Your own Private Dropbox

I recently had a customer ask me to sync files automatically to their website from a program on a laptop. Not too difficult I thought, Dropbox or Google Drive does that without even blinking.

So I set the service up in Dropbox BUT when it came to accessing the files, I could only access the file I had a link for – fine for file number one but the link within file number one to another file within the same directory structure was not available. Ugh.

This is a second edit – what I forgot to mention was another requirement, they needed the uploaded files to display as html files in a browser, not be downloaded or saved or anything like that. Dropbox can do that with a ?raw=1 option – good to know if you ever need to link to a file that needs to run in a browser. I couldn’t get it to work with Google Drive. Please bear in mind my IT technical skills are that of of a mainframe programmer from the early 80’s 🙂 so I know how to find the stuff and implement it but don’t ask me to actually figure it out!

A quick Google search (I love the Interweb) and I find that if you have a Public folder in Dropbox you can share files and the relative file links are valid too. Oh wait, you needed a Dropbox account prior to 2012 to have a Public folder that works like this. Ugh.

Fortunately I have one, but unfortunately my client can’t write to it without an upgrade. Ugh!

So I started looking for a Windows equivalent of rsync, then realised I need to figure out how to do cron jobs in Windows and then decided to just kill myself already. Seriously, my eyes were melting and my brain was fried at the disregard purveyors of solutions have for us mere mortals. They install all sorts of shyte, assuming their software is the only software that needs to run. I killed 3 installations of Windows before giving up. I’m not a moaner so I won’t publish their names BUT be forewarned.

I then stumbled upon openCloud. An open source, free alternative to Dropbox and Google Drive. Wow, it installed within 4 minutes (the initial install I did was 4 hours because I installed a full linux server on a VM box and did update, upgrades and all that jazz). When it came to production time, I installed it on my production Linode server in exactly 4 minutes with an apt-get install command. Done! Configuration took another 10 minutes. I even figured out how to share another directory on the server so that the website and the local software program were looking at the same data – absolutely fantastic.

I won’t even attempt to try and explain how to do it here – read their documentation – if you can install an app you can install this baby. It works on local networks, the Internet and anywhere you need two directories synced. You need a server but your Mac OS X machine can be that if you want it to.

My quick spread of love for open source – I have a happy client and I have just discovered a new way to run all my project documentation without the need to beg the staff to send in the files, or backup or ever worry about losing info.

So pop over to and start taking control of your files on the Internet.