Software

Five cloud sync apps that rise above the rest

Jack Wallen shares his five choices for best of breed cloud sync apps.

The cloud is the limit - at least for the moment. Along with the cloud comes the ability to sync your data between desktops. This service allows a much more seamless flow of work between home and business, home computers, desktops, and mobiles, and much more. But no matter what you're syncing, it all starts with the desktop and the syncing app. Some of the apps, associated with cloud sync, are much better than others.

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With so many cloud sync apps available, which should you be looking toward for your solution? I have rounded up those that I consider to be the best of breed. Some of these services are best suited for business and some for personal, but all can be used for either. Each offers something unique as well as upgrade plans to give you as much sync space as you need.

Five Apps

1. UbuntuOne

UbuntuOne is my cloud sync service of choice. Why? It's ready to serve, by default, on all Ubuntu desktops (starting with 11.04) and does an outstanding job of not only syncing the files in my user UbuntuOne folder, but music purchased from the UbuntuOne Music Store as well as other folders configured in the UbuntuOne Control Center. Each account comes with 5GB free. You can purchase 20GB more storage (plus Streaming Music Service for your mobile) for $3.99 per month.

2. SpiderOak

SpiderOak is one of the most flexible cloud sync apps/services you will find. Not only does SpiderOak allow you to configure precisely what is sync'd to your cloud (from any folder on your system), but also serves as a solid desktop backup platform. The business version of the service can even be deployed through LDAP or Active Directory. SpiderOak is available for nearly every platform on the market and offers a free personal plan all the way up to a 1TB hosted business plan. Check their Business Plan page for pricing.

3. SugarSync

SugarSync offers both a personal plan as well as an unlimited data business plan. Similar to SpiderOak, SugarSync offers both cloud-syncing and backup that doesn't relegate you to a single root folder. You'll find sync'ing apps for your Windows and Mac desktops, but not Linux (this is a bit short-sighted on SugarSyncs part) as well as Android, iOS, Blackberry, Symbian, Windows Mobile, and even an Outlook-specific client. There is a free service (which gives you 5GB) as well as 30GB ($4.99/month) up to an Unlimited business plan ($55.00/month).

4. CX

CX is as much a way to manage a team's work (in terms of files) as it is to simply sync to the cloud. Just download the app, add people to a team, and share files out. Any team member with the CX app will have a sync'd copy of the files to be worked on. CX also offers the ability to password protect files and add a discussion to a file, group, or project. CX offers a free personal plan all the way up to 30 user enterprise plan (1TB of storage with unlimited groups). Check out this page for more information on plans.

5. Syncplicity

Syncplicity is a secure file sharing and sync designed around the needs for business. With Syncplicity you can opt for a hosted plan or even bring the cloud server on-premises. Syncplicity also allows IT managers to set file sync and sharing policies from a centralized management portal. Syncplicity also offers personal plans that run $15.00/month for 50GB of space. Check out the Syncplicity Product page for more information on the various plans.

Software as a Service offers irresistible benefits for organizations of all sizes - from cost savings to scalability to mobile accessibility. We offer guidance on avoiding the pitfalls of the cloud and choosing your SaaS partners well.

Bottom line

If you're looking for a solid cloud-based sync service, look no further than one of the five listed here. Not only do they offer free plans for you to test out their systems, they also have plans to appeal to individuals and nearly any size company. No matter your needs or your platform, you can have a solid cloud-based sync/storage tool up and running in no time.

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About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

22 comments
Lisa Marie Wark
Lisa Marie Wark

Really nice that you are sharing such a nice thing and application each and every person are used in mobile applications. Mobile Smart Phones have become a vital part of everyone's life. It is one of the things that people can't let go wherever they are, and wherever they go. Going somewhere without bringing a mobile phone feels like you have left half of your life behind. Apps that feature in the mobile phone powers up what one could do with the smart phone device.

Pieter_frolijk
Pieter_frolijk

Hi Jack! Thanks a lot for your nice review! I loved Syncplicity for businesses but all the above lack in full file and user management. I tried vboxxcloud(www.vboxxcloud.nl) their SaaS(hosted) solution and it is the best tool out there. Their monitoring and notification tools make it possible to manage multiple companies by 1 of my employees. Also we migrated 2 companies to on-premise servers! Try that with any of the above ;) Anyways thanks for the review!

ahanse
ahanse

you people have forgotten the best one of all and been around for awhile now, trouble is it costs an arm and a leg but has unlimited storage... Black Hole..

duckettmarc
duckettmarc

There is a new cloud storage alternative: Copy. Sign up through the link below for 5 GB + 5 GB free initial storage! Big enough for any Calibre library. Save your Dropbox space for something else. https://copy.com?r=zw6S4G

b-chollett
b-chollett

I'm a personal fan of wuala - clients for win, mac, linux, ios and adroid. But my favorite part is your files are all encrypted BEFORE uploading so no one has access, not even the sys admins.

Gisabun
Gisabun

.... Nobody mentioned iCloud. Total crap. On an iPad mini. Installed on Windows 7. Set the folders to sync. Received files from the iPad mini but couldn't send new files from windows to the Ipad mini. Useless.

mdv
mdv

Cannot disagree more with your closing paragraph... I think there many more and better cloud providers than the 5 listed above.... Skdrive, googledrive, bitcasa to name a few populair names.. ... there are dozens good providers out. Most important is who will survive!

nikosini
nikosini

To me, an important feature is whether the uploaded files are encrypted before, or after, they hit the server. Dropbox, said they keep the key to the encryption and will gladly share it with any government agency that asks... It would be nice to know the policies of these services and if, and how, any encryption would be applied...

Carl Draper
Carl Draper

With Copy.com if you sign up with a referral link - https://copy.com?r=vQSNqP - you get 10GB of storage from the start, and 5GB extra everytime someone signs up with your referral link, and pretty easy to get plenty of storage quickly. It has most of the features of Dropbox (apart from LAN-sync) and has desktop clients for Linux, OSX, Windows and mobile apps for iOS and Android.

Laurentian Enterprises
Laurentian Enterprises

I guess the more popular ones are not as good, but I'm happy with what I'm using after trying a number of them. I'm using MyPCBackup and I'm also trying Google Drive because I like the access to the backed up files from my tablets and phone. I tried CX and found it wasn't backing up reliably, often missing many files.

alex
alex

At HaveTex we have been reselling Egnyte for several years. It's priced similarly to CX, but has a lot more features for business class sharing. We often use it as a combination backup and secure file sharing platform. It has the robust role based folder and file sharing permissions that make it ideal for small business customers, and the mobile apps for access on the go.

Force
Force

Forgot I Drive. Similar performance, yet beats the pricing on almost any of the above choice. A worthy consideration.

glnz
glnz

Using SugarSync with two different accounts, one free and one 60GB, with some cross-sharing by the two principal users. But those two users are partners who see everything, and there is no easy way to set up sharing for employees who should see only a small subset of the files and not know that the remaining files or other users even exist. Unfortunately, these sync apps are not crystal clear on how to do that. Also, is there a free or open source document management system out there somewhere? I have Worldox at my law firm - owned by the firm and not by me - and I would love to find a smaller but similar and free system for my wife's small business. Any leads? Thanks.

sh10453
sh10453

I believe that SkyDrive is not compatible with Windows XP.

TNT
TNT

I use both Ubuntu One and Microsoft Skydrive. I do like Ubuntu One, but mostly use it to store my IT tools in the cloud. Its helpful for me to have tools I can access when a user's PC can't get on the domain or VPN. Its flawless. I've never used its sync abilities though. For that I use Skydrive, and I was a little surprised to not see it on the list. It's easy to set up, easy to use and offers more free space than most. Ubuntu - 5Gig Free SpiderOak - 2 Gig Free SugarSync - 5Gig Free CX - 0 Free, plans start at $5/month Syncplicity - 0 Free, plans start at $15/month Skydrive - 7GigFree

Rauno
Rauno

I have read about http://owncloud.org/ recently although I haven't tried it yet. It seems lightweight system to store, sync and share. Among the big players of open source document management systems are Nuxeo and Alfresco. They compete with Sharepoint: customization, workflows, online viewers, corporate social networks, MS Office integration but you might need a very good knowledge of the system to run your own.

gke565
gke565

There is no desktop app for XP auto-syncing, but you certainly can get to all your files from a XP (or MAC, Linux, Win7, Win8, etc) desktop by logging into skydrive.com. I use it because it works with everything (WP8, iPad, Surface, MAC, PC, desktop), and if I'm on a temporary machine I can get to my files with no app to download or install.

TNT
TNT

Since Windows XP support officially ends next year (in 381 days from this post) I'm not sure XP should be used for any kind of bench mark. Most of those who are still on it today won't be by the end of the year.

Gisabun
Gisabun

Those who were using the SkyDrive predecessor actually get something like 27 GB.

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