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Many of my users have their files on one big FTP server.

PROBLEM: They can not use their files while not connected to the Internet.

QUESTION: Is there a Dropbox-like software for FTP?

  • When connected, pushes local changes to the server
  • When connected, polls the server every n minutes to pull changes
  • Cross-platform (Linux, Mac, Windows, maybe Android?)
  • Preferably open source
  • Dropbox-like UI (icon in system tray showing: disconnected, connected, syncing). For instance, SparkleShare is like DropBox for Git. Unfortunately they don't support FTP.
  • Ideally, starts automatically at boot or login

Just to make it clear: I am not looking for an online service that provides FTP access, but for a client-side software that can synchronize local files with a FTP URL (wherever hosted) when connected to the Internet.

FTPbox is nearly perfect, the only problem is that it is Windows-only.

WinSCP is good but its UI is too big. No need to show remote files, only sync them to local. The only UI would be the tray icon and a small URL/password configuration dialog.

It could look similar to this:

enter image description here

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Is there a reason for not simply using Dropbox? –  Lars Kotthoff Apr 25 '12 at 2:43
@LarsKotthoff: 1) Dropbox is not secure/reliable enough (better SLA/uptime is needed) 2) Dropbox becomes crazily expensive for large scale 3) The FTP interface is actually provided by Alfresco, an enterprise document management system which has many other features (not just file transfer), and is integrated with other critical enterprise systems. So my question is really about client-side only. –  Nicolas Raoul Apr 25 '12 at 5:33
dupe: superuser.com/questions/317007/… except this is more elaborated –  Cawas May 25 '12 at 14:56
The problem with any sync'd Share app is the cost of bandwidth on changes and overhead, which responds to poor system performance in a many-to-many sync'd repository. What controls do you wish on security, file size limits, content and churn may be best answered with cloud-servers, using scheduled managed solutions. There may be an optimum balance between autonomous sync and churn but the rules need to be managed. I understand your issue, but dont have any solutions at present. –  Tony Stewart May 26 '12 at 13:35
GoodSync? goodsync.com/how-it-works/key-features –  John Watson May 31 '12 at 0:32

3 Answers 3

Did you try ownCloud? It seems that it would fit with your use case of a "Dropbox-like". And it can use FTP as a backend for storage.

If you're OK with doing/funding a bit of development or waiting for a new release, Syncany is apparently developing what you're looking for, and FTPBox runs on .NET Framework 4, which Mono supports (with a few exceptions) on Linux and which also runs on Wine (in case these exceptions would be needed by FTPBox).

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Its not exactly what you asked for, but might be Good Enough and will be less maintenance. Windows, and Linux and I assume OSX have GUI file manager remote connections via FTP. You simply provide authentication, set it to save password, and there will be a bookmark kept for that location. Yes, your users will have to login once to the remote location to set it up, but then thats true with anything. Syncing will vary, and occasionally users will trip over each other, if they are sharing write access to files. There won't be any notification.

Sophisticated users with a lot of file sharing could use an SCM repository with GUI tools, CVS or Subversion or Git, but I assume thats too much overhead.

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About the first paragraph: That is what my users are doing at the moment, actually. The problem is what I stated at line 2: When not connected to the Internet, they can't work. –  Nicolas Raoul Jul 24 '12 at 2:52
About the second paragraph: if not-FTP was an option, Git+Sparkleshare would probably be the best indeed. Unfortunately it is FTP and nothing else. –  Nicolas Raoul Jul 24 '12 at 2:55

You could try SyncBack. It runs on a schedule, can check FTP servers and can do either full backups or synchronization. Works well for me, though I'm sure there's plenty more out there.

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Problem: It is Windows only, like FTPbox. –  Nicolas Raoul Jul 10 '12 at 4:21
Google drive? Has cross-platform clients. –  lonstar Jul 11 '12 at 0:47
Unfortunately I am in a context where third-party services like Dropbox and Google Drive can NOT be used. 1) They can not be trusted for confidential documents 2) They are not reliable enough (better uptime/SLA is needed) 3) They becomes crazily expensive for large scale. –  Nicolas Raoul Jul 24 '12 at 3:00

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