File restore could be simpler, but no other online storage service does so much so well
SugarSync is best known as a cloud storage and synchronisation service, but thanks to generous data allowances it's also a viable option for online backup. Used in this way, it behaves a lot like Carbonite, complete with the dot-labelling on folders and documents to be synced or not synced, and continuous, automatic synchronisation of files as they're added or modified - frequently within a few seconds.
The service's synchronisation features are a boon if you have to work with a number of netbooks, laptops and desktop PCs, running Windows or Mac OS X. Install the client on each PC, and by default any file you place in the special "magic briefcase" folder will be synchronised with files created in the "magic briefcase" of the other machines. Other folders can also be synchronised if you wish.
SugarSync's other major plus point is as a means of sharing media. Pictures uploaded from the local Pictures folder are automatically added to online photo galleries, which you can view using any web browser or share with fellow SugarSync users, and integration with Facebook now allows you to publish stored photos or albums to your wall. Meanwhile, applications for iPhone, Blackberry and Android phones enable you to do more than view stored documents and images on the move; you can also sync pictures taken with your phone camera with your PC.
Sadly, SugarSync falls down slightly as a backup solution. First, the right-click feature that makes it so easy to add files or folders to a Carbonite or Mozy backup doesn't work here; you can't include or exclude folders or choose to backup right now. More seriously, the restore process isn't straightforward. To restore, you need to re-sync files using the client, and - as the service sensibly avoids overwriting files during synchronisation - run through and remove unwanted duplicates.
We also found both the initial backup and restore a bit slower than rival services, with our 1GB of test material taking nearly eight hours to upload. We do, however, like the easy web client - which makes it possible to download files from just about anywhere - and the idea of a dedicated archive folder, where you can manually move files which won't be synced, just safely stored.
Overall, then, SugarSync isn't the ideal product for basic online backup and restoration, but its myriad other features make it a great choice if you want synchronisation and file-sharing powers as well. Admittedly, Microsoft's Live Mesh and SkyDrive services offer these features for free, but SugarSync's killer combo of features is more than worth the monthly premium.
Personal: 30GB, $5/mth, $50/yr; 60GB, $10/mth, $100/yr; 100GB, $15/mth, $150/yr; 250GB, $25/mth, $250/yr.
Business: 100GB for up to three users $30/mth, $300/yr, additional users at $10/mth, $100/yr; additional storage $30 per 100GB/mth, $30/yr.
|Price ex VAT||£3|
|Price inc VAT||£4|
|Ease of Use rating||4|
|Features & Design||6|
|Value for Money||5|
|Software subcategory||Online backup|
Operating system support
|Operating system Windows Vista supported?||yes|
|Operating system Windows XP supported?||yes|