Last week, cloud-storage service SugarSync announced plans to stop offering free accounts and close all existing ones. That probably came as a shock to anyone who's enjoyed the company's 5GB of gratis file sharing, syncing, and backup.
Alas, as of February 8, 2014, you'll either have to pony up for a paid account or take your files elsewhere. Thankfully, if you decide to pursue the latter option, it shouldn't be too difficult to make the move. Here's everything you need to know.
The first step is to take a hard look at everything stored in your SugarSync account. In theory, whatever's online should also be on your PC (because of that whole "syncing" thing), but you'll want to check SugarSync's Magic Briefcase and Web Archive folders to make sure there are no files you uploaded (and then deleted) from your hard drive.
Ultimately, you want an inventory of the files and folders you've synced so you can sync the same ones to the new service. To see a complete list, open the SugarSync desktop client or the SugarSync Drive folder. And if you sync to other PCs and/or devices, you may have additional files there that aren't synced to your primary machine. Again, make a list of everything you find.
Download anything you don't have stored locally
If you do find files in the Magic Briefcase and/or Web Archive folders that don't have local copies, you'll want to download them before your free SugarSync account gets closed. Before you do, though, check for stuff you no longer need or want; this might be the ideal time to weed out old and unnecessary files.
The easiest retrieval option is to open the SugarSync Drive folder on your computer, navigate to Web Archive, select all your files, then drag and drop them to a local folder. But you can also use the Web client: Open Web Archive, click the Select All button, then click Download. Keep in mind that SugarSync will deliver a single file called Files.zip that you'll need to extract somewhere before resyncing with the new cloud service.
Choose a new cloud
There are any number of services -- Box, Dropbox, MediaFire, etc. -- that can take SugarSync's place, especially if all you want is a few gigabytes of free online storage. However, surprisingly few emulate one of SugarSync's best features: automatic syncing of any folder(s) you choose, not just a single, designated folder.
With that in mind, I recommend replacing SugarSync with Bitcasa, which not only matches that enviable feature (here known as "mirroring"), but also matches SugarSync's 5GB of free storage. In addition, you can earn lots more just by installing desktop and mobile apps and referring friends to the service: each person who signs up for an account nets you an extra 1GB of free space (up to 20GB max).
Obviously you can choose another service if you prefer; the key steps in this process remain the same.
Set up your sync
Once you're up and running with a new cloud-storage service, do just what you did when you started with SugarSync: Install the desktop software, sign into your account, then choose the folders you want to sync.
With Bitcasa, you can designate any folder for syncing (sorry, mirroring) by opening Windows Explorer, navigating to the folder you want, right-clicking it, and then choosing Bitcasa > Mirror this folder to Bitcasa. Wash, rinse, and repeat for all your other folders.
Turn off SugarSync
Once you've verified that all your files have been uploaded/synced to Bitcasa, you can disable and then uninstall the SugarSync client. Note that on my system, I was able to keep both running simultaneously, even syncing the same folders to the two services. But I don't recommend doing that for long, as if you make changes elsewhere to a file or files, you could run into sync conflicts and possibly even file corruption.
Now that all that's out of the way, hit the comments and vote for the service you think is the best replacement for SugarSync.