Sync.com Cloud Storage
Sync.com aims to provide a safe, secure and easy way to synchronise and share files via their cloud storage service.
One of the most prominent features of the Sync.com service is the built-in end-to-end encryption, this functionality ensures that all files are automatically encrypted before leaving any user device. This encryption by default is a great approach for any cloud storage and synchronisation service and helps Sync.com in maintaining user privacy and data security from the very start.
At only $96 / Year for a massive 2TB of cloud storage Sync.com also has to be one of the best value provides on the market right now, with the commitment to user privacy and security thrown in this is starting to look like a very credible service, let’s go and take a look!
- Simple but very functional and easy to use web interface
- Free account providing 5GB of free storage
- Single user account covers up to 5 devices
- Great value for larger plans (2TB is only $96 / year)
- Up to 360 days unlimited file versioning (180 days for Pro and 30days for Free users)
- Built in zero knowledge encryption (switched on by default)
- Desktop client software available for Windows and Mac (no Linux client as of yet)
- Great file sharing functionality (even on the free account!)
- Built-in de-duplication technology for saving space and bandwidth
- Smartphone apps for iOS and Android
- No Integration with other cloud providers (e.g. Dropbox)
Signing up to Sync.com
Getting started with Sync.com is very quick and easy, simply navigate over to the sign-up page and enter a valid email address and password to begin using the 5GB of free storage on offer.
It is always great to see cloud services which value privacy and Sync.com scores very highly in this regard, all that is required to start using the service is an email address (which must be valid) and a password, no other personal info is required at this point.
It should be noted that because Sync.com will encrypt everything by default you password is essentially also your encryption key, as such make sure this is as secure a password as is possible.
Installing and using the Sync.com Windows Desktop Client
Once the sign-up process is complete an email will be sent with a special link to validate that the email address is real, clicking on this link will then take you back to the Sync.com account which will now be validated and ready to use. At this point on of the first things we are prompted to do is to download the desktop client software, this is available for Windows and Mac and I will be reviewing the Windows version in this review.
At only 59MB this is a reasonably small download and within a minute or so I was running the Sync.com installer, the first thing of which this installer asks is for account details (or to create a new account if needed).
Once logged in to the account the installer will then continue installing the desktop software and setting up parts of the service along the way, for example, we will soon be asked to chose the default synchronisation folder on our PC during the install also.
After choosing the local synchronisation folder the installer will finish its work and the desktop client will be ready to use, the above synchronisation folder will also automatically be synchronised with the Sync.com account.
Once the desktop software is installed it will (as mentioned above) automatically synchronise the selected folder with the Sync.com cloud account, the client itself does, however, allow us to fine-tune the software and configure it as we like.
Clicking on the Sync.com icon in the Windows system tray will launch the desktop client user interface, this will initially show us the latest files to be synchronised with the service and should we click the gear icon (top right) we can visit the preferences page to configure the app further.
Once in the settings screen we can make lots of small tweaks such as showing the Sync.com icon overlays on our files, setting the client to run automatically when Windows starts (or not) and change the location of the sync folder should we need to.
It should also be noted that we can’t setup multiple sync folders on our PC but we can specify which files and folders under the top level sync folder are automatically included in the synchronisation.
Other, less significant settings include the ability to limit bandwidth used, reset the master password for the account and set file caching limits amongst a few other things we have control over.
With these settings sorted out there isn’t really much else to say about the Sync.com desktop application, simply include any files into the sync folder you wish to be synchronised and they will become available on all connected devices (and available via the web interface also). During my testing of the service everything appeared to work well and working with files directly from the sync folder did not pose any problems.
Should you need to store files in your Sync.com account and not have them synchronised then you can take advantage of the Sync.com Vault, this is essentially cloud storage not linked to the synchronisation service and will be looked at more in the next section of this review.
Using the Sync.com Web Interface
So far I have looked at the Sync.com desktop client, this software is simple yet very functional and appears to work as well as any other cloud drive desktop client available today. With this desktop client aside the main interface for this service is the Sync.com web interface itself.
Once logged into Sync.com you will be taken to the Files page where all files in the sync folder can easily be navigated through and used (downloaded, shared etc.) We can also perform basic tasks on our files such as deleting and re-naming, however, opening up and working on the files is not supported as it might be with the likes of Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive.
Whilst this isn’t a massive problem it should be noted that this functionality is missing and if this is essential for you needs then one of the aforementioned big providers might be a better choice (although remember Sync.com does offer built-in end-to-end encryption on files by default which neither Google nor Microsoft do).
Another very useful feature of Sync.com which can be found using the web interface is the versioning history which is automatically built into the service. By default free Sync.com accounts have 30 days of version history available and this is extended to 180 days for Pro accounts and 360 days for business accounts.
Unlike many other providers this file versioning history is unlimited within the given number of days, as such this is a great feature for those regularly working on files and helps put Sync.com ahead of many cloud competitors.
Delving a little deeper into the web interface we will see the Vault page, this vault being a segregated area of cloud storage which is kept completely separate from the cloud storage which is automatically synchronised between all connected devices.
The basic idea behind this vault is that files and folders can be moved out of the synchronisation folder yet still kept safely available under the Sync.com cloud service. This ability to separate such files and folders means they are not taking up bandwidth, time and storage space on user devices thus making for a faster synchronisation process and more free storage space on user devices.
Another interesting menu item which is prominent in the Sync.com web interface is the Events page, from here we can see a log of all events happening on all connected user devices as well as the web interface itself.
As can be seen above, this events page shows us what is happening with our Sync.com account across all devices which we might have connected. Whilst this might not be appealing to most average users it is good to see such a tool easily available, this will, in-turn, help in maintaining the security of Sync.com accounts for those who like to keep an eye on such things.
Finally, the settings screen for the Sync.com service is available under the user menu found at the top right corner of the page.
Once in the settings page we can can configure all aspects of our Sync.com account as well as easily see the amount of storage currently used across both the synchronisation folder and the separated vault service.
The Devices tab (still under the settings page) shows all devices currently connected to the account, this is of course very useful information for keeping the account secure but I do wonder why the event log is so prominent in the main user interface yet this is effectively hidden away in the settings pages?
Finally, the security settings page allows features such as multi-factor authentication (2FA) to be enabled along with email based password recovery and single sign on which allows easy logging on to the web interface from a pre-authenticated desktop client device.
All-in-all this is a fairly simple web interface but it must be stressed it is also very nicely designed and is easy to use and find what you are looking for. I particularly like the segregation of the sync service with the vault service which makes the managing of storage space on synchronised devices much easier than without it (a real issue for many). I also like that the event log is so prominent as this helps to easily monitor the account and can help diagnose any security issues quickly which might have otherwise not being noticed!
Sharing Files with Sync.com
Sharing of files in a safe and secure way is fast becoming a key component of any cloud storage, with email attachment limits still stuck in the 90’s for many providers having a reliable way of sharing files is becoming ever more vital. Thankfully this is clearly something Sync.com have through hard about and in doing so added a very competent file sharing tool into their service offering.
We can create links for the sharing of files in two main ways, from the sync folder on any connected device or by using the web interface to select a synchronised file or an item in our vault. Starting with the sync folder on a Windows device this is as simple as right clicking the file or folder to share and then selecting “create a link like” like below.
Once the link has been created the icon for the file / folder will change to reflect it is now being shared, we can right click on the file or folder again and choose “share sync link” to have the sharing link automatically copied to our clipboard (or choose manage to open up the Links management screen in the web interface).
Whenever links are created, either using the web interface or a connected device, they can then be easily managed centrally from the “Sharing” page found on the web interface which was looked at a little earlier.
Any newly created links are created without password protection, expiry dates or download limits by default, although all of these features can be added by Pro and Business subscribers if needed. Free account holders making use of the free 5GB can password protect a link but the ability to limit the number of downloads or set an automatic expiry date is reserved only for paid subscriptions.
Another feature which is enabled on both free and paid for subscriptions is the enhanced privacy feature for shared links. When switched on this will force end-to-end encryption of the download via SSL encryption thus meaning at no point is the file data exposed over the internet.
And finally, if links are no longer needed they can easily be disposed of under the “Sharing” tab on the web interface, clicking to manage a link in Windows explorer will simply open up a web browser to this same page, effective, but this would have been easier if it was all done in the right-click context menu itself.
Using the Sync.com Smartphone Apps
The Sync.com app is available for both iOS and Android devices via the respective app stores, for the purposes of this review I will be looking at the Android version of the app.
As with all Android apps the installation was quick and simple and the app ready to use in just a few moments, logging in with the main account username and password is then required to get started.
Once in the app we can set-up both a PIN code and fingerprint for making future access to the app easier, this can be found under the settings screen. Under settings we can also configure other important things such as automatic camera uploads and the ability to download files only over Wi-Fi if needs be.
When using the app both the sync folder and the segregated “Vault” cloud storage are both accessible. Files are, by default, kept in the cloud but can be downloaded for offline use on the device should this be needed.
The same sharing functionality as was looked at earlier is available in the Android app with the added advantage of being able to “share” links directly with other apps on the same phone (via the built-in Android sharing functionality).
Overall the app seems to function very well, has all of the features and access found in the Windows and web based client and is easy to secure via PIN code and fingerprint access, a solid cloud storage app!
One of the biggest security features provided by Sync.com is the end-to-end encryption of all files added to the cloud service. This encryption is switched on automatically and ensures all files are automatically encrypted on local devices before being uploaded to the cloud.
As a result of this approach to encryption the Sync.com service is very secure by default, add-in other features including multi-factor authentication (2FA), link sharing over SSL and the ability to password protect any shared links (even in the free account) and this starts to look like a very secure service.
Privacy is also clearly taken very seriously by Sync.com with the minimal of user details needed to get a (free) account up and running in the first place. Upgrading to a Pro or Business account can also be done via Bitcoin which is great to see from an established player and shows real commitment to protecting personal privacies along the way.
Sync.com have a very useful support section featuring a detailed knowledge base and the ability to contact the support team via an online ticketing system if required. All-in-all a very easy to use and well laid out support system!
Sync.com offer a free account (with a generous 5GB of storage) alongside both Pro and Business accounts providing up to a massive 4TB of cloud storage for as little as $15 per month.
The Sync.com pricing (at time of writing) is:
Pro Solo Basic – 2TB: $8 / month (paid as $96 / year)
Pro Solo Standard – 3TB: $10 / month (paid as $120 / year)
Pro Solo Plus – 4TB: $15 / month (paid as $180 / year)
In addition to these personal Pro plans (above) business plans are also available providing members of a team with 1TB of storage each for as little as $5 / month at the entry level.
It is also nice to see Sync.com supporting both PayPal and Bitcoin as payment methods alongside the usual card payment options.
Sync.com is an impressive cloud storage offering, instead of trying to cram in as many (often unnecessary) features as possible, Sync.com have clearly focused more on getting the basics right instead. It would be fair to say they have made a great job in this regard with the service ticking many boxes for the average cloud user and offering good privacy and security options alongside a great link sharing system and desktop synchronisation software.
Price wise, Sync.com is very reasonably priced and with the minimum personal tier providing 2TB of storage is also one of the most generous providers on the market at time of writing. Add into the mix the ability to pay with both PayPal or Bitcoin for the privacy conscious and this is yet more evidence of Sync.com’s commitment to providing a solid product to fit customer demands above all else.
All-in-all, I think this is a great service which I hope will continue to get better as time goes on, well done Sync.com!