Review: SugarSync for the iPad

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I’ve been wondering how, exactly, I’ll be able to do work on my iPad. With the assistance of programs like Dropbox and SugarSync, it is possible to cobble together a workflow that doesn’t drive me crazy.

When I last looked at SugarSync the service was in its infancy and I found it slightly lacking. All of my concerns, two years ago, have been address and now you have a fully versioned storage system that you can use to feasibly upload a plethora of files including, but not limited to, MP3s, videos, and documents.

Audio and video files, for the most part, played natively on the iPad. However, if you need to transfer odd formats or edit Office or iWork documents (you can view them just fine) you’ll need to email the files to yourself and them open them in Pages. This two step process, while upsetting to those afraid of more than one step, is frustrating at worst and a non-issue at best.

To be sure, the SugarSync app is as barebones as it gets. You have access to your shared files and you can view everything you’ve shared on your linked computers. There is no expectation that you’ll ever want to upload files or move them around – it’s a window on the service and little more.

The current document sync systems for the iPad are fairly bad. That they even passed Apple’s muster is a wonder, but that’s our lot. You can sync stuff in iTunes, but the interface is actually hidden for most people and it is surprisingly clunky. I could definitely see a folder that pops up on the desktop whenever you plug in the iPad, offering a safe place for files. However, because this is not the case, we have to use services like SugarSync. If you need to send the file back to the cloud, you can use the service’s Upload by Email service to add it as an attachment and store it securely away from your iPad.

Aside from the “magic briefcase” aspect of SugarSync the service is actually fairly reasonable and, in a pinch, can act as a full back-up service for your laptops and PCs. 250GB costs $249 a year or $24.99 a month. A free plan includes 2GB of data storage as well as syncing for a maximum of two machines.

Bottom Line
Using SugarSync to manage your files is a lifesaver and I think it is the only sane way to edit documents on the go. Because the iPad has no real “file system” – at least not one that’s visible to the average user – SugarSync fills an important niche and is easy enough to use that it is almost – but not quite – transparent.

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