SugarSync VS DropBox

Posted by filed under Technology

Well. I’m back to the battle of Cloud Syncs. I’d been using DropBox for a good long while to sync my writing across several computers and to access my files on the go. As it happened, the lack of options and sharing support on DropBox eventually made me abandon the application completely. If you want to share multiple, separate folders, you’re required to install the app twice and play with some pretty custom applescript to automatically boot up a copy of the app on logon.


Pretty complex just for sharing two separate folders. This limitation means that using DropBox to keep application databases (say, for instance, a Billings database and a Things database for sharing across multiple computers) becomes a hassle, since both applications store their info on different Application Support subfolders.


Enter SugarSync. I’d tried it when it was in test and all shining new. It was crap, back then, mostly. Little support, very few options, it was pretty damned similar to what DropBox is now. Things have changed. SugarSync now allows to auto-sync several different folders of your choosing, photos and files, as well as keep manual backups of other folders, which is a nice addition. Managing the different connected computers is also easier and you can now have a sort of public folder, similar to Apple’s MobileMe iDisk.

In short, it’s lovely and everything I needed. Give them a try, you might be surprised.


  1. rick says:

    did you forget to mention that you are getting a referral credit for sending us over to sugarsync?

    I came here after googling for the best free cloud solution. I actually clicked and installed sugarsync, but soon realised while it was downloading that you were receiving referral credits for this. Listen, if you’re going to review something, do it legitimately. Doing it this way completely voids your credibility.

    For the record, I went to Dropbox and found their installation to be less cumbersome and faster than sugarsync.

    • roelani says:

      Wowzer. Sorry to see you took such offense.

      For the record, if you signed up before the end of the double-bonus promo, you also received a bonus for the referral. As a side-note, I’d like to add that I closed down my SugarSync account. I’ve been using cloud sync for backing up my Scrivener files and had an incident where the file got corrupted in transfer. I didn’t lose any work, but I’m investing in a small, portable external hard drive, and it’ll have to do until I find a better way.

      Incidentally, if this is the worst referral blog post you’ve come across, count yourself lucky. A lot of blog posts are heavily, if not completely, endorsed by the products mentioned or reviewed.

      • Murk says:

        Re: scrivener. I didn’t have a problem, but was warned off scrivener files in dropbox.

        Solution. Use Scrivener 2’s sync. Put the sync folder in dropbox, not the .scriv. You can then edit THESE files remotely without causing a corruption of the scrivener package. Not perfect, but it works.

        I also have the zipped scrivener backup folder in dropbox. If I want to, I can unzip the latest one, work in scrivener natively, then recreate that backup

  2. Jim Gatos says:

    After using Sugarsync for almost a year and dealing with their constant disconnection problems and file sync headaches, I closed down the account and went to Dropbox! Best thing I ever did!

    • roelani says:

      Thanks for the input. For the record, I should update this post entirely, since it’s pretty much no longer valid.

      Both systems gave me corrupted files and various sync problems. I lost data with both SugarSync and Dropbox, and only after some research on the Scrivener forums (Scrivener is the app I use for writing) did I realize I should never work directly on cloud servers with my files.

      In hindsight, that should’ve been obvious to me, but the whole point of cloud sync software is to be easy, simple to use and non-headache-inducing.

      In the end, I just gave up and shelled out the 100$canadian for the damned MobileMe subscription. I replaced my slew of email addresses, gained a lot of storage and managed to add synced calendars and contacts with no google fiddling to my iPhone. Now I just backup-to-zip directly on my iDisk and I have access to everything pretty much on every device I own.

  3. Peter Joseph says:

    I used Dropbox for a while and enjoyed it. But I got fed up with having to have my data shipped thousands of miles (I live in the UK) just to sync two PCs sitting side my side. I am currently evaluating broolz ( that does the same as Dropboz but peer to peer, so it doesn’t gobble up my bandwidth. It is still in beta but looks promising.

    • roelani says:

      Wooo, new shiny. :) I will definitely head on over and give them a try. Could be useful at home, where I share data with my boy’s computer. Is it OS-dependant? We have both a Mac and a PC at home.

      Also, many thanks for the comment.

    • wraith808 says:

      Dropbox now has the ability to do a local sync on the LAN. Just thought I’d update you with that. I’m not sure when it was added, but it is an option.

      • roelani says:

        Hi Wraith! How does that work exactly? I’ll have to revisit the Dropbox website to see the new features. Although I’m currently very happy with my mobileme subscription, my boy still uses Dropbox to sync his data across several computers.

        Thanks for the heads up. :)

  4. Peter Joseph says:

    I asked them that very question last week, and it looks like Mac support is imminent :-) I’ll append their reply:

    Hi Joseph
    Thanks for taking the time to chat. broolz will definitely be available for OS X. We have a couple of issues we are working on at the moment that have stopped us releasing a beta version for the Mac, but they are close to being fixed. We should have the second beta of broolz ready at the end of this week – and expect Mac support to be available in the third beta (probably 3-4 weeks away). (We are working on Linux too …)
    Hopefully that is the sort of answer you were looking for :-)

  5. jay says:

    WARNING DO NOT USE SUGARSYNC! SUGARSYNC lost all of my data and could not retrieve it from their own server. This company is a joke, they held my company hostage for 2 weeks trying to find my files that Sugarsync some how deleted from my desktop! Their horribly inept techs could not figure out where my data went so they just decided not to call me back. I finally got in touch with Debbie, Sr. Director, SugarSync Customer Care and she tried to make me feel stupid and that the whole thing was my fault. Sugarsync does not care about small businesses and their customer service is horrible.

    • roelani says:

      Heya Jay. Sorry to hear you had a bad experience. As I’ve stated before, I’ve now moved on to Apple’s MobileMe service. I don’t think a perfect cloud-sync solution exists just yet; there are just too many variables to consider. The importance of your files, the size you need, the type of data you want to sync… And lots can go wrong. Whatever else happens to my stuff on my iDisk, I always keep a local, un-iDisked copy on my local hard drive. The iDisk I use only to sync specific files across multiple computers, and then again only for short periods of time.

      I’ve also corrupted way too many .scriv (Scrivener’s proprietary file format, based on XML and RTF) to rely exclusively on online sync solutions; ultimately, you can’t go wrong with a USB drive as well, and, for those extra important files, burn-to-CD/DVD can’t hurt.

  6. Brooks Magil says:

    Ought to subscribe to this weblog, great publish. Discovered it on google.

  7. roelani says:

    @Murk, replying here because my long comment is being eaten by the threaded design. :)

    I agree; there’s a whole–very detailed–forum post regarding the use of online syncing services (Dropbox, SugarSync, MobileMe and others) and package files in general. The .scriv format is really a sort of .app format; it’s a package of several folders and .rtf files all compressed together.

    When you update a .scriv file, there are actually dozens, if not hundreds, of files in there. You’d think online sync apps would sync only the changed files -within- the package, but apparently it doesn’t work that way; there’s metadata scattered all over the place and there’s an exponential chance of data loss. In any case, all of this, combined with the frequent auto-save features of Scrivener, means that working directly of a MobileMe or DropBox file is an -extremely- bad idea.

    Scriv 2.0’s lovely Sync To Folder option is very nice; I’ve used to to export my chapters and scenes and review/do minor editing on my iPhone. It only exports to .rtf or PlainText, and one of the better iPhone Apps out there for editing your Scriv documents (PlainText, which features some awesome DropBox support, right out of the box) is raw text only; meaning you can’t do any nifty bold/italics stuff with it.

    For more robust sync–say, editing/continuing your story at work or on a different computer–there’s always the new BackupTo feature which is really swell; setup a default export folder (I use something like ~/Dropbox/Written/Zip Backups/), setup whether you want to auto-backup on open/close/save or any combination of these and choose to zip each and every backup. You can pick how many you want Scrivener to keep before it starts overwriting the older ones, so you don’t end up with 300 backups, spaced ten minutes apart for every day you write.

    Once you get to your work computer, simply sync your DropBox, get the zip, copy it to desktop, unzip and open the .scriv file contained inside. When you’re done editing, BackupTo -> Your sync folder and you’re ready to go. Just keep in mind, this procedure is awesome for two reasons and evil for one:

    • Awesome 1 – You get backups on the cloud at several points. I’ve setup mine to autobackup every time I close the project. So after every writing session, Scriv generates a backup which is then synced to my DropBox account.

    • Awesome 2 – Backups are zipped and safe from corruption (mostly) and they’re also date stamped, for ease of finding them. It’s not too automated, which means that there are less chances of your manuscript getting overwritten and less chances of DropBox syncing on a corrupt file which overwrites your local copy.

    • Evil Sidenote – When you unzip the date stamped backup, you end up with a copy of your original .scriv file. And that means, if you had a file called, for example, Gulliver’s Awesome Travels in Wherever.scriv and you backed it up as Gulliver’s Awesome Travels in, when you unzip it the file within will simply be called Gulliver’s Awesome Travels in Wherever.scriv, making it a complete duplicate copy of your original local file.

    … Be careful there, because unless you check the metadata via the File->Get Info window, there’s no way to tell, once they’re unzipped, which one is the most recent one. And, even worse, if you’d setup your auto backup feature on project close and you open up the wrong local copy and close it, it’ll create a backup that is more recent than your actual real, up-to-date backup, and which will then be synced on over, date stamp and all, to your DropBox account!


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