How SugarSync Makes Remote Team Collaboration More Efficient

How SugarSync Makes Remote Team Collaboration More Efficient — Featuring Real-Time Updates of Shared Files Across All of Your Devices


Cloud back­up and sync is a fun­da­men­tal need of multi-device pro­fes­sion­als and teams. Files need to be acces­si­ble any­where, any time, and from any device. Teams need a ser­vice like SugarSync to eas­i­ly share and col­lab­o­rate on doc­u­ments with instant syn­chro­niza­tion of changes to all mem­bers, while team leads need accu­rate over­sight and gran­u­lar con­trol over per­mis­sions and what files syn­chro­nize to what devices. Busy teams with remote work­ers, con­trac­tors, and temps need the abil­i­ty to instant­ly autho­rize and deau­tho­rize users on the com­pa­ny account, and to instant­ly reclaim and remove com­pa­ny dig­i­tal assets from for­mer team mem­bers. With an array of business-class ser­vices for indi­vid­u­als and teams, SugarSync sat­is­fies all of these needs while also ensur­ing data secu­ri­ty with anti-hacking tech­nol­o­gy and bank-level encryp­tion.

The web interface to SugarSync enables managing, sharing, and setting share permissions on files and folders.

The web inter­face to SugarSync enables man­ag­ing, shar­ing, and set­ting share per­mis­sions on files and fold­ers.

There are many rea­sons a busi­ness might need to share dig­i­tal assets among team mem­bers and with out­side enti­ties. Email, FTP, shared net­work dri­ves, and remov­able media are all anti­quat­ed con­tent dis­sem­i­na­tion meth­ods that actu­al­ly slow down busi­ness. The pace of mod­ern busi­ness requires the abil­i­ty to instant­ly share the lat­est ver­sion of any file with any­one, and to just as swift­ly unshare any file. Cloud-based file syn­chro­niza­tion and shar­ing, but­tressed by the con­trol to take back shared files, is essen­tial to pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and asset con­trol.

At no point was it more plain­ly evi­dent to me how slow even email doc­u­ment dis­tri­b­u­tion had become than when my friend relat­ed to me his sto­ry of how, with­out gen­uine­ly instant doc­u­ment syn­chro­niza­tion, a sin­gle image would have com­mit­ted his client to a $2 mil­lion mis­take.

My friend is a con­sul­tant to a com­pa­ny whose name, for con­fi­den­tial­i­ty rea­sons, I can’t dis­close. We’ll call the com­pa­ny Acme POS Systems.

Acme POS Systems man­u­fac­tures point-of-sale sys­tems for a range of nation­al retail, hos­pi­tal­i­ty, and food and bev­er­age ser­vice chains. This past Spring, Acme POS Systems launched the most sig­nif­i­cant update to its sys­tems in three years. Every aspect of their systems—31 prod­ucts in total across all lines—was refined through numer­ous ren­di­tions, exten­sive user expe­ri­ence research, and focus group test­ing. These new ver­sions sped and eased point of sale oper­a­tion through more than three dozen alter­ations and refine­ments to the soft­ware func­tion­al­i­ty, user inter­face, and access hard­ware. The new ver­sion rep­re­sent­ed a sig­nif­i­cant invest­ment of work­hours and cap­i­tal, with every employee—and a few con­sul­tants like myself—working until the final hours before the day of the new ver­sion launch. That launch would occur not only just through the usu­al chan­nels of social media, blog, and press releas­es, but also live before the top exec­u­tives in all of hos­pi­tal­i­ty at an indus­try con­ven­tion.

So focused on ensur­ing every detailed was tend­ed to that, of course, one detail was left unfixed. To get a jump on ready­ing for launch day, doc­u­men­ta­tion writ­ing and pre­sen­ta­tion cre­ation began before the POS sys­tem user inter­faces had reached their final ver­sions. Out of dozens of screen­shots spread across pro­mo­tion­al mate­ri­als, tuto­ri­als, sales sheets, and oth­er doc­u­men­ta­tion, a sin­gle old screen­shot slipped through with­out an update. That screen­shot showed a but­ton that had been removed from the final ver­sion of the product—as had the func­tion accessed by that but­ton.

The old screen­shot went unno­ticed until the company’s Vice President of Sales was prepar­ing to take the stage to present Acme POS Systems’ new prod­ucts at the con­ven­tion.

The devel­op­ment team at Acme lat­er esti­mat­ed that it would have cost just under $2 mil­lion to restore and make func­tion­al that aban­doned fea­ture of their point of touch sys­tems. The sales team, who began receiv­ing multi-million dol­lar orders for the new POS sys­tems before the VP had even con­clud­ed his pre­sen­ta­tion, are con­fi­dent that cus­tomers would have insist­ed on receiv­ing the removed func­tion, even if it didn’t real­ly ben­e­fit them, sim­ply because they had seen it in the pre­sen­ta­tion.

Back at the office, the doc­u­men­ta­tion team fran­ti­cal­ly took a new screen­shot. They opened the VP’s PowerPoint pre­sen­ta­tion from the SugarSync-managed fold­er and replaced the old screen­shot on a mas­ter slide that caused the image to appear on eleven slides. The image updat­ed, the team pressed CTRL+S to save the pre­sen­ta­tion. Ten sec­onds lat­er and two thou­sand miles apart, the VP opened the updat­ed PowerPoint file to begin his pre­sen­ta­tion com­plete­ly unaware that any­thing had changed from when he’d last opened it dur­ing that morning’s rehearsal.

Versatile Cloud Storage Gives Businesses Control Over Productivity

Fundamentally, SugarSync is a cloud back­up and file syn­chro­niza­tion ser­vice. It can safe­ly store all of your most impor­tant files in the cloud, ready for restora­tion in the event of a data loss or to eas­i­ly migrate your files from your old com­put­er to your new one. Similarly, it keeps your home and office com­put­ers in sync so you nev­er have to feel the frus­tra­tion of leav­ing an impor­tant file at the office, or con­verse­ly, leav­ing the lat­est ver­sion of your pre­sen­ta­tion at home. These are the most basic func­tions of SugarSync, and it does them exceed­ing­ly well. They aren’t all it does.

Backing up files to the cloud means the lat­est ver­sion of your files — and sev­er­al pre­vi­ous ver­sions — exist in the cloud, ready for access from all of your devices, not just your home and office com­put­ers. In a meet­ing with your iPad and need the lat­est spread­sheet from your desk­top or that pre­sen­ta­tion you pol­ished off last night while watch­ing “The Tonight Show”? Easy. Open the SugarSync iOS app and you’ll have instant access to all your files, even if the com­put­er you last edit­ed them on is turned off. It’s the same on your phone. Need those con­cert tick­ets on your Galaxy S phone? They’re in your SugarSync Android app. You can even mark some files to always be down­loaded, ready to go to each device.

What if your col­league needs your spread­sheet or Jimmy Fallon-inspired pre­sen­ta­tion at a moment’s notice? Will you have to access the right file in SugarSync, down­load it, and then email it to your col­league? No. Just share the file — or entire fold­ers — right from the SugarSync app on any device — mobile, lap­top, or desk­top.

Sharing a folder with a team member and allowing the collaborator permission to edit, delete, and sync files and to add new files to the folder.

Sharing a fold­er with a team mem­ber and allow­ing the col­lab­o­ra­tor per­mis­sion to edit, delete, and sync files and to add new files to the fold­er.

Not only can you share doc­u­ments to col­leagues for view­ing, you can also make them co-editors, enabling col­lab­o­ra­tion on your doc­u­ments. Each file can have dif­fer­ent per­mis­sions, as can each per­son with whom you’ve shared the file. Some team mem­bers can be edi­tors, some mere­ly view­ers. Any mod­i­fi­ca­tions by any team mem­ber with edit per­mis­sions are instant­ly reflect­ed in all col­lab­o­ra­tors’ copies via SugarSync’s rapid syn­chro­niza­tion. The ser­vice even keeps the last five ver­sions of a file, pro­vid­ing a clear path of account­abil­i­ty and revi­sion back­track­ing. When it comes time to final­ize a doc­u­ment, revok­ing edit per­mis­sions or unshar­ing entire­ly are just as sim­ple as it was to share the file.

SugarSync inspires and enables pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. For indi­vid­ual pro­fes­sion­als, it does that through cloud back­up, sync, and instant access to their files any­where on any device. Though those fea­tures are impor­tant to teams, it’s SugarSync’s pow­er to con­nect local and remote team mem­bers for col­lab­o­ra­tion that is the biggest boost to pro­duc­tiv­i­ty.

256-Bit Encryption Keeps Data Secure and Provides Peace of Mind

Often the first and most impor­tant ques­tion any­one asks about a cloud sync and back­up solu­tion, even before, “What can I sync and with whom?” is “How safe is my data?” The answer to that ques­tion is often the decid­ing fac­tor in many cus­tomers’ minds. It’s actu­al­ly a two-fold ques­tion. Inquiring about data safe­ty means ask­ing how secure and pri­vate files remain in the cloud and dur­ing tran­sit. It also means ask­ing about the integri­ty of stored files should their orig­i­nals be destroyed in a data loss such as the cor­rup­tion of a sin­gle file or a hard dri­ve fail­ure that results in thou­sands of lost files.

SugarSync includes both file secu­ri­ty and back­up.

Utilizing bank-level 256-bit AES encryp­tion, your files in the cloud are safe. Getting them there has always been the risky part, with man-in-the-middle (MiM) attacks a con­stant threat, par­tic­u­lar­ly with remote or trav­el­ing employ­ees who might access shared work files over inse­cure WiFi net­works. Fortunately, SugarSync pre­vents MiM attacks, even on the most open cof­fee shop or air­port WiFi, with secure upload­ing and down­load­ing. Rather than trans­fer­ring files through open pro­to­cols like HTTP, the SugarSync client installed on your com­put­er com­mu­ni­cates secure­ly with the SugarSync servers through a hand­shake process that ver­i­fies the iden­ti­ty of both and pre­vents data inter­cep­tion by man-in-the-middle devices. Bidirectional sync, upload and down­load, uses indus­try stan­dard TLS (SSL 3.3) encryp­tion to secure files and data.

Automatic file versioning tracks the last five versions of files with accountability as to who modified each version and when. Each version can be downloaded individually while any previous version can be restored, overwriting accidental or unwanted changes to the current version.

Automatic file ver­sion­ing tracks the last five ver­sions of files with account­abil­i­ty as to who mod­i­fied each ver­sion and when. Each ver­sion can be down­loaded indi­vid­u­al­ly while any pre­vi­ous ver­sion can be restored, over­writ­ing acci­den­tal or unwant­ed changes to the cur­rent ver­sion.

Once files are secure­ly stored in the cloud, the oth­er half of data safe­ty can be addressed. Files synced to SugarSync are, by def­i­n­i­tion, backed up. Should their orig­i­nals ever become cor­rupt­ed or lost, you can eas­i­ly down­load replace­ments from SugarSync -- either indi­vid­ual files or entire fold­ers. In the event of a full hard dri­ve or com­put­er fail­ure, it only takes installing and log­ging into the SugarSync client to sync your entire cloud back­up to the new dri­ve or com­put­er.

File ver­sion­ing is a native part of SugarSync, too. Automatic back­ups of the pre­vi­ous five ver­sions of your files, and a sim­ple means of view­ing and restor­ing those ver­sions, offer a safe­ty net against cor­rupt­ed files that make it through syn­chro­niza­tion to the cloud as well as col­lab­o­ra­tors mak­ing unwant­ed changes. In a bril­liant stroke of cus­tomer ser­vice, SugarSync doesn’t even count the pre­vi­ous ver­sion back­ups against your stor­age lim­it. Only the size of the most recent ver­sion is count­ed. For exam­ple, your five ver­sions of a 1 GB file, though total­ing 5 GB if saved to your com­put­er, only count on SugarSync as 1 GB.

Plans are Available to Fit the Needs of Individuals or Businesses

SugarSync makes sense for both per­son­al and team use, and offers pric­ing that also makes sense.

Individual plans offer 100, 250, and 500 giga­bytes of cloud stor­age, plus business-level file ver­sion­ing, and unlim­it­ed upload and down­load trans­fers. Pricing starts at $7.49 per month for the 100 GB plan and goes through $18.95 per month for the 500 GB plan. The most pop­u­lar plan, accord­ing to SugarSync, is the mid-range 250 GB stor­age plan at only $9.99 per month. To help put those num­bers in con­text, 100 GB of stor­age is rough­ly equiv­a­lent to 3,200 pho­tos, 10,000 PDF files, 220,000 Excel spread­sheets, or 500,000 Word doc­u­ments.

Businesses that want file syn­chro­niza­tion, back­up, and ver­sion­ing for their team mem­bers get even more stor­age and advanced fea­tures. One to nine users per month cost as lit­tle as $14.78 per user and include 1,000 GB of cloud stor­age, file ver­sion­ing, and unlim­it­ed upload and down­load trans­fers. Even greater per-user dis­counts are avail­able for teams with 10 or more con­cur­rent users.

All busi­ness accounts include live tele­phone sup­port, the abil­i­ty to remote­ly wipe all SugarSync-managed files from team mem­ber or con­trac­tor com­put­ers, and a pow­er­ful admin­is­tra­tive con­trol pan­el. Within the admin­is­tra­tive con­trol pan­el, team man­agers can eas­i­ly con­trol not only what syncs with whom and with what per­mis­sions, but also adjust indi­vid­ual user stor­age capac­i­ty allo­ca­tion and acti­vate and deac­ti­vate seats on the fly. Should one team mem­ber be out sick or on vaca­tion, that user can be tem­porar­i­ly sus­pend­ed, free­ing up a seat, and then a fill-in employ­ee or con­trac­tor can be tem­porar­i­ly added as a SugarSync user with access to the absent employee’s files. When the orig­i­nal employ­ee comes back, his or her access can be instant­ly restored, while the contractor’s access can be deac­ti­vat­ed and all shared files instant­ly wiped away.

The SugarSync plans and pricing table.

The SugarSync plans and pric­ing table.

Sharing indi­vid­ual files doesn’t even require the recip­i­ent to have a SugarSync account. Each file and fold­er can be shared with a pub­lic down­load link.

Between the doc­u­ment or fold­er own­er, with a full seat license, and occa­sion­al recip­i­ents who don’t’ even need a SugarSync account is anoth­er use­ful inter­me­di­ary step. Sharing a fold­er to a ven­dor, part­ner, or free­lancer who doesn’t need to con­tribute doc­u­ments into the fold­er, but who needs access to view and down­load the files with­in, is the domain of the Shared Folder Plan. The free Shared Folder Plan enables pri­vate shar­ing of a fold­er to those with­out a paid SugarSync account. Recipients of your shared fold­er link who don’t already have a SugarSync account can pur­chase one or sim­ply reg­is­ter free of charge for the Shared Folder Plan.

SugarSync’s Simplicity of Use Makes it a Standout Among Cloud Options

Digital files can no longer be stuck on a sin­gle device because mod­ern pro­fes­sion­als don’t use just one device. Freelancer, team mem­ber, or man­ag­er, you and your col­lab­o­ra­tors need your files here, there, and every­where. You need to view and work on the same files on your desk com­put­er, on your lap­top while trav­el­ing and pre­sent­ing, on your iPad on the sub­way, and on your phone at din­ner and every­where, and you need the lat­est changes to those files instant­ly prop­a­gat­ed to every device on which you might need them. You may nev­er find your­self sec­onds away from a $2 mil­lion image ver­sion mis­take like Acme POS Systems, but is a lack of access to the lat­est ver­sion of a file ide­al in any sce­nario?

The world no longer accepts “I left the file at home” as an excuse — and you don’t want to be the per­son who has to mum­ble that excuse to a client, investor, part­ner, or man­ag­er. SugarSync keeps your files safe from cat­a­stro­phe, puts them with­in your reach from any device, and keeps them in sync when work­ing with col­lab­o­ra­tors in the same office and a dif­fer­ent coun­try. All with a max­i­mum of secu­ri­ty, flex­i­bil­i­ty, and over­sight.

Pariah Burke

Author, consultant, trainer, guru: Digital Publishing, ePub, InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Quark. Empowering, Informing, Connecting Creative Professionals™