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Who Needs Dropbox and SkyDrive? Host Your Own Files With FTPbox

Ryan Dube 30-01-2014

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 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 10 Ways to Use Your Cloud Storage That You May Not Have Thought Of When we talk about cloud storage, it usually revolves around backup and collaboration. So, let’s try to find some more interesting ways to fill up all the space they give us for free. Read More ” services, but when you boil them right down, they are nothing more than locations where you can securely store and share files Securing Dropbox: 6 Steps To Take For Safer Cloud Storage Dropbox isn’t the most secure cloud storage service out there. But for those of you who wish to stay with Dropbox the tips here will help you maximize your account’s security. Read More 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.

Using FTPbox

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 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 called ownCloud. It’s free, open source, and offers advanced features, including calendar, galleries, and sharing. ownCloud is free and open source.

Related topics: Cloud Storage, FTP.

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  1. Nilo Velez
    May 19, 2015 at 10:58 pm

    I've been using FTP for almost a month on a work enviroment and we are a step away from discarding it.

    tl;dr; FTPbox sucks, it's not a viable dropbox/google drive/onedrive replacement

    We are using it to share some common assets (client logos, fonts, mockups) between five computers, and hosting the files in one of our dedicated servers. In total, we have some 200Mb on roughtly 500 files. These are the biggest problems we have found so far:

    - No unicode support: FTPbox refuses to get from the FTP server any file with a "extrange" character on the filename.

    - Bad change detection: FTPbox does a fine job on detecting your own changes, but you have to constanly force sync it to get changes from the server.

    - Files are not deleted form clients: User A deletes a file and syncs, the file is deleted from the server but not from user B. Next time user B syncs, the fie is restored to the FTP, and then to user A

    - No deltas: any big change brings a lot of traffic to the local network

  2. Wojtek
    February 17, 2014 at 8:28 am

    In addition to the previous comments, using FTP forces you to transfer while files while dropbox and similar will do deltas. This may or may not be an issue for you but you may be surprised by the bandwidth /time needed for a backup or sync.

  3. Aleksandar K
    February 2, 2014 at 7:51 am

    Here's what I think. To use FTPbox you need your own webhosting, which I believe you bought in the first place to host your website, not your files. Other thing is Dropbox, Skydrive and GDrive offer free storage space which is more than enough to host your most important files. If you are so paranoid to think that your files are extremely important and the whole chinese government is trying to get to them you still can encrypt them before uploading. So, it maybe good idea, but for now I'm not even trying FTPbox.

  4. Gaurav E
    January 31, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    In india this method is no go because first of all internet speed is not much enough

  5. Kevin M
    January 30, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    I don't think much thought went into this blog post at all. For one thing you are assuming your web host allows this, which most all of them clearly state in their terms that you are not allowed to host files for purposes other than to display your website.

    Another thing that has me bent about this is you are assuming the web host is a safer place, because it is at your house? Well unless you are hosting your site from your home computer or server, your site is still in someone else's house, so the idea that you are being more secure this way is just goofy! Then we need to consider the cost, you will obviously need more space (depending on your load) and if you are smart and are using cloud hosting (to ensure your backups are always safe somewhere) then you need to calculate the cost of the additional bandwidth that goes with this method. At the end of the day I would bet that these cloud file hosting services are about the same cost if not cheaper.

    @mika - You can secure BitTorrent Sync and ensure no one is peering.

  6. Adam
    January 30, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    BT Sync + OwnCloud = Win! Web interface as well as local copies on a RasPi.

  7. Troy
    January 30, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    HFS (HTTP File Server) has always been a great free solution.

  8. mika
    January 30, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    Almost like FileZillaFTP. BitTorrent Sync is the easiest, however, you will dont know if there's a middle man.

  9. Jon
    January 30, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    Be sure to read the Terms of Service from your web hosting provider before you use it as a "file storage location for any files that you need access to on the Internet." My provider, FatCow, will only allow files that are necessary for my website.

  10. Christine Smith
    January 30, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    One issue I see with this is that all the web hosting packages I've seen for a reasonable amount of money prohibit you from using your account for online storage - they limit you to uploading what you will actually be using on the website

  11. Shade
    January 30, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Personally, I'm a fan of BitTorrent Sync for this type of file storage/syncing, especially since it's so easy to set up on a Raspberry Pi as a small, low power, always-on server. It'd be even cooler if it were possible to implement some kind of public/private key encryption integration, but nothing's perfect.

    • Souliouz
      January 30, 2014 at 9:08 pm

      BitTorrent Sync is just a synchronisation tool without online storage/backup service. You could as well use FTP (but surely not as fancy). I like the ease Bittorrent Sync brings, but personally, I use the cloud for centralised storage and backup. To me sync is not as critical as securing the data.

    • Shade
      January 30, 2014 at 11:06 pm

      How is the data not as secure with BT Sync as compared to a centralized "cloud"? (I hate how that buzzword is overused) There's no third party that you can't account for (the service holding your data) and as I mentioned, it's not hard to set up a small server you can access from everywhere. Add in redundancy of multiple devices with copies of the data and I fail to see how that's not secure. Especially with proper hard disk encryption, etc.

  12. likefunbutnot
    January 30, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    One incredibly important reason that Dropbox (on iOS) and Skydrive (on Windows) are so important are that their respective ecosystems have very limited inter-app communication options.

    On Android, inter-app sharing is configured system-wide, but on iOS and Windows RT/8/Mobile, the options are limited to specific support by each application developer. Each of those cloud storage tools effectively becomes the "glue" app for getting many mobile apps to work together and somewhat outside the limitations of each platform's security model.

    I'm a big fan of using OwnCloud for direct mobile access to local data, but since more or less no iOS or Windows RT/Mobile apps support sharing to OwnCloud, I have to work around by syncing data that I need on those devices to the cloud ecosystem of choice for that platform.