Setting Up a Dropbox Alternative on Raspberry Pi

Steps needed to set up a Raspberry Pi to install and use Syncthing, a Dropbox or Google Drive alternative

Setting Up a Dropbox Alternative on Raspberry Pi

A couple of months ago I ordered my first Raspberry Pi's. I had already decided what I was going to do with one of them. I was going to have my private Dropbox, hosting my files and not relying on Dropbox, Google Drive or other similar services. However, it wasn't until last weekend I found the time to do it. I had already found some resources online on how to do it, so I just followed them, and it was quite straightforward.

Setting up the Raspberry Pi

In all the manuals I found they mention that you needed to install the Raspbian operating system on your Raspberry. However, according to them, and the official instructions, you need to have an SD card reader on your computer. The problem was that I didn't have one.

So tried doing a little bit of research to figure out if it could be done without having an SD card reader, but I couldn't find any.

Then I thought, I'll skip using that operating system and use NOOB instead, which comes pre-installed on the Raspberry. So I plugged my Raspberry Pi into a screen, mouse, keyboard and power source. As soon as I plugged the power source, it turned on, and some colours appeared on the screen. Awesome, it worked. Then to my surprise, there came a window asking if I wanted to install Raspbian. So, I hadn't needed to do all the research I did… great.

After installing Raspbian, everything worked except I didn't have an internet connection. I had a WiFi toggle, and I plugged that in, but that didn't give me the option to choose a WiFi network. After reading the documentation :D, I had to set up the country code before WiFi was enabled. Once that was done, I could connect to the outside world.

Next, I updated the Raspberry using:

sudo apt-get update 
sudo apt-get distro-upgrade

Now everything was connected, and up to date, so there was nothing to wait for and install Syncthing.

Installing Syncthing

The installation was straightforward, copy-paste from the manual. In just a couple of minutes, it was up and running.

Alongside installing it on the Raspberry, I also installed it on my computer, so it had something to sync across. Once I had installed it on both devices and needed to connect them. That was also easy, just by pushing the 'Add device' button. There you set the device ID of another device. You can see the device ID under “gear menu” (top right) and “Show ID”.

Now they were connected, I created a new folder on my computer shared it with the Raspberry Pi. So in just a couple of minutes, the Raspberry had a new folder.


This was a fun and relaxing afternoon project on a Saturday. It's such a fantastic feeling when something works that you have done. The aim of Syncthing (and other similar products) is that you don't have to depend as much on big companies (Dropbox, Google, Microsoft) and have more control of your data, which is excellent.

I, however, going to keep using Google Drive. My main reason is convenience. It's almost effortless to use on all devices. You can always access it if you have an internet connection. The other reason is that both my devices that have Syncthing are in my home. So if there was to be a fire or some water damage for example, possible both devices could be damaged, and I would lose all my data. Using Google Drive, I still have my data even if such damage would occur, but let's hope not.

Have you tried Raspberry Pi? What are some projects you have done or want to do? Thank you for reading.

Thank you for reading.