Replicating a Dropbox like experience - welcome thoughts (mobile to PC sync'ing)

Hello All,

Sorry to bother you, I do try to fiddle and read instructions before hassling humans :slight_smile: I’m only having a play, so no harm done at all, do forgive me if I’ve misunderstood the methodology of Syncthing.

My routine at the moment is to mainly use my mobile phone (Android + Dropbox) to take photos. When I get home, Dropbox sync’s over Wifi/LAN to my main computer (Windows) and a folder called ‘Camera Uploads’. I then move those photos from the ‘Camera Uploads’ folder to wherever they need to live, this is sometimes in another folder within Dropbox.

I’ve been playing with Syncthing to replicate this method, I’ve gotten very close. Do note, all other Syncthing use will and has worked perfectly fine, it’s just when I get the mobile phone involved, things going a little off.

I set the Phone (Android) to SEND only. I set the server (TrueNAS) to RECEIVE only. I set the computer (Windows) to RECEIVE only.

When I move/delete a file from the Syncthing folder on the Windows machine, the phone within the Syncthing app, alerts me with: “Override changes”. If I accidentally clicked this, it will then reinstate the photos I intentionally deleted on the Windows machine. I just wonder, is there any way of instructing the phone to only send new photos to Syncthing, make a note of what was sent and ignore file changes that occur on other devices? I do see filters are an option, that’s something I will happily delve into if needs be. Of course, I could just ignore the ‘Override Changes’ link and never press it - but you know how it goes, sometimes things can be pressed accidentally and I’d hate to see a flood of already organised photos to be reinstated.

Just to confirm, I have a complete test system including a test TrueNAS Core server, a test PC and test mobile phone, so I can tinker to a certain point. If the complexity is too great, I’ve no issue with retaining Dropbox for phone to computer sync’ing, before they’re moved to the correct location. I will definitely use Syncthing in a simpler scenario (With no mobile device included).

Thanks in advance!


Syncthing syncs stuff, what you want sounds like transfer from A to B which is not what Syncthing does.

In general, you should probably set both folders to send receive, then when you move the files away on the PC, they will get removed on the phone.

However, deleting them on the phone, will also delete them on the pc, assuming they have not been moved away.

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As a former longtime Dropbox user, I’d just like to point out that Dropbox on Android doesn’t really offer actual synchronisation. There is reason the function is called “camera upload” literally, i.e. it just uploads the pictures to their servers. Syncthing, on the other hand, works the same regardless of the OS, which is to sync files both ways (with some specialised features like the already mentioned Send Only and Receive Only folders). It’s still not the same as the Dropbox’s functionality of “upload and forget”.

I personally do the same as Audrius explained above - have one folder set to Send & Receive to actually sync the files, and then have a different folder on the desktop, where I move the synced pictures in order to store and organise them all.

Alternatively, if you’ve got enough space on the phone, you could just sync your whole photo library with the phone’s Camera folder.

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Thank you both for these replies, I need to adjust my mindset. I’ll try to keep it simple and use SyncThing for what it is, rather than deluding myself that it’s a precise Dropbox replacement. It is a slight shame, as I do like to retain photos on the phone - in case an issue arises on the non-mobile device (human error or not). I can of course do this, it just means keeping two copies of a file, I guess I could create a sub-folder called “duplicate” or “copied”, that might work.

I would love to Sync all my pictures to the phone, instead I intend to use Emby or similar to stream it, as I don’t have a phone with 1TB+ internal storage.

I’ll do it as you suggest though, thank you!

Syncthing can mostly replace Dropbox when it comes to the core file synchronisation, but if you need additional features like the previously mentioned camera upload or Web access and such, maybe Nextcloud would be more suited for your needs? In full disclosure, I haven’t really used it myself for real, but it appears to be the recommended free and open source solution for such a use case.

Yeah, large folders like that are problematic. I’ve personally got to deal with plenty of devices with as low as 16/32 GB of internal storage, so I normally try to split everything into as many smaller folders as possible. Ignore patterns come in handy too, e.g. if there’s a large camera folder, but most of it consists of videos, then one could play with patterns, such as /*/**.mp4, that skip all videos located in subfolders, and thus greatly reduce the overall size required for sync on the devices with limited storage. In general, Syncthing is very flexible :slightly_smiling_face:.

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Thank you for that, I have now adjusted settings and although it’s a different method, it achieves the same goal.

I did try NextCloud, but there were issues with it that I wasn’t happy about, it also provided more features than I wanted. I do prefer simple solutions that do one thing well, and NextCloud seem to do several things adequately. Thank you though!

That’s a really handy tip, thank you. So far I’m going to sync send/receive a folder on the phone and a PC, then when it gets close to the capacity of the phone, I’m going to 7zip the folder, archive and then delete the whole contents (just in case!). That exclude filter might come in handy though, as you can imagine it’s the videos that are the biggest, especially with a modernish phone.

Thanks again! :slight_smile:

No problem :slightly_smiling_face:.

You’ve mentioned Windows as your main OS, so I’d just like to throw this small recommendation out here. There is this free and open source tool called FileOptimizer (see that uses a combination of multiple command line tools in order to losslessly compress a variety of file formats. It can do wonders with images in particular. Just make sure to tick the Keep metadata box if you don’t want to lose any EXIF information from the files in case you do decide to try it out.

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Ahh, cheers for the headsup about FileOptimizer, I’ll look into that. Hadn’t heard of it previously :+1:

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