Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Cloud Data Storage Hardware

DIY Dropbox Alternatives 188

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-quite-as-parent-friendly dept.
jfruhlinger writes "Dropbox was a service that many techies fell in love with, only to be disappointed when they found out about its dodgy security and dubious copyright claims. The company's tried to make amends — but what other options are there for those who have had enough? While there's nothing quite as seamless out there, it's not difficult to build your own Dropbox alternatives from freely available software and services from other vendors."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

DIY Dropbox Alternatives

Comments Filter:
  • by Neil_Brown (1568845) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @06:42AM (#36892806) Homepage

    really "building your own" solution?

    I appreciate that one could argue that using software you haven't written yourself shouldn't count, but putting something together with a Linux box running Apache, WebDAV and various other things seems more "building your own" than simply using an existing third party alternative, as the article recommends.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Neil_Brown (1568845)

      If that is "building your own", I guess I can say proudly that I built my own washing machine, in that I bought a washing machine, put it in place, plumbed it in and switched it on...

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by vlm (69642)

        If that is "building your own", I guess I can say proudly that I built my own washing machine, in that I bought a washing machine, put it in place, plumbed it in and switched it on...

        Don't laugh so hard at this... 99.9999% of modern americans who sign a contract with a corporate house builder will go around telling people "I'm building a house!". In fact pretty much anything real estate related, if an american signs a contract, they don't do the labor but socially claim for all the labor... "I put a new roof on my house (No, a team of illegal aliens put a roof on your house; you merely paid for it)"

        The weird part is my Grandfather actually did build his own house... Sears used to sell

        • by xaxa (988988)

          If that is "building your own", I guess I can say proudly that I built my own washing machine, in that I bought a washing machine, put it in place, plumbed it in and switched it on...

          Don't laugh so hard at this... 99.9999% of modern americans who sign a contract with a corporate house builder will go around telling people "I'm building a house!".

          That's shows how the choice of language reflects culture.

          In Britain I think we'd normally say "I'm having a house built", or "We've had a new fence put up" or "The garage was re-roofed", though the "I built" way is not uncommon. I think it depends on what follows -- "We've had a new fence put up" will probably continue with a complaint about how expensive/slow/unsatisfactory the process or result was :-)

          • by X3J11 (791922)

            In Britain I think we'd normally say "I'm having a house built", or "We've had a new fence put up" or "The garage was re-roofed", though the "I built" way is not uncommon. I think it depends on what follows -- "We've had a new fence put up" will probably continue with a complaint about how expensive/slow/unsatisfactory the process or result was :-)

            Same here in Canada, although we did re-roof our house. Well, my father did. The heights where a bit too much for me. Going up was easy enough, but once I got up there I realized that should my fat ass slip or lose my balance, it was a long way down.

            "Gravity is a harsh mistress." -- The Tick.

          • by asdf7890 (1518587)
            I can confirm that as another brit. Though there are some people woudl would use the "I built..." form. If I might be a bit classist for a moment, more often than not is it the "upper middles" trying to impress at dinner parties (the party being held at the home of someone who "put in an Aga" which means "paid for and had labourers put in an Aga") and other social gatherings where one-up-man-ship is standard practice. Caveat: it is not all people of that standing, just a certain (vocal and irritating) minor
          • We also use the passive voice. "We had the wall replaced" or "we had a leak and had it fixed." Just like I say that I "took my car in for an oil change" not "I changed the oil." Although, sometimes "Yes, I changed the oil last week" slips out, but we all understand that I did NOT change the oil and would not know how to.
        • by somersault (912633) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @07:32AM (#36893056) Homepage Journal

          Well, that is kind of how things work. The person in charge takes the credit. I wouldn't use the turn of phrase myself, but I can imagine some people doing it. Like the general of an army boasting about how he defeated some opposing army, when in fact it was his men that did all the hard work.

          • by MightyYar (622222)

            when in fact it was his men that did all the hard work.

            The men! Sheesh! It's us munitions workers that deserve all the credit! :)

            I think if someone is sponsoring something (like a $20,000 roof), they can be excused for the ambiguity of their language :)

            • by ArhcAngel (247594)
              Unless you live in a mansion I would like to come re-roof your house.
              • by MightyYar (622222)

                You might not - it needs the old crap all scraped off, new gutters, and a bunch of rot replaced. :) But yeah, that's about $5000 high for my roof.

          • If they beat them following his plans.. then that's HIS plan defeating the opposing army, so it's HIS victory isn't it?

            • And since an army needs a lot of resources, then whoever is providing those resources also has brought about the defeat of the enemy. It's everyone's victory.

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          99.9999% of modern americans who sign a contract with a corporate house builder will go around telling people "I'm building a house!"

          I don't think the meager number of people who are building new houses in the current economy satisfies the level of precision in your figure.

          I'm pretty sure that "8 out of the 9" would be closer to the truth.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Lumpy (12016)

          This is because 99.997% of americans are inept at the tasks to actually do any home building. Go shopping for a older home and look at the nightmares that the DIY network and Places like Home Depot have created. Basements finished by someone that watches too much DIY network or HGTV are pretty on the surface but half assed underneath to the point that I'll pass on any home that I can tell the howmowners tried to be "handy" because I dont want to pay to have it all ripped out and done right.

          And yes I kno

          • My house had a variety of DIY stuff - as well as contracted stuff - done to it. It was originally built as a cabin I guess, in the 50s. Most of the funny things kinda make sense, and some of them are cosmetic issues - e.g., the door frame .... gah, I'm totally blanking out on the name, but it's like "baseboard" for the door frame :P - is on crooked. Or, instead of pulling up the linoleum from the 70s, they put particle board + carpet on top and shaved off the bottoms of the doors.

            The most baffling one so

            • by Belial6 (794905)
              The likely reason for the hose bib attached to the hot water and only the hot water is because the hot water line needed a repair. Whoever did the repair put the hose bib on it for future proofing, but did not see the need to immediately tear into the functioning cold water.

              I did an even more 'strange' plumbing system myself several years ago. I was replacing all of the rotting steel water pipes in my home with copper. the water lines T'ed off under one of the bedrooms on it's way to the kitchen and b
        • by RockDoctor (15477)

          average middle class people might be in construction again, and its going to be socially awkward when someone starts bragging at church "how I put up a fence" and the guy in front of him turns around and says "uh, actually, that was me"

          Your church lets carpenters and the like of rude mechanicals in through the doors? Time to get a new church!

          Next thing you know, they'll be allowing philanderers, thieves and tax dodgers stay in the church because it's socially convenient, and they're rich and immoral.

      • by sgt scrub (869860)

        Wait. You switched it on? You? Somebody is wii hii pped... :p

    • When somebody says they "built a house," do you ask them if they grew the trees that supplied the lumber? I can smell your superiority complex from here.
    • AND, didn't we have a much better article (in Ask Slashdot form) on this topic recently anyways?

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      The comedy was that instead of building your own solution the site was an advertisement for windows skydrive and goodsync, paid solutions -which are not solutions, then. To also act like you can trust microsoft over dropbox is also completely hilarious. You really think Microsoft of all companies should be trusted with *any* form of data? I bet their privacy policy on skydrive, if it's still as I recall it, is basically nonexistent.

      • by kenh (9056)

        MS Sky Drive is free for the first 25 Gigs, IIRC - Dropbox is free for the first 2 Gigs. Neither is free beyond those limits, so the comparison/solution is valid.

    • by npsimons (32752) *

      I keep telling people, it's not that hard to run your own server these days (or maybe I'm just some super-admin; doubtful). The only daunting part is the variance in options: VPS, colocation, or host at home? Hell, that last is entirely viable since most people reading this already have a high speed connection at home and dynamic DNS solves the mapping problem. If your ISP blocks certain ports, just pick another above 1024; they can't block them all.

    • by perotbot (632237)
      built my own using iFolder from Novell and then open sourced, works great, and yes I did it myself.... http://ifolder.com/ [ifolder.com]
  • That's not DIY! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Robert Zenz (1680268) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @06:46AM (#36892826) Homepage

    DIY stand for Do-It-Yourself...installing other third-party-applications which are doing the same does not count as DIY!

    • by dr.newton (648217) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @08:30AM (#36893382) Homepage

      I know, right?

      He probably didn't even write the kernel his machines are running, or the compiler he used to build it (if he even compiled it himself)!

    • In this context, installing a third-party application can be a DIY approach. After all, dropbox is nothing more than a set of servers somewhere that you can access by downloading a specialized client. If you happen to set up your very own personal server by installing software written by a third-party so that it provides essentially the same services as dropbox then that is in fact something you did it on your own. That is, instead of relying on a third-party service you built your server yourself. Hence

    • by npsimons (32752) *

      DIY stand for Do-It-Yourself...installing other third-party-applications which are doing the same does not count as DIY!

      And I suppose you write your own compiler and assembler, then run it on silicon you fused yourself. And where'd you get those electrons from, hmmm? The *true* DIY'er would build his own bicycle generator and *pedal* power his server everyday! All while only eating organic vegetables he grew himself, using his own excrement as fertilizer!

      • And I suppose you write your own compiler and assembler, then run it on silicon you fused yourself. And where'd you get those electrons from, hmmm? The *true* DIY'er would build his own bicycle generator and *pedal* power his server everyday! All while only eating organic vegetables he grew himself, using his own excrement as fertilizer!

        I'm sorry but the *true* DIY'er would also have to build his own electrons from scratch!

    • This is why I prefer the phrase "roll your own."
  • DropBox includes sharing functionality (you can choose that some of the files are accessible by anyone through browser) and DropBox doesn't want you to sue them for that so they need you to give them a permission to share your files. It's as simple as that and is the same reason why Google+ asks similar rights to all the content you upload. As for the dodgy security... When a program is configured to login automatically, it stores the login credentials somewhere that a hostile person with access to your fil

    • by shish (588640)
      I thought the problems were that dropbox employees have access to your files, they just aren't allowed to read them (they originally said they didn't have access to the files); and that for a few hours it was possible to log into any account without needing a password; you don't seem to have addressed either of those...
      • He did address them, see the part "Dropbox + encryption". I personally employ GPG on all sensitive data that goes into Dropbox, and it works fine.

  • Why not use Spideroak instead of dropbox. Spideroak have a zero-knowledge privacy policy. I'd say it's not quite as polished a product as dropbox, but everything is encrypted before it leaves my computer (come on spideroak open source your client so we can check!) and stored encrypted, so NO ONE can read it. I have access to files from android to. (I am not affiliated with Spideroak in away way.) Join via this link and we both get an extra 1GB (I believe you start with 2GB free): https://spideroak.com/sig [spideroak.com]
    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      Its hardly the first one to do this, Mozy [mozy.com] does the same - it allows you to use your own keys to encrypt all your data that's transferred. (you can use Mozy's keys instead which provides for more convenience, but hey - your choice)

      It also has a nice interface to download your files - integrated as an Explorer shell extension (if you're on Windows). It doesn't provide a 'ftp' facility though.. but I think I'll suggest that to them .. instead its more a backup tool - just like Spideroak.

      note: that link is an a

      • by godefroi (52421)

        Mozy is the most completely shit service+software combination I've ever had the displeasure to work with.

        Go JungleDisk, you'll never go back.

    • Last time I tried SpiderOak, its sync wasn't working right. Unless they've fixed it, SO isn't an option.

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @06:50AM (#36892852) Homepage Journal

    First simple solution: host your own secure ftp.

    Second simple solution: call Dropbox and tell them you'll pay to use their service if they sign your contract. Write your contract and mail it to them.

    Complex solution: build your own software to do what they do. I don't see how that's going to be cheaper or easier than the first 2 simple solutions.

    • by zAPPzAPP (1207370)

      The crucial part about dropbox is not the file sharing. Any ftp can give you that. Most NAS come with one, or you can easily setup one on a linux box if you're willing to leave it switched on 24/7.
      No, the thing that dropbox has and why I'd use it, is automatic file synchronization over all local devices, even when files are accessed from mutiple users at the same time.

      • by roman_mir (125474)

        Well, you can run your own version control as well.

        • by daid303 (843777)

          Which is harder to use. The "automatic" is important! Forgot to commit? Manual updates? Notifications about updates? no issue with dropbox.

          I'm using dropbox a lot these days. I use 3 computers (work, home desktop, laptop), it's easy to have files accessible by al 3 by just putting the files in the right folder, no thinking beyond a single copy. I also have 3 shared folders which are used by other people, one of them even contains code, which is synced with a linux server, which runs the php code in the drop

          • by roman_mir (125474)

            That's your choice, I prefer rsync personally and cvs for development that I do for myself.

    • by jon3k (691256)
      the only problem I have with this is usability. especially from my smartphone or tablet.
  • by subreality (157447) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @06:54AM (#36892868)

    #1, "building your own" misses the entire point of using a cloud service. The whole idea is that I don't have to build my own infrastructure - I just sign up and use theirs.

    #2, changing to another provider or buying a piece of sync software is not building your own.

    • I would agree. This is a "I HATE CLOUD SOLUTIONS BECAUSE THEY ARE CLOUD SOLUTIONS" type of response. You can't judge Cloud solutions as one evil entitiy but as each one individually. There are good ones, there are bad ones, they are ones where you can work with a predefined contract of rules to follow, and they are ones you just agree to their rules. Cloud is the same as SaaS with is the same as Hosted Software, which is quite similar to Time Sharing. The Cloud name caught on, SaaS didn't, and Hosted

      • by Pieroxy (222434)

        You most certainly can judge Cloud solutions as one evil entity. Data is not in your hands. Even if you find a good vendor, he might get hacked, he might sell to some evil counterpart, etc...

        What is in your home is under your responsibility. For the rest, you have to trust someone.

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          What is in your home is under your responsibility. For the rest, you have to trust someone.

          I disagree with your premise. Presuming you have network connectivity, you are "trusting" all the vendors that stand between your data and the internet. Windows, Linux, MacOS, even ssh, all have a history of exploits. You are trusting Microsoft or Apple or some open source developer. You are also trusting the vendor who makes your router or modem. You are also trusting your locksmith or lockmaker and security system installer.

          I understand the concern with control over your data in the cloud - but nothing st

    • #1, "building your own" misses the entire point of using a cloud service. The whole idea is that I don't have to build my own infrastructure - I just sign up and use theirs.

      First of all, this "cloud" idiocy is nothing more than marketing speak to fool idiots into believing that a corporation providing web-services through their is something new and, more astonishingly, something desireable.

      Regarding your claim, it is nonsense. The whole idea of using a web-service is to access some service through a networ

  • by pfiver (993546)
    Although offtopic, because not DIY, the answer, for now, for me, is "Wuala". http://www.wuala.com/ [wuala.com] High quality java software, all content fully encrypted, sophisticated neatly designed access rights management (cryptree [google.com]). It's not open source, but otherwise really close to perfect. I am in no way associated with the company (originally "Caleido", now merged into "Lacie").
    • Same here.

      I have been using Dropbox for quite some time and loved it's ease of use. But security concerns and the rather steep price of additional space made me look for alternatives. Enter Wuala.

      Support for Linux, Windows and Android? Check (+ others like Mac)
      Encrypted on client, Passphrase nevers leaves the Client? Check (as long as we trust the makers, of course)
      Mobile access via web browser? Check (Java, so not available everywhere, but almost)
      Inexpensive options to add additional space? Check (I curren

      • I was interested in Wuala as well, but closer inspection made me leave it for SpiderOak.

        Wuala have stated that if two people have the same file encrypted, they will deduplicate them. This means that the encryption is not unique to each user. There are several attacks possible based on this knowledge. More information in the Wuala user forums.

  • by AVryhof (142320) <{moc.bawag} {ta} {fohyrva}> on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @07:01AM (#36892900) Homepage

    rsync + ssh + cron + unlimited web hosting (that allows ssh access)

    or

    rsync + ssh + cron + a tunnel between the computers you want to sync

    You might also want a manual update script to update between cron syncs.... or better yet.... write your manual update script and have cron call it for easy maintenance.

    • by Zebedeu (739988)

      I'm currently doing this, but I thought it only worked one-way (I'm using it to mirror my hard drive as a poor man's backup solution).

      Dropbox syncs in both directions, which is much more interesting.

    • by hoggoth (414195)

      rsync only syncs in one direction. A two way rsync doesn't handle every case properly, such as deleted files (should it be deleted on the other side, or is it a new file that should be copy back?)

      For proper two way sync you need something like Unison. Unison + ssh + cron is a perfect two way sync. The only thing Dropbox has over Unison + ssh + cron is dropbox monitors file changes in real time and so picks up changes right away and efficiently. Anything that runs every 5 minutes and scans through files is l

  • We evaluated WebDAV on a hosted system and various open-source solutions (like hosted Alfresco) as alternatives to a company-wide Dropbox license. The fact is that if you want to have anything more sophisticated than a simple fileserver (e.g. different folder permissions, multiple file versions, somewhat sane conflict resolution), there is no good free alternative at this point if you have remote people --if you've heard of one, I'd love a pointer.

    For a local LAN, I'd stick with Alfresco on a decent box, b

    • by Zebedeu (739988)

      I'm waiting for these guys to get their stuff up to release quality: http://sparkleshare.org/ [sparkleshare.org]

      I'm not brave enough to trust my data to them at this point, but it seems to be the most promising open-source dropbox replacement so far.

    • http://sparkleshare.org [sparkleshare.org] for the front end. Throwing a windows client together shouldn't be too difficult.

      For the back end, gitolite on a central server with local mirrors at each office that are readonly. Configure client git repo's to push writes centrally and read from a local mirror.

  • I've never used DropBox but when family was wanting me to join so they could share some family movies (Canada and Australia) I set up AjaXplorer [sourceforge.net]

    It may not be the same but everyone liked it, used it and found it easy to use.

  • The basic "cloning a commercial service is easy" tone of this article used to be ok up to a point - realtime push notifications. All clients need to know when items were dropped, not just what. For Android, up until version 2.2 this was a pain - you had to implement long poll http battery-draining lookup schemes. Not so nowadays - 2.2+ gives developers C2DM [google.com] - cloud to device messaging - which should put the nail amongst the pigeons, to deliberately mix my metaphors. Now any app/server can basically push to

  • It's really depressing that dropbox didn't even come up the the standard of ordinary FTP from about twenty years ago.
    If you want something that behaves a bit more like dropbox for the UI but is orders of magnitude more secure you could probably do it with rsync, ssh, zenity for the UI and half a dozen lines of bash script - probably in under a day even if you have to google for what all those terms I used are. That's how appallingly bad dropbox is - with all that is freely available today they couldn't eve
  • by digitalderbs (718388) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @08:00AM (#36893160)
    Every two years or so, I critically evaluate my options for this problem--even going through the trouble of posting an AskSlashdot [slashdot.org] on the topic--and every time, I always come back to unison [upenn.edu]. There are many DIY, non-cloud managed solutions out there; see this article [wikipedia.org] for a useful comparison matrix. I've even tried using git for automated versioning and syncing. However, none seem to work as cleanly as a unison setup combined with a DynDNS IP forward to my home box. Include snapshot backups using StoreBackup [nongnu.org]--the best backup tool, IMHO--and you have a setup that is tough to beat.
    • Just wonder if you've looked at rdiff-backup [nongnu.org] or rsnapshot [rsnapshot.org] and what the advantages/disadvantages might be versus StoreBackup, in your opinion. I'm in the research phase of setting up a home backup solution and had all but decided on one of those, but hadn't come across StoreBackup until seeing your comment.

  • That's a job for plug computers : buy one, plug it to AC, plug it to ethernet, ssh to it, change root password, create users. Voila, you have a sFTP server ! You could even automatize the last step so that the user would never see the much dreaded command line that really gives too much power to users in this area of dumbed down GUIs.
  • What I want from a dropbox alternative, is it's most basic of functionalities: transparent multi-client sync.

    I want it to both up- AND downsync the files, from multiple clients at once, without anyone having to click things; and based on filesystem triggers, not some lousy cronjob.

    Could be done with iNotify + csync2, I guess; although you also need a mechanism for the server to notify the clients that a file has changed. And then you need to build a client for Macs (they have iNotify or something similar to

  • Anyone using *nix of any kind should be used to being able to put files on any of their machines at any time, nfs, rsync, cifs, sftp, scp. At least that is what I've always thought. Maybe it is an age thing. Anyway. When I'm stuck having to use a windows machine one of the first things I do is downloaded winSCP so I can get to stuff.

  • I recently started a job with Syncplicity [syncplicity.com], a company that makes a similar product targeted towards enterprise use. Needless to say, it feels like DIY to me because a lot of the improvements that I put into the product are based on what I observe in my own personal use.

    I wouldn't advise taking the DIY approach for a Dropbox replacement, unless it's a career decision. Magic folder synchronization requires a lot of expertise in many different areas of programming, system administration, database administration

  • Let Dropbox do what it's really quite good at: ubiquitous access on a number of platforms. Meanwhile, don't trust them for shit, because they haev no real incentive to provide more than superficial "trust me" security. Instead, create a TrueCrypt partition on your Dropbox drive so that the only thing Dropbox is hosting is one giant file which no one at Dropbox (or any other service) can decrypt. Because both mount as hard drives, using them together is surprisingly low hassle: it reads to the user like any

Parkinson's Law: Work expands to fill the time alloted it.

Working...