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

  • Is there a reason for not simply using Dropbox? Apr 25, 2012 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. Apr 25, 2012 at 5:33
  • dupe: superuser.com/questions/317007/… except this is more elaborated
    – cregox
    May 25, 2012 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. May 26, 2012 at 13:35
  • GoodSync? goodsync.com/how-it-works/key-features May 31, 2012 at 0:32

4 Answers 4


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).


I think you might find that the recently-released Alfresco Sync handles this quite well: https://addons.alfresco.com/addons/desktop-sync-alfresco

The SourceForge Description:

This application synchronizes files between a client and Alfresco using Web Services. The application currently synchronizes files in document library of any site a user has access to. The application is built using Java and uses jNotify. The original framework for this application was developed by Sridhar Kovuru during his time at Worksy (www.worksy.com). Kristijonas Malisauskas have done a great job finishing the application during his internship at Worksy. We thank Andrei Colța at YOPESO (www.yopeso.com) for his help with testing at a very early stage and with his work on making the application work on Mac and Linux.

In practice, the tool works well, though the GUI needs a bit of work.

As an aside, at the recent Alfresco Summit in SF I heard a few people mention success with CMIS Sync. That said, I cannot vouch for it, having no first-hand experience (but thought I should mention the only other tool of this sort of which I am aware).

I'll follow this question as I'm in the same boat!


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.

  • Problem: It is Windows only, like FTPbox. Jul 10, 2012 at 4:21
  • Google drive? Has cross-platform clients.
    – lonstar
    Jul 11, 2012 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. Jul 24, 2012 at 3:00

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.

  • 1
    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. Jul 24, 2012 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. Jul 24, 2012 at 2:55

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