Sync.com is a cloud storage service that’s going to appeal if you’re looking for something that’s simple, speedy, and secure.
As the name suggests, it syncs a single folder of data between your computers and the cloud. In a lot of respects, Sync.com is similar to Dropbox, although the ability to sync files outside the main folder is a feature we would like to see added. This makes Sync.com more of a cloud storage and file syncing solution rather than a cloud backup drive.
That said, with a little work it could function as a backup drive if you save everything within the Sync.com folder or use the Vault feature. Files added to the Vault do not get synced to your other devices – letting you free up space by archiving your files in the cloud. Sync also claims that you can copy files into the vault from the desktop app, though when we opened it we couldn’t see any obvious way to do this. However we were able to move a folder into the Vault using the Files section of the Sync online control panel.
Unlike many rivals, there is end-to-end encryption for maximum file security. When setting up an account, you’re offered the option to reset your password via email. If you choose not to enable this, Sync warns that there’s no way to recover your encrypted data without the right password.
As the software is proprietary, it’s impossible to be certain end-to-end encryption has been set up correctly. Still, Sync’s Help Center addresses what they would do if issued a subpoena by law enforcement in Canada, where the company is based:
“If data is requested, we would only be able to provide the encrypted data stored on our servers, useless without the encryption keys (which we do not have access to).”
You can get 5GB free cloud storage, which sounds average, but there are tasks you can complete to increase your capacity up to a maximum of 27GB. Invite your friends, create a new folder, it’s the gamification of cloud storage on full display. Like many of Sync.com’s competitors, payments are made annually, so expect a certain degree of commitment with an upfront cost. However there is a 30-day money-back guarantee.
For personal users, $8 a month gets you 2TB storage. A mid-tier service blurs the boundaries between personal subscriptions and business levels, and is particularly useful for self-employed individuals and families. It offers 6TB of storage for the equivalent of $20 per month, paid annually. There is the option here for monthly billing, though it’s more expensive at $24 per month.
For small businesses, the Teams Standard plan offers a decent 1TB at $5 per user per month. Larger businesses may want to consider the Teams Unlimited plan, which offers unlimited cloud storage for $15 per user per month.
Installing Sync.com on Windows or macOS is a relatively painless exercise. After entering our email and password, we were instantly offered the choice of just using the web interface or downloading the desktop client.
On first launch, the client application creates a folder named Sync in your home directory. Anything dropped in here then syncs to the cloud and to any other computers where you have the software installed. Network drives and external drives can’t be included, nor can files and folders outside of your main Sync.com folder, so the software is a little bit limited in that way.
There’s not all that much to the Sync.com interface on the desktop, besides progress indicators and a recent changes list, so you need to go to the web interface to access old file versions and for advanced sharing options. One trick we did find is that when data is uploading/downloading you can click Syncing to view the progress of individual files.
We like the extra control given to the desktop client for throttling upload and download speeds to help preserve bandwidth for other computing tasks; if you have a slow Internet connection, limiting Sync.com’s speeds can be useful and the effects are generally unseen as the client continues to sync in the background with ease. You don’t get much more control, and we think PolarBackup provides a more personalized experience. But unlike Sync.com, this is strictly a cloud backup service, not a cloud storage platform. Horses for courses.
The web interface is slick and easy to use, and offers another way of getting your files up to the cloud. If you prefer, you can upload and keep files on the web without having local copies on your synced computers – handy if you want to save some space on your desktop machines. Which files get synced to which computers is all nicely handled through the options screen in the desktop client. The mobile apps, like the web interface, are straightforward and easy to navigate. Their appearance is rather plain, but on the plus side, it does have automatic photo and video uploading, should you need it.
A separate tab in the browser tool – namely Vault – provides partitioned storage for files that you strictly want to store online, and not to sync with your desktop client. Naturally files placed here won’t take up any space on your hard drive.
While there is substantial support for sharing and online editing, Sync.com inevitably lags behind the likes of Apple iCloud, Microsoft OneDrive, and Google Drive, all of which have proprietary writing apps. There is, however, integration with Microsoft 365 for live editing and collaboration.
The core functionality is to keep a folder on your system in sync with the cloud and any other computers where you’ve got the client software installed. It’s all very simple to set up and use for personal and business users, thanks partly to the refreshed desktop clients and mobile apps. Tteam users will appreciate the Microsoft Office integration.
Our tests found that the platform supports versioning, so you can go back to older versions of files if you need to. In a generous move from Sync.com, these older versions don’t count against your storage quota. Depending on the subscription tier you choose, files are kept for 180 or 365 days which offers better protection than many other companies that limit this to 30 days or so. Free accounts with 5GB of storage are limited to 30 days, which is reasonable given that in this form, it is an unpaid service.
Basic file and folder sharing is supported on the Sync.com platform too, and there’s also support for advanced sharing controls with password protection and expiry dates on links. And if you sign up for a team account then you get provision for keeping your data compliant with standards like HIPAA, GDPR, and PIPEDA. The mobile apps also support PIN code locks.
Actually, one of Sync.com’s features is its lack of features: a focus on the core functionality that matters, keeping your data secure, private, and well-managed between multiple computers (and multiple users, if needed). If that appeals, and you want several terabytes of space for not much money per month, it’s worth checking out.
Of particular use to business owners and those wanting to use Sync.com to archive important family files like photos and videos, there is no file size limit which is fairly typical of a cloud service these days, however there are still some that fail to offer this valuable feature.
Security is a very important part of the overall Sync.com experience. There’s a whole host of features included to give you some extra peace of mind. You can secure your Sync logins using 2FA.
Sync have published an extensive white paper, which explains the process of using end-to-end encryption using 2048 Bit RSA encryption keys, the private key of which is then encrypted with AES-256-GCM, secured by your password. They also claim to use secure TLS tunnels to protect anyone from snooping on your files while they’re being transferred to and from the Sync.com servers. As we mentioned, since the client isn’t open source these claims are very difficult to verify but we’re pleased to see Sync.com seems to be taking privacy seriously.
Unlike some of its rivals, Sync.com doesn’t work with a host of third-party applications or make an API available for other people to use – it sees this as an advantage though, reducing the number of ways in which your account can be exposed, and keeping the inner workings of the platform as secret as possible.
We ran three core tests on Sync.com, measuring sync speed, file recovery and versioning. Tests were performed on a Windows 11 virtual machine running the Sync.com desktop client. Our VM was connected to the internet via fiber broadband via VPN server, which in our speed tests consistently showed an average upload speed of 70 Mbps
In our tests, we found the Sync.com tools on the desktop and the web very polished and quick in use, with good transfer rates.
A 1GB data file was uploaded in under seven minutes which is among the best we’d experienced, though it’s worth noting this was with a particularly strong 35Mbps upload speed. Download times were also exceptional, completing 1GB in just over two minutes with a connection of up to 350Mbps.
Our most recent tests were with a group of 22 files contained in a folder (around 625MB in total size). The folder took just under 3 minutes to upload with a 70Mbps upload speed. This is around twice as long as other desktop clients we reviewed. Given how well Sync.com performed in our original tests we put this down to high network usage in our area at the time.
For this test, we simply deleted a recently uploaded files from the Sync folder. When we opened the Sync online control panel, we saw the “Show Deleted Files” option immediately.
On clicking this, we saw the deleted folder and selected Restore. The deleted files all synced back to the device without issue in less than 120 seconds.
Versioning is vital if you make changes to a file, then want to roll it back to a previous state. So, after uploading our test file by placing it in the local Sync.com, we opened it in Wordpad and removed all text except the intro.
After the changes were synced to the server, we opened the Sync.com online Control Panel, selected the file and chose Version History. Both the original file and the modified version were there. We clicked Restore to recover the original file in seconds.
Sync.com might not be as polished or as easy to integrate with other services as the likes of Google Drive and Dropbox, but it covers the basic functions of a syncing system well, with plenty of online storage at a good price. There are some very impressive security features as well. For those looking for storage on a budget, it certainly holds its ground as a viable option against other key players in the game.
The question remains whether storage is as secure as the developers claim. They certainly talk a good talk with their privacy white paper and claims of end-to-end encryption. We would have been more reassured about this if these security features had been independently audited or better yet, the desktop client was open-source so the community could see that data was being encrypted and transmitted in a safe way.
We like a lot of the multi-user features as well, with plenty of control over which team members are able to access which files, and a lot of ways to log and monitor what’s happening inside an account. While you might be able to mark down Sync.com for being a bit rudimentary compared with other systems, somewhat lacking third-party integrations, the ground that it does cover is covered very well.
Whether you’re interested in personal or business-oriented plans, we think Sync.com’s pricing is incredibly competitive, the list of services is extensive, and support and compliance for many business regulations is well covered.