Do you store files in Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive? Do any of those files contain sensitive medical, financial, or legal data? If so, consider Sync.com, cloud storage that offers better privacy.
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When you put files in Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, etc., those platforms encrypt your files. However, the platforms own the encryption keys. That means they can see your files. It also means that if the government requested your files from those platforms, they could provide them.
Maybe you have files that contain highly sensitive medical, financial, or legal data, and you don’t want to run the risk of those files falling into the wrong hands.
You may think, “I trust my storage provider, so what’s the problem?” Maybe you trust the company itself, but do you trust every one of its employees? And what if the company is hacked? Or what if a government (one in your country or a foreign one) wants to see your data?
If these possibilities concern you, then you should consider a zero-knowledge storage provider. Zero-knowledge encryption is a form of encryption in which the service provider has no knowledge (zero knowledge) of your encryption key, so the provider is not able to view your data. A zero-knowledge storage provider can’t view the files you store on its servers.
In addition to providing secure storage, Sync.com also provides secure sharing of files with other people, secure syncing of files between devices, and secure backups. We’ll take a closer look at these features.
Many Sync.com features are available from the Sync.com website, on any device. You can also install Sync.com software on the following systems:
- Mac (macOS)
Sync.com is based in Canada.
Syn.com is a zero-knowledge, end-to-end encrypted storage provider.
We can’t read your files and no one else can either.Sync.com
Sync doesn’t collect, sell or share your personal data or app usage information to advertisers or third-parties, and we do not claim ownership of your data.Sync.com
With any online account, and especially with accounts that guard sensitive data, it’s important to have strong security in place. Sync.com provides the following security features:
- Two-factor Authentication (2FA), via authentication app (Authy, Google Authenticator) (recommended method) or email
- Automatic logout of web browser sessions after 1 or 24 hours
- Disallow editing of shared files (allow view only)
- Disallow downloading of shared files (allow view only)
- Set expiration dates on shared links
- Download limits (limit the number of times a linked file can be downloaded)
- Password-protected sharing
- Granular permissions (per-user, per-folder)
- Remotely delete shared files
- Remotely disable lost or stolen devices from accessing your files
- Email notifications of activity on your links
- Lock Sync.com mobile apps with PIN or passcode
Your files are encrypted using a key that’s based on your Sync.com account password. Sync.com doesn’t know your key or password. When you upload a file to Sync.com, it’s encrypted on your device before being sent to Sync.com. The file remains encrypted until you retrieve it from Sync.com.
For this reason, it’s critical that you securely store your Sync.com password. If you lose it, you’ll lose access to your files! I recommend keeping your password in a password manager such as LastPass. You can even use LastPass to create a strong, unique password.
If you fear losing access to your data because you lose your password, you can consider enabling the password reset option. However, doing so gives Sync.com temporary access to your encryption keys when the feature is enabled or used. I recommend you leave this option disabled.
If someday you decide to stop using Sync.com, you can delete your account, which will delete all data you have stored in it.
Sync.com lets you set a Display Name, which is the name people see when you share files with them. If you’ll be sharing files with people you want to hide your name from, set this to something that doesn’t identify you.
There are two ways to share files that you put in Sync.com:
- Create and send a link to the file
- Put the file in a shared folder
When you share a link to a file or folder, you can choose the following settings:
- Set password
- Set expiry/expiration date
- View-only (no download)
- Set download limit (limit number of times file can be downloaded)
- Email notifications (get notified about link activity)
- Enhanced privacy (an additional layer of end-to-end encryption, not compatible with all browsers)
You can delete a link to revoke access.
Someone who receives a link can view or download (if allowed) files you share without needing a Sync.com account. To edit files in a shared folder, they’ll need a Sync.com account.
An interesting feature is File requests. If you need to securely receive files from others, you send them a link, and they can upload directly into a folder you link to, using a web browser. They don’t need a Sync.com account to do this. It’s secure and convenient for both parties.
When you install the Sync.com software on your device, you’ll get a Sync folder. Any files you put there are continuously synced to Sync.com, and to any other devices where you’ve installed the Sync.com software.
On Windows and Mac, you can use selective sync. If there are any folders that you don’t want to sync to a device, just open the Sync.com preferences on that device, and uncheck those folders. If you want to see those folders in the future, you can check the boxes for those folders, or open Sync.com in your browser.
On mobile devices (Android, iPhone, iPad), the Sync.com mobile app can automatically sync your photos and videos to your Sync.com account and connected devices. You can choose to upload only photos, not videos. However, if you enable photos, it syncs all photos, and if you enable videos, it syncs all videos. You can’t choose which photos and videos are uploaded.
Sync.com automatically backs up your files. You can easily restore deleted files, and previous versions of files.
Paid Sync.com plans keep previous versions of files, and deleted files, for one year. So, you can restore them for up to a year after changing or deleting them. Previous versions and deleted files don’t count against your storage quota.
Sync.com, as its name implies, is all about syncing files between devices. But they also have a Vault feature that is just for online storage, and doesn’t sync to other devices. This is useful if you just want to back up files to the cloud, without having them synced to your other devices.
You manually copy files into the Vault, from your device, or from your Sync folder.
Pros and Cons
I’ve already covered several of the positive aspects of Sync.com:
- Zero-knowledge encryption
- Strong security features
- Secure syncing between various platforms
- Secure file sharing
- Ability to securely receive files from others
- Robust restoration and versioning
As much as I’d love to say Sync.com is perfect, the truth is that there are some negatives (or potential negatives) you should be aware of.
Some people complain that uploading, downloading, previewing, or accessing files on Sync.com is slow. They blame it on the encryption. You may (or may not) notice a delay, depending on the speed of your device, the speed of your Internet connection, and the size of the file.
Support is only available through a contact form. There’s no live chat, phone, or other support.
Only images and documents can be viewed within a browser. For other file types (such as audio and video), you’ll need to download the files before you can view them.
Some storage providers, such as Dropbox, integrate with third parties. That lets you transfer files back and forth between the storage provider and the third-party software. Sync.com doesn’t allow such third-party integration, which you may find inconvenient, but it does increase security.
You can’t simply drag and drop files into the Sync.com web interface. You need to first click Upload, then you’ll get a box that you can drag and drop onto.
It would be nice if you could sync any file or folder on your device, rather than having to put them into the Sync folder. But, this is how Dropbox and similar file syncing services work, so it’s no surprise.
Sync.com doesn’t support block-level sync. That means that when you edit a file that’s in Sync.com, the entire file needs to be re-uploaded, rather than just the changed part. This makes syncing slower, especially for large files. But, it’s part of the price you pay for Sync.com’s zero-knowledge encryption.
If you install the Sync.com app on a mobile device, and enable photo upload, it syncs all photos. If you enable video upload, it syncs all videos. You can’t choose which photos and videos are uploaded.
Sync.com says “Sync will not disclose your personal information to any third parties without your consent, except under the following limited circumstances: … To comply with a legal process such as a law, regulation, search warrant, subpoena, court order or law enforcement request …” Sync.com is based in Canada, and Canada is a member of the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and Fourteen Eyes alliances of countries that share intelligence with each other. So although Sync.com’s encryption prevents them from sharing your encrypted files with law enforcement, they’ll likely have metadata (data about your account, usage, etc.) that they could share upon request.
Sync.com is $8-15/month, depending on the plan, for its Pro Solo plans. You can only pay per year, not per month.
All plans have the same level of privacy. The difference is the amount of storage (2, 3, or 4 TB), and the amount of file history and recovery (180 or 365 days).
Sync.com also has Personal plans for $0-60/year, depending on the plan. These plans are more limited than the Pro Solo plans.
In addition to credit card and PayPal, Sync.com accepts Bitcoin, so you can potentially pay anonymously, if you’d like.
Who It’s Best For
Because of its emphasis on privacy, Sync.com is best for people who want serious privacy for sensitive files, such as those that contain medical, financial, or legal data. People who don’t want to worry about individuals, companies, or governments viewing their files will be pleased with Sync.com’s data protections.
Sync.com is also a good choice for businesses that need to comply with privacy regulations, such as GDPR and HIPAA. Sync.com complies with privacy regulations in the US, EU, UK, and Canada.
What You Should Do
- Define what you want in an online storage provider. Start with what you’ve learned in this review.
- Decide if Sync.com will work for you.
- If you choose Sync.com, install and configure it. Enable security features on your account. Securely store your password and other important details.