Learning While Aging

SugarSync vs DropBox vs SpiderOak, which should I choose?

I wrote a post in April regarding the pros and cons of several cloud storage/backup service providers based on my experience, such as Windows Live Mesh, DropBox, Memopal, SpiderOak, and SugarSync, and I concluded that SugarSync is better than the others. Then you may ask what is the purpose of this post?

Well, it seems that many people are not happy with SugarSync because it does not have a native Linux client, so those people, especially Linux users, left SugarSync and chose either DropBox or SpiderOak. What I want to do here is to give a summary of the feature comparisons of the three service providers.

1. Backup

All three provide backup with recovery feature, but DropBox only backs up files in My DropBox folder on your computer. Both SugarSync and SpiderOak allow you to choose any folder on your computer to back up.

2. Sync with multiple computers

All three allow file/folder synchronization among multiple computers running their clients, but DropBox can only sync files/folders in My Dropbox on your computer. Both SugarSync and SpiderOak allow you to choose any file/folder on your computer to sync with another computer.

3. Easy to use

DropBox is very easy to set up and use. The installation process is simple and it will create a folder on your computer called My DropBox, and all files and folders will be synced automatically with other computers running the DropBox client.

SugarSync is also easy to set up and use. The installation process is simple and will create a folder called Magic Briefcase. Like DropBox’s My Dropbox folder, any files/folders in Magic Briefcase will be synced automatically with other computers running the SugarSycn client.The client also allows you to choose any folder or file on one computer to sync to another computer.

SpiderOak is not very easy to use. The installation process is simple and easy to follow, but it takes quite some time to understand  and to use the sync process. It does NOT create any folder for you, and it is up to you to choose which folder/file to sync.

4. Remote access

All three provide remote access to your files stored on their servers.

5. Security

All three provide encryption on your files that stored on their server, however, both SugarSync and DropBox claim that they have the ability to decrypt your files when needed for the legal purpose, because the decryption key of your files is stored on their servers too. SpiderOak, however, prevents anyone except you to decrypt your file, because the decryption key is not stored on their server, instead, the key is stored on your local computer when you install the client. If you are concerned about your privacy and don’t want ANYONE except you to be able to access your files, then you have two options:

1). Encrypt your files before you upload to their server

2). Use SpiderOak

If you choose SpiderOak, then you need to remember the risk: if you ever forget your password, then you will not be able to access your files any more, because your password is created locally and is not stored on their server, and there is no password recovery feature. Then you may ask, what if I forget my password? Here is the answer from SpiderOak:

Q #13: What if I forget my SpiderOak password?

At the time when you create your SpiderOak password, you will also be prompted to create a password hint. The creation of a password hint is not mandatory however it will be your only clue should you forget your password. If you choose to create a password hint, we advise you to create one that is informative enough so that you will remember but not too obvious so that anyone may guess. The password hint may be recovered anytime on the SpiderOak web page.

At SpiderOak we have created a true ‘zero-knowledge environment’ meaning that no one including the SpiderOak employees will ever know what you are storing on your SpiderOak Network. We can maintain this environment because at no time will anybody know your password (or the answer to your password hint) except you.

So I guess the zero-knowledge privacy comes with a price.

6. File sharing

All three allow file sharing, but the file sharing feature in DropBox is limited. You can only share files/folders in My DropBox folder, and all shared files from other people will be placed in your My DropBox folder. Both SugarSync and SpiderOak allow you to choose any file/folder on your computer to share with other people. The good thing about SugarSync sharing is that if another SugarSync user shared a file with you, then when you accepted the shared file, a folder called SugarSync Shared Folder will be created under My Documents (or Documents in Windiws Vista/7), and then a sub folder named after the user’s name will also be created to better organize files.

SpiderOak, however, is very hard to use to share files/folders. For instance, you will need to create ShareID and RoomKey before you can start sharing something, it is not easy I warn you.

7. Cross platform

All three support Windows and Mac platforms, but SugarSync is the only one that does not support Linux platform at this moment, I hope they will have a Linux client soon.

8. Mobile

SugarSync supports more mobile devices than the other two:

SugarSync: iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Android, Symbian.

DropBox: iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, Android.

SpiderOak: iPad, iPhone, Android, N900 Maemo

9. Storage and subscription

SugarSync provides 5 GB free storage plus 500 MB bonus for each account sign up referred by you (no limit). It also provides paid plans if you need more space and more features.

DropBox 2 GB free storage plus 250 MB bonus for each account sign up referred by you (no limit). It also provides paid plans.

SpiderOak provides 2 GB free storage plus free bonus storage for each account sigh up referred by you (up to 50 GB). It also provides paid plans.

10. Upload / Sync via Email

Only SugarSync provides this nice feature. After you login your SugarSync account, click Account tab on the top, you will see your Upload by Email address under the Settings section:


If you send an email with an attachment to your Upload by Email address @e2f.sugarsync.com, then the attachment will be automatically uploaded to your SugarSync account and synced across your computers. You will find a new folder called Uploaded by Email is created under Magic Briefcase. I really like this feature because I can give my customer my Upload by Email address, and when they send attachments to that address, I will get them on any of my synced computer.


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8 years ago

Thanks for posting your info about SugarSync, Dropbox, etc.  I've used both before and settled on Dropbox but needed a free alternative for a client with over 2 GB of data.  Your info helped me decide.  I made sure to use your referral link.  Enjoy the extra 500 MB and I will also.
Happy New Year!

8 years ago

i'm not sure what you mean when you say dropbox can only share your "mydropbox" folder.
i've been using dropbox since 2011 and just use the 'advanced' options under prefs to choose which folder (or tree of folders) to share.
most of the points you make seem to suggest that all 3 are the same, i was really looking for an article that highlighted the differences.
nm – thanks for trying, i'll close the door on my way out.

8 years ago

Perhaps you can help me. I'm trying to find out how long a person can store files in Dropbox & Sugarsync. I found out that Dropbox allows you to keep files for 90days if you are inactive. Then they delete the files. But I couldn't find any such info for Sugarsync…even on their own website. Any help would be appreciate 🙂
warm regards

Ralf S
Ralf S
8 years ago

Maybe it's woth mentioning that in SugarSync you can't exclude certail file types from being synced.
So whenever you open a word file and a temporary .~ file is created, this is also transferred via th network.
Or when you work with compilers you'll get a lot of files you don't want to have backups of. There's an endless discussion in the sugarsync-forum (see http://sugarsync.hivelive.com/posts/7ba2dfd928 ), but they never managed to implement that simple feature. Just right now drives me to use Spideroak.

7 years ago

Hi all,  I can't find a way to do a quite simple thing with Sugarsync (and others) that I am doing since years with many other services: access multiple accounts from my device/pc.  I'm working and advising multiple companies, and I trying to find the good cloud storage / share service for them.  I currently have various "disks" on my pc, each of them is my access to the share I have on each company. Those "shares" might be good-old-FTP or sFTP, Webdav, windows shares, smb-on-linux shares, proprietary webdav-based, and a few other. The pont is that I can open… Read more »

7 years ago

I have been a SugarSync customer for a couple of years now but about 6 months ago the SS client began crashing regularly. After several exchanges with Tech Support, I was finally told that SS has a limit of 50,000 files within any top level folder that is synced. (http://sugarsync.hivelive.com/posts/420cc1be2d). Their advice, which did solve the crashing issue, was to remove top level folders (like 'Documents' and 'Pictures') and sync the individual folders beneath them. While this works, it's incredibly clumsy because multiple everything in now jumbled together, and when I create a new folder within 'Documents' for example, I… Read more »

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