How to keep files in sync on multiple devices without Internet storage

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 3, 2014

The introduction of cloud hosting services such as Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive or Google Drive have made it fairly easy for computer users to synchronize data between multiple devices.

All that is required is to install and run the sync client on these devices to do so, and even if no client is available, it is always possible to use a web service instead to access files.

While that is great for many purposes, it means that the data is stored on the Internet on servers of the selected company.

Sometimes, this may not be desirable, especially if you only need to sync files in a local area network or if you want to make sure that you retain full control over the data at any point in time.

You can use several programs for this task but one of the easiest to set up and use is Bittorrent Sync.

Note: While data does not flow over the Internet, you still need an Internet connection for connecting to peers. According to Bittorrent, the information is not stored.

sync over lan

Here is what you need to do to synchronize as many files and folders as necessary over a LAN connection.

  • Download and install the Bittorrent Sync client on all systems that you want to sync data between.
  • Start it up on one system and click the add folder button to add the first folder to it.
  • If you want to sync data one-way, select Read Only as the permission and make sure you click on advanced and disable the link expiration option there to avoid that connections are blocked after a set amount of days.
  • You may also want to disable the approval option under advanced. If you don't, you need to allow each device connection manually.
  • If you want to sync in both directions, switch to read and write instead and follow the one-way instructions from then on.
  • Add as many folders as you like this way.

You get a share code for each folder that you add this way which you need to enter on all target machines. You can use a program like Sharemouse or Mouse without borders to copy the code to the other system if they are in reach or use other means to do so.

Once you have added the share key to the Sync client the folder is added.

Bittorrent Sync won't store the data in the cloud and will prefer the fastest route which is using a local area network when possible. If that is not possible for whatever reason, it may sync the data over the Internet instead but again without storing it on third-party servers to do so.

Alternative: Microsoft SyncToy

Synctoy can be used to pair folders between different devices. Note that you can only create folder pairs between two devices which makes it less of a solution for situations where data needs to be shared between more than two devices.

Alternative 2: AeroFS

The free limited version of the program is good for a maximum of three users. The program itself is cloud managed but does not store data in the cloud. This means that you need an Internet connection for that.

Alternative 3: SparkleShare

SparkleShare is a server product that you can install on a computer that works as a local file synchronization server. It is used by devices that you connect to it to sync the data. The downside here is that you need to set the server up which can be quite the daunting task for inexperienced users.

Now You: Have another solution to sync files locally without storing data on Internet servers? Feel free to share it in the comments below.

How to keep files in sync on multiple devices without Internet storage
Article Name
How to keep files in sync on multiple devices without Internet storage
The guide looks at tools that you can use to sync data between devices without storing it first on servers on the Internet.

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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

  10. Anonymous said on September 28, 2023 at 8:19 am

    When will you put an end to the mess in the comments?

  11. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 9:36 am

    Ghacks comments have been broken for too long. What article did you see this comment on? Reply below. If we get to 20 different articles we should all stop using the site in protest.

    I posted this on [] so please reply if you see it on a different article.

    1. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 11:01 am

      Comment redirected me to [] which seems to be the ‘real’ article it is attached to

  12. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 10:48 am

    Comment redirected me to [] which seems to be the ‘real’ article it is attached to

  13. Mystique said on September 28, 2023 at 12:13 pm

    Article Title: Reddit enforces user activity tracking on site to push advertising revenue
    Article URL:

    No surprises here. This is just the beginning really. I cannot see a valid reason as to why anyone would continue to use the platform anymore when there are enough alternatives fill that void.

  14. justputthispostanywhere said on September 29, 2023 at 3:59 am

    I’m not sure if there is a point in commenting given that comments seem to appear under random posts now, but I’ll try… this comment is for

    My temporary “solution”, if you can call it that, is to use a VPN (Mullvad in my case) to sign up for and access Reddit via a European connection. I’m doing that with pretty much everything now, at least until the rest of the world catches up with GDPR. I don’t think GDPR is a magical privacy solution but it’s at least a first step.

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