Syncthing

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Syncthing

Syncthing is a nice alternative to things like Dropbox or Google Drive. It allows you to synchronise data between multiple machines, which could be your own or with colleagues. Its particularly useful because it never stores your data anywhere else but on the machines that you choose to synchronise with.

They describe it like this :

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.

Note : it is not like Dropbox or Google Drive in the sense that you can use a public machine to access your files via the web. It is only for synchronising folders between machines. Data is always stored and access locally. It is only when there are changes, and both machines are connected to the internet (and running Syncthing) that synchronisation will occur. In the case of multiple machines sharing the same content, the reliability and speed of synchronisation is relative to how many machines are linked, and connected to the internet at the same time.


Installation

All information for Syncthing setup can be found on their documentation website. Here is just some (hopefully) easy to follow instructions. If you install this on a Linux or Windows machine, go ahead and add a section!

Mac

To install Syncthing on a Mac it is easiest to download and install SyncthingBar. This installs a nice little notification bar icon and launcher. Additionally it makes it auto load every time your machine starts up, which is super handy!

To open the Syncthing user interface you can simply click on the icon on your system bar and click "Open UI". This will open a web browser and navigate you to the Syncthing user interface. Syncthing is only running locally, and the web interface (unless otherwise configured) is not accessible from any other machine.

Linux

   apt install syncthing

Synchronisation

Device Setup

To connect machines together you will first need to setup identifiable device name(s), and then add all of the machine id number you wish to synchronise with.

To start open the SyncThing UI then navigate to Actions > Settings and change the Device Name. To get to your Machine ID, open the Syncthing UI then go to Actions > Show ID.

To connect a machine to another, you only need to add one of the machine's IDs to the other. Whichever machine that ID came from, will (in time) prompt an add request in the Syncthing user interface.

Folder Setup

To start syncing/sharing folders you will need to first create them, and then select the machine(s) that you wish to share with.

First you will need to open the Syncthing user interface. Under the Folders heading you may already see a default folder setup. You may add another by clicking the Add Folder button at the bottom of the list. You should already have a folder that you want to Sync from created in your machine's file system.

Sadly for the meantime the interface only allows you to add a location by typing the path. If you would like to share a folder in your user folder you can type something like /Users/yourusername/yoursyncthingfolder/somefoldertoshare. You can add a folder that does not already exist, and the Syncthing will create it for you.

There are other settings you can configure, but this now should be enough to start your first sync.

Now that you are finished, if there are already files in your newly synchronised folder, you will need to wait for the initial sync to complete. This will be faster the more machines are switched on and connected to internet.

Special Issue

For xPub 2016-2018 students, we are trialling it as a file sharing system for the Special Issue publications. Some specific information in regards to that can be found here :

As mentioned above, so as to have a strong network of machines sharing the Special Issue folder we will need to share our machine ID numbers. First give your machine a sensible identifiable name. Open the SyncThing UI then navigate to Actions > Settings and change the Device Name. To get to your Machine ID open the Syncthing UI then go to Actions > Show ID.

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO CREATE THE SPECIAL ISSUE FOLDER You do however need to choose somewhere logical on your machine that you wish to store it. Please note that this is a semi-permenant place to store it. It is possible to move once you have started syncing it, but it is not very easy. Please just pick somewhere nice.

The more of our machines you add the faster the syncing and the more likely someone will be connected. Once this is done, one of us will share the Special Issue folder with you. When you are prompted to receive this folder you will need to pick somewhere on your machine to save it. Before this be sure that you have made a SyncThing folder (you can name it as you like) in your user folder and another Inside that folder for Special Issue.

For a list of our ID numbers you will need to refer to the xPub mailing list (aka Mr Lurk).