By: Siber Systems, Inc.
In current age, we all are quite familiar with cloud storages, which help us to store data on remote servers without the hassle of carrying costly hard drives along with you.
The thing is that most cloud servers despite having a zero-knowledge policy are under constant surveillance from government agencies, especially NSA. The network of 14-eye nation leaves not a single thing on Internet without monitoring.
Due to this, privacy of the users is at huge risk given that many cloud storages have only basic cloud side encryption which these agencies can bypass like a child’s play. So, what’s the solution to that?
Products that work by only syncing files across two machines are called Cloud Backup and Sync Tools. These tools have a primary task of transferring data from one computer to another computer, server, machine, or any other cloud server.
Speaking of such tools, GoodSync is a decent choice for this purpose. Founded by Siber Systems and worked till the stable releases in 2010, GoodSync has earned top place in the cloud synching product category. Siber is also founder of RoboForm, one of the top products for password management.
There are many features in the GoodSync from basic file transfer to file masking, file modification checks, scheduled transfer, running scripts, and many more.
Keep in mind once again that this is not a cloud storage program but only for backup and sync. They do provide 10 GB storage for registered users, the softwares mostly is not for novice users.
Regardless, we are going to review the software as per our guidelines, and make sure even novice users can absorb it. In the below review, we will test features of GoodSync and its cloud services.
To begin with, users need to get the GoodSync program from their official website. There are of number of version available for different platforms.
Based on the experience and usage, we would like users to take the desktop version for either mac or windows. This is especially for novice users to understand the working of application and it services first and then using it across different devices.
The users can grasp the features easily if they are a bit tech savvy. After the installation, you need to login into your GoodSync account. For testing purpose, we will begin with syncing between your desktop device and their cloud storage first.
GoodSync provides new users with a month of free trial storage over their cloud service. To begin with, users need to click the New Job button on the top of interface. This will pop up new window in which users can select the type of job they want i.e. only backup on remote server or backup/sync both.
Selecting either of them will lead users to a new window where they have to select the remote server, they want their data to be synced with. After the selection, process of upload and synching will begin. Since this process requires upload and download of data, we can test the transfer speeds too.
The users have many options to sync with e.g. any remote FTP server, P2P servers, clouds like Amazon, Azure, Mega, Google Docs, Blaze, Dropbox and many such options. In this way, users can enjoy these services.
In the following section, let us discuss about unique features of GoodSync one by one and review them. We will be focusing more on syncing and backup part of software since it is strictly not a cloud storage service.
The primary feature of any service aligned with cloud transfer is uploading and synchronization. Without this, the service cannot exist.
The procedure to do it is a cake walk. The users need to just create new task, select the job and simply add servers.
Once the server to be synced are selected, users can see task panel. On this panel, users need to select folder button. The path section can be random and will return two different results.
If users have selected only backup, select that server to backup on left side and target storage on the right. This is evident by the right pointing arrow.
Now for another chore, i.e. backup and sync. In this, users can see a double-sided arrow between folders. This means that users need to select anyone of them, upload the files in it and then the servers will automatically sync data between these two folders.
The above option are also available in cloud services upload with FTP or P2P file transfers. The users can also collaborate between internal Windows network and also WebDAV protocol.
Chained synchronization is another unique feature offered by GoodSync. In routine use, we usually change files in either of the connected servers and changes in any one are reflected across the other.
What to do when we want to do multiple synchronization like for folders Q, W, E, R, and T. In such a case, straight forward moving files from Q to T can be handled using the scheduled transfer, but what if the transfer is to be done among random folders from each of these?
Let’s say we want to transfer Q and W, followed by E and R and then T, or say changing E after W and R, T are synced. In such cases, we will use chain sync from GoodSync and use it for multiple, chained and scheduled transfer of files across the servers.
The file sharing done by GoodSync has a concept of conflict for files. These conflict actions is available after users have assigned the data to be transferred and used analyze function.
As the name implies, a conflict action occurs when users have made changes on both side of the storages. This confuses AI as to whom priority be given and which one to be replaced. The service initially employs no-copy action.
GoodSync produces three conflict types in this condition. In the first one, file is modified on both sides and can be resolved by sync button. The second conflict is vertical change conflict, under which users have removed files on one side and modified/removed on other side. This is also resolvable.
The ACL/ExtAttr conflict occurs when files on either side have differences of minor attributes but have same body size. This is also sometimes resolved via sync and many times both files can be corrupted.
The final conflict is the Case Conflict. As simple as it sounds, this issue is non-resolvable by GoodSync. There is only change in case letters in files across sides. The users need to manually correct this issue.
This shows that file transfer and synching system is very well constructed, and care is taken to maintain the file integrity and purity while transfer.
Overall, process of uploading and syncing is made for pro users, probably the ones that are more experienced in these stuffs. It is advisable for novice users to better understand cloud services and different file transfer protocols across internet before toying with GoodSync.
The main features have been already discussed above. Other than that, there are just minor features which we will discuss in short here.
In upload and sync section itself, GoodSync has provided version history facility. It can store up to any number of days. This may take high space if you go beyond monthly logs. Details from file name, memory cache, move and copy, delete details, etc. are stored in log folder on your devices.
GoodSync can copy various symbolic links, time shifts, drill downs, and attributes. These properties are useful in targeted file identification and its modification.
There is also a client-side encryption feature given in it. This client-side encryption is not so vast, yet it did decent job and maintained some security of these files. The encryption type is military standard AES-256 bit in which they asked us to input passcode itself.
The users need to input the passcode manually and it is used to encrypt the folders chosen. Another similar approach is adopted in files transfer.
Sometimes there are certain files that have security attribute attached to them. GoodSync makes sure to detect such attributes and not alter them in any way and gives a full-fledged file transfer.
They have used Block level data transfer method. Contrary to regular hard drive system, block level data transfer uses block of data to store data on its cloud storage. Based on this structure, it becomes more efficient in data storage and retrieving.
Due to separate blocks, each block can be seen as separate hard drive and can be controlled by remote servers. This can also support multiple format like NTFS, NFS, SMB and VMFS. The amount of control and reliability is way high in this type of storage service.
One more amazing feature under sharing is the portable device sharing. Users can also encrypt and share data across multiple portable devices. GoodSync uses combination of device ID and other identity feature to save device identity, so that next time you connect same device with different name, it will automatically detect it as the one synced with.
It can also adjust certain modifications like time shifts, symbol changes, etc. Since there is a MD5 assignment by default while any data transfer, files are always verified and any modification is warned, and so users can reupload it.
There is also browse dialog feature that is used to manage the credentials that you enter in the servers. The primary procedure of Browse Dialog is finding the source and target file system, checking for and approving required credentials and finally form a tree of the files and folders.
GoodSync basically comes across three major platforms viz, desktop, web and mobiles. All three platforms have their own dedicated apps. The users can use most of the app function via any platform.
The web interface is available in web browser via desktop or mobile devices. The web interface has coolest and minimal setup.
The web interface is primary for users that wish to create their account for GoodSync services. To access it, users just need to login into their GoodSync account.
There are five main navigation tabs in web interface viz. accounts, devices, licenses, servers, shares, storages, and support. There are a few minor tweaks given in this interface.
In the first tab of accounts section, users can view and modify their account details like registered Email ID, Phone Number, Password, Name, and OTP status. The users can configure TFA authentication here itself.
The users can add either the Email or phone SMS to authenticate the login along with user ID and password. There is also a merge account option given in this section where the users can merge two accounts. The subscription of either accounts can be passed over to one another via the support help.
The succeeding part is the devices section. As the name suggests, this section is used to monitor usage of various devices for an account. The section only displays minimal info regarding the login status, generated IDs, browser type, first and last seen and OTP logins.
Honestly, this info can be better arranged, and we felt that reading it itself made us feel stressed. They can create a much better UI for Logs section in the web interface. This UI must not only have the login data, but also any changes made in the account, total data transfer, types and name of files transfer, option to blacklist a device, etc.
Here comes most used and detailed interface of GoodSync, a desktop UI. The desktop UI is the modest to use and it consists of many features apart from the one discussed above.
When you first sign up for the GoodSync account, users will be prompted to download the product for their respective devices. The users now need to choose the desktop UI. Sign in your account on this UI and then begin synching data across various servers.
As we have hinted earlier, this UI is going to take novice users for a bumpy ride but with practice, it will be piece of cake to use.
GoodSync has described any process or task to be completed as Job. This job just consists of either simple backup or backup & sync , moving files from one server to another, etc.
The initial screen of Desktop UI will show users will list of pending jobs. If all tasks are finished, it will just show a blank screen with Add New Job button.
The top navigation bar is the place where most of the options are given for task. It begins with new job button, followed by new group button, autorun, analyze, sync, folder to be interacted, and general settings. This shows a simplistic access on well-designed UI for easy navigation.
The left side navigation bar will list out all jobs, whether complete or incomplete. The jobs will be listed in as per assigned groups. The users need to click on the job name that they want to proceed with.
The first step is to select the folders amid which users need to carry out the transfer task. Once these folders are selected, they will be deployed in top bar. The bar has been designed to accommodate the symbols like Gdrive, Mega, Dropbox, etc. for visual understanding purpose.
The sharing pathway for both folders is displayed properly. The central panel, that will display sharing process has the most detailed listings as we have seen so far. The central panel has three places to display different info while the transfer is done.
The central space displays transfer procedure with transfer speed, status, files list and so on. The bottom space is for log generation during data transfer. The top right space displays the filters that can be used to sort certain items while transferring hidden folders, etc.
Overall, the sheer amount of data generated on screen is amazing and shows some dedication from developers to aid in generating live feedback for users. From connection logs to transfer logs, authentication logs and small tasks like rename, copy, move, etc. are also generated.
Both Analyze and Sync feature worked properly in our usage. As mid-level users, we think that the UI was not bothersome if users knew process beforehand else, they may need some more practice.
There may be times when you want GoodSync to automatically synchronize data and sometimes you would not want to do that. The developers have given a solution for that too via auto-transfer button.
To start auto transfer, there are certain triggers that owners can select. The users can select from options e.g. file alteration, folders connect, GoodSync start, or any type of scheduled transfer.
The users can select it to run in background too, along with option of auto clocking transfer, and auto resolving conflicts. As you can see, these features are not given in dedicated cloud products.
There are some more items that users can choose to create a much better UI experience. The users can check these options in general settings section. The general settings have some unique features where users can add scripts, change the folder behaviors, etc.
The script section is quite interesting and offers some unique functionality for advanced users. The scripts section helps advanced users generate some automated actions via scripts. The users can generate Emails, send them, sync items, etc. with these scripts.
The scripts have certain configurations that users need to follow and are displayed under the Scripts section itself. The users can engage these scripts either pre or post analysis, with or without changes. The post sync can be configured for things like sending errors or reports to you Emails, etc.
There is also an option to change the left and right-side folder functionalities. In both these tabs, users can change comparison attributes which checks file during transfer. The users can choose to list GSdata folder, folder tree while analyze, etc. as the exotic features.
The client-side AES -256-bit encryption is also available here. The users can either compress or decompress NTFS data or FAT data. This feature can be handy for high security purpose on board. This compression is not available on the cloud side and limited to PC based client-side storages.
The other links on profile menu like new, rename, delete, manage GoodSync account and users, etc., don’t offer much. The readers can try to tweak around some of these settings after a backup only else the files may be rejected and deleted.
When it comes to mobile interface, GoodSync has very least to offer compared to its other two interfaces. On Android and iOS, there is only GoodSync Explorer app available in the store.
This app is basically an explorer version of the GoodSync app in phones. The users still need to use desktop app to properly configure and use backup feature of mobile app.
Just as discussed earlier, create a new backup job and select the device that you have signed in from. There will be an option to select folders to backup on desktop app. Just select them and then it will auto backup them on given servers.
As we can see that mobile interface is only for name sake and is used only to link and view synced folders. They could have added some more functions like directly allowing to access photo and video directories of camera and other such apps, allow separate backup of things like docs, apk files, etc. we can only hope to see more option in future, till then the mobile app is not worth the trouble.
When it comes to the security of data while transfer, we are aware of how dangerous MITM attacks can be and to prevent them users mostly rely on secure modes of transfer used by cloud services. Most cloud services now use an SSL/TSL file transfer protocol.
Being not a full-time cloud service, GoodSync cannot guarantee the security of data servers that you choose, which don’t support encrypted data. Security check in cloud transfer services are very different.
These services mainly connect to computers and begin transfer. Any exploit over any side can affect the other side automatically. But then, how do I protect my data across non secure channels?
For non-secure channels, there is client-side encryption given by GoodSync to encrypt data and then transfer it. However, this might not be enough sometimes. The users can check list of devices using GoodSync services.
While data is connected to essential cloud servers, encryption is as per those cloud services. GoodSync won’t interfere in that unless specified. Honestly speaking, there is not much you can do with transfer services.
The internal projects and tasks are protected by GoodSync and so users need not to worry about them. To generate a highly secured route for your data transfer, the owners need to contact customer supports, who will guide customers as per the local norms and a best suited method and cloud services for it.
Finally, users are endowed with support from different types of file transfer protocol like FTP, SFTP, WebDAV, etc., which are compatible with most of the security algorithms in market. Overall, users need to either get a solution from GoodSync team or have one for themselves as security purpose.
Overall, it is not much of a trouble if you are careful to choose encrypted servers to exchange the data. Besides, same company is the founder of RoboForm, a password management tool, so privacy is very inherently expected of these products.
As we have gone through each and every feature of GoodSync, we will be discussing the finale now. Based on name of the product, GoodSync has lived up to its name and given some good features and easy to use interface across its top platforms.
The UI was bit complicated in the start but with use, users can cope up to it easily. The details on transfer panel were amazing and the users can do most of cloud storage and exchange stuff with ease.
The pricing are bit expensive for the Server OS and File server version but as per our review, the base backup plan is more than enough for small businesses and is ok for them. Number of cloud services integrated can certainly be increased or a feature to initiate login and transfer for non-inbuilt clouds must be present.
However, we would certainly like users to first use trial version of the product and then go with costly plans. In our conclusion, it is worth to try the product if you are happy with a simple cloud connecting service.