Web-apps are here to stay. Like a new wave of easily developed (relatively) and deployed applications, cloud-computing has taken its first steps to true legitimacy.
Just as Apple’s revamped .Mac service, MobileMe, has pushed cloud-based computing to Joe MacUser, Sharpcast is poised to bring their SugarSync online backup/storage solution to the iPhone.
SugarSync aims to keep all your files (pictures, videos, documents, etc.) synchronized across any and all devices you use to access the web. The SugarSync manager sits on your PC or Mac and allows you to configure which folders (directories) you want to keep synchronized through SugarSync’s servers. You can choose to upload entire picture libraries or specify a select few.
SugarSync’s Magic Briefcase feature allows you to quickly drag-and-drop any files that you want to synchronize across all your devices. Simpy drop a picture file from your desktop in to Magic Briefcase and access that picture file from your work computer, friend’s computer, or iPhone (and other handhelds). But wait, don’t you have to install a SugarSync client on every single machine? Absolutely not.
When you register your SugarSync account, you are assigned a personal URL. Simply point any browser to that personalized URL and you’ll have access to all the files you’ve chosen to upload from your home computer. And, with SugarSync’s newly minted iPhone web-app, you can flip through your files with iPhone-esque, sliding-panel ease.
You can even upload photos from your mobile phone to the SugarSync mobile photo manager – as long as you take the pictures with the SugarSync mobile photo application. A little birdy told me that there’s going to be some exciting iPhone applications launched soon – I’m hoping it has to do with uploading pictures from my iPhone to SugarSync.
Now, here’s where it gets a little confusing. Every computer with a SugarSync manager installed can upload different files that are accessible from any other computer. So, you can have Computer A with pictures uploaded and filed in the cloud under “Computer A,” and you can have Computer B with music uploaded and filed under “Computer B.” You can access both computers’ files from any computer with a web connection. But, then there’s also the Magic Briefcase, which is something like a cloud-desktop, that synchronizes any files that you toss in there across the web. Confused yet?
The service is great, but it takes a bit of time to get used to thinking in terms of cloud-based storage. It helps to think of the Magic Briefcase as a desktop in the cloud, and multiple computers as separate hard drives in the cloud.
SugarSync also makes it possible to upload large files of any size. The files can be synchronized across all your computers, stored only online, or downloaded to just a single computer. You can even email a link to the file to family and friends to download within 3 weeks. And, with an iPhone application set to hit the AppStore soon, SugarSync may just turn out to be the cloud-storage solution of choice.
All in all, SugarSync is powerful and a good alternative to MobileMe (but with no push email). And, keeping all your files online gives you peace of mind like nothing else. Still, easily-confused users will need a little time to get used to SugarSync’s interface.