Home 4 Ways to Roll Your Own Dropbox Alternative

4 Ways to Roll Your Own Dropbox Alternative

Want a cloud-based folder, but want more control over your service than you could get form Dropbox or one of its competitors? Here are a few different ways to building your own Dropbox-like folder.

The first method is based on GlusterFS, two use Git for syncing files. These projects are designed for Unix-like operating systems like Linux and OSX, but some might also work under Cygwin.

Using GlusterFS

Jeff Darcy of CloudFS wrote a tutorial for building a private Dropbox-like service using GlusterFS to create a mountable file system from a remote server on your local machine. He uses Rackspace Cloud for his app, but notes that any virtual private server (VPS) (or non-virtual server, of course) should work.

The downside of this approach is that there is no offline access – instead of a syncing folder, it’s a remote location that acts like a local folder. This can be remedied using rsync or other syncing service.


SparkleShare is an attempt at creating an open source, self-hosted Dropbox alternative. You can find a release candidate on GitHub. Unlike the GlusterFS approach above, it should give you a syncing folder with offline access. Windows and mobile ports are planned.


DVCS-Autosync is another Git-based open source Dropbox alternative, but it also supports Mercurial and other distributed version control systems. It takes a more minimal approach in function than SparkleShare, but looks a little more complicated to setup.


Details are a little sparse on the ownCloud site, but it is a KDE-based Dropbox alternative.

Here’s the feature list:

  • Store your files centrally on a hardware controlled by you.
  • Access it from all your devices
  • Online and offline (syncing)
  • Cross Platform
  • Automatic versioning
  • Sharing with your friends
  • Automatic Backup
  • Encryption
  • Sync you KDE Desktop Apps
  • Desktop Integration
  • Plugins for a MediaPlayer, PhotoGallery, RSS Catcher and more

A hosed version of ownCloud is also available.

What Else?

I’m sure there are other methods. How else could you build a Dropbox alternative?

Photo by Mekuria Getinet

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