Where is your data located? Do you keep your photos, music and other important information on your home computer? Is that data really, truly secure?
Most likely, the answer is no. Data on your PC is at risk of both physical and virtual damage. The best way to protect your files, including sensitive medical and financial information, is to use cloud storage.
Also known as online backup, cloud storage stores your data on secure, remote servers maintained by various storage providers. Two popular companies are SugarSync and Dropbox. We took a look at the specific features of each in order to help you make the best choice:
Founders Gibu Thomas and Ben Strong created a company called Sharpcast in 2004 which was a tool created for synchronizing images between different devices. But, after both the founders left the company in 2008, Laura Yecies was made the new CEO. After that, the entire team focused on the syncing and sharing capabilities of the tool and renamed it SugarSync.
After offering a free plan with 5 GB storage, the company finally started offering paid models in February 2014. As their name implies, the platform focuses on powerful syncing abilities. Multiple users can work on the same document with changes applied instantly. This appeals to both personal users who want instant document recovery as well as businesses who want multiple device, multiple user file syncing.
- Powerful and Simple Folder and File Syncing
- Easily Access Your Files From Any PC, Mac, iOS, or Android Device.
- Easy File Sharing With Public Keys and User Restrictions
- Ability To Remotely Wipe Data in Case Your Device is Stolen
- iOS and Android App For Access To Your Files From Your Phone or Tablet
Cloud storage and Dropbox go together like flying disc and Frisbee. For many people, the entire concept of the product is the same as the brand name of the provider. This is completely understandable. Dropbox is a cloud storage pioneer found in offices and workplaces around the world.
Founded in 2007, Dropbox is a U.S.-based company with headquarters located in both San Francisco and Austin. Initial funding came from Accel Partners, Sequoia Capital and Amida. Today, DropBox is considered an industry standard with over 300,000 users.
Dropbox offers a variety of free services although their security features can be an issue (more on that later). Originally, they were focused more on individual users who wanted cloud storage and reliable file syncing. Recently, however, Dropbox for Business was released, which is an attempt to compete with more security and business oriented cloud storage services.
- Easy Interface
- File Sync & Share
- Edit Documents Online
- Deleted File Recovery
- Mobile App
Ease of Use
Pretty much any major cloud storage provider, including both SugarSync and Dropbox, are going to be relatively free of technical problems. This means the most likely cause of any storage problems will be due to the user. Specifically, the more complicated and less automated a backup platform is, the less a user will want to use it. When a program is easy, however, people can back up their data quickly and without much thought.
SugarSync offers two options for backup. First, they offer you the option to select an existing folder on your computer as the designated sync folder. This is often easier and more convenient than services which force a specific sync folder to be used. But if you prefer a pre-made sync folder, SugarSync’s Magic Briefcase is available immediately after installation.
Dropbox is heavily focused on ease-of-use, which is a significant factor for the product’s popularity. As the name implies, using Dropbox can be as simple as dropping files into the folder. Dropbox is also easy for many people to use at once. In most cases, all most team members will need to do to gain access is simply click on a link.
Dropbox and SugarSync both offer dedicated folders for file syncing. However, only SugarSync also offers you the ability to use an existing folder on your PC. While not all users need this feature, those who do will definitely prefer SugarSync over Dropbox. This increased flexibility is why we think SugarSync is the easiest to use.
When files disappear, you might not need them back as fast as possible. This seems counterintuitive but in many cases you might not want to pay extra in order to instantly retrieve, for example, family photos. On the other hand, different types of data, like financial information, might need to be recovered as soon as possible. With cloud storage, the fastest storage might not be worth any extra cost depending on the type of material stored.
SugarSync has continuous backup which works in the background without interfering with PC performance. Five previous versions of all stored files are kept. Even better, only the size of the most recent file counts towards your file limit.
Both the free and paid individual plans from Dropbox offer unlimited file recovery and unlimited version history for up to 30 days. The Business plans offer recovery for additional days based on your subscription plan.
Dropbox is usually the speedier option for most people. In most cases, the 30 day window will be sufficient, especially if you’re backing up the same files automatically week after week or even day after day. Unlimited version history means fast file recovery.
Despite the name “cloud storage,” your data is actually stored on physical servers located in buildings protected from unauthorized access and other potential damage. A reliable cloud storage company is one where you know the servers will always be up and running.
SugarSync is a reliable company. They’ve been around since 2008 and provide storage for users around the world. One aspect we really like is how the company was initially designed for image sharing. This means their foundation is different from other cloud storage providers.
Dropbox is also very reliable. They’ve one of the original cloud storage providers. Even better, they’re still growing tremendously. Dropbox products are now integrated into many Microsoft products. Put simply, Dropbox is a giant in the industry and their servers aren’t going away anytime soon.
Both SugarSync and Dropbox are companies we feel you can trust with your data. They operate servers worldwide which are guarded around-the-clock. We do give the slight edge here to Dropbox. The numbers helped us make the decision. As a pioneer in the industry, Dropbox has been around the longest. They’re also the larger company. Nothing against SugarSync, but we feel Dropbox is probably the most reliable cloud storage in the entire industry.
Cloud storage can be used for more than one purpose. You can synch work folders across your team while also sharing a different folder filled with vacation photos with your family. You want to find a service with the right balance of features – too many can be confusing and too few can limit your options.
SugarSync offers a wide array of features. Aside from standards such as file syncing and backup, they also offer the ability to define your own sync folder. Photo album sharing is also easy and effective.
Dropbox has a bit less customization. This is ultimately a trade-off for the simple overall usefulness of the platform. There are standard syncing features, proxy settings and invite via link.
SugarSync has more features and is more customizable. Dropbox is great for easy storage and file syncing. But if you want to use cloud storage for a variety of purposes, SugarSync gives you more options.
Security and Encryption
There are several layers of proper cloud storage security. Local encryption protects your files when they’re on your PC. Server side encryption protects your files while they’re stored on the remote servers. Finally, transit security protects your data while moving from your local PC into storage.
SugarSync encrypts data in transit and when in storage with 128-bit AES encryption. But the platform doesn’t provide local encryption. You can add local encryption to your files yourself, but SugarSync has no integration to help you with that. This can be not only a technical hurdle but also add extra time to the backup process.
Unfortunately, Dropbox security isn’t a vast improvement. Dropbox also uses 128-bit AES encryption for transit and storage. Their local options are a bit inconsistent, however. The introduction of Dropbox Business has improved security, with admin features allowing for various security levels among users.
If security is your top concern, then neither platform is a fantastic option. The lack of local encryption means your data is at an increased risk of exposure. Neither platform is likely secure enough to store financial, medical or similar data. Dropbox Business offers the most encryption of the two platforms, however, which is why we feel that Dropbox is the more secure option.
Pricing and Affordability
Dropbox’s popularity is certainly helped by their free and low cost pricing plans. They offer 2 GB of free storage to all individuals. If you need more, you can purchase 1 TB of space for $9.99 a month. Business users can try Dropbox for Business for 30 days for free.
SugarSync also offers low prices, although their free option is limited to a free 30 day trial. Personal plans have 100 GB, 250 GB or 500 GB which are $7.49, $9.99 and $24.99. The business plan is $55 for 1000 GB. A customizable Enterprise option for large organization is also available.
SugarSync’s prices are low but you can’t really beat free. Dropbox not only offers the better free option, they’re also generally a better value with their paid plans. While SugarSync offers $24.99 for 500 GB, Dropbox’s lowest paid plan actually offers more space for less money.
So, Which Do We Like Better?
Dropbox has been an industry standard for a long time. But is the platform stuck in old ways? Can a relatively new provider “out-Dropbox” Dropbox?
Well, no, not really. Dropbox is on top for a reason. They provide easy, solid cloud storage which you can also share both personally and professionally.
SugarSync is a reliable service with a lot to offer. They’re the only one of the two who let you use an existing folder as a sync folder. They also offer more options for overall customization.
Dropbox, however, is powerful and easy right out of the box. If you want quick, accessible file sharing and syncing Dropbox is the way to go. There are a few reasons you might prefer SugarSync, but the safe, secure and reliable choice for most people is Dropbox.