A lot of file sharing solutions offer file sync tools. While sync can be nice for personal use, it can wreak havoc on any IT professional’s day in a business setting. Whether that’s user error, provider error, slow bandwidth or a hardware problem, it will always be an IT bottleneck. These are major reasons why we don’t do file sync here at SmartFile. File sync has become an unnecessary annoyance on IT and causes more problems than it solves.
In this article, you’ll discover 10 reasons why file sync sucks, and we’ll give you a few smarter alternatives. The goal? To give an IT pro some ammunition the next time management in your business demands file syncing!
File Sync Sucks Reason #1: Users Don’t Understand
File sync is designed to update files across multiple machines. A machine might be your cloud file sharing provider, it might be your PC and it might be your laptop. Users think that changes should be posted immediately to these locations, despite file size and bandwidth limitations. That’s when they become the squeaky wheel. They submit tickets. They go to your manager. They call you on the phone.
They want to know why their 1GB document isn’t immediately synced to their iPad located in their basement which is in the middle of nowhere running on 3G internet with minimal signal strength. Since they don’t have the most up-to-date version, they either stop all work or they start over, costing the business money in wasted productivity every second. That multiplies as soon as someone listens to their complaint or sees their ticket.
File sync isn’t an instantaneous tool. A number of variables can slow down backup. For instance, it could be a bad connection for a single device. It could be slow connection speeds on the device which caused the change. It could be a bad day for the service itself. Your employees don’t know that, but they won’t care, it’s still your fault or the “stupid computer’s fault.”
File Sync Sucks Reason #2: File Conflicts
“What happened to all my changes? They were here yesterday?!”, screams your accounting specialist. Little do they know, the CFO grabbed the whole file before she synced and overrode her changes.
Yes, each solution might have an answer for this. Using the delta between file versions is smart, but it takes a lot of processing power and slows down the sync (refer to Reason #1 for why that’s bad). Complete file versioning is good, but it does mean looking at individual records and finding the best one, so someone might lose out but at least you can go copy and paste your changes back. Other tools allow you to collaborate together inside their interface on a file, but that’s been known to create errors that force a refresh, sometimes losing hours worth of changes.
Overall, file conflicts are a major headache, and if a team consistently collaborates on files, file sync will let you down over and over again.
File Sync Sucks Reason #3: Application Errors
Some tools use a desktop application to sync files. It will typically be visible in a system notification area. If this desktop tool goes down for any reason, you can see entire files be created and edited that won’t sync. This frustrates the end user, which again takes us to the first reason why file sync sucks.
File Sync Sucks Reason #4: Accidental Deletes
Deleting a file is bad, even if it just goes to the user’s recycle bin. Even with an alert informing the employee about deleting the file, the employee might continue, not knowing who needs to access that file. On the other hand, they might think they’re just deleting the file from their individual machine, and expect it to be on other devices.
A lot of tools are around that can mitigate this issue, but these solutions don’t always work and create additional work for IT administrators.
File Sync Sucks Reason #5: Accidental Moves
Someone working on their native machine might accidentally move a file. Unlike deleting a file, this could occur just by clicking and dragging the wrong thing at the wrong time. The major problem here isn’t that item moving.
The bigger issue is when someone moves an entire folder — with dozens, if not hundreds, of subfolders, all containing tons of files. This enormous delete then eats into your bandwidth, as the files are moved. It can cause numerous sync problems as people edit files on their local machines. Finally, you have to find the folder and move it back to its normal spot, causing the same headache all over again just to fix the problem.
Worse yet? If the person didn’t realize they moved the folder, and you need to have IT find it. By the way, this is where granular permissions, file notifications, advanced reporting and audit logs are important, something SmartFile can deliver. Learn more about it here and get a free trial to check it out.
Again, this is where you’ll hear lots of employee complaints and tickets being submitted. In all fairness here, tools that don’t do sync might also have a problem, but it won’t be anywhere near as large. SmartFile can provide the native file explorer through webDAV or our Desktop Connector, but sync does not occur. This means if someone does accidentally move the folder, just move it back. There is no sync between hundreds or possibly thousands of endpoints, saving you time and getting you up and running quicker.
File Sync Sucks Reason #6: Not a True Backup
File sync isn’t a true backup, nor should it be used as such. If you need copies of storage in another area, use a true backup tool, run an FTP script or do selective replication at certain time intervals.
A backup should be available easily. That means a cloud backup is smart, but you also need one that’s located on your network in case the cloud goes down. Given the sync problems we’ve already discussed, it’s clearly not a viable backup given versioning and user-created problems.
File Sync Sucks Reason #6: Ransomware Acceleration
Ransomware is a real threat. Now imagine your employee falls for a social engineering attack and downloads one of the many forms of ransomware. The ransomware goes through the user’s file system and stumbles upon synced files. The virus then encrypts those files and continues to sync its way through the other documents on the file sync tool.
There is hope. For most tools, there is a rollback feature. However, if your employee used a browser-based file portal like SmartFile has to offer to access to their shared files on any device, then your files would be safer. To be fair, they could upload the ransomware virus, but that doesn’t mean it will get everything else, depending on the type of ransomware.
File Sync Sucks Reason #7: A Solid Internet Connection
Since you are constantly syncing files back and forth, you need a very reliable internet connection. If you’re syncing massive files and your connection drops for any reason, you might see errors in the newly uploaded file. Again, there might be some recovery options, but that will likely go through your provider or your IT administrator.
File Sync Sucks Reason #8: Access Concerns
Do you have an IT employee termination checklist (if not, click here to get a free one)? You need to ensure all the synced files are off of ALL of their devices. Even if an employee left on good terms, there is still a risk of your data being compromised by malicious software on one of these devices.
Access is a problem for any type of tool, but because synced files can spread so quickly, it becomes a much larger problem for file sync tools. Ensure you have the ability to lock down all those files or erase that data from devices. Even then, you might still have some files floating out there that were converted to a local file on their machine.
File Sync Sucks Reason #9: Storage Hurdles
No one likes to hear that they’re out of space on a machine. But if a designer uploads tons of folders with massive files and that syncs to your machine, another employee might quickly discover their out of space on a machine. This creates more tickets, as the employee in question wonders what could be going on. After some discovery, IT would identify the issue but still there is a lot of wasted company time.
File Sync Sucks Reason #10: There is No Undo Button
As you’ve heard throughout this article, a lot of these issues force IT or the cloud provider to rollback. There is no simple “undo” option for the employee who may have realized they made a mistake.
While most tools, including SmartFile, are absent of this button, file sync tools multiply this issue hundreds of times, depending on the amount of files, folders, endpoints and individuals affected.
So File Sync Sucks, What Do I Do?
First, ask yourself if your business really needs file sync. If you don’t, move to another tool. Save yourself countless company time, money and resources by using a tool that is more flexible for your business, like SmartFile. Whether you’re an enterprise with an on-premises requirement or a smaller team looking for a cloud tool, we’ve got you covered. If you’re looking for cloud, click here for a free trial. If you’re looking for on-premises solutions, use the button below.
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