A Sweeter Way to Backup and Remotely Access Your Genealogy Data

Monday, 7 Apr 2008 | by Mark Tucker

Do you ever worry that your genealogy data will be lost?  Is the backup process that you use too complicated?  Have you ever wished you could access your documents and images from any computer with a web browser?  Tired of taking your laptop with you to the FHL or FHC?  Having difficulties keeping file updates synchronized across multiple computers?  Do you need to share files between a Mac and a PC?  Have you ever had a USB drive go bad right before a presentation?  Do you have a need to access documents from a mobile device?  Let me introduce you to a product that will solve these problems and put a smile on your face.

SugarSync Logo
SugarSync seamlessly synchronizes Mac OS and Windows computers, mobile phones and a personal document website.

The following is from the March 20, 2008 press release:

Sync with Benefits

As people accumulate more and more digital media fragmented across their various devices and online services, it becomes increasingly challenging to navigate and enjoy that media. Most contemporary solutions offer only a subset of the functionality people need, limiting their support to only certain media types, and requiring too many manual steps or changes in user behavior. SugarSync offers a comprehensive service that is simple to set up and easy to use, is completely automatic, fits into the user’s current workflow, and solves several daunting problems at once. Sample uses for SugarSync include:

• Sync files across multiple household and work computers – both Macs and PCs
• Auto-upload files to a personal website for anytime access and secure backup
• Access files residing on a home or work computer remotely, regardless of whether or not that computer is turned on and connected to the Web
• Sync changes made to your files remotely through any Web browser back to any designated folder on your home or work computer
• Keep files, photos, music and video continuously backed up and organized automatically online for sharing without any manual or scheduled uploads
• Archive files online to free up computer hard drive space
• Automatically sync camera phone photos back to a Mac or PC hard drive
• View and share files located on any computer from a mobile phone

I signed up for the free 45 day trial and received 10GB of storage space. I installed the SugarSync Manager on my Vista PC at home.  After the SugarSync Manager was loaded, I was able to easily point it at my Genealogy folder and it immediately started backing up the files. My Genealogy folder currently takes up 1.05GB of hard disk space and includes 1523 files in 218 directories with over 1300 being images and the remainder documents.  The SugarSync Manager is easy to navigate:

SugarSync Manager

Next I clicked on the “Go To Personal Website” link in the manager and was taken to a personal website that was automatically created to give me access to the same files:

SugarSync Personal Website

It is important to point out that accessing your files through a web browser does not require you to install any additional software on that computer.  Supported browsers include Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer.

I also installed the SugarSync Manager on a Windows XP laptop and was immediately able to see the files from my Vista PC.  I have the option to:

  1. access files (in which case the file exists only on the Vista PC and the online storage location) or
  2. turn on automatic sync (in which case the file will exist in all three locations: Vista PC,  XP laptop, and online storage)

I do not have a mobile device or Mac to test out all the supported devices, but this 3 minute video shows off these features nicely.  Other features you will want to explore are Photo Gallery, Magic Briefcase, and Web Archive.

Once my trial is over, the cost for the SugarSync service is:

  • 10GB - $2.49/month, $24.99/year
  • 30GB – $4.99/month, $49.99/year
  • 60GB – $9.99/month, $99.99/year
  • 100GB – $14.99/month, $149.99/year
  • 250GB – $24.99/month, $249.99/year

One competitor to SugarSync is the Mozy online backup service that allows backup of a single computer, but no file synchronization across computers. For personal use, the cost of Mozy is free for 2GB of storage or unlimited storage for $4.95/month.

If you anticipate needing only 30GB of online storage then SugarSync would be the better option as it provides more features and flexibility. If you need more than that, you will need to weigh cost vs. features to determine if SugarSync is right for you. Since I already use Mozy, my plan is to also use SugarSync with the 10GB plan for my family history data, presentations, and transfer of files across computers.


  1. Mark,

    I can see from your image examples that you use Zotero. Do you care to do a blog post on that? Or I was wondering if you have any comment on which style (CSL) that you use.. tia


    Comment by Darlene Sye — 22 Dec 2009 @ 12:20 pm

  2. Mark,
    tia, but I found the answer to my question. It’s Chicago Manual of Style. Thanks anyway.

    Comment by Darlene — 23 Dec 2009 @ 8:04 pm

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