Use Seafile For File Syncing And Collaboration

If you are working in teams, you will appreciate the usefulness of file sharing tools like Dropbox, OwnCloud and Sparkleshare. Seafile is yet another software that focuses mainly on file synchronization and collaboration. It is open source and comes with desktop clients for the multiple platforms, including Linux, Windows, Mac, Android and iOS. The best thing is that you can also install it in your own server, much like Owncloud and Sparkleshare.

When you sign up for Seafile, you will be given 5GB of free online storage space. There doesn’t seem to have a premium plan for bigger storage space though.

Getting Started

The usage is pretty simple, but quite different from Dropbox or Owncloud. To get started, sign up for an account over at Seafile.

Once you are logged in, click on the “New Library” button. Enter a name and description for this library and decide if you want to encrypt this library.


That’s it for now for the online account. The next step is to configure the desktop client.

Configuring the desktop client

Download the desktop client for your platform. It supports Linux, Windows, Mac, Android and iOS.

On the first run, it will prompt you to select the directory to store the seafile data.


Once you have selected the directory and click OK, it will open up your browser and load the seafile page. This will be the main area to configure your Seafile libraries and settings.


The last thing you have to do is to go back to the online account and download your library to the Seafile directory that you have just created in your computer. That’s it. Whatever files you place in this folder will be synced to the cloud.


To view file changes in the library, you just have to click the library link in your online account. This will allow you to view the changes and revision in a github manner. You can also click on individual file to view the content, changes and history.



Seafile allows you to create a group and add collaborators to the group. You can also invite people to access to your library. To do so, just click the Groups link in the menu, follow by “New Group”. Once you have created the group, you can add new library and start to invite your team mates to download the library and make changes to it.


Private Cloud

The above instructions make use of the Seafile Cloud and requires you to setup an account with Seafile. If you prefer to host it on your own server, you can download the server files and follow the instruction here to install it. The server files are supported in Debian 6, Ubuntu 11.10, 12.04 and Centos 5.8, 6.0+.


If you are going to use Seafile to sync your files like you do in Dropbox, then you will be disappointed at its lack of features. However, for collaboration (like github style), I think you will appreciate how easily you can invite people to collaborate and how they can download your library immediately, make changes to it and have it sync back to the cloud with all the file revisions.


Image credit: Diversity And Teamwork by BigStockPhoto


Damien Oh started writing tech articles since 2007 and has over 10 years of experience in the tech industry. He is proficient in Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS, and worked as a part time WordPress Developer. He is currently the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Make Tech Easier.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox