I'm about to buy a new laptop, and I would like to turn my old PC into a file/backup server.

I have 5 "client" computers beside the server machine. 1 of the clients (mine) will run Arch Linux, and the rest Windows (7/XP). The server will also run Arch Linux.

Here's the setup I would like to have:

  • Each client has a configurable list of directories it synchronizes with the server periodically. These directories should be stored in a separate directory on the server for each client (i.e "the client's directory on the server").

  • There are "shared" directories to which multiple clients synchronize, each machine can modify the directories and the changes will appear in all other machines when synchronized. Those shared directories are, too, stored on the server under "the shared directory on the server".

  • It is important that the clients won't be over-privileged on the server, and each client would only be able to backup/restore his own directories and the shared directories - but nothing beyond that

  • It is preferred that the transfer be encrypted, but not mandatory...

So, to conclude - a dropbox-like mechanism with private directories for each client and shared directories between clients, with a central server hosting a copy of the contents and coordinating the synchronization between the clients.

Some other points (which I am technically capable of implementing at the moment):

  • I can then make copies of the data locally on the server from time to time (versions).
  • Each client will be able to SFTP into his directory on the server (to which he's chroot'd) and access his files remotely, and all clients will have chroot'd access to the shared directory via a shared user.

After describing my thoughts, can you advise me how to implement the "dropbox-like" part, following the requirements I mentioned? (or something close, I'm flexible)


Try using Windows Home Server. It does everything you want, with minimal configuration, including backups, versioning and directory shares. It also has some media sharing features.

Alternatively, you can convert your PC to a NAS. There are many solutions and distros that will allow you to do that.

  • Home server ftw!! – surfasb Jul 7 '11 at 22:30
  • of course, MS Home Server doesn't exist anymore. that's always the danger... don't get too comfortable with whatever vendor you choose! – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Mar 27 '13 at 13:21

Just to give you an idea of my setup. I have a Ubuntu server that I have set up with different permissions depending on the user connecting to the share. On some clients, I have their Windows 7 connected via a Hub/Node Hamachi network and backing up to a share drive. Since I do their initial configurations, I will usually have their computers local on my network for the initial backup. They have access to their own shared drives, as well as a public repository on the server.

I also have a few clients that prefer to have Windows Home Server perform their backups so on my backup server, I have a visualization of Windows Home Server running with minimal resources and a dynamically expanding drive on a SAN. This will allow their backups to grow as needed. I have them on their own Hamachi VPN network so that they can add computers as they please.

I also have some clients that require constant sync and a rolling backup of their data so I have them set up with Hamachi VPN as well as 2BrightSparks SyncBack software (Windows). This program allows multiple types of synchronization as well as their copy while files are option. So within one server, I'm providing three different solutions and it's been working fairly well for a few years now.

It's a simple Core i3 3GHz, 4TB (4x1TB 7200RPM SATA), 8GB DDR3 RAM server and handles everything very well.


There's an open source project called iFolder to do a "dropbox at home" kind of setup. Server is Linux only, but clients are available for Windows and Mac too.


I've been using Owncloud for the past two years to do exactly what you're asking. It supports groups and users, so depending on what you'd like to do, you can either set each computer up as a user to have separate root directories to sync to, or have one account with folders for Computer1 through Computer5.

Owncloud also supports file versioning, so if you accidentally delete a file, it keeps a copy on the server in the Trash section. Further, if you save over a file, and it syncs the "bad" file, you can go into Owncloud web interface (oh ya, it has a very nice web frontend like OneDrive), find the file, and revert back to an older version.

Overall, setup is a breeze and once it's up and running, you don't have to mess with it.

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