My Experience with Syncthing

My setup includes a local network with a Synology NAS, a Purism/PureOS laptop (based closely on Debian) and a MX Linux ten-year-old Dell Optiplex running my TV. The MX Linux OS replaces Windows 7, making me Windows-free, as well as Apple-free. My phone is Android 9.

I spent over a week trying to get rsync/ssh setup on my Synology and my laptop to backup my laptop data. I had to ssh into the Synology to configure rsync and ssh, even to the point of having to chown and chmod files, which is tricky for someone who hasn’t used unix since the late '80s (remember Sun Microsystems?). And I still couldn’t get luckybackup to work. The remote end kept asking for a password, even though I setup RSA keys, which was a complicated mess in itself. Was there an extra space character in authorized_keys? Was there a bug in the Synology? Who can tell? I dropped rsync, like I had dropped raid-mirror – too much wrong information and too many bugs.

Then Steve Gibson posts his long-anticipated podcast on his search for the perfect sync tools and he selected Syncthing as the best tool. Yay! Download Syncthing for Syno, PureOS, and MX Linux and get setup. Not too hard, but firefox profiles are extremely chatty and data-to-save is mixed with data-not-to-save. I could have used a guide on how to setup sync-ing Firefox and Thunderbird profiles and how to restore such a profile. Still working on that, but I eventually read the logs and found the chatty bits and excluded them.

So what do I think? Syncthing is much easier and less buggy than trying to setup rsync and ssh using googled articles that are up to ten years old and full of mistakes. I haven’t found a single bug and I am so pleased to see informative and useful error messages. I do have a couple of suggestions:

Setup can be hard and nerve-wracking, not knowing exactly what is going on. I think there should be a demo-mode, call it setup-mode or whatever, where Syncthing sets everything up and shows you how it will work without writing anything. This could allow you to tweak excludes and verify that the excludes are working by looking at each end of the sync to see what is going where. I had to exclude my Music collection and I was a little freaked-out to see 200 GB of data setup as tmp files on the Synology. Syncthing never did write any Music data over to Synology, but I had to manually delete the tmps that ST setup on the Synology. It is likely that it set them up before I excluded them and then just didn’t come back and delete them. It would have been nice to have been able to exclude that folder before ST started syncing my home dir. It would also be nice to check excludes before saving by viewing a list of all affected files shown in a preview.

One other thing: I constantly find myself clicking in the web page to see my local folder and to close my local device and open the remote device. I think you should re-arrange your default window to show the local folder and the remote folder side-by-side and leave any other information rolled-up or behind a link.

Thanks for reading! Now it’s on to an encrypted cloud service to backup the Syno. Gibson recommends sync.com, but I’m also taking a look at pcloud, which has linux clients.

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Update from OP to note that I found an article here that says that a dry-run capability can be had by starting out with both sides set to “send only”. Examine the meta-data that results and if not satisfied, change the excludes and when satisfied set one side to “receive only”.

Syncthing will remove unused .tmp files after 24hrs. So unless you need the space they can be ignored.

That is good to know, as I had assumed after a short period that SyncThing had forgotten about them, after I ignored the folders.

Further update: After setting up my music folders on both sides as “send only” the sync process declared all folders and files as out-of-sync, just listing the file and folder names. I think I will save the Synology folder as a backup and have the media center create a whole new one on the Synology. Then I can point Subsonic at the new folder and delete the backup if I am satisfied. Then I will have the Synology and media computer in sync for future changes. The cloud will be my backup.

@kwe, congrats on the setup! I too have just discovered Syncthing and am already sold that it is exactly the tool I need. The only question now is what hardware to put it on…

Could you tell us which Synology NAS you use? I’m tempted to get a Synology myself, but I’ve heard Syncthing doesn’t work on all of them. The SynoCommunity package lists supported architectures, and I can look up device CPUs by name, but no idea how to translate from one to the other.

(Also curious to know what you think of the Purism laptop! :wink:)

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