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What Is File Synchronization And Who Needs It?

Jao Gavino
May 25, 2024


Have you ever gone on a vacation for a week and then come back completely lost about all of the changes made to various office documents? Have you forgotten which device or USB stick you saved an important spreadsheet on? Don’t worry, plenty of people have, and lucky for you, there’s a solution: file syncing!


File syncing helps keep your files up-to-date between multiple devices; it can even show you which people made which changes to a file! Syncing can be done on a one-way or two-way basis, and it is highly reliant on cloud computing technology. With file syncing, all of the issues above will be a thing of the past!


Read on, and we’ll explore how file syncing works as well as what exactly one- and two-way syncing are. As a bonus, we’ll even provide you with our top recommendations for the best cloud storage providers for file syncing!



What is File Syncing?


laptops and desktop sync

File syncing ensures that you’re able to access the same version of a file—regardless of what device you’re using.


File synchronization or file syncing is a process that ensures that a file remains updated, even when it is changed and accessed across multiple devices. Consider the following example:


You work at a small business, and you have a spreadsheet that contains all of the business’ clients and pending orders. However, you’ve decided to take a week off work. Luckily, file syncing ensures that all of the changes that are made to this file are applied to all of its copies.


So, when you come back from your week-long break, all of the changes made by your boss or coworkers to this spreadsheet will be applied: all the clients that they’ve added to the spreadsheet while you were gone will be there, and all of the new and fulfilled orders will be listed, ensuring that you’ll be able to get back to work without any fuss.


File syncing accomplishes this by monitoring the file within a network and updating it whenever changes are made. Specialized software enables computers on this network to sync up their files, allowing users to effectively “share” this file across the network.



How Does File Syncing Work?


server side caching

Cloud servers ensure that your files are synced and up-to-date at all times.


Diving into the more technical side of things, file syncing works by keeping two or more copies of data synchronized. When you sync files, you’re ensuring that all of your devices (or all of the devices on a network) have access to the same information at all times.


As we’ve mentioned, synchronization helps keep files up-to-date and ensures that no important information gets lost in transit or on one device over another.


There are numerous ways to sync your files, but the most commonly used method involves using the cloud—an online network of servers that store and send out data. Files are synced up by software that connects to the cloud and confirms that your copy of a file is up-to-date. If it finds an outdated copy, it simply updates your version of the file to the latest one.


One-Way and Two-Way Synchronization


classification of file synchronization

File synchronization is generally classified into one-way and two-way synchronization.
(Credit: DryvIQ)


File synchronization software generally works in two ways:


One-way synchronization works by having a master version of a file hosted on a primary device. Any changes that are made to this master version on the primary device are copied over all of the other versions of the file on secondary devices.


But unlike the changes made to the master version on the primary device, all of the changes made on the secondary devices are not copied over to the master version.


On the other hand, two-way synchronization, as its name implies, works both ways: any changes made to a file are synced up across all devices, and there are no primary and secondary devices, nor is there a master file.


Various use cases call for either method, and system administrators and IT personnel can choose whichever model best suits their business’ or client’s needs.



The Benefits of Syncing Your Files


As you can glean from the previous sections, syncing your files offers numerous benefits, and here are some of them:


  1. You can access your files from any device—whether it’s at home in front of your laptop or on the go with your smartphone (provided you have an Internet connection).
  2. You’ll always have access to the latest version of a file, without having to manually download that file (and without getting confused as to what the actual latest version is)!
  3. File syncing allows you to easily collaborate on projects with other people—whether you’re sitting next to each other in an office building or working across several time zones. With two-way sync, all edits made by one party are automatically applied within seconds for everyone else involved in those discussions.
  4. One-way synchronization allows you to easily control the versions of a file—you won’t have to worry about any rogue or erroneous edits, as only the master version of a file matters.


With all of these benefits (and very affordable pricing, which we’ll get into in the next section), there’s never been a better time to start syncing up your files!



The Best Cloud Storage Providers for File Syncing


You may have quickly googled for the best cloud storage services, but the results may have been less than helpful. Fret not! Here are the top 3 cloud storage providers that we’ve found for your file syncing needs:


1. pCloud


pCloud homepage

PCloud offers a comprehensive cloud storage feature set.


pCloud (10 GB of free storage, premium version starts at $4.17 per month for 500 GB of storage) is a highly versatile cloud storage solution, offering features such as online backups, virtual drives, and yes, file syncing!


It is very easy to use, allowing you to keep your files safe and synced with minimal effort. Files are automatically synced once you log in, regardless of what device you’re using.


2. homepage is a cloud storage provider for the more security-minded. (5 GB of free storage, paid option starts at $8 per month for 2 TB of storage) is a cloud storage platform that boasts a hefty catalog of security and privacy features, coupled with a user-friendly interface that allows you to easily sort and sync your files.


With a name like, file synchronization is one of this cloud storage service’s most touted features, allowing a team to effortlessly collaborate and track any revisions in real time. It also allows you to control who can view and edit files as well as see any previous version of a file, ensuring that you can easily revert any erroneous edits.


3. Dropbox


Dropbox homepage

Dropbox is a popular cloud storage service with a sizable selection of file-syncing features.


Dropbox (2 GB of free storage, $9.99 per month for 2 terabytes of storage) is one of the big names in the cloud storage scene, and it offers multiple user-friendly features (and yes, that includes file syncing). It gives real-time updates on any revisions made to a file, allowing you to track who made what edits.



File Synchronized Success!


File syncing is well-suited for collaborative projects or simply ensuring that you’re working on the latest version of a file. With your files synchronized, you’ll keep your files up-to-date and never miss out on any changes anytime, anywhere!