Syncthing Review 2019 – Discover Hidden Gems of Free Service

Syncthing is by far the most innovative service in the file synchronizing and sharing industry. Competing against the likes of BitTorrent Sync, it provides a fresh take on sharing files between two or more devices. Syncthing is a free service that you can use on multiple platforms.

In our Syncthing review, we put the software to the test. We investigated how the service works, what security features it adopts, and how does it compare to other file sharing service.

However, you cannot rely on Syncthing in terms of encryption when it comes to securing your files next level. Thus, you are bound to use some of the best VPN services available in the market to encrypt all your files accordingly.

Allow us to share our insights with you and rest of the world.

 

Pros
  • No Third Party Cloud Storage involved
  • It is Free to use (FOSS)
  • Open Source
  • Compatible on Windows, Linux, Mac OS, and Android
  • Offers File Versioning feature
  • Documented Protocols
  • Stronger Ciphers can be configured
Cons
  • Complicated Setup Process
  • No App for iOS (but it is in beta testing phase)
  • Documentation becomes cumbersome at times
  • Difficult to find solutions of queries
  • Users need to be tech geeks to install and use the app

What is Syncthing?

Syncthing is free and open source file synchronization application. In a market where there are many file synchronization service, Syncthing provides superior security measures. You can use it to share files between different devices connected to a local network or the internet.

One of the primary advantages of using Syncthing is that there are no third-party cloud storage services. You control the destination where your data is stored and backed up. When using Syncthing, you can assign a computer, server, or any other hardware to store your data. This is what is known as BYO cloud model, where you provide the hardware and the software runs on it.

Price and Packages of Syncthing

As we mentioned earlier, Syncthing is free and open source software (FOSS). You do not have to pay or subscribe to Syncthing to use it compatible platforms. However, Syncthing is crowd-sourced and accepts donations in the form of Bitcoin or through credit card payments.

Compatibility of Syncthing

Our Syncthing review revealed that the software is compatible with popular operating systems such as Windows, Mac OS X, Android, and Linux. You can also use Syncthing on FreeBSD, Solaris, Dragonfly BSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD. Just download the service directly from Syncthing’s official website and you’ll be ready to sync files from one device to another.

For Android users, download the app from Google Play Store. On the contrary, Syncthing also offers its app on F-Droid for users who don’t prefer using the Play Store.

Sadly, the service is not yet compatible with iOS devices. According to Syncthing’s forum, beta testing is underway for an iOS app. You can download the beta version of Syncthing on your iOS device, but it has limited features such as partial synchronization. Syncthing has not yet confirm an exact release date for an iOS app; probably we will see an app after successful rounds of beta testing.

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Syncthing Staggered File Versioning

Syncthing offers the feature of File Versioning. What it does that it archives an older version of the file if the software is deleted or updated. We found this feature quite interesting in our Syncthing review as you can access the older version at a later point.

There are different ways Syncthing uses file versioning. Some of these include staggered file versioning, simple file versioning, or trash can approach. Do note that the default setting of Syncthing is ‘no file versioning’, but it allows you to choose how many versions should be stored.

Syncthing Security and Privacy Features

For our Syncthing review, we explored the security and privacy features offered by the service. The open source nature of Syncthing makes it a secure software to use. We can be sure that there are no backdoors built into the service. Likewise, Syncthing does not use any third party cloud storage services to store your data; rather you decide where you want to back up the data. This makes it a safe service to transfer files between multiple devices.

Privacy-and-Security-Features-of-Syncthing

Besides these aspects, Syncthing utilizes different protocols as security and privacy features to safeguard your data while transferring. Here is a look at the different protocols used by Syncthing:

Syncthing Block Exchange Protocol v1

Syncthing uses Block Exchange Protocol v1 to exchange metadata and files between two or more devices. The Block Exchange Protocol v1 breaks down the file into smaller units and transfers them in blocks. It uses TLS 1.2 or higher revisions for encryption and authentication, along with Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS). Syncthing also lets you chose stronger cipher suits for better security and provided such examples:

Syncthing-Block-Exchange-Protocol-v1

Syncthing uses Global Discovery v3 protocol to find devices over the internet.

Local Discovery Protocol v4

Now if you device is located on LAN or a locally broadcasted domain, Syncthing uses Local Discovery protocol v4 to identify devices.

Relay Protocol v1

Syncthing uses Relay Protocol v1 to relay data between two devices, which cannot connect with each other directly.

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Syncthing Setup Process

Now for the tricky bit for our Syncthing review – the setup process. Since Syncthing doesn’t require any subscription, just download the software or app onto your device and start using it. For complete security and anonymity, it is better to use Syncthing on Linux. However, it can be configured across multiple platforms.

For our demonstration, we will be synchronizing files from our Windows PC with an Android device. When you download the software on Windows, just unzip the downloaded files and run the program, you won’t require any elaborate installation. Once the software launches, you will see the following interface on your web browser:

Syncthing-Setup-Process
Next, you will have to add a device with which you want to sync your data. In this case, we used our Android phone. Once you have downloaded and installed Syncthing app on Android, you will have to share the Device ID with both the devices so that they can communicate with each other.

This can be done by emailing the device ID of your PC to your device and entering the ID. Another method is by scanning the QR code of your Windows PC on your Android device. When we scanned the QR code, a notification appeared on our PC, showing our Android phone’s Device ID.

Syncthing-Setup-2

When you have added the device ID for both the devices, restart Syncthing on each device. This was an annoying part while reviewing Syncthing, as you have to restart the software after every step.

Now, the next step is to create a folder on one of the devices. If the folder is already created, simply share it with the device for synchronization.

Syncthing-Setup-3

When you have created the folder, the files should now transfer to the corresponding folder on the other device. In this case, the files held on our Windows PC folder synced with the folder created on our Android phone. However, if you delete files from one folder, the files will also delete from the folder on your other device. You can turn on the ‘Folder Master’ feature, which will ignore any changes made to the folder.

Syncthing vs. BitTorrent Sync

For our Syncthing review, we compared the software to BiTorrent Sync. Syncthing offers similar features as BitTorrent Sync, however, there are subtle differences between the two. Both services are used for the same purpose, to share data among two or more devices. Here’s how Syncthing differs from BitTorrent Sync:

  • Syncthing is open source, while BitTorrent Sync is not open source
  • Syncthing has documented protocols, BitTorrent Sync doesn’t
  • BitTorrent offers app for iOS and Syncthing has its iOS app in beta testing phase

In an exception to these technical details, we used both the services for comparison. BitTorrent Sync has a better UI and sharing files between different devices is much easier. Syncthing has a complicated setup process, and while our demonstration looks easy, we ran into many difficulties while connecting our two devices.

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Additional Syncthing Features

The advantages of using Syncthing are countless. Yes, you have read that correctly. You can consider these benefits in the form of open source file synchronizer, probability of creating your own cloud service, user-friendly interface and others.

As already mentioned, it is an open source app therefore; you can explore the source code yourself. Likewise, you can experience its impressive cross platform feature that helps in using the app on operating systems to your likings.

TLS Mutual Authentication Protection

When you activate Syncthing initially, it develops an Elliptic Curve Key Pair. After going through this step, it applies a hash function (sha256) on its self-signed certificate. This hash function allows you to figure out its unique Device ID.

You will have to share the Device ID with other devices to perform communication process. There is no harm if you are willing to sacrifice some convenience in exchange of next level security.

Distributed Peer to Peer Model

The term distributed peer to peer model suggests that you do not have to bother about central server at all. Moreover, every installation does offer same sort of advantages. Likewise, each node in the network does not disturb Syncthing that makes the job of maintenance relatively easy eventually.

Focus Only on Syncing Files

According to Syncthing review, the whole objective of Syncthing is to sync files. Similarly, you cannot experience auxiliary benefits like editing, calendars, and so on. This is the best part of Syncthing as it does the job in an adequate manner and enhances the file synchronization procedure to new heights.

Sync Multiple Devices with Open Source Tool Syncthing

You might be wondering how you can sync different devices through Syncthing effortlessly. Syncthing allows you to create harmonization among distinct kinds of devices without any fuss. Yes, you can synchronize your preferred devices stress-free.

You can send your data peer to peer with the help of TLS encryption along with perfect forward secrecy to other devices. Above all, you will not have to face storage limitation hassles that help you in transferring your data instantly.

Syncthing Advanced Folder Settings

Surprisingly, all your folders are scanned after every 60 seconds. Therefore, you may face delays when you have to perform Syncthing download process. However, you can change the timings of scanning according to your own needs.

In addition, you may change the sequence of synchronized files alphabetically.

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Speed Tests

Fortunately, you can conduct some speed tests to know how much time is needed to transfer data through syncthing. You may synchronize files of different sizes to achieve your objective. You can follow the simple approach to check how long it takes to transfer files from your Windows device to Android phone.

It is recommended to use 30 Mbps broadband internet connection to perform the whole process appropriately. Luckily, you can convert the download speeds to Mbps with the help of Google megabyte megabit converter. This way, you can transfer larger data files at an enormous internet speed instantly.

Is Syncthing safe to use?

Yes, Syncthing is safe to use to certain degree. You can encrypt your all files through efficient cryptographic primitives that are highly secure than usual https authentication. Still, you will not find end-to-end encryption feature that protects synchronized files to the highest level.

In this scenario, you have to rely on a VPN to achieve end-to-end encryption feature.

Syncthing Alternatives

You have options galore when it comes to synchronizing your different files on your preferred operating systems and devices. Here is the list of various solutions other than Syncthing you can try out:

  • Google Drive
  • NextCloud
  • Sync
  • Seafile
  • pCloud
  • SpiderOak
  • DropBox
  • Tresoit
  • FreeFileSync
  • Duplicity
  • Rclone
  • BitTorrent Sync
  • HipChat
  • Mega
  • Microsoft OneDrive
  • OwnCloud
  • SyncMate
  • Box

Syncthing Twitter Review

Twitter is one of the most sought social media platforms you can use to explore solutions for different stuff. According to the response of one Twitter follower, you can use peer-to-peer file sync method to synchronize your various files on your desired devices.

Interestingly, users want to avail Syncthing Android feature to synchronize their files on Android devices right away. However, you may face some hassles while using the above-mentioned benefit.

Syncthing Reddit Review

Reddit allows you to attain relevant reviews about different products and services. The best thing about Syncthing is its next level harmonization advantage. It enables you to connect your desktop device with your laptops in no time.

Syncthing Overall Rating

Based on above Syncthing review, I will rate the file sharing service 3.5 out of 5. Still, there are some areas where Syncthing should improve its performance to certain degree. These areas are encryption and security since users are unable to obtain utmost level of anonymity with encrypting their files appropriately.

Final Thoughts

To wrap things up, Syncthing is a lightweight file synchronization software. From our Syncthing review, it is clear that this FOSS application provides far better security and privacy as compared to other commercial software. The main reason for this is down to how Syncthing works.

Since you provide the hardware for data storage, there are no third parties involved, keeping your data safe and secure at all times. Its documented protocols and end-to-end encryption add another layer of security.

However, the setup process can be very tedious and complex. For not so tech savvy users, synchronizing multiple devices can be a nightmare. We found it difficult connecting two of our devices. Syncthing should look into this issue and try to make the process simpler and easier for all users.

Nevertheless, when you finally get to sync your devices, there is no better file synchronization service than Syncthing.

Wish to add something interesting to the story, feel free to share your feedback with us.

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Usman Hayat

Usman Hayat

Author
Posts by Usman Hayat

Usman Hayat's Biography :


A business school grad specializing in marketing, Usman found his love for writing during studies. Salmi now pursues a career as a digital privacy & security advocate for VPNRanks working as a blogger. Salmi loves reading about sci-fi & technology while cricket is his game of choice. When the world cries ‘online freedom’ Salmi stands resolute raising his voice for the rights of netizens everywhere.


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