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
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.
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.
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.
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.