I’ve been using Syncthing to sync and backup data across my laptop, desktop, phone, and a home server for the past couple years. It’s been useful, dependable, fairly invisible, secure, and free.
Why consider replacing Dropbox, iCloud, Box, or others with Syncthing?
Syncthing replaces proprietary sync and cloud services with something open, trustworthy and decentralized. Your data is your data alone and you deserve to choose where it is stored, if it is shared with some third party and how it’s transmitted over the Internet. via
One key difference is that Syncthing needs two computers running for the sync to happen. There is no central Dropbox servers running constantly with your data. Depending on your values, that’s good or bad. You can compare features and decide for yourself.
Installing Syncthing on a Mac is much simpler with Homebrew. (Windows, Linux, here’s the documentation)
1. Install Homebrew
Homebrew installs and manages software for you. It makes it really easy.
To get homebrew working on your mac, in terminal.app paste the following
/bin/bash -c "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/HEAD/install.sh)"
Homebrew gives you the ability to install complex software very quickly and easily. So now, instead of a lot of instructions to install various, handy command-line tools, say something like git, or youtube-dl, you just write in the terminal:
brew install git or
brew install youtube-dl
2. Install Syncthing
You can read more about Syncthing, but to install it, it’s pretty simple.
In terminal type:
brew install syncthing
Once that’s done you can run it by entering:
brew services start syncthing
It should start automatically after that.
Now live your life
Syncthing and Homebrew are now installed and you can use them.
Syncthing has a web-based interface you can find at
localhost:8384 in your browser. You can set up another device and folders, and then connect it to that computer. There’s plenty of documentation online, and you can skip all the detailed instructions about installation, and start looking at how to configure it to optionally save old versions of files and much more.
Once you get some folders set up and configured the way you like, it more or less takes care of itself.
You’ll just need to install updates now and again.
Update and Upgrade
Occasionally you’ll need to remember to update and upgrade homebrew and the software you’ve installed. (Maybe put a reminder on a calendar?) This is pretty straightforward.
brew update – goes online and searches for updates
brew upgrade – will install those updates.
If you want to do it all on one line, you can enter
brew update && brew upgrade