Nov 2, 2011

[Cloud Computing] Comparing Dropbox and SugarSync

Diagram showing overview of cloud computing in...Image via WikipediaIt's interesting to note the rising popularity of cloud computing solutions as internet access becomes more and more widespread and accessing the web is made simpler and simpler with smartphones and tablet computers. A few years ago it seemed unheard of to rely on a service like Google Docs for all your work documents and now everyone seems to be in a rush to provide a cloud-based solution for almost everything that we used to do on our clunky desktop computers.

One area of particular interest remains to be cloud-based data storage. What started as a modest perk has now become a highly competitive environment with a lot of different players trying compete. I haven't tried out too many of them so far apart from the major players like Dropbox and SugarSync, and this is a pretty good place to start. I used to have a Box.net account back in the day, but that seems like a rather antiquated service compared to the newer players in the market.

Both services are highly similar to one another. They both provide online back-up services and both provide a variety of desktop and mobile applications that help you extend the reach of your virtual storage across multiple devices. So instead of talking what makes them the same, we'll spend more time discussing what makes them different from one another.


First, let's go through a quick overview of the contenders:


Image representing Dropbox as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBaseDropbox is a web-based (hence cloud) file storage service started in 2007 and could arguably be called the more popular player in the data back-up market today. Starting with a free account with 2GB of space and paid plans that offer as much as 100 GB of space for $199 a year, they offer a wide variety of data storage and sharing options for various users. Either the desktop or mobile applications are needed for users to share and sync files with one another with some exceptions.

Image representing SugarSync as depicted in Cr...Image via CrunchBaseSugarSync originally started as a product called Sharpcast Photos back in 2006. But 2008 it had been rebranded as SugarSync and remains a highly competitive data back-up and synchronization application. Free accounts now start with 5GB of space with paid plans that offer up to 500GB for $399 a year. SugarSync also has both desktop and mobile applications needed in order to use the service effectively.

Referral Program
Both services offer a referral program to help promote their respective services. For both free and paid users, getting other people to sign-up using custom referral links gives both users bonus space. For Dropbox your initial 2GB can be upgraded to as high as 8GB for Basic accounts and 16GB for Pro accounts in 250MB increments. For SugarSync, you start with 5GB for free and you earn 500MB per free user referred and 10GB per paid user referred with no declared limit on how much storage you can have.

Clearly SugarSync is trying to be a lot more competitive in the free storage arena in order to drive the popularity of its service and increase its subscriber base. It's a great option and I've yet to see Dropbox try to counter this maneuver.

Data Back-up
Each service employs different strategies for determine what folders on your computer are backed up to their services. Dropbox creates a dedicated folder which will contain all the data that you choose to back-up to their servers or is shared with you by fellow users. SugarSync allows you to sync and back-up pretty much any folder on your computer through the use of its desktop application, which makes it a great solution for a full system's back-up once you have enough space for it.

I will admit though that I've found SugarSync's upload speeds to be slower than Dropbox in this regard. Files get automatically synced by both services but for the most part Dropbox seems to provide the better service quality based on my experience. Thus my gaming group maintains a shared Dropbox folder to pass around character sheets and books real-time (especially with additional LAN-sync options when we're on the same network) while I maintain SugarSync for my personal use.

File Sharing
Both services allow you to share your files and folders with others with different restrictions. For Dropbox you can share entire folders as long as the person you're sharing with also has a Dropbox account. The data shared counts towards all of your storage limits, so that's something to factor in when you're managing multiple shared folders with your team. To share a file with non-Dropbox users, you'll need to place the file in your Public folder and link to it from there.

SugarSync allows you to share both files and folders with others even without a SugarSync account. You can generate a Public Link to an individual file which can be revoked as needed. You can also share via email which generates a link that will also expire after a period of time.

Conclusion
These are some of the bigger differences between services that most people factor in when choosing a data back-up service. To be fair, you can use both concurrently, but I have to admit that I personally feel that SugarSync has greater potential in the long run. I really just wish they'd work on the speed of their servers more and address the lack of LAN-sync options to really push the service.

In the future I'll address newer options like utilizing Google Docs for storage purposes and of course Amazon Cloud Drive, which is also increasing in popularity.

Feel free to try either service out and figure out which one works best for you. And yes, the links in this post include my referral codes for both Dropbox and SugarSync, so I'd appreciate the referral bonus should you decide to sign-up. And don't forget, you'll get free space too, so it's win-win, right?



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8 comments:

el toro bumingo said...

My first time to read about SugarSync. I only heard about Dropbox a few months ago... from our customers! I've installed Dropbox but I haven't tried it extensively. I'm more of a SkyDrive user :)

Geeky Guide said...

I got into SugarSync when they upgraded their free account to 5GB and Dropbox because of files that friends share that way. SkyDrive is an interesting option, but I also appreciate the automatic back-up and sync functions of both SugarSync and Dropbox.

el toro bumingo said...

I haven't tried the auto-backup feature of Dropbox. How do I do that? (Tinamad magbasa ng instruction noh?)

Guillermo Martinez said...

I have written an article comparing Dropbox with Apple's iCloud. Basing from my knowledge, both are almost at par with each other, save for one thing. Dropbox doesn't seamlessly upload your pics compared to iCloud. But you can always ask the help for Google+ app to directly upload photos to your G+ account.

Geeky Guide said...

Thanks for the added info! I exist outside the iOS environment, so I'm rarely able to weigh in on Apple-related topics from a first-hand perspective.

Geeky Guide said...

Well anything you save in your Dropbox folder automatically gets synced to your online account. It's as simple as that.

el toro bumingo said...

Thanks for the info. Yup, I tried it and it works. Cool. Lamang ng konti sa SkyDrive because of the sync feature :)

Geeky Guide said...

Yeah, the syncing is a great feature. It's why I like SugarSync a wee bit more. Beyond the greater generosity with space, SugarSync allows you to back-up any folder on your computer, which makes it more ideal as an automatic data back-up service.

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