Syncplicity doesn't live up to it's name

Updated on:

Update: since originally writing this post, I was able to get Google Docs syncing to work. Read the updated review here.

Syncplicity is one of a number of file sync and backup services along the lines of Dropbox, but with a few extra features. One of the most notable differences from Dropbox is the ability to sync any folder on your computer (as opposed to just your Dropbox folder). The feature that really caught my eye, however, was the ability to sync files from Google Docs onto your desktop. Unfortunately, two hours after setting up Syncplicity, I have yet to get it to successfully sync a single file with GDocs.

A while back, we talked about how to backup and share your files with Dropbox. If you've read through that post, or set up Dropbox on your computer, then you pretty much know how Syncplicity works. After signing up for the service at, you'll be prompted to download a client for your computer. Currently, all versions of Windows as well as Snow Leopard (in an beta form) are supported, though there is no support for Linux or older versions of OSX.

Shortly after installing the client, the main difference from Dropbox becomes evident. Whereas Dropbox creates a new folder that is always kept in sync, Syncplicity asks you which folders you want to sync or backup

By default, Syncplicity offers to sync up your Desktop, Documents, and a couple other folders. You can also add any other folder either from this menu, or by right clicking on a folder in your normal file browser. After choosing which folders to sync up, Syncplicity will upload the files to it's servers, and give you a notification of its progress, as well as overlaying a checkmark on the icons of files that are in sync. As a full backup solution, Syncplicity definitely provides a simpler configuration than Dropbox, although given that both services include only 2 GB of free storage (with various paid options available to get more space; e.g. 50GB for $15/month from Syncplicity), you probably don't want to jump right in to upload your entire music collection. Also like Dropbox, Syncplicity provides the ability to share folders or files with other people by emailing a link visible when right-clicking on a file, as well as full access to your files through a web interface.

While Syncplicity seems to work well for the purposes described above, what I was really excited about was the Google Docs integration. Google Docs recently withdrew offline access, and also cut back on the formatting options available, so being able to access Google Docs files while offline through a more full featured editor definitely has some appeal. Unfortunately, the Google Docs integration doesn't really seem to be all the way up to speed. It can only be enabled through the web interface (not through the desktop client), at which point you'll be taken to a page to grant access for Syncplicity to see your Google documents. You'll then be given a choice of what file format to use for docs, spreadsheets, and presentations; Google doesn't support syncing of arbitrary files for its free users, so you're limited to traditional docs through the service.

When you set up Google docs, it asks you what folder you want to sync to. From what I understand, Syncplicity is then supposed to download the docs from Google into that folder and keep them in sync. At least in my experience on a Windows XP install, that sync has yet to take place. I've heard from plenty of people who use Syncplicity with Google Docs without any problem, so it may be worth trying out for yourself. However, for a company who's front page says in big bold letters "IT JUST WORKS," I came away rather unimpressed.

Update: since originally writing this post, I was able to get Google Docs syncing to work. Read the updated review here.

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