I’m on constant lookout for better ways to keep all of my data painlessly in sync, both between devices and between my devices and the Cloud. Dropbox has been my drop-it-and-forget-it syncing service of choice for much of the last three years, and it’s unquestionably a great option for many users and uses.
But earlier this year I went in search of… not a replacement to Dropbox, but a service that would add to and complement what Dropbox already did for me. My search led me to a lot of syncing services, but in the end there was only one that did everything I wanted: SugarSync. As I wrote in April, SugarSync was the best method for keeping certain work files synced between my office Windows desktop and Mac laptop, and it it performed spectacularly for this purpose. Still does. But over the last three months, I’ve found that it’s also a worthy Dropbox replacement, particularly if A) you have limited free space on Dropbox, and/or B) you are willing to pay for a syncing service but find Dropbox’s $120, $240 or $600 yearly costs too high.
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Google Drive. Dropbox. SkyDrive. While all interesting and worthwhile in their own ways, stripped to their cores these three competing services all work more or less the same way: create a folder, drop stuff into it, and keep the folder and its contents synced between computers and the Cloud, and accessible from the web or mobile devices.
But what if you need something more flexible?
What if – like me – you already have folders on your desktop(s) and laptop(s) you need to keep synced across computers – and even platforms – without having to consolidate them into “drop-boxes”? What if you want Folder A – as is – on your PC synced with Folder B on your Mac, and Folder C – as is – on your Mac synced Folder D with your PC, and to have changes made to folders on either system synced with the other?
Sadly, none of the aforementioned services can do this without changing your existing file structure.
For keeping project files, development workspaces, and existing file structures in place and in sync, there’s only one service I’ve found that gets the job done: SugarSync.
In this article, I’ll show you how to use SugarSync to keep existing files and folders synced across different computers, be they Windows PCs or Macs, and backed-up in the Cloud. And, if those folders don’t exceed 5.5GB or so in total space, you won’t even have to pay for the privilege.
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I’ve been a SkyDrive users for years, which is to say I’ve had an account and tinkered with it from time to time. Its 25GB of free online storage was generous, but without syncing or integration with Windows or the Mac OS, also largely useless. I have, though, been a daily and evangelistic user of Dropbox, a service that – perhaps more than any other – has changed the way I’ve worked over the last few years. Dropbox was what SkyDrive should have been from the jump.
But I’m happy to report that Microsoft today unveiled major, but not surprising, changes to SkyDrive that make it not only useful, but a service that Dropbox will actually have to compete with. Competition is good, though, so I’m happy not only to report the changes that Microsoft has made to its online storage service, but also improvements that will surely come from Dropbox as it responds to Microsoft’s seismic SkyDrive revamp.
Here’s what’s changed with SkyDrive:
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‘Til now, if you had a free Dropbox account you’d get 2GB of storage to sync and store files. If you wanted more than 2GB you’d either have to pay or refer new users. Each referral got you (and your referee) 250MB of additional space, and you could collect up to 8GB of free referral storage. If you lassoed 32 new Dropbox users, you’d have a total of 10GB on a free account (2GB + 8GB of referral space) – and even a little more if you performed tasks to promote the service.
But this week the folks at Dropbox upped the bonus per referral to 500MB, and the total storage you can earn through referrals to 16GB. This is a very welcome move, particularly considering how expensive the paid plans are: $10/month for 50GB and $20/month for 100GB. To compare, Google offers 200GB of Cloud storage for about $4 a month ($50/year).
If you’ve already referred people to Dropbox, the service has doubled existing bonuses, too, so if you’d earned, say, 4GB through referrals, you now have an additional 4GB.
There was more referral news out of Dropbox this week; for full details, check out their blog post on the subject. Then, if you’re a Dropbox user, get to referring! If you’re not a Dropbox user, get started!