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I love using Dropbox to sync files between all my machines, and I've heard it uses RSync internally to keep files synced.

Sometimes I need to sync very large things, and I don't necessarily want to pay for storage space on someone else's server when I have my own. So does anyone know of any nice cross-platform (pref. open source) automatic file-sync applications out there for this?

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closed as not constructive by random Feb 13 '12 at 15:51

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I'm not sure why rsync won't work for you? If you already use it internally, why can't you use it externally as well? –  MDMarra Apr 7 '10 at 22:31
rsync is great, but it's not automatic like dropbox. –  jweede Apr 8 '10 at 0:21
if its server side, wouldn't this be more suited for serverfault (which iirc, has a few suggestions ) –  Journeyman Geek Apr 8 '10 at 1:10
unannounced referral link = -1 –  mafutrct Feb 28 '11 at 21:59
In its current form, this questions seems to be constructive and a good fit for this forum. –  Chris Dutrow Jun 25 '12 at 14:51
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13 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

iFolder is very similar to Dropbox, it uses rsync to replicate data from each client to a server. You have to supply the server. Haven't touched it in many years. It used to have issues synchronizing the deltas of certain file types. I think some MS Office files were so completely rewritten during each save that it ended up resending the entire file.

When I last used it, iFolder didn't have file recovery or versioning, that was a big issue. One person deletes a file or corrupts the contents, it's gone for everybody.

iFolder server can be installed on OpenSUSE only (as per january 2012).

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yeh, their site doesn't mention any versioning features. –  jweede Apr 8 '10 at 14:48
It seems a very powerfull but also very complex software. –  math Feb 3 '12 at 21:55
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Syncany is another service to look for. It is still in beta, but looks very promising.

Syncany is an open-source cloud storage and filesharing application. It allows users to backup and share certain folders of their workstations using any kind of storage, e.g. FTP, Amazon S3 or Google Storage.

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As I've read that Syncany supports versioning, how does this affects file renaming and also modification of big binary data regarding server side storage space? –  math Jan 30 '12 at 18:01
@math: Sorry, i have no idea... –  jumper Feb 6 '12 at 0:07
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SparkleShare is very similar to DropBox on the client side, but it uses Git on the server/protocol side.

You can configure it to use your own Git server on your machine at home.

It is cross-platform (even Android), but the Windows client is a bit rough and difficult to install for the average Windows user. They are looking for volunteers to make it user friendly, great opportunity for Windows developers to participate in an open source project with enormous potential!


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i've had my eyes on this for a while, but the lack of windows support at the moment is a little annoying for my purposes. That being said, none of the FOSS alternatives seem usable for the average windows user at this point of time. –  Journeyman Geek Dec 8 '11 at 8:57
If I was not so busy with my other open source projects I would probably contribute to this one (even though I never use Windows) because it could be so useful to many individuals and organizations. I really wish they get more developers :-) –  Nicolas Raoul Dec 8 '11 at 9:04
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I don't know why people always recommend dropbox or sugarsync when teamdrive is actually way better, it offers:

  • Encryption before you upload your files!
  • You are able to host the stuff on your own server
  • Go management tools

I think that is what you actually are looking for.

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Encryption before uploading is easy, you can use encfs, so Dropbox or any other could system will only sync encrypted files. And that I want to store my files on my own server is obvious as the question title says.. –  math Feb 3 '12 at 21:49
@math Well, I thought you looked for a one in all solution, which teamdrive really does offer. –  bamboon Feb 3 '12 at 22:05
Indeed TD is great, that's why I upvoted your answer, but I think I am going to write one my self. –  math Feb 6 '12 at 10:56
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Have you tried:

Windows Live Mesh

Windows Live Sync

Both are free, but require a Windows Live ID. Windows AND Mac.

Update: corrected Windows only to Windows AND Mac.

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Windows Live Sync offers no online storage. If you're going the Windows Live route, the best suggestion is a mix of both Skydrive and Live Mesh (see labnol.org/internet/compare-windows-live-sync-mesh-and-skydrive/…). –  Isxek Apr 7 '10 at 22:43
@Isxek: yep, you're right. I knew that, but I was not aware that @jweede needed online storage, because he had his own server... –  studiohack Apr 7 '10 at 22:48
True, my server is a Linux server, and I'm rarely in windows anymore. But it's a good suggestion. –  jweede Apr 12 '10 at 13:42
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rsync It is already there or easily installed on any UNIX like system (including Mac OS X). For windows DeltaCopy is a nice GUIfied implementation of rsync.

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rsync is not automatic (daemon-style) like dropbox. However the article from James has some interesting points about lsyncd, a daemon for rsync. –  jweede Apr 8 '10 at 14:47
I use a cron job to automate rsync every night. No it's not instant. But it goes everyday. –  NitroxDM Jan 3 '13 at 15:43
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ownCloud seems to fulfill all your demands. It is an open source project and has a large and active developer community.

Distributed as a PHP add-on, it is already available as installable package on some Linux distributions such as Ubuntu.

Working in the browser on the client side, it is available on all platforms.

There are also options to integrate it with your desktop using WebDAV. In most cases, accessing ownCloud using your file manager will be sufficient, by mounting ownCloud to a local folder.

It doesn't incorporate versioning, but you can use any versioning software you like with it. The best-known ones are quite well-documented.

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Unison could probably fit you. It supports Linux, Windows and Mac OS X. It's not a plug and play solution, but once you've setup SSH and Unison, you could sync nearly everything.


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I use SVN. I use it because it's there and I have a history for when things go south.


  • Platform independent

  • History

  • Cool comments in the history

  • Works across the internet if I need it to

  • I can grant someone access to just part of the repository


  • I can't just connect to the server and poke around the files

  • Reducing the size of the disk footprint can be tricky

  • It's hard for someone who doesn't use it everyday to grasp the concept of how things work

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A major con with this route is that your versioned files don't store permissions. If you were to store something involving a password in plaintext, it would come out the other side with very loose permissions. –  Eddie Parker Apr 7 '10 at 22:50
SVN (and git \heart) are great for keeping text files synced. However they're not automatic like Dropbox, and can have some issues with binaries. –  jweede Apr 8 '10 at 0:25
@Eddie Parker: If you were to store something involving a password you truly care about in plaintext, you have already failed, and all the Dropbox alternatives and file versioning in the world will not save you. –  Jeremy W. Sherman Feb 13 '11 at 19:02
@Jeremy W. Sherman: I agree you want to avoid passwords in plaintext files as a general rule. However, a lot of applications require them, particularly in the Linux world. It's a valid concern I bring up that people who implement this strategy should be aware of. –  Eddie Parker Feb 16 '11 at 0:27
Actually, and to your point of "all the Dropbox alternatives and file versioning in the world won't save you", a properly encrypted backup solution won't likely 'save' you, but it definitely will make things harder on a would be attacker/snoop. Check out my Wuala answer for a possible solution that I use. –  Eddie Parker Feb 16 '11 at 0:30
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Check out DataOnDemand

It provides auto sync (drop files in a folder and boom!), SSL communication between server and client, AES-256 encryption using personalized keys and stuff like that.

We use it at work on our own openbsd machine, it's awesome.

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Try SpiderOak. It's Dropbox done right, but that's only part of it.

  • Cross-platform (Windows/Linux/Mac/Android/iOS/Maemo).
  • Client-side encryption
  • Folder syncing (like Dropbox)
  • Scheduled backups
  • File version histories
  • Share files and folders via HTTP
  • Public sharing groups
  • Transparent deduplication and compression (you only pay for unique data stored)
  • Block level deltas for transfers (minimal bandwidth usage)

There's a 2GB lifetime free account, or $10/month gets you 100GB. Or you can pay $80/year per 100GB.

I have been very happy with the service and would recommend it to anyone. Amazed that it's not better known.

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The most serious problem is space, I want to put 1TB of data into the cloud. –  math Feb 6 '12 at 10:58
Well, space isn't the problem with paid services... Sounds like price is the real issue. –  Gabriel Bauman Feb 8 '12 at 5:32
Of course price is vital too, yes. I could use for example teamdrive which offers unlimited space solutions.. –  math Feb 8 '12 at 9:21
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I've started to use Wuala, personally. It's model is that you can trade storage on your own machine for replicated storage out on the web. It's pretty neat on paper, and in practice it seems to work quite well. Everything's encrypted, it's apparently backed by Lacie, and it works well in Linux and Windows (haven't tested Mac, but it should work there).

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SugarSync is the closest thing to Dropbox (Windows and Mac only).

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There's a referral link for extra free SugarSync storage space on my profile page. –  paradroid Feb 13 '11 at 14:35
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