How to Setup a Self-Hosted Dropbox Alternative With AeroFS

Dropbox is truly a great online storage provider. It supported almost every device and platform out there and you can easily sync your files/folders and access them anytime, anywhere. The only drawback with it (and any other online storage provider) is that all your data are stored centrally in the cloud. That means, their safety and privacy are totally dependent on Dropbox. In addition, the free account comes with a limited storage space and you have to pay to get more space.

AeroFS provides an interesting alternative to Dropbox. Instead of hosting your files in a central cloud server, it makes use of peer-to-peer technology to sync your files from one computer to another. This means that you have complete control over the security of your files (since they are not stored in the cloud) and you don’t have to worry about the storage space limitation.

Sound good, isn’t it? AeroFS is currently available for Windows, Mac, Linux and Android. Yes, you noticed it. iOS is not in the list, as of this moment.

To get AeroFS up and running, you have to first register an account on the AeroFS website. This is as easy as entering your email address and click “Sign up”. This account will be used to store your sync data so AeroFS can properly sync your files across the computers. Once you are registered, you can then download the desktop client for your platform.

How AeroFS works is very similar to Dropbox. You will find an “AeroFS” folder in your computer. All files placed in this folder will be synced across the computers.

aerofs-folder

You can install the AeroFS desktop client on different computers and have your files synced almost immediately to each computer.

The Preferences allows you to set up “Selective Sync” so only a few selected folders will be synced across the computers. You can also set up bandwidth limit so it don’t take up all the bandwidth.

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Just like Dropbox, you can share your folders with your friends. This can be easily done by selecting the “Shared Folder” option.

When you share a folder with friends, they will have to install the AeroFS desktop client as well. The Shared folder will show up on their computers once they have finished setting up AeroFS. One thing to note is that your free AeroFS account will only allow you to share folder with ONE friend.

aerofs-share-folder

Another useful feature of AeroFS is the sync history. Whenever AeroFS received a updated copy of a file, it will save the old copy. This can be useful when you make an accidental change on one computer and it is propagated to all connected devices. Using the sync history, you will be able to restore the changes to an earlier state.

aerofs-sync-history

While AeroFS is great for personal use, it can be used for team collaboration as well. The AeroFS Team Server allows for team administration and also serve as a central location to store all the files and folders. The benefit of the Team Server is that your team members (including you) can sync files between their computers even if their other devices are turned off. As long as the server is running, they can always get the latest update. In addition, the Team server allows you to use Amazon S3 as the storage location, so you will never worry about depleting storage space in your computer.

aerofs-team-server-storage-location

The free AeroFS account allows for up to 3 teammates and 1 collaborator. If you require more team-mates and collaborator access, you have to upgrade to the premium account which will cost you $10 per team-mate. This also means that if you want to share your folders with more than 4 people, you will need to upgrade to the premium plan at $10/month.

AeroFS can be very useful if you want to have complete control over your files and folders and how they sync across the computers. If you are concerned with the security of your data on Dropbox or any other online storage provider, or the storage limitation imposed on your account, then I think you will love AeroFS.

Try it out and let us know if you prefer it over Dropbox.