What Does Sync Mean and How to Sync Your Files?

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Deyan Georgiev
Written by
Deyan Georgiev

Updated · Sep 11, 2023

Deyan Georgiev
Website Manager | Joined October 2021 | LinkedIn
Deyan Georgiev

Deyan is an avid enthusiast and self-proclaimed fan of the Windows operating system. His passion for... | See full bio

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Girlie Defensor
Joined June 2023
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Synchronization of files and data involves integrating information between different devices or software. When files get synced, you don’t lose anything by switching computers. If your physical computer breaks down, your files will still be available on another computer.   

Syncing uses cloud storage. Cloud storage is a central repository where your files are kept safe on remote servers. When you change a file on one device, the cloud storage system sends the updated version to the server.  It ensures the most up-to-date and accurate data is available across all platforms. 


Sync is a shortcut for synchronization, which means data is consistent and accessible on two or more devices. When you synchronize files, such as images and videos, they become readily accessible on multiple devices.

In this article, you’ll learn what sync means, specifically:

  • How does syncing work?
  • Benefits of syncing.
  • How do you sync across different platforms?
  • Challenges and considerations when syncing.

Key Takeaways:

🔑 Syncing guarantees that the most recent and accurate data is available across all platforms

🔑 Data synchronization is about establishing consistency among the systems and continuously syncing to maintain consistency.

🔑 Synchronization is available on your phone, computer, and macOS. 

🔑 Cloud storage makes syncing exchanges possible.

🔑 Data syncing can help you access your files and data on any platform or device.  

The Basics of Syncing

Syncing is crucial in modern technology because it enables seamless data integration, accessibility, and collaboration. It is a vital component that binds together the current digital ecosystem. It helps people maximize devices, apps, and services while keeping data consistent, up-to-date, and accessible. 

The sorts of data that can be subject to synchronization include the following: 

  • files and documents 
  • photos and videos
  • contacts 
  • calendar and events 
  • emails 
  • browser data  
  • notes and reminders 
  • app data 
  • music and media 
  • health and fitness data 
  • settings and preferences 
  • messaging ad chats 
  • location and map data

Read on to learn more about how synchronization works and the role of cloud storage in the process. 

How Does Syncing Work?

Syncing requires data transmission and exchange to reflect changes on other devices. This process is made possible through cloud storage.

Cloud storage stores manages, and syncs data across multiple devices, ensuring data consistency, conflict resolution, and maintaining version history. Some examples of cloud storage are: 

  • Dropbox 
  • Google Drive 
  • Amazon Drive 
  • iCloud 
  • Microsoft OneDrive 

Sync can be one-way or two-way. One-way synchronization (mirroring) sends files from your source platform to your destination. It allows you to copy files from the source to the destination. But you can't do it the other way around. 

One way and two-way synchronization

On the other hand, two-way synchronization pulls and pushes files in both directions from both systems. You can copy files in both directions, tweak content on any device, and expect the latest version to overwrite older ones.

Learn how you can benefit from setting up syncing in the next section. 

💡Did You Know?

When you sync TikTok with Facebook, you can find and follow friends and family on the app. You can also find new creators and pages through Facebook connections.

Benefits of Syncing

Data syncing can be a helpful approach to ensuring you have access to your files and data on whatever platform or device you are using. 

It improves productivity, collaboration, and data security by ensuring that information is the same on all devices and places. 

Syncing data offers many benefits, including the following: 

  • Consistency: It ensures that records and files are consistent and that primary storage changes are applied efficiently to the target system. 
  • Accessibility: Synchronizing data helps maintain consistency between two or more data sources. 
  • Removes data silos: Data syncing lets people and departments access data without requesting access every time. Eliminating data silos enables the organization to manage and use data effectively. 
  • Collaboration: Multiple users can work on the same documents simultaneously and instantly distribute changes.
  • Prevents extensive data entry: It eliminates the monotony of manually entering data and making changes, which can be time-consuming. 
  • Offline Access: Some syncing systems support offline access. Upon restoration of your internet connection, any changes you made while offline are synced.  
  • Version control: Other syncing services provide version history, allowing you to revert to previous versions of the files or documents when needed. 
  • Reduced data loss: Continuous syncing ensures up-to-date data after initial backups.  

The following section goes over how to sync across platforms.  

How to Sync Across Different Platforms

In today's digital world, synchronizing data and information across multiple platforms can be critical for maintaining consistency and productivity. It keeps things consistent and allows you to work more efficiently, especially when switching between devices or collaborating. 

Here are some general steps and methods to help you achieve synchronization across various platforms: 

Syncing Your Phone

When you sync your phone, you save your files and data in the cloud to make them available on another device. Syncing on your phone is specifically helpful in retrieving your contacts, photos, videos, and more when you switch phones. 

✅Pro Tip:

Set up automatic syncing to keep your data on all your devices up to date without doing it manually. 

To sync your data, follow the steps below for Android or iOS smartphones. 


Data sync on Android usually involves Google services but can also be done using other apps. Using Google, you can auto-update the following types of information on the cloud: 

  • Contacts 
  • Calendar and events 
  • Bookmarks 
  • App data
  • Photos and videos 
  • Payment methods and offers on Google Play 
  • Reading list
  •  Search history 
  • Settings 
  • Passwords 
  • Messaging 
  • Search history 

To set up syncing on Android, follow the steps below: 

  1. Launch the Chrome App
  2. Go to Settings
  3. Turn on Sync

Google sync on Android phone 

After that, you can see your synced data on other devices as long as you are logged in to your Google account. It would help if you also turned on sync on the other devices.

This method uses a passphrase to encrypt your data to add more security to Android syncing. Adding a solid password secures your sync information so no one in Google can read it. 

To check the sync status, do the following: 

  1. Open the Settings app on your phone. 
  2. Scroll down and tap on Accounts or User and Accounts
  3. Tap your Google account
  4. You will see a list of synced services and their status. 

Sync everything on Android


You have two options to synchronize your iOS devices: iTunes and iCloud. Of the two, iCloud is the more convenient choice, as it lets you sync from any location with an internet connection.

Syncing your iPhone or iPad using iCloud saves the following:

  • Data backup 
  • Photo and video sync 
  • Contacts and calendar 
  • iCloud drive sync 
  • Mail, notes, and reminders 
  • Safari bookmarks and reading list
  • Messages 
  • Keychain 
  • Health and Home data information
  • Find My iPhone 

Here’s how to sync using iCloud:

1. On the first device, access Settings.

2. By tapping your name, the Apple ID screen will appear. 

3. Pick iCloud.

iPhone settings for iCloud

4. Toggle on the content and app categories you intend to sync between your iPhone and iPad.

iPhone Apps using iCloud on phone settings

5. Repeat everything on the second device.


You need a stable Wi-Fi connection for syncing to work correctly.  To improve your connection, flash your router to improve its performance and get better connectivity and network coverage. 

Syncing on a Computer

Syncing files on your computer means making them available in the cloud so that you can access them from anywhere. When synchronized, files are automatically updated in both locations and across all devices with access to your cloud storage account.

You may need to get the desktop app for the cloud storage you like. Luckily, most work on different systems. For instance, Google Drive works seamlessly on Windows or macOS. 

Here’s how to sync data on Windows and MacOS. 


Changes, however, won't be synced to other devices or stored in your Google account.

1. Your files will instantly sync to the cloud after you log in to your Microsoft account

2. Install OneDrive on your other computer to access your files from anywhere. 

3. To sync individual files or folders, drag-and-drop or copy-paste them into your OneDrive folder. 

You should be able to see the exact contents when you open your account using the browser-based OneDrive app.


For macOS, transferring files and data via computer is done via iCloud. To do this, here are the steps: 

1. Go to the Apple menu.

2. Choose System Preferences.

3. Hit Apple ID if visible, or sign in first with your Apple ID and password.

4. Click iCloud.

5. Select or deselect apps and files you want to store on the cloud.

If you decide not to use iCloud, you’ll need a third-party app to synchronize your Macs. In the next chapter, you will learn the difficulties and factors to consider when syncing. 

💡Did You Know?

There were more than 100 million Mac users worldwide by the beginning of 2023. Despite its growth, Apple's macOS remains a niche desktop OS. 

Syncing: Challenges and Considerations 

Syncing data across devices and services can come with various challenges and considerations, especially regarding security and privacy concerns. 

Here’s a list of some of the challenges and considerations you might encounter when syncing: 

  • Security glitches: Technical glitches or vulnerabilities may expose data to security breaches, making you fall victim to cyberattacks. Private information is susceptible to misuse and can quickly end up in the wrong hands. . 
  • Incompatibility: Different devices, software versions, and file formats can cause syncing problems. 
  • Updating delays: There might be some delays in syncing updates across devices, which causes inconsistencies in available data. 
  • Data loss: In some cases, syncing may lead to accidental data loss if files are deleted or modified without proper backups. 
  • Conflicts: When the same file is edited on multiple devices simultaneously, disputes may arise, leading to the need to resolve discrepancies. 
  • Slow performance: Large files or slow internet connections can lead to slow syncing. This can affect overall device performance. 
  • Storage space: Syncing can consume local storage space on devices. 
  • Network dependence: When syncing, maintaining a good internet connection is essential. A bad internet connection can be a limitation when working offline or in areas with poor connectivity.  
  • Data breaches: Syncing data to the cloud may expose your data and files to violations if the service provider’s security is compromised. 
  • Unauthorized access: Weak passwords or compromised accounts can lead to unauthorized access to sync files and data. 
  • Data encryption: Ensuring that data is encrypted during transmission and storage is vital to preventing the interception of malicious actors. 


Syncing has become an integral part of the digital age. It ensures seamless access to files, information, and settings regardless of the device's location. It facilitates smooth collaboration in real-time and enhances the user experience. 

However, it would help if you exercise proper caution when syncing to ensure the security and privacy of your data.


What is sync?

Short for synchronization, sync is when the same data becomes available in two locations.

Usually, the first location is the hardware (desktops, laptops, or mobile devices), and the second is the cloud.

Sync lets you view, edit, and manage your data on any device anytime. Since you can share files with other people, it’s perfect for collaboration.

In case your device fails, you can immediately restore your data by signing into your cloud storage service account.

What is sync on my phone?

Syncing your phone means creating a copy of its contents like contacts, photos, and videos on the cloud.

You don’t have to do this, but it helps prevent data loss in case your current device breaks. When you buy a replacement, you can easily restore your synced files.

What does syncing mean on Android?

Generally, it means keeping your Android device and Google account in harmony. But it can apply to non-Google apps as well.

This begs the question: what does sync mean on other platforms like MacOS or Windows?

Feel free to read our full guide on the topic to find the answer.


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