For most of us syncing files involves the tedious task of copying them to CD's, or DVD's or if we're more advanced portable hard drives.  The tech savvy among us might even transfer these files over our home networks.  In either case you need to remember to do it, and have all your computers physically located in the same proximity to make this possible.

 

Introduction

If you're the average computer user in the west you almost certainly manage between 2-3 computers and in some cases several more.  No matter to what use we dedicate these machines, we are almost certain to have many files in common.  In fact it's often mandatory we sync these files across machines such as in the case with email files.  Other files such as our MP3, video, and documents might not be mandatory to sync, but we know life would be better if they were.  How many file types can you think of in your computer household that would benefit from being synced automatically and in real time?

For most of us syncing files involves the tedious task of copying them to CD's, or DVD's or if we're more advanced portable hard drives.  The tech savvy among us might even transfer these files over our home networks.  In either case you need to remember to do it, and have all your computers physically located in the same proximity to make this possible.

It's a lot like backing up, if you have to think about it and manually schedule and perform this task it's not likely to get done, or done often, or done well.  But once we purchased an automatic backup system for our data and system drives we'd set it once and forget about it.   Syncing.net is a lot like this, except it does it in the 'cloud' and doesn't require the computers ever be physically anywhere except connected to the internet.

 

It's a lot like backing up, if you have to think about it and manually schedule and perform this task it's not likely to get done, or done often, or done well.  But once we purchased an automatic backup system for our data and system drives we'd set it once and forget about it.   Syncing.net is a lot like this, except it does it in the 'cloud' and doesn't require the computers ever be physically anywhere except connected to the internet.

 

 

My Old Routine

For business purposes I've always managed my contacts, calendar, and email files with Microsoft's Outlook.  By always I mean for over the last decade.   No matter where I am, whether or not I have a connection to the internet, my work files are with me and available to help me work.  There were also several document directories, my browser bookmarks, and for fun it was nice to have my music and video libraries while on the road.

Using my home workstation as the 'base' computer I'd make sure to copy all these files including my Outlook PST files to a portable hard drive prior to a business trip, and it would be the first thing I'd do when returning home.  I learned to update my workstation before running Outlook lest it download new mail that I'd lose when I copied my PST files from the road.

In short it was a frequent and constant headache I was forced to deal with.  Sure, I could have switched to webmail and I know this is a popular option, but once you get used to having your files/life with you at all times, especially when internet connections in South East Asia hotels can run 1000 baht ($35 USD's) PER DAY, then you'll never go back to webmail IF these files are central to your professional life.

I knew there had to be a better way. 

 

For business purposes I've always managed my contacts, calendar, and email files with Microsoft's Outlook.  By always I mean for over the last decade.   No matter where I am, whether or not I have a connection to the internet, my work files are with me and available to help me work.  There were also several document directories, my browser bookmarks, and for fun it was nice to have my music and video libraries while on the road.

 

Solving the Puzzle

A few months ago I added an ultra-portable 2.5 pound notebook to my professional equipment and shared the review with you. At nearly the same time I added an HTC Desire Android based smartphone.  These two modern high-tech devices were designed to go with me just not on business trips, but out and about during the day in my normal course of business.  Being in constant contact via email is now a business essential.

I spent nearly 3 weeks on the internet trying out all sorts of back up programs, programs that would sync you over your home network, and even wrote a couple of hand coded batch files.  The problem was I still had to think about it, have the devices in the same physical proximity, and then have the discipline to do it.

What I wanted was to never think about this issue again.  To be able to pick up my laptop after not using it for 3-4 days, or even weeks, turn it on, and have all my most current emails and other files available.  Was my head in the clouds?  Glad you asked. :)

It was until I found this small little known (to me) company called Syncing.net. http://www.syncing.net based in Germany.  Investigating the company further I found it to be well organized, well funded, and committed to only this particular product. 

 

It was until I found this small little known (to me) company called Syncing.net. http://www.syncing.net based in Germany.  Investigating the company further I found it to be well organized, well funded, and committed to only this particular product.

 

Syncing.net

To put this succinctly (too late for that I know..:) this software utilizes a private cloud, servers based in Germany, and individual machine client programs, to allow you to sync as many machines as you want to the same group, or the same number of groups, so you'll never have to think about this little problem again.  The software comes in a home version for up to three PC's on the same group, or a professional version where you can license enough PC's and as many groups as you wish to run an entire corporation.  The PC's never even need to be in the same country much less the same room!

 

To put this succinctly (too late for that I know..:) this software utilizes a private cloud, servers based in Germany, and individual machine client programs, to allow you to sync as many machines as you want to the same group, or the same number of groups, so you'll never have to think about this little problem again.  The software comes in a home version for up to three PC's on the same group, or a professional version where you can license enough PC's and as many groups as you wish to run an entire corporation.  The PC's never even need to be in the same country much less the same room!

 

In less than a week using this program on a trail basis I knew it was exactly what I'd always wished for.  Each computer I owned took less than 5 minutes to install the software, create a group account, and join each machine to the group.  Once that was done I didn't think about it again.  Well.. I did think about it.  I thought about how great this was and I wanted to share it with you guys so I requested a review kit from Syncing.net and learned as much as possible about this product and put it through the proverbial wringer so you don't have to.

I spent an unusual amount of time corresponding with Syncing.net representatives trying to wrap my head around exactly how this works on a technical level.  Understandably they were reluctant and/or unable to share certain information.  Still, I think they did a good job of filling me in so I could really understand the inner workings enough to explain the limits of functions in this review.

 

Features

Feature wise this is pretty simple.  The Home Edition syncs up to 3 PC's in a single group and up to 25 folders.  The Professional Edition you purchase by machine, one license per machine, and you can sync an unlimited number of PC's across 25 groups and 1500 folders.  If you have more requirements than the Professional Edition provides call and talk to them.

 

The Professional Edition you purchase by machine, one license per machine, and you can sync an unlimited number of PC's across 25 groups and 1500 folders.  If you have more requirements than the Professional Edition provides call and talk to them.

 

If the PC's you want to sync are online there is no limit to the amount of data.  If they're not online then there is a 200mb "store & forward" online cache.   200mb will see most people through a years worth of email so this is a generous amount of space.   Plus, if your main workstation/server is online and updated, you can turn on a remote PC and sync in total.

Their servers in Berlin use a 256 bit AES Encryption which is as or more secure than most dedicated email servers.  You get off-line data access, free updates, unlimited data volume, lifetime email support,  and intelligent conflict resolution.  Every feature you might want is covered including US and UK phone access.

 

Their servers in Berlin use a 256 bit AES Encryption which is as or more secure than most dedicated email servers.  You get off-line data access, free updates, unlimited data volume, lifetime email support,  and intelligent conflict resolution.  Every feature you might want is covered including US and UK phone access.

 

There are also two limited editions if you needs are strictly Outlook email or strictly file sharing.  These are simply subsets of the Home and Professional Editions so I won't be going into them more than this mention.

 

There are also two limited editions if you needs are strictly Outlook email or strictly file sharing.  These are simply subsets of the Home and Professional Editions so I won't be going into them more than this mention. There are also two limited editions if you needs are strictly Outlook email or strictly file sharing.  These are simply subsets of the Home and Professional Editions so I won't be going into them more than this mention.

 

 

How it Works

As I said above the technical part of how it works we won't be going into.  The practical aspect we will. 

When you first install the software on the first machine you're asked to create an account.  I did this on my home workstation.  At this time I designated my Outlook account and what folders I wanted to stay in sync.  Each additional PC I installed the software on asked me if I already had an account and to fill in the account information.. at which point it compares data and updates the PC's to the same data. 

How does it know which data?  They won't say.  However, I can tell you that with Outlook PST files it only updates the specific emails coming in, being deleted, updated, etc, and not the entire PST file.  Appending the Outlook PST file in this manner makes for a very fast sync, 10-15 seconds in most cases.  Obviously they're using a date/time stamp on the individual emails in both the deleted, spam, and other folders and the program is very intelligent.  It hasn't made a single mistake in over 30 days of use.

 

How does it know which data?  They won't say.  However, I can tell you that with Outlook PST files it only updates the specific emails coming in, being deleted, updated, etc, and not the entire PST file.  Appending the Outlook PST file in this manner makes for a very fast sync, 10-15 seconds in most cases.  Obviously they're using a date/time stamp on the individual emails in both the deleted, spam, and other folders and the program is very intelligent.  It hasn't made a single mistake in over 30 days of use.

 

Syncing files is easier.  It simply keeps a log of what's in each designated folder, what happens to each file as it's changed/deleted, and then updates that information to other PC's in the group on a first come first served date/time basis.  This function has also been flawless.

 

Actual Use

I travel a lot, I sync 3 PC's, and I purposely tried to get this product to mess up.  It didn't.  I even had a few incidents where my Outlook data files, and my Outlook Contact files, were deleted through hardware failure off the primary workstation and they rebuilt themselves once back online from the other PC's.

It was really nice to not worry about updating files on a PC before leaving home.  I knew if the internet was available the files would sync within minutes of connecting to the internet.  If I suspected the internet wouldn't be available in remote regions I simply turned on the laptop before I left and let it update.

When I return home I don't need to do anything.  My home workstation is on 24/7 and it updates while I'm on the road.  If I had turned it off, I would simply turn it back on and a few minutes later it would be updated and current.

 

We're Photographers, What About Large Amounts of Images?

Yes, as long as another PC is on somewhere else and connected to the net, AND you have a decent internet connection with enough bandwidth (speed), you can dump gigabytes of images to synced folders on your travel laptop and the images will be transferred and synced.  Do you realize how useful this is to photographers?  No matter where you are in the world, no matter if you lose your laptop, no matter what.. any images previously uploaded to your laptop on the road will be waiting for you at the home or office when you return.  This feature by itself is worth it's weight in gold to professional photographers.

 

Yes, as long as another PC is on somewhere else and connected to the net, AND you have a decent internet connection with enough bandwidth (speed), you can dump gigabytes of images to synced folders on your travel laptop and the images will be transferred and synced.  Do you realize how useful this is to photographers?  No matter where you are in the world, no matter if you lose your laptop, no matter what.. any images previously uploaded to your laptop on the road will be waiting for you at the home or office when you return.  This feature by itself is worth it's weight in gold to professional photographers.

 

 

Summary

The summary is easy.  This product just works.  The small resident syncing program is unobtrusive, extremely intelligent, and once set will keep your Outlook files and designated folders synchronized across as many PC's as you have licenses for.  It will do so without errors, quickly, and intelligently.

There are some wishes though.  They have an Iphone application to sync your Iphone email and folders but nothing for Android systems and no plans to support Android systems.  I personally feel this is a major omission as there's already more Android bases smart phones out there than Iphones.  I hope they change their minds on this.

Further, later this year I plan on replacing my Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices with a Windows Home Server machine.  I need more storage and more FTP capabilities than any reasonably priced NAS device provides.  I would suspect I can install a licensed installation on this server making it an ad-hoc master station for my personal and business applications.  I'll be testing this out once I build and deploy this machine.

Overall I couldn't be happier (other than Android support) with Syncing.net.  I no longer think about keeping my laptops and workstations in sync, and this eliminated routine tedious chores both before and after each business trip.  Its like I'm living in a cloud.  If you have syncing requirements whether they be Outlook email files, contact lists, itunes, or other folders this is the perfect product for you.