SugarSync 2.0 goes public, we go hands-on

It’s getting tough to keep track of who’s who in the crowded world of cloud storage and file synchronization apps. Every week, a new service seems to pop up, or an old one adds new features. SugarSync—one of the most full-featured services—is the latest to get an overhaul with today's release of a new client that definitely stands out from the typical cloud crowd. We’ve been using SugarSync 2.0 for months now and have the full scoop about what’s new and different. Read on for everything you need to know.

What is SugarSync?

SugarSync is a file-synchronization and cloud storage application, similar to Dropbox. If you’ve somehow avoided any exposure to file-sync apps, their primary purpose is to keep a set of files and folders mirrored across multiple computers or devices. If you modify or add a file on one computer, it will be uploaded and downloaded appropriately, so that an identical file appears on all machines.

The old SugarSync UI: Meh at its Web 1.0-est.

What has always set SugarSync apart from the more-popular Dropbox is its larger feature set and greater customizability. With Dropbox (and SkyDrive, and Google Drive, and…), you get a single synchronized folder shared across all computers. If you want a file to be synced, you’re going to have to stick it somewhere in your one-and-only Dropbox folder. SugarSync, on the other hand, allows you to synchronize any number of folders from anywhere on your computer while offering a number of additional features, including 5GB of free cloud storage (plus 10GB for every friend you refer), revision history for synced files, and shared folders.

So, with more flexibility and the same base price as its competitors—free, with the option to pay for more storage—it’s little surprise that SugarSync has been a favorite of the power-user crowd. One obstacle to widespread popularity for the application has always been its clunky, old-fashioned interface... until now.

What’s different in SugarSync 2.0?

With the release of SugarSync 2.0, the program has received a much-needed makeover. The old client, which looked like a circa-2003 FTP client, has been replaced with an attractive and compact new interface that strongly resembles a smartphone application, even on the desktop.

The pared-down interface doesn’t mean that SugarSync has shed any features, though—they’re all still there, and most are easier to use. For instance, adding a new folder used to require opening a separate Add Sync Folders menu, and changing a folder’s settings required a trip to the Manage Sync Folders screen. Now both can be easily done from the application’s home screen. Simply drag a folder onto the app to make it a sync folder, or click on the name of a folder in the application to edit that folder’s settings. A secondary Sharing tab makes it just as easy to add and edit folders shared with other SugarSync users.

The mobile versions of SugarSync have been updated to use the same, new interface. The functionality is slightly different, of course, but the new UI looks great on smartphones, and performance has improved, as well. The SugarSync 2.0 app is currently available for Android phones, and will be coming to IOS in the near future.

What’s new in SugarSync 2.0?

In addition to the interface overhaul, SugarSync 2.0 adds several important features to the service.

Most significantly, SugarSync now adds a virtual drive to Explorer (in Windows) or Finder (in OSX). This virtual drive lets you access all files and folders that SugarSync monitors on any of your devices, as well as any files shared with you. You can access these files even if they’re not synced with the device you’re currently using—if you want to access or edit a file that’s not currently on your machine, SugarSync will download and upload it as needed, without synchronizing the whole folder.

See the SugarSync virtual drive under Computer?

Additionally, the client can now search through all files in your SugarSync storage and take you directly to them. You also have the option to view images in an attractive new gallery view.

Finally, SugarSync 2.0 introduces the ability to create public folders, which anyone (even people who don’t use SugarSync) can access just by entering a URL in their browser. Previously, SugarSync only allowed you to share individual files this way—not whole folders.

Should you upgrade to 2.0?

Go for it! We've played with SugarSync 2.0 since its beta days without encountering a single issue, and the fresh look and new features are much appreciated. SugarSync is worth a look even if you’re already a Dropbox, SkyDrive, or Google Drive user—especially if you’ve ever found yourself wanting more control over which folders you can sync to the cloud.

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