Friday, November 11, 2016

Replacing Dropbox With Resilio Sync

Tom Harrington:

Over the past year or so I’ve been trying out Resilio Sync (formerly BitTorrent Sync) as a possible alternative to Dropbox. It’s gradually improved to where I think I can rely on it. With my Dropbox subscription up for renewal in a couple of weeks, now’s the time. In this post I’ll describe how to set up Resilio to get a Dropbox-like experience.


I looked at a variety of sync options and rejected most of them. Reasons varied, but I found that the quickest test of a sync system was checking how it handled symbolic links. My only real technical gripe with Dropbox is that it won’t copy symbolic links as symbolic links. Instead it follows the links, which can cause duplicate files.

This is actually one of my favorite Dropbox features. It’s very useful even though it’s technically sort of wrong.

Resilio also offers a couple of nice benefits. It’ll sync directly from one Mac to another over my local network without needing to upload everything to a server first. And I can set up as many shared folders as I want, in any location on my Macs.


I’ve been talking about adding Macs to Resilio, but it also runs on other platforms. Most interesting for this post, it runs on Linux and can be configured remotely. That means you can buy space at any VPS provider and add your virtual server(s) to the mix. That gives you an always-on computer to sync with for just a few bucks a month.

After seeing the new MacBook Pros, I’m considering switching from a single MacBook Pro setup to a (future) desktop Mac combined with my 2012 MacBook Pro. I have some big folders that I want to sync between the two Macs but which don’t need to be stored in the cloud. Resilio Sync seems like a good solution for this.

Unfortunately, Resilio Sync is not a Dropbox replacement if you need to sync with iOS apps such as Editorial, GoodReader, and Readdle Documents.

Previously: Replacing Dropbox With iCloud Drive.

Update (2016-11-11): Some people share their experiences via Twitter.

6 Comments RSS · Twitter

Dropbox's API means it can't be a complete replacement, because so many apps use it. It's a 99% replacement though, with Dropbox remaining where necessary.

In your iCloud Drive post you mentioned lack of selective sync being a reason to prefer Dropbox's symbolic link handling. In case it wasn't clear in my Resilio post, you can put your shared folders anywhere on your Mac and have as many as you like (unlike Dropbox and iCloud Drive you're not limited to a single shared folder). That seems like it solves the problem in a different way-- instead of creating symbolic links to folders outside of Dropbox, you can create a separate share for those folders.

@Tom I think you may be right that there’s a way to get the functionality I want using multiple Resilio folders. I haven’t fully thought it through it yet. It seems like it would require more setup—subscribing and mapping the folders on each Mac—and possibly complicate iOS apps if they ever are supported. Right now I can use Editorial and the symlinks to seamlessly browse through a hierarchy of folders, some of which are linked to other locations.

My setup is:
- Dropbox on a DigitalOcean Ubuntu Server machine, precisely for compatibility with Dropbox-syncing iOS apps
- among several other folders for specific purposes, one synced with the Dropbox folder
- Resilio sync on my Macs and my iPhone. The Dropbox synced folder (the Resilio sync one) is only synced to the Macs, specific apps integrating with the Dropbox API on my phone.
- The DigitalOcean machine is obviously always on so I get the benefit of syncing being always available, whether I'm on my home Mac or at work.

The biggest issue with Resilio Sync for me is the lack of a freely available API and, somewhat consequently, the lack of IFTTT integration.

[…] Previously: Replacing Dropbox With Resilio Sync. […]

I heard some people are going to buy Reslio, I wonder if the service will undergo some changes or everything will remain the same?

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