When it comes to mobile-accessible cloud-synced file backup, Dropbox is usually the name that springs to people’s mind; but it’s by no means the only option. Over the years, SugarSync has earned a loyal following in the Symbian world, thanks to its official application for our so-called dead platform. It supports everything you would want from a SugarSync mobile client, but are the pros and cons of the platform compared to other backup services right for you?
SugarSync is an established cloud backup service, and is a solid competitor to Dropbox. Actually, the two work slightly differently and so SugarSync may suit some usage patterns better than others. Also, SugarSync offers 5GB for free versus Dropbox’s 2GB. Whereas Dropbox puts one folder on your computer which will synchronise with the Dropbox servers, SugarSync asks you to register each of your computers and select which of their folders will be synchronised with your account on their servers; i.e. in the cloud. Therefore, SugarSync is better aimed at backing up specific locations on your computer than Dropbox, but this also makes it slightly more complicated to synchronise files between different computers than with Dropbox.
The main menu of SugarSync for Symbian replicates the primary locations on offer on the service’s desktop website. Icons are shown for every computer that you’ve registered with the service, and tapping on them shows the list of their folders selected for online sync. In the screen shot below, I registered my laptop, "Ranger", with SugarSync, and only opted to have my desktop folder synchronised. So tapping on the laptop icon will bring up that folder.
Because of battery, storage and bandwidth limitations, your mobile device does not synchronise with the service. When you tap on the phone icon, you are browsing local files with a view to uploading to your SugarSync account.
Main menu and browsing desktop files.
Browsing the files stored on (and synchronised to) SugarSync feels quick, and lacks the slight lag that some Qt applications still seem to have. As such, you can browse the desktop files held in the cloud just as quickly as you can browse local files in 'File manager' (really). Options for managing your files are limited to opening and renaming though, you can’t move files. That might not sound too bad, but it’s related to a notable problem we’ll arrive at later.
The mobile client also lets you initiate sharing of files and folders by email address. Fortunately, you don’t need to copy and paste from the Contacts application as SugarSync taps directly into your address book and lets you select multiple contacts. The real benefit of this is that when you’re away from your desktop computer, you can still get your files to those who need them quickly. Similarly, by sharing a folder with someone, they can drag and drop a file for you to access while out and about.
Sharing files and folders.
With the ability to open files in your local applications (e.g. editing in Quickoffice), and to share files and folders, SugarSync should be a great mobile collaboration tool. However, regardless of the directory you’re currently viewing, the mobile client can only upload files (one at a time!) to the “Web Archive” folder, which is defined as:
“A place to safely backup copies of files that you do not want to automatically sync when you edit or delete the original version.”
This is why the inability to move files, mentioned above, becomes a problem - depending on your use case. The only way you could get an edited file back to a colleague would be to upload to the Web Archive, and share the new copy. When you do this, you’ll get plenty of confirmation emails telling you that you’ve shared it, and when the recipient accesses the file.
Sharing a single file from the Web Archive.
If you’re more interested in viewing and saving photographs without sharing, then things are somewhat better. When browsing any folder, you can opt to view image thumbnails (instead of icons). Furthermore, there’s a photo tab at the top of the user interface, so you can view galleries compiled from any synchronised directories containing images. Note that the galleries are restricted to JPG files – other formats like PNG do not appear, which could be a problem for designers wanting to give an impromptu presentation of their work.
There is also a built-in camera application so you can capture an image and have it saved directly to SugarSync. There are no options at all with this camera ‘applet’, so I would recommend sticking with the standard camera application – unless you have trouble working out where it saves photos!
Browsing folder galleries.
Overall, the SugarSync client for Symbian is well made – it looks good and it works exactly as it’s meant to. Any aspects of the client that you’ll regard as problems, like I did, are limitations of the platform. SugarSync is carefully differentiated from Dropbox, and you’ll probably need to try both to work out which is the best for you. For some people, SugarSync’s Symbian support will be enough to win them over. However, there are third party Dropbox applications, of which the best is CuteBox.
If you want to try SugarSync, then you might consider signing up via my referral link!
Published by David Gilson at 5:27 UTC, April 2nd