Leaving dropbox behind

Dropbox rocks. It’s a solid and awesome solution for file sharing and one of the best solutions for syncing files between various devices. But… storing personal or business files on external server – without any encryption and no control where your files go (hello NSA!) is probably not the best idea.

I had two major aims by using dropbox: full access to my files from everywhere and easy sharing of files with other people. But I noticed, that these two tasks never happen to apply to the same files. Moving away from dropbox for my “sync only” files was an easy step.

There are quite a lot of solutions for “personal cloud” services. OwnCloud is one popular example. But to make it short: it sucks. Sync is slow (webdav for syncing large files is just a bad idea) and it seems more like an alpha version than a software you want to use everyday.

I came across BitTorren Sync and gave it a try. It uses torrent technology for syncing the files (every folder you want to sync becomes kind of a torrent that will be downloaded/synced to other devices, running BT sync). The system generates a private key for each shared folder. On all other devices, the folder can be synced by giving BT sync the same private key.

So, what’s the difference to dropbox? Files are not stored anywhere else than on the devices with the folder key. No cloud server, no third party place. This is the most important feature and also the biggest “downside” of BT sync. Simply adding a folder to your notebook and pc will get you in trouble if both devices are not running the same time (files can only be synced if there is a device running with the synced folder). But there is a great solution for this: simply adding a 24/7 online device to your BT sync “cloud”. This could be any server or even better for private users: a NAS device like the Synology NAS series or just a raspberry pi with a large external disk.

Files will always be synced to this personal cloud server and can then be synced to all other devices.

I really like this solution – my files stay on my devices and I have full control where they go. BT sync runs quietly in the background, syncs files very fast and is a good everyday solution. The only downside: no direct sharing of files with other users and I’m missing the folder icons indication the sync status from dropbox. There is an iPhone and android app for BT sync and accessing my files from other devices is easy using FTP on my server.