Online backup services have revolutionised global data-producing by developing systems that can transfer and store files safely and securely, while keeping them fully available to those who produce them. Until offsite file storage was available, important documents and images could be saved on secondary devices such as CDs and USBs, but these are as vulnerable to accident, loss, and human error, as the computer on which the data is created.
Such secondary devices were better than nothing and, used properly, were more than capable of looking after data, but users soon found that it was not always possible to find the time to transfer their files and, even if they did, they then had to remember to keep their CDs and USBs with them if they wanted to work in more than one location.
Initially, the online backup was the inspired idea of someone who wanted to create something that would take care of his data, but make it easy to restore from anywhere in the world he happened to be, eliminating the chore of having to carry it around with him.
After a lot of hard work, he found that the system he had created provided exactly what he was looking for, and it wasn’t long before he realised that, perhaps, other people would like to take advantage of it, too. Online backing up of data was, and continues to be, a resounding success, and more and more people are signing up to one of the many online backup solutions that have been developed since. One of the most popular is SugarSync.
SugarSync – the Features
SugarSync provides continuous backup in real time, which means that data is backed up as it is created, unlike much of the competition which backs up daily. Files of all types including documents, photos, videos, and music, can be synced across multiple computers, and a panoply of other devices including PCs, Mac, BlackBerry, Android, iPhone, iPad, and others, making the service versatile and flexible. Users will be able to work from one device at the office, say their computer, and another, perhaps a BlackBerry, when they are on the move or at another location.
Files are backed up to a user’s own personal cloud, which is completely secure, and only accessible to him and those to whom he has given permission. Data can even be edited while the user is offline, and SugarSync will sync the files to all other devices when he is back online.
File-sharing is another great SugarSync feature; it enables files to be shared by friends and family, and collaborated on with team members, as long as they have the user’s authority. This is ideal for projects involving many contributors. Files edited by one team member will automatically be synced to all the other devices on the system, so everyone is kept fully up to date.
SugarSync will keep the five previous versions of every file that is uploaded to the cloud, keeping it accessible for editing or simply for reference, but only the most recent version will count as part of the agreed storage limit, so no backup space is wasted. SugarSync also has a Web Archive that will store any files that are not synced or dated and, like all the other data, it is accessible at all times and from all devices.
Accessibility of Data
Unlike many of its competitors, files stored with SugarSync can be browsed, accessed, synced, and backed up via mobile devices, with SugarSync’s Mobile Applications that are available for Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, Symbian, Android, iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch, giving users one of the most versatile tools in their arsenal.
Files of any size can be uploaded via SugarSync, and even large files can be sent remotely from any of the mobile devices that a user has included on his own online backup plan, which means that the possibilities for sharing, be it critical business data, or holiday photos, are endless.
Restoring files from the SugarSync cloud is quick and easy, simply by selecting ‘Files’ from the website, then choosing which file to restore, be it the most recently uploaded, or any of the five previous versions. Users can restore files that have been removed from the synced folder and placed in ‘Deleted Files’, but these files still count as part of the agreed storage limit. It is only when files have been permanently deleted that the space is freed up, but such files will then no longer be recoverable.
Security is just about the most important consideration when choosing an online backup; after all, users want to be sure that only they, and those to whom they have given permission, can access their data. Data is transferred using TLS (Transport Layer Security), and stored using 128-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), the same high level of security that is trusted for online financial transactions throughout the world. Any files that are to be shared between colleagues or clients, or between family members, can be password-protected, which will ensure complete data confidentiality.
Backup space with SugarSync depends on the plan that a user commits to, but a generous 5GB (gigabyte) plan is available free, with no obligation to sign up for a paid-for plan. Users can choose to install the 30GB option, which provides storage for 3,000 documents, 6,000 photos, and 6,000 songs; if they opt for the best-selling 60GB plan they will have space for 6,000 documents, 10,000 photos, and 10,000 songs and, 100GB provides room for 10,000 documents, 20,000 photos, and 15,000 songs. Larger plans providing 250GB, and 500GB, are available for those who need even more space.
The cost of an online backup service is very important; users will want to make sure that they are getting the best possible value for money with the provider of their choice. SugarSync has a plan, detailed under ‘Backup Space’, for every user, and every budget. The 30GB Plan is $4.99 per month but, paid for up front for a year, it provides twelve months for the price of ten, which is great value for money. Equally cost-effective is the popular 60GB Plan, which is $9.99 per month, again discounted by two months if signed up to for a year in advance, as is the 100GB Plan, at $14.99. All these plans offer great features at realistic prices.
Free Trial Options
Users can sign up to the free 5GB plan, which provides all the benefits and features of the paid-for account, but only up to the 5GB limit; they can stay with that indefinitely, or they can upgrade to a thirty day free trial of the paid-for plan that they would like to subscribe to once the free trial period has extended. However, even then they are not fully committed unless they choose to be; if they want to cancel the paid-for plan, they can do so within the free trial period.
SugarSync’s customer support is comprehensive and informative. Via the ‘Help Portal’, users can join the community forum to ask specific questions; they can send an email, they can opt for ‘chat’ support, or they can browse the ‘Most Popular Answers’ section which carries the answers to a whole range of queries.
SugarSync offers an excellent online backup service, at prices that will suit every pocket. A free account is available which may be all that some users need, but there are free trials, too, which are a great way of sampling all that the service provides. Paid-for plans are well-priced and provide generous storage and great features.
The security used by SugarSync is of a standard used by major banks and financial institutions to transfer money online, so is completely tried and trusted. Customer support is available in various forms, too. SugarSync offers many other great features, and is an excellent choice for anyone looking for the online backup that will meet all their requirements.