Confirmation of implementation plan, please

I should like advice on my proposed use of Syncthing, please.

I am involved with a small non-profit organisation which has an office in London, 250 miles away. Somehow I have ended up being their techie. There are two permanent staff members, half a dozen visiting volunteers and some remote volunteers.

They have 3 external USB drives for ‘daily’ backups (which were being done monthly!), but they also need an off-site backup solution. Using Dropbox for their 1Tb of data would be a bit expensive. Commercial backup solutions are expensive too. Instead, £70 would buy a 2TB drive for my PC at home which could be the off-site mirror for the office server, via Syncthing.

Two of the staff sometimes work from home. They could be synchronising files automatically with the office. No more USB sticks or emailing documents back and forth.

The office uses a variety of versions of Windows. One staff member uses an Apple Mac at home. I only use Linux installations. They have an unlimited broadband connection, as do I.

There is about 1Tb of files. 800 Mb of that is an image library which grows slowly.

The only database-type app is FileMaker Pro which has a database which they intend to start using multi-user. Everything else is images and documents. Email is all done through GoogleMail.

I am a Syncthing newbie. I have tried Syncthing this past day on a Windows XP machine sharing a couple of folders with a Linux Mint PC over a LAN, and the XP machine with my Linux Xubuntu PC over a LAN, and it seems OK and fairly straightforward.

The web interface and DOS box / terminal session are a little unusual (compared to DropBox) and may be alien to the staff & volunteers. I know there are add-ons for making Syncthing prettier, but I don’t want to make things complicated, nor risk introducing support issues when I am so far from the office. I am also loathe to have it running invisibly in the background since people cannot then be confident it is working, nor tell when it is not working.

What advice would you give me? For example: Is Syncthing the way to go? What configuration options would you advise? Should I go for a ‘vanilla’ installation or are there must-have add-ons for this situation?

I think syncthing in its current state requires the users to be fairly technical . Furthermore, syncthing has quite a few caveats that can cause infinite pain. Imagine one of the users deleting the data by accident and that propagating downwards to all users. There are other caveats like case only renames causing issues, etc which you might end up spending a lot of time trying to resolve.

Perhaps I am biased by the amount of support requests we get from non-technical people, but it’s definately not as friction/effort free as commercial products.

If you are willing to understand syncthing and you yourself support your users, then it might work.


On Windows, you should use SyncTrayzor. It has a gui (wrapper for the web interface), no “dos box” and a systray icon.

Afaik, Windows XP is not officially supported, which means we don’t make sure it work. If it works, it’s more or less luck :wink: .

Apart from that

what Audrius said

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I love ST for what it does but it is not an enterprise solution that can be administered easily in one place by one person.

For that reason I would suggest you look at nextcloud or PYDIO. They don’t have the features you get from distributed synchronisation but that allows them to avoid a lot of complexity.

I definitely second SyncTrayzor. I tend to set the options that make the notifications a little less noisy when setting it up for customers.

You might want to pick their top use case (or two) and implement Syncthing for those and give the project time to bed in and learn about the process, rather than trying every use case at once. Configuring their network and Syncthings to allow you to access the web UI remotely will also help administration and monitoring without having to kick users off their computers.

Keep in mind that when you’re doing an initial sync of 1TB of data that initial indexing and index exchanges will take some time, even when it’s only being transferred locally.

Also when you start getting into the hundreds of GB+, any 32-bit Syncthings will start to crash with out-of-memory errors. I’m looking at you, XP :wink:

I would like to add some advice here:

Generally speaking, Syncthing is not something were you want to sync databases with. Especially multi-user changing data at the same time.

I would opt there to store the database on your backup-computer at home and turn it into some kind of server.

You also should install some proper backup-Software on your Server. To make sure you can easily bring back data into the Syncthing folder. Something like this:

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Thank you for your help, suggestions and advice.

It may suddenly become more important to me - and others - since DropBox have announced they are dropping support for many Linux file system formats and, it seems, encrypted partitions. If they go ahead with that, there’ll be a lot of Linux users looking for products like SyncThing to replace DropBox.

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