Windows optimize

Get your data into the cloud without saving it to the cloud

If you want to gain access to desktop files without uploading the files to a third-party cloud service, Syncbox might be the perfect solution.

There are plenty of services and software available that can help users get their data to the cloud, but for some people, pushing their data to a third-party cloud server isn't an option. Some users will get around that with various tricks (VPN, RDP, etc.); for those folks with smaller budgets, not enough time, or not enough know-how, another option is Syncbox.

Syncbox is an easy to use solution that allows you to gain access to files and folders on a Windows machine from other Windows machines, Mac, iOS, and Android. Syncbox is working on a Ubuntu client, so you'll be able to access those remote files from your Ubuntu Linux box.

Syncbox works like this:

  1. Install a server component on your Windows machine (Server only available for Windows).
  2. Install the client software on the machines to connect to the server.
  3. Connect the client to the account on the server.

Under the framework, it's not that simple. Syncbox uses a dynamic IP service so you don't have to worry about how to get to the machine. Syncbox developers claim their authentication methods will keep your data safe; I cannot vouch for the validity of these claims. I do know this: The Syncbox server uses port 8888 on your Windows machine and, with the help of the dynamic IP server, enables access to that Syncbox folder through that port. Would it possible for someone to break into that machine through the port? Yes, but they would have to know the machine's IP. The only information about your address that you can get from your Syncbox server control panel looks like http://ID_NUMBER.syncbox.cn:8888 (ID_NUMBER is the ID assigned to you when you install the Syncbox server). If you still want to use Syncbox and you're overly paranoid about your data, you could put the data into an encrypted folder within the Syncbox shared folder.

Server setup

The Syncbox server software is only available for Windows. Download the server installation file and double-click to launch. Walk through the GUI wizard, which will auto-generate a Syncbox ID for you.

The first window of the Setup Wizard requires you to select a Quick Install or a Custom Install (Figure A). Select Quick Install and click the Next button. Figure A

In the second window of the Setup Wizard, you need to enter a password for your Syncbox account (Figure B). (The DDNS Key will be auto assigned by the installation and associated with your Syncbox ID.) By default, the password and DDNS Key will be visible. If you're setting this up in a non-secure environment (i.e., people looking over your shoulder), your password and DDNS keys will be visible. Click the Next button to finish the server's installation. Click the Finish button when prompted. Figure B

If you have to use a port other than the default, you can change that after installation completes by following these steps:

  1. Left-click the Syncbox Server icon in the system tray.
  2. Select Control Panel.
  3. Click the Network tab.
  4. Enter the new port in the Port area (Figure C).
  5. Click the Save button.
Figure C

You can view your WAN and your LAN IP from this screen as well.

Client setup

On the machine that is to serve as the client, download the necessary client software from the Syncbox download page. During the installation, you will be prompted for the Syncbox Account, which is the ID created during the server install. If you don't remember that ID, you can left-click the Syncbox system tray icon and the SyncboxID will appear at the top of the menu. Enter that ID and the password you set up when prompted during the client installation (Figure D). Click the Next button. Figure D

You can associate as many clients as you need to your server. (Click the image to enlarge.)

Once the installation is complete, you can access the Syncbox folder by opening My Computer (or Computer in Windows 7) and double-clicking the Syncbox folder or by left-clicking the Syncbox system tray icon and selecting Syncbox Folder; this will open Explorer to the Syncbox folder, where you can begin adding files for syncing.

Summary

If you want to gain access to desktop files without uploading the files to a third-party cloud service, Syncbox might be the perfect solution. And with a Ubuntu Linux client coming out soon, you'll be able to access those files across platforms and the Internet.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.