Raspberry Pi, BTSync, and Owncloud – Why?

Why bother setting up a Raspberry Pi with Bittorrent Sync and Owncloud?

You have been playing with your Raspberry Pi computer for a while now. Maybe it's even sitting around unused most of the day. You already have raspbian installed and ssh access. You even have removable storage lying around unused right? Some flash drives, big HD's in enclosures, etc.

Why bother setting up the Pi with Bittorrent Sync and Owncloud? You have dropbox right? Amazon S3? Skydrive? Cloudrive? iDrive? etc.

If you follow Dan's tutorial you will have something very interesting available to you:

Always on, always available, always current access to your files without relying on an NSA approved free provider

What was that last bit?

With all the hoo-hah about NSA and other government access to your files, you may be rightly paranoid about sharing your "secret love letters". You may worry about dropbox security breaches over the years. Or, you may just have more stuff than the free services can handle. (80GB of legit music anyone?)

What You Need and What You Get

You need a $35 Pi plugged into your home router and a powered USB drive plugged into it. Hopefully you have a decent wired home net connection.

You spend an hour running through Dan's tutorial. Additional time spent setting up BTsync on your various machines if they aren't already setup.

You get access to your files. Private access. The files you choose are backed up from your main machine to the RasPi via BTSync. Owncloud reads those files and offers you browser access to them. You can use the BTSync mobile client or the owncloud mobile client to access files on your device. Owncloud lets you send links to people for public or password protected file sharing.

You own the data and the hardware. Your files are not lost to some third party license and are not subject to arbitrary investigations, corporate mistakes, or illegal access.

The Risk is Yours

One of the largest draws to using cloud services (like dropbox) is that they are fast and always available. Your RasPi could crash and your files would not be available to you. Your kids could spill water all over your router, pi, and hard drive. This stuff happens to the large providers as well. They just spend thousands of dollars on redundancy.


You could certainly build this system on an AWS EC2 instance with S3 storage for your files. This would all be secure, reliable, and fast. It would cost you some money per month for the instance and the storage. Depending on what you need, $50 a month or more may be an acceptable solution.

Oh, the Possibilities

The bittorrent sync client works across the internet and attempts several different protocols. It's also very fast. The RasPi could be a central repository for your various work and personal computers to sync to. Your family could also sync files to the RasPi and have their own accounts in owncloud. Everything can be accessible from a browser. Just slowly :)

But Owncloud Has a Sync Client Too

Yes it does. In my case, I don't want all of my data synced to all of my computers. There is too much of it. I like the option of sending shareable links to my files. I like the idea of my files already being synced to one location.

The owncloud model, like the dropbox model requires you to put the synced files into a specific folder on your computer. With BTSync you can have several various files syncing to a single repository.

My Use Case

In my use case, I have a home computer and a work computer. Sometimes I want access to files from one place when I'm at the other. Sometimes I want to share files with my coworkers and friends. Sending 1GB of pictures and home video after vacation can be a hassle.