File synchronization is a way for individuals and companies to back up their mission critical files on an external drive or server. It is important to have exact copies of your most important files on a secondary location just in case where you currently store them experience disaster which often happen. Let us have a brief view of some opensource file synchronization applications looking at their features and why you should use any of them.

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
J.R.R. Tolkien


ownCloud offers a suite of client-server software that provides an experience similar to dropbox. It is the most straightforward way to file sync and share data. It is a suite that you can install in your own private cloud and hence you can rest assured that your data is under your control. What can be fascinating about ownCloud is that the Server Edition is free and open-source. This means that anyone can install and operate it without charge on their own private server. There is an enterprise version with more features and functionality added for the ones who might be interested.
Moreover, ownCloud supports plugins that make it to behave/work like Google Drive. Such plugins include online document editing, calendar and contact synchronization.

Features of ownCloud

The following features of ownCloud are some of the reasons you would jump in and try it out.

  • Community Driven: ownCloud has over 50 million users and a very active developing community of over 1,100 contributors.
  • File access made easy: ownCloud provides easy access to all your data – whenever you want, wherever you want. Search through content, setup favorites for frequently used files and browse through revisions.
  • Collaboration made easy: Collaborate! With ownCloud you can invite your colleagues to work on or share files.
  • Extensible Through an Agile App Framework: There is a variety of easy-to-install apps that easily extend the functionalities of file syncing and sharing software.
  • Encryption & Security: With credential or master key based encryption, ownCloud adds an additional layer of security to your files.
  • End-to-end Encryption: If you are the paranoid kind, the new end-to-end encryption plugin completely encrypts your data and neither an administrator nor third parties who have access to the infrastructure can read the data.
  • Sync and Share Your Data, with Ease: With ownCloud all your data is where ever you are; accessible on all devices, any time.
  • Has both enterprise and opensource versions
  • Doubles up as a collaboration tool


Syncthing is a an open-source peer-to-peer application that offers file synchronization service. It is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, Solaris, Darwin, and BSD. Being a synchronization app, it has the capability of syncing files between devices on a local network, or between remote devices over the Internet. This app replaces proprietary sync and cloud services with something open, trustworthy and decentralized.

Features of Syncthing

Open Development

  • Open Source. All source code is available on GitHub — what you see is what you get, there is no hidden funny business.
  • Open Protocol. The protocol is a documented standard — no hidden magic.

Easy to Use

  • It has a Web GUI. So you can configure and monitor Syncthing via a responsive and powerful interface accessible via your browser.
  • Syncthing is simple: It doesn’t need IP addresses or advanced configuration: it just works, over LAN and over the Internet. Every machine is identified by an ID. Just give your ID to your friends, share a folder and watch: UPnP will do if you don’t want to port forward or you don’t know how.
  • Powerful. Synchronize as many folders as you need with different people.


Seafile is an open source cloud storage system with privacy protection and teamwork features. Collections of files are called libraries. Each library can be synced separately. A library can also be encrypted with a user chosen password. Seafile also allows users to create groups and easily sharing files into groups.


You can opt to use Seafile due to the following features it has. Source (

File syncing

  • Selective sync for any folder.
  • Correctly handles file conflicts based on history instead of timestamp.
  • Only transfer content delta to the server. Interrupted transfers can be resumed.
  • Sync with two or more servers.
  • Sync with existing folders.

File sharing and collaboration

  • Sharing folders between users or into groups.
  • Download links with password protection
  • Upload links
  • Version control

Drive client

  • Access all files in the cloud via virtual drive.
  • Files are synced on demand.

Privacy protection

  • Library encryption with a user chosen password.
  • Client side encryption when using the desktop syncing.

Online documents and knowledge management (New)

  • Online Markdown editing in WYSIWYG way
  • A draft review workflow for online documents
  • Metadata management, including: File labels and Related documents
  • Wiki mode
  • Realtime notifications


Nextcloud is free and open-source suite of client-server software for creating and using file hosting services. Its functionally is similar to Dropbox and is one of the best Applications in this arena. Its growth is phenomenon and the features that keep on getting added is plus to the project.
Looking at a little history of Nextcloud, it was originally a fork of the ownCloud project. Even though they have many similarities, there are now many differences. While ownCloud offers an open-source community edition, they also offer a proprietary Enterprise Edition with additional features and support subscriptions — Nextcloud instead uses the same public code base for both free and paid users. It offers industry-leading on-premises file sync and online collaboration technology and the following are the features that you might love about the application.

Features of Nextcloud

  • Opensource platform. There is a paid version but the codebase is the same
  • Features such as calendar and activity management are nice add-ons
  • Starting with NextCloud 15, NextCloud will be able to connect to the “fediverse” an universe of decentralized social networks based on the ActivityPub protocol: This W3 protocol enables different social networks to speak the same language and allow inter-operations and decentralization.
  • Security: To improve the protection of Nextcloud servers, this release enables administrators to control and enforce two-factor authentication globally or on a group-by-group base. They as well integrate unique in-transit, server-side and client-side end-to-end encryption technologies.
  • It not only syncs files but is a collaboration platform as well through Collabora: Collabora Online is a powerful LibreOffice-based online office suite with collaborative editing that works in all modern browsers.
  • Mobile and desktop clients: The free Nextcloud clients for Android, iOS and desktop systems allow you to sync and share files, in a fully secure way through an encrypted connection.
  • Secure audio and video calls: Operate your own secure and private audio/video communication service! You can access it through a browser, invite family or friends and collaborate in a group through secure, end to end encrypted audio and video communication.
  • Accessibility: To ensure Nextcloud is accessible to users with visual impairments, Nextcloud has extensive keyboard accessibility and screen reader support.

When choosing between the three, it’s important to go with the service that provides you with the features you need to maximize your productivity and security. But it’s also worth noting that strong and reliable internet also plays an integral part in keeping all your files connected to the online storage service of your choice. It matters even more if you don’t have any other options but to go with satellite internet options as there are only but a few you can actually rely on.

Also Read:

Best Terminal File Managers for Linux

Top 10 Free Backup software for Linux

Best Linux Books for Beginners & Experts 2019

Top Open Source Cloud Platforms and Solutions

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