Sam's Blog

Sync and the cloud

by Sam on September 17, 2021

I thought it would be fun to share my personal solutions and experiences regarding syncing and the cloud. This is how I save my Pictures, Music, Documents, Calendar, and Contacts. My sync solution even powers the posting and image uploading of this very blog.

Many many years ago I would store all my photos/videos with Google. This is before I become the privacy nut I am today. They had free unlimited photo/video storage, and it allowed me to free up several gigs of valuable storage on my 32gb phone. Back then, between music, photos, videos, and the operating system itself taking up what little space you had, it was often a choice between moving all your photos/videos to your desktop/laptop, or deleting them for more space. Nowadays that’s less of a problem with 128gb of storage being the new normal, and eventually I became skeptical that Google could continue providing this service completely free long term. While I only had a few gigs, I’m sure some people were storing terabytes of data, and eventually Google was going to have to start charging. I needed to check out my options.

First I’ll talk about nextcloud, and why I no longer use it. Nextcloud is very feature-rich, but almost to a fault. It has every bell and whistle you could possibly want, and anything that doesn’t come default is usually one click away to install. While it will absolutely accomplish almost any task you’ll want it to, in my personal experience things would eventually break or require maintenance. At least once a year I would have to SSH into and fix my nextcloud install. While maintenance isn’t all that much trouble for me, it’s certainly not ideal, and seemed like a bit much to sync some files. I wanted something that was a little less hands-on, and didn’t feel like paying for a managed nextcloud instance. That’s when I remembered Syncthing!

Syncthing is a very simple to use software that I run on my laptops, phone, and personal server. It synchronizes the files on my devices, meaning I constantly have several copies. While it removes the advantage of being able to stream large media from the cloud without having to store them on your devices (such as photos and video), having physical copies is much quicker to access, and in this day and age having ~10gb of photos and ~30-50gb of music is really not that much, even on a phone.

I would definitely recommend nextcloud for the majority of people, it’ll cover 99% of use cases. Nextcloud is very easy to use, and a managed service isn’t that expensive. Meanwhile syncthing is nice for people who want a simple and light solution, with the ability to have several physical copies.