Is my old, lame PC enough to run Syncthing?

I happily use Syncthing on a PC laptop tucked away in a closet. Now I’ve uncovered a really old, low-end, 32-bit PC (1GB RAM, 1.66GHz Intel Atom CPU) that I’m considering using with Syncthing in an unrelated application. As in my previous example, this one would be set on a shelf with no other uses except for Syncthing. I’d probably have an external USB drive attached to it.

Question: would such a low-end PC as I’ve described power Syncthing successfully? This is for personal use as off-site backup.

I wouldn’t try it with Windows, but a lean Linux distro might work just fine. I’m running Syncthing on virtual machines with less than 1GB of memory.

My experience with similar hardware to what you describe is that the tiny HDD they use is glacially slow, so it might help if you can use a SSD instead, or keep the Syncthing database on the external drive.

This makes sense, and although I’m not a Linux guru, this might be a perfect excuse to get into it - installing Linux and putting one application onto it.

Thank you for your reply!

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Before installing Linux, please check which Intel Atom it is specifically, because hardware support for those platforms is spotty on Linux. Especially the newer ones were often designed specifically for Windows with no drivers available for Linux at all (e.g. the Clover Trail series that used PowerVR graphics, for which there’s still no Linux driver available, so you’re basically forced to use the command line interface only). Other problems that you may encounter include the dreaded 32-bit UEFI (which only a few Linux distributions support out of the box) and Broadcom Wi-Fi (for which you usually need to install additional drivers).

If you go with Windows, the only “current” version that would probably run decently on the hardware will be Windows 8.1 x86 (32-bit), but it’s going to be unsupported next year, so it’s not the greatest choice. I wouldn’t bother with Windows 10 and newer. I’ve dealt with more than a few Intel Atom devices, and even the newest of them struggle to run the OS. The 1GB of RAM is the main problem, of course, but also the CPU is just too slow to run the OS efficiently.

Edit: I just wanted to add that despite the OS-related issues, Syncthing itself will probably run perfectly fine on the hardware, especially if you don’t do anything else on it :slight_smile:. I’d only suggest to set the Web GUI for remote access, as it’s usually much more comfortable this way (considering the hardware speed and probably a small screen size).

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I think if the amount of folders with the directories and files in them is not too large, this should work. Considering the RAM of 1 GB, each item, i.e. each directory and file, consumes more or less about 1 kB of RAM capacity while these items are managed and administered by Syncthing. This means that Syncthing will run safely on the platform, but the more there is to manage and administer, the more sluggish the system becomes in terms of available RAM. So to answer the question more conclusively, information about the number of items to be synchronized would be good.

If you want to install a fresh version of your Windows without history waste, maybe you can try tools such NT lite to prepare a light Windows version in advance

Depending on the settings, there are various restrictions, for example, no nice GUI gadgets, no effects, etc., but it is possible to bring Windows to Linux level in terms of performance and speed.

Maybe test once on a computer that you do not need productive, because it could be that then maybe components are missing, which you expected, insofar several installation rounds may be necessary.

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