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Syncthing

$0.00 Free Open Source

Syncthing is a great open source product that delivers what it intends to, free, open source syncing across multiple computers and platforms. It works well but it does have some challenges including not being as easy to use as many of the non-open source alternatives. Where is does shine is when you need an easy to use sync service for multiple computers running different operating systems.

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Our Review

Pros:

  • Offers a free and secure method to sync between multiple computers and operating systems.
  • Creates your own peer to peer syncing. No third party servers to worry about.
  • Is available on the majority of operating systems including Windows, Mac, Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD and more. Does offer an Android app as well.
Cons:

  • Can be a little more challenging to get installed and running since it does not install like the majority of other software.
  • Documentation can often be out of date.
  • Options can be confusing and difficult to understand.

Getting Started

If you are on a Windows or Mac computer getting started with Syncthing is as easy as downloading the file from the Syncthing website, expanding it and double clicking on the Syncthing executable file. For Linux and other systems there are usually packages available for those systems package managers and can be installed via command line. You can read more in the Syncthing docs on getting started. Once you have Syncthing running you can use the user interface via your web browser to connect to another computer running Syncthing.

To get started syncing you simply copy the device id from one of your computers and add it to the other computer you want to sync with. Once that is done you will get a notice on your original device to accept and start sharing and syncing folders and files. Easy to start, not so easy if you have to restart your computer. This is where you need to do some more work and for some people this will be a barrier to using Syncthing, which is to bad really. There is a whole section in the docs about how to autostart Syncthing and I recommend you take a look. If you are on Windows and want to make the whole thing easier you might want to check out SyncTrayzor because it might make it all easier.

The Great

There are lots of things to like about Syncthing and lots of ways to use it. Here are some of the reasons I like Syncthing and think you should probably give it a try if you are looking for a sync tool.

  • Open source! Not proprietary software that you cannot tell what or how things are being done. You can browse the source code yourself if you like.
  • Cross platform. Syncthing runs on so many operating systems that if you need to sync it will probably run on it. More than just Windows and Mac.
  • Interface is not to difficult to use once you get used to it. It could use improvement but once you understand how to use it, it is easy.
  • Can be installed on servers with a little work and easily replace FTP/SFTP to make transferring files simple.
  • You can easily create your own cloud service that does not rely on any third party.

Once you get Syncthing installed and running on the computers you want to sync you will wonder how you lived without Syncthing. From my experience the best use I have found for Syncthing is to sync folders from my server to my desktop to make website updates and changes quick and easy.

The Not So Great

There are some things that are frustrating about Syncthing and it might be enough for people to not bother with it.

  • Install can be more difficult. It is not as easy to use as other software and/or services.
  • Documentation can be difficult to understand sometimes. Along with this there are a lot of blog posts and other guides out there that tell you how to setup Syncthing but are for older versions. It can get frustrating if you are trying to get it working.
  • Troubleshooting can be difficult. I have had very few problems personally with Syncthing, but when I have had problems it can be difficult to find out what to do. For help you can try their forum or the GitHub issues to look for how to fix an issue.
  • If you are an iPhone/iPad user it looks like you are still out of luck, there is no app available.

Overall

I personally think Syncthing is fantastic and a great tool to use for syncing files. It might not be for everyone because there is a bit of a learning curve to get it installed and running, but for those that are willing to take the time to get it running it is a great tool and will save you time in your day to day tasks of syncing files and folders between your computers. For those that are concerned about privacy and using third party servers for syncing, Syncthing solves that problem by letting you create your own cloud service using your own hardware.

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