leave the final verdict on the users but at least they will be able to make an informed decision.

I have used Dropbox for many many months and should I mention that very extensively to synchronize important data between my work PC and a laptop at home. But not only that as I also use it optionally to transfer some pdf documents to my IPhone so that I can read them on the go. One of the primary strengths of the Dropbox is that it is very fast on the syncing operation. Even if you have a large number of small files it completes the syncing operation pretty fast where many other services struggle. Another neat feature built into the newer versions is the LAN Syncing feature that allows to perform a vey high speed syncing operation between two computers that are located in the same LAN network. Its main strength lies in its simplicity – you just install the client, link your account to it and from then on it just works! It is not intrusive at all as everything you put in the Dropbox magically appears on every other machine that also has Dropbox installed and linked to the same account. But this is also from where primary criticism stems. As it is very simple it do not allows to synchronize any arbitrary folders from the computer to be synchronized. Everything that you want to synchronize must be placed in the Dropbox folder. This is one of major weaknesses of the Dropbox. Apart from this limitation there are many notable features which are not so obvious at first sight such as unlimited versioning for the files placed in Dropbox, delta transfers technology for files (where only parts of the file which have changed are transferred) to significantly speedup the process, support for Windows, Mac and Linux client. For a free account you get 2GB of free space but apart from space limitation there are not any other limitations on the free account i.e. you can sync as many computers as you want with a single account. Furthermore no limitations on the upload/download speed in the free account. However, if you want to upgrade then you will have to consider their paid plans and they only have two options currently one is Pro 50 a 50 GB storage plan with a monthly fee of 10 USD and Pro 100 with a monthly fee of 20 USD. These plans are bit more expansive when compared to some other competitors.

image24 | Dropbox vs. SugarSync–A Battle of Online Synchronization Service Titans

I don’t have a large experience with the SugarSync but from my  brief experience what I learned is that user interface for their desktop client is not as simple as Dropbox for new users. In particular there are many options that you can adjust which on the other hand provides a lot of flexibility. Particularly it eliminates one of the biggest problems that people have with Dropbox namely selective syncing so in SugarSync you can selectively choose which folders to synchronize with their online cloud storage service (they can be any folders in your system). Another advantage is that they have recently increased the storage size from 2GB to 5GB for free accounts to up the ant (listen Dropbox people)! Once setup – SugarSync experience is similarly seamless to the Dropbox. Here, I come to one of weakest points of the SugarSync and that is syncing speed of the service, in particular upload speed are painfully slow for some reason. I have heard that it is because  I am using their free plan. But then how can I be assured that their premium paid plans will not be slow as well? Compared to the Dropbox syncing speed is substantially slow on my test machine (also consider the fact that for the Dropbox I am also using a free account). This is something that SugarSync should have mentioned on their website that speed in the free accounts is crippled! Another problem here with the free account is that you can sync NO more than two devices with the same account (this limitation also applies to mobile device such as IPhone etc.). Furthermore, as I know free accounts of SugarSync don’t support unlimited versioning of files. Another negative is that there is no support for a Linux client so far. On the positive side pricing plans are much cheaper than Dropbox.

So here we are – I put important facts in front of you about both of these services so that you can make informed decision on which of these services to use. I you ask me I will stick to my Dropbox account as they do not cripple the free version. We can get a massive 5GB of storage with the SugarSync but what good it is if we cannot use it because of poor syncing speeds! In case SugarSync developers improve the syncing speed in free version then I will favor it over Dropbox. Unfortunately for now due to some serious performance issues I am hesitant to migrate to their service (at least if you are not willing to be a paid subscriber).

***Note: BTW if you do decide to use Dropbox based on my arguments use the this link to signup for a free Dropbox account that will give you an additional 250 – 500 MB of free space!

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