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Not too long ago, providing people with an easy way to back up data on remote machines was novel. Now, we’ve come to expect it. Dropbox and other companies have made the task simple. Apple, Google, and Microsoft all provide their own ways of backing up your data.

On Linux, the situation is a bit different. Distributions don’t provide their own cloud services to manage your data (though Ubuntu used to have Ubuntu One Ubuntu One Is Doomed; Try These 5 Linux-Friendly Alternatives Ubuntu One Is Doomed; Try These 5 Linux-Friendly Alternatives Ubuntu One, the cloud storage and music service made specifically for Ubuntu users, is shutting down. Here are the best alternatives. Read More ). Some mainstream options don’t offer a decent Linux client.

But you’re not out of luck. Many popular services do work under Linux. And there are ways you can roll out your own solution and take control over your data.

Proprietary Services

Most of the commercial cloud storage services rely on closed source code. That leaves us dependent on the provider to release a package or API that works on Linux. Even so, these tend to be the services that are easiest to set up and use without much heavy lifting. Here are some options worth considering.

1. Dropbox

LinuxCloudStorage-Dropbox

Dropbox works on Linux like other platforms. The service creates a folder in your home directory that syncs everything you put inside. An icon appears in your notification area that shows you when data is syncing.

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Dropbox only supports GNOME’s default file manager, Files. But there are ways to get the service working on other desktop environments.

2. Google Drive

You can’t install an official Google Drive client on Linux. But if you’re using a GNOME-based desktop, you can browse your Drive files as though they were stored locally. This is thanks to the integration that’s baked right into the Files app. By adding your Google account (Settings > Online Accounts), you can also access email, calendar events, and photos.

There’s also a command-line tool made by Google employee Burcu Dogan. This lets you upload or download files to Drive, but you don’t get background sync.

An easier tool may be Insync, but you have to pay money to go down that route.

3. SpiderOak

LinuxCloudStorage-SpiderOak

SpiderOak may be the best option for people concerned about maintaining privacy. Unlike most of the competition, SpiderOak promises that it cannot access any of your data.

The company claims to use a zero knowledge approach where data is encrypted and decrypted on your device. The key is supposedly unknown to SpiderOak employees. This prevents the people maintaining the servers from accessing the data stored inside. Edward Snowden has recommended using SpiderOak over Dropbox.

SpiderOak develops some open source technology, such as Crypton, but the desktop client is proprietary. If you’re okay with this, SpiderOak lets you back up any folder on your computer.

4. Mega

LinuxCloudStorage-Mega

Mega is an option for when you need a bunch of storage space for not much money. The free account will net you 50GB. How much you would usually spend for 1TB on competing services will get you around 4TB here.

5. BitTorrent Sync

LinuxCloudStorage-BitTorrent-Sync

BitTorrent Sync technically isn’t a cloud storage provider. You don’t upload your files to someone else’s servers. Instead, you sync files between your own devices. The peace of mind comes from having your files stored in multiple places Build Your Own Cloud Storage with Raspberry Pi and BitTorrent Sync Build Your Own Cloud Storage with Raspberry Pi and BitTorrent Sync Don't believe the hype: the Cloud is far from secure. But have no fear - now you can roll out your own private, unlimited, and secure cloud storage platform. Read More , so you don’t lose everything if one computer crashes.

The services works on the major platforms. The Linux client is web-based, so after you extract the install file, you run the server and open a browser to create a user and start copying data.

Price: Free | $39.99/year for extra features

6. Steam

When it comes to game saves, you may not know or particularly care where individual files are saved. What matters is that you do not lose the hours you’ve invested in a game.

With newer titles that support Steam’s cloud saving, you can switch from Windows to Linux and pick up where you left off How to Install Steam and Start Gaming on Linux How to Install Steam and Start Gaming on Linux Installing Steam on Linux computers is straightforward, and the result is usually the same seamless gaming experience you had on Windows. Read More . With titles that don’t offer support, specifically older games, you may have to dig around to find the same files you want, and transferring them may not work. Though in some instances, you can rig up a game saving syncing system of your own 5 Ways Gamers Can Save Game Progress To The Cloud 5 Ways Gamers Can Save Game Progress To The Cloud What would happen if your game console or PC died? Would you have to restart all the games you're playing from scratch? Read More .

Open Source Options

Many Linux users have practical and ethical objections to using proprietary services. Fortunately there are quite a few open source alternatives to choose from these days.

7. Seafile

LinuxCloudStorage-Seafile

Seafile gives you choices. Monthly payment plans let you store up to 2TB of data in remote datacenters in the US or Germany. Alternatively, you can store files on a private server of your own Create Your Own Secure Cloud Storage With Seafile Create Your Own Secure Cloud Storage With Seafile With Seafile, you can run your own private server to share documents with groups of colleagues or friends. Read More .

Aside from sharing files, you can message other users, managing permissions, and establishing groups.

8. SparkleShare

The SparkleShare client is likely available in your distribution’s repositories. This will create a folder in your home directory that syncs whatever you put in, just like Dropbox Sparkleshare - A Great Open Source Alternative To Dropbox [Linux & Mac] Sparkleshare - A Great Open Source Alternative To Dropbox [Linux & Mac] There's been quite a few problems that have risen about Dropbox in recent months that is making some people feel uncomfortable about using it and are seeking refuge by means of an alternative. There are... Read More . The service is better suited for documents than big audio or video files. You can either host your own server or rely on a service such as GitHub.

LinuxCloudStorage-SparkleShare

9. OwnCloud

Like SparkleShare, OwnCloud lets you store files on your own setup or rely on a remote provider. How simple of an experience you have depends on which way you go ownCloud: A Cross-Platform, Self-Hosted Alternative to Dropbox & Google Calendar ownCloud: A Cross-Platform, Self-Hosted Alternative to Dropbox & Google Calendar The NSA and PRISM scares demonstrated that governments can and will access the various popular online cloud services. This means that now is one of the best times to consider creating your own cloud solution.... Read More .

Either way, OwnCloud doesn’t stop with file sharing. You can use the service to manage a calendar and your address book. The client lets you view photos, videos, PDFs, and other documents.

10. Syncthing

Syncthing is an open source alternative to BitTorrent Sync. This means your data doesn’t go through anyone’s servers. But without the level of support BitTorrent Sync has, you may not have quite as a reliable an experience. Setting up the two services is similar, so you may want to try Syncthing first if you prefer having an open system.

LinuxCloudStorage-Syncthing

Not All Services Play Along

What if you already have your files stored somewhere and are making the transition over to Linux? In some cases, you’re not in for a smooth ride.

Apple iCloud doesn’t offer a Linux client, so you can only access your files through a web browser How to Access iCloud Drive Files from Any Device How to Access iCloud Drive Files from Any Device iCloud Drive is a handy tool, but accessing your files can be a little confusing. Today we'll show you how to get file system access to iCloud Drive, whatever your operating system. Read More . Microsoft’s OneDrive doesn’t support Linux either, but you can get around that by using a command line tool How To Synchronize Files On Ubuntu With OneDrive How To Synchronize Files On Ubuntu With OneDrive Microsoft just bumped up the amount of free storage you get with OneDrive, so you might want to use it on your favorite Linux distribution. However, Microsoft doesn't have an official client for Ubuntu. Read More . You may ultimately have to download everything to a computer or hard drive and start from scratch with a new service.

For a more in-depth comparison of some of these services, I’d recommend taking a look at issue 16 of Linux Voice magazine. The PDF is available under a Creative Commons license and free to download.

Do you have experience with any of these services? What other options would you recommend? How do you protect the data on your Linux desktop?

  1. nexayq
    May 16, 2016 at 10:14 am

    Thanks k_w_a, pCloud seems cool

  2. k_w_a
    May 3, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    After Bitcasa Drive service was closed, I moved to pCloud Drive, which is Compatible with Ubuntu 32 bit and Ubuntu 64 bit. Easily accessed as Virtual Drive in file manager, has auto sync folders feature, sharing, file versioning, 10 GB free, 500 GB and 1 TB paid for personal use, and more

    • Greg J
      September 5, 2016 at 6:42 am

      I've been using pCloud across Android, WIndows and linux since my reliance on OneDrive turned out to be an obstacle . I wanted to start using active syncing of files (which I never kept on with OneDrive - so web browser access was good enough).

      At the time, I only got a few results for Linux supported (full-support; no shortcomings for using linux vs. windows) services. pCloud and SpiderOak. With Spider Oak's difficult functionality at the time - I tried pCloud, and haven't looked back. The non-free plan runs be $4/month and I only have 90GB used out of 500GB.

      I hosted OwnCloud on my server in the past - but due to resources flooding a server running many services and protocols already - I removed it from my server.

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