Top 7 File Syncing Apps

Keep your information backed up and up-to-date across multiple devices

The services and applications below offer convenient, automated file synchronization -- a necessity if you often work on more than one computer or want to sync files between your computer and mobile phone. They're chosen below because of their low cost (most are free), rich feature set, and ease of use. ~ May 24, 2010

Cloud Computing
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Both Dropbox and the similar service, SugarSync (below), were featured in our Top 5 Business Apps for Smartphones list because they offer simple, convenient syncing for computers and mobile phones. The Dropbox application installs a "My Dropbox" folder on your (PC, Mac, or Linux) computer where you place files you want synced; repeat the quick installation on each of your computers and all file changes in that folder are automatically synced with each device, as well as on the Dropbox website. You can also access your files on a mobile phone using a dedicated app (iPhone, Android) or mobile-optimized website.

Notable Features: Works with Linux, you can manually set bandwidth limits, 30 days of undo history, all files are encrypted on the Dropbox website

Storage Space & Cost: Free for up to 2GB of storage; up to $19.99/month for 100GB More »

Like Dropbox, SugarSync offers syncing and backup via a folder on your computer. Unlike Dropbox, however, SugarSync offer 5GB of free storage and allows you to select additional folders to sync between devices, in addition to the "Magic Briefcase" folder that SugarSync provides. It also allows you to download and upload files through a web browser, has more folder permissions settings, offers Windows Mobile and BlackBerry apps, and can stream music. While it supports Mac and PCs, however, it does not support Linux, and you are limited in the free version to syncing between 2 computers and a mobile phone.

Notable Features: simple web editing, more mobile apps, music streaming, can set which folders to sync, notifies you when you're close to your storage limit

Storage Space & Cost: Free for up to 5GB of storage; up to $24.99/month for 250GB. Multi-user business plans also available. More »

Though it's still in "beta", Microsoft's Live Mesh is a robust syncing service. Like other syncing apps, Live Mesh syncs files between Windows PCs and Macs and allows you to share folders with other (Live) users. It also offers a unique remote access feature (you can connect to a Windows computer's desktop, programs, settings, and files from another location as if you were sitting in front of itn) via its "Live Remote Desktop" feature. While it offers more storage space than the freemium services listed above, there's no paid enhanced service version.

Notable Features: 5GB storage space, remote access feature, social/sharing updates

Storage Space & Cost: Free for up to 5GB of storage More »

Besides sharing files via iDisk online storage, Apple's MobileMe service also pushes email, contacts, and calendar events to Macs, PCs, iPhones, and iPads. Although the iDisk application is technically more of an online storage/backup app rather than a file syncing solution (where files would automatically be updated on each local device), MobileMe does push email, contacts, and calendar items across various devices. MobileMe is also highly recommended for its iPhone and iPad locator and remote wipe services (remote wipe on smartphones is highly recommended).

Notable Features: Centralized website at me.com for email, contacts, calendars, photos and files; 20GB storage space; "find my iPhone" feature

Storage Space & Cost: $99 per year for up to 20GB of storage More »

From SiberSystems, the makers of the highly acclaimed Roboform password keeper application, GoodSync is backup and file sync software that works with Windows, Mac, and external drives. Unlike web apps, GoodSync synchronizes directly between computers, removable storage devices, and Windows Mobile devices without storing the data online -- although it can also synchronize to FTP/SFTP sites, WebDAV folders, and cloud storage servers like Amazon S3. There is both a limited free version and a feature-rich pro edition where you can manipulate all sorts of syncing settings.

Notable Features: Syncs and backs up multiple folders across a wide array of file storage types, portable USB app version, robust settings like encryption, compression, bandwidth limiting, and more.

Storage Space & Cost: Free for up to 100 files and 3 sync jobs; $29.95 for one windows license plus $9.95 each additional device (other licensing options available) More »

Like GoodSync, Microsoft's SyncToy is a software application that synchronizes files and folders between locations includng different computers and external drives. Unlike GoodSync, SyncToy is completely free -- but it only works on Windows systems.

Notable Features: Syncing of renamed files, customizable options, and file filtering.

Storage Space & Cost: Free, no space limits More »

SyncBack is another syncing application that you install on computers you want to backup and synchronize. It comes in both freeware, lite (SyncBackSE) and professional (SyncBackPro) versions. All versions allow you to sync selected files and folders, backup to FTP, compress files, and set other basic options. SyncBackSE offers more features than the freeware version (e.g., USB app, incremental backups, file versioning) and SyncBackPro offers even more backup and syncing options (e.g., saving to DVD with disk spanning). In short, it's a powerful software application with many backup and syncing features.

Notable Features: USB apps, advanced customization, file compression, freeware to pro versions.

Storage Space & Cost: Free, no space limits; $30 for SyncBackSE;$49.95 for SyncBackPro More »