It's not hard to imagine someone relying on more than one device and online account to store and manage data. Sometimes, it's important to have at least some part of the data that we work with on a daily basis synced between all of these devices and online storage accounts.
As such, all kinds of syncing tools have been developed, allowing us to access copies of remote files anytime, anywhere, and on countless devices. SyncMate is one such tool, created to synchronize data between your Mac and a large number of devices and cloud storage accounts at once.
SyncMate is not only designed to encompass as many platforms, accounts and devices as possible, but to sync a wide variety of data as well: folders, contacts, Calendar events, Safari Bookmarks, Entourage notes, stickies, to-do / reminders, and more.
It is available as a free edition that only syncs contacts and Calendar events, as a more comprehensive Expert edition ($39.95), and as a Plus edition ($19.99) from the App Store, which doesn't allow syncing with iOS devices.
We've tested the Expert edition and the amount of RAM it consumed on our Mac was moderate, about 100 MB, it barely took any CPU power, and the installation consisted of dragging the application to the local disk.
SyncMate comes with a neatly organized and native OS X user interface featuring colorful icons. The upper panel allows you to access the remote devices / accounts and the left sidebar includes the plug-ins, which is what the developers named each type of data that can be synced as well as the other sync options.
However, the main panel where you can select the sync directions and view other files that you can sync was a little irritating to work with. The heavy usage of drop-down menus was quite bothering because it involved too many clicks when selecting something.
Additionally, the drop-down menus also impaired our view on the options we were selecting. They are also used when accessing options such as local / remote folders to sync, conversion settings, etc.
What irked us even further were the small check boxes for toggling the devices, accounts and plug-ins, an unimportant aspect at first sight.
In reality, when using several plug-ins and devices, a lot of selecting and deselecting is involved. Clicking on multiple check boxes in a hurry hindered us and, at times, we've left them checked when, in fact, we wanted to uncheck them.
Overall, working with eight devices / accounts and several types of synchronizations options in a rush was a bit difficult. However, if you sync with fewer devices and use only a couple of plug-ins, then the small check boxes and drop-down menus shouldn't bother you, theoretically.
SyncMate is a universal solution for keeping the data on your Mac in sync with numerous devices and online accounts. In our tests, we've used eight different remote locations.
At first, we've started a connection with another iMac with Mountain Lion via Ethernet. Establishing a connection was easy since our iMac was discovered instantly thanks to the zero-configuration networking support (Bonjour). If there are more Macs / PCs in your network, you can select them from a drop-down menu.
You can also add a connection manually by specifying the IP address or DNS name of the remote Mac. In addition, a connection password can be assigned for security purposes.
The application did what it is supposed to do when attempting to sync contacts, calendar events, to-do / reminders, Safari bookmarks, and folders. As far as the folder to folder option goes, you will be able to sync content between as many folder pairs as you wish.
Moreover, the synchronization direction can be handled in three ways: reciprocally, from your Mac to the other, or from the other side to your Mac. We didn't encounter errors with any of these sync directions, and the transfer was quite fast.
For media files, SyncMate provides a separate plug-in called "Pictures, Videos & Music." You can use it to sync iTunes playlists along with media files and to convert several types of music files (to .mp3 and .wav), videos (to various formats) and images before syncing them.
Syncing pairs of multimedia folders went well, but the conversion sometimes didn't reach its end. The overused drop-down menus come into play here as well and made it more difficult to configure the conversion settings.
When you stress the application too much (switch folders, set the wrong configuration for a particular conversion type, etc.), it simply refuses to convert and even sync – in exceptional cases – your media files. After an application restart and another correct configuration, it will work properly.
Moreover, during synchronizations, a small status window is displayed and, unfortunately, you can't use other functions of the application while the sync takes place.
In addition, you are provided with several configurable auto-sync options that had to be included, after all, and worked as expected in our tests. Data can be synced at any time interval, so long as the target location is available.
Furthermore, syncing with a Windows 7 PC is quite different. In our tests, nothing went wrong with installing the PC client and establishing a connection with our iMac, and we've successfully synced contacts, folders and Safari bookmarks to Internet Explorer and Google Chrome.
With Firefox, the utility kept refusing to sync after a first unsuccessful sync attempt caused by the fact that Firefox was open. It kept refusing even after we closed Firefox and the connection settings were set properly.
Syncing with Dropbox and a mounted device did not quite go as anticipated. Although syncing files and folders didn't cause any problems, doing so with contacts, calendar events, to-do / reminders and Safari bookmarks, had a rather unexpected outcome.
It created a hidden folder named 'SyncMate' containing back-up files (the ones that end in ".data") for each of the aforementioned information. This means that SyncMate does not 'sync' contacts, events, to-dos / reminders and Safari Bookmarks with Dropbox and a mounted device, but it creates back-ups.
Nevertheless, it's not a bad way of creating back-ups, since the application managed to restore our contacts, events, etc., after we chose to transfer back the data on Dropbox and the mounted device to our Mac. One might expect, though, for SyncMate to create HTML files for bookmarks, vCards for contacts, and so on, but it doesn't.
Another great feature is the Android access and sync option. Establishing a connection via Wi-fi was really easy, as usual. Besides syncing the contacts, calendar events, and folders on our Mac with the ones on an Android phone (a GT-S5360), it also allowed us to read and manage our SMS messages and call history.
The messages and call entries are neatly organized and easy to delete, read, copy, and so on. What's more, it can also turn your phone's SD card into a mounted disk allowing you to easily access your phone's files and folders.
Note that the mounted disk is seen as a server, so you have to make sure you've toggled 'show Connected servers' from the General tab of the Finder's Preferences, in order to be visible on your Mac's desktop.
On the downside, SyncMate failed to establish a connection through a USB cable, even with all settings correctly configured.
We've also connected the utility with Google and iCloud. All contacts and calendar events were successfully synced with the Google / iCloud calendar and contacts.
Connecting to devices and accounts was effortless and SyncMate synced most of the data that it supports quickly and accurately. Besides allowing us to sync contacts, reminders, events, and Safari bookmarks, it also synced files in pairs of folders.
The fact that you can access your Android phone is also a great advantage. In addition, the automatic synchronization feature offers a great workflow boost and it’s quite flexible.
First of all, the drop-down menu selection options slowed us down when testing with multiple devices and plug-ins. Moreover, we felt that it needed a better way to allow users to distinguish between checked / unchecked devices and plug-ins than just small check boxes.
The fact that you can't use the application during synchronizations is another drawback. On top of this, the documentation is rather poor, and, in some cases, you might not know what type of data was copied on remote devices or cloud storage accounts, such as Dropbox or mounted devices.
SyncMate has its ups and downs, but it definitely gets the job done. We were confused at first by the partially missing documentation, but we've ultimately managed to put it to good use.
It might not be the easiest or perfect conversion solution for your media files and sometimes it might refuse to sync data because it wasn't configured as strict as it needs to be, or when you stress it too much.
However, the great number of supported devices and accounts, the auto sync feature and phone data access function makes SyncMate worthy of closer scrutiny.
Here are some snapshots of the application in action: