If you had a million dollars, would you rather store it in a safe at someone’s house or at your own place. It’s nice to have control of your own assets. Why wouldn’t the same be true for data?
The whole reason most people choose to host a website or blog on their own web hosting account is because there’s more of a sense of “ownership” than if you’re hosting pages you’ve written on a site like WordPress.org or on Blogger. The beauty of having a web hosting account is that it’s basically a perfect file storage location for any files that you need access to on the Internet. Sounds a bit like Dropbox doesn’t it?
Here’s the thing. Sure, services like Dropbox and Skydrive are extremely popular “cloud hosting” services, but when you boil them right down, they are nothing more than locations where you can securely store and share files on the Internet. For years, the way everyone did this was basically hosting the files and then using FTP tools to transfer them back and forth.
Really, all you need to do is find a tool that automates the whole FTP process for you, and you can continue hosting your files on your own hosting account, rather than entrusting your data to some other service. That’s exactly what FTPbox does for you.
Setting Up FTPbox
The first step is to download and install FTPbox. The first part of the setup is to type in the FTP login credentials for your hosting account. If your hosting service offers encrypted FTP, by all means make use of it for your own security. Also, I wouldn’t recommend selecting “Always ask for password” or it kind of defeats the purpose of automating the process, but if you’re paranoid about security, then feel free to select it.
Next, choose a local folder on your computer where the remote files will be synced to. By default, the path is in the Documents folder under FTPbox, and then a subdirectory with the name of the hosting domain prefaced with the login ID.
You can use the default, or you can create a customized path of your liking. It can be anywhere at all on your PC, there are no limitations.
Then pick the remote hosted folder that you want to sync with your computer. One smart use of FTPbox, if you are hoping to share files with people on the Internet often, is to sync the public FTP folder on your web hosting account with a folder on your PC.
This allows you to quickly drop a file into a folder on your own computer, and it’ll be automatically hosted on the Internet for anyone to grab. All you have to do is give someone the FTP login credentials for the public FTP folder, and they can grab the file using their favorite FTP client. Better yet, they could also sync with the folder from their PC using FTPbox, and you essentially have an automated link between two folders on two PCs across the Internet. Cool huh?
In the next setup step, you can choose to sync everything in the folder you selected (including subfolders), or you can manually select files to keep updated.
Once you’re done with the setup, FTPbox opens up to the Options menu. Here, you’ve got a few more tabs to work through if you want to further customize how the syncing behaves.
Setting Up FTPbox Options
In the options under the General tab, FTPbox lets you define how the notification icon behaves when you click on it, and a few application features like auto-start, notifications and logging.
The Account tab basically shows you the account settings you’ve just configured.
The Bandwidth tab is pretty cool though – it gives you the flexibility of defining an automated interval when the remote folders get synced with your local PC folders.
You can also put kb/s limits on the download and upload speeds so that FTPbox doesn’t end up chewing up all of your home network bandwidth trying to keep all of your files synced constantly.
So that’s it. You’ve got FTPbox set up, it’s syncing your folders, and everything is cool. You can change those settings at any time, or manually trigger syncing whenever you like by right clicking on the FTPBox icon in the notification area.
Now, if you want to make any changes to those files that are stored on your server, just open up your local FTPbox folder and edit whatever files you like.
Some cool uses for this would be to make sure you have a local backup of your scheduled WordPress backup archives that are stored on your web server and updated daily.
All you have to do is sync with the backup folder and you’ll always have a local copy safely stored on your computer, should anything happen to the server.
Or, better yet, you can sync with the entire base directory of your WordPress blog, and make tweaks to your theme or other files any time you want by editing the files in your local folder. It sure beats having to mess around with FTP clients all the time. FTPbox automates everything!
Are You Going To Get In Control Of Your Cloud Storage?
As you can see, FTPbox is pretty easy to set up, and flexible enough so that you should be able to customize it to do whatever you want. Give it a shot. Sync up with your remote hosting accounts, start syncing those files with your local PC folders, and drop those silly cloud storage accounts. Everything is always better when you’re in control of your own destiny, isn’t it?
We have previously reviewed a similar self-hosted cloud storage alternative called ownCloud. It’s free, open source, and offers advanced features, including calendar, galleries, and sharing. ownCloud is free and open source.