SugarSync online storage service releases 2.0 beta

Synchronization service firm SugarSync has dramatically overhauled and simplified its user interface in the new 2.0 release out in a form of software public beta today. The revised software bears little resemblance to the previous version, and adds a number of features in a consolidated, simplified Mac OS X application. Product manager Drew Garcia said, the firm went back “to square one from a design perspective to make the cloud as simple as possible.”

SugarSync in old and new versions can pick any folder on a desktop computer to synchronize with its central cloud storage. However, version 2.0 adds the ability to copy a file into cloud storage and then disconnect synchronization from the local folder, essentially pushing an independently accessible and modifiable copy into the cloud as if it were a networked file server.

The software also allows a user to pick which folders synchronize with given computers, as in the earlier release. Any folder synced on one machine may also be added to any other machine associated with the same account. The updated service allows searching the contents of all files associated with SugarSync, whether locally synced or stored in the cloud.

The update uniquely allows both cloud synced and locally synced folders to appear the same in the Finder by using MacFUSE to make remote folders appears as items in a single mounted volume. Locally synced folders appear both in the location that the user specified on a local volume, and alised in the virtually mounted drive. Cloud-only folders show up just in the mounted drive, and files are opened and saved just as if they were on a networked file server.

SugarSync 2 allows both collaborative sharing and public-link sharing. As with Dropbox, a user may select to allow other users to access (and optionally synchronize locally) any synced folder. Shared users have access to the folder to add items, modify existing documents, or delete files, but these shared folders don’t count against storage quotas. Public links are read-only or download-only and can be copied as a link or shared directly to Facebook or Twitter through Mac OS X integration.

The public beta works with the same data stored in its systems with the older desktop and mobile software, which remains available for use by old and new customers alike, although the 2.0 software is required to use the new features. The beta covers the revised Mac OS X and Windows user interface, as well as an Android client. A full release of the software is expected in January along with a revised iOS app and apps for othr mobile platforms.

SugarSync’s pricing remains unchanged in this version. A free version includes 5GB of storage. Paid versions come with a free 30-day trial, after which pricing starts at $5 per month or $50 per year for 30GB of storage and runs up to $40 per month or $400 per year for 500GB. Additional storage is added to free and paid accounts for new-member referrals.

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