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Raspberry Pi: BitTorrent sync alternative Syncthing

Btsync is a great tool for syncing data and backups to several different locations. By leveraging the torrent technology you can increase the download/upload speeds by adding more nodes to the swarm. Installing Btsync on a built in system like the Raspberry Pi or Odroid-C1 is a challenge since it consumes a lot of system resources, read more about installing BitTorrent Sync on Raspberry Pi. Reading up on the subject a lot of people did suggest that Syncthing takes up less system resources then btsync so let's install it and try it out.

Pre requirements

Same as for the btsync install I need to access my NAS root NFS share to get all the data that I will sync. So first I setup a mount point and do a persistent mount of that share.

sudo mkdir /mnt/stroot
sudo chmod 777 /mnt/stroot

Then let's edit /etc/fstab so run sudo nano /etc/fstab and add a line representing your share. /mnt/stroot nfs rsize=8192,wsize=8192,timeo=14,nolock,intr 0 0

This will give me the root for all the shares so I don't have to map every share individually but are able to access all of them as subfolders.

To test this out we can run sudo mount -a. Then reboot the system and check that the mount is persistent. If you have issues with the persistence and are running DHCP please see my Raspbian:fstab doesn't mount NFS on boot article for reference.


Download the Syncthing repository key and add it.

wget -O - https://syncthing.net/release-key.txt | sudo apt-key add -

Add the repository

echo "deb http://apt.syncthing.net/ syncthing release" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/syncthing.list

Update the repository with sudo apt-get update and then install with

sudo apt-get install syncthing

Then try to run it with syncthing, as soon as you see it start properly you can stop it with CTRL + C. To set it up to run as a service we need first reconfigure the bind address.

nano /home/pi/.config/syncthing/config.xml

Look for the gui option, it should look like this:

<gui enabled="true" tls="false">

Here you can change all the settings in regard to the UI. Change the bind address to so it will respond to all ip addresses. If your running on a fixed IP and not DHCP you can go ahead and bind it to a specific address if you like. You can also change the tls setting to true, enabling https for the UI. This will however result in a security warning when you browse to the UI due to the self signed certificate.

If you now run syncthing from the command line it will bind to the IP and you will be able to navigate to the UI.

Autostart Syncthing as a "service"

First we need to create a init.d script for Syncthing.

sudo nano /etc/init.d/syncthing

Copy and paste the following into it:

# Provides:          Syncthing
# Required-Start:    $local_fs $remote_fs $network
# Required-Stop:     $local_fs $remote_fs $network
# Default-Start:     2 3 4 5
# Default-Stop:      0 1 6
# Short-Description: Syncthing
# Description:       Syncthing is for backups
# Documentation available at
# http://refspecs.linuxfoundation.org/LSB_3.1.0/LSB-Core-generic/LSB-Core-generic/iniscrptfunc.html
# Debian provides some extra functions though
. /lib/lsb/init-functions
DAEMON_DESC=$(get_lsb_header_val $0 "Short-Description")
[ -r "/etc/default/${DAEMON_NAME}" ] &amp;&amp; . "/etc/default/${DAEMON_NAME}"
do_start() {
  local result
	pidofproc -p "${DAEMON_PID}" "${DAEMON_PATH}" &gt; /dev/null
	if [ $? -eq 0 ]; then
		log_warning_msg "${DAEMON_NAME} is already started"
		log_daemon_msg "Starting ${DAEMON_DESC}" "${DAEMON_NAME}"
		touch "${DAEMON_LOG}"
		chmod u+rw "${DAEMON_LOG}"
		if [ -z "${DAEMON_USER}" ]; then
			start-stop-daemon --start --quiet --oknodo --background \
				--nicelevel $DAEMON_NICE \
				--chdir "${DAEMON_PWD}" \
				--pidfile "${DAEMON_PID}" --make-pidfile \
				--exec "${DAEMON_PATH}" -- $DAEMON_OPTS
			start-stop-daemon --start --quiet --oknodo --background \
				--nicelevel $DAEMON_NICE \
				--chdir "${DAEMON_PWD}" \
				--pidfile "${DAEMON_PID}" --make-pidfile \
				--chuid "${DAEMON_USER}" \
				--exec "${DAEMON_PATH}" -- $DAEMON_OPTS
		log_end_msg $result
	return $result
do_stop() {
	local result
	pidofproc -p "${DAEMON_PID}" "${DAEMON_PATH}" &gt; /dev/null
	if [ $? -ne 0 ]; then
		log_warning_msg "${DAEMON_NAME} is not started"
		log_daemon_msg "Stopping ${DAEMON_DESC}" "${DAEMON_NAME}"
		killproc -p "${DAEMON_PID}" "${DAEMON_PATH}"
		log_end_msg $result
		rm "${DAEMON_PID}"
	return $result
do_restart() {
	local result
	if [ $result = 0 ]; then
	return $result
do_status() {
	local result
	status_of_proc -p "${DAEMON_PID}" "${DAEMON_PATH}" "${DAEMON_NAME}"
	return $result
do_usage() {
	echo $"Usage: $0 {start | stop | restart | status}"
	exit 1
case "$1" in
start)   do_start;   exit $? ;;
stop)    do_stop;    exit $? ;;
restart) do_restart; exit $? ;;
status)  do_status;  exit $? ;;
*)       do_usage;   exit  1 ;;

Make the init.d script executable and make it start on boot.

sudo chmod +x /etc/init.d/syncthing
sudo update-rc.d syncthing defaults

Now you can start the Syncthing service like any other service.

sudo service syncthing start


The reason I looked into Syncthing in the first place was the memory consumption of btsync. After running a few tests I can see that it's the same with Syncthing. By the time I'm writing this my btsync instance running on my Odroid-C1 has index almost 4Tb of data and is running smoothly. Syncthing is opensource, which I like a lot, but it's a much more immature product then btsync. The windows client is just an .exe that will run a local web server that you connect to. Btsync seems more mature and robust from my initial tests. Syncthing will probably develop into something better but at this time I will go with btsync instead. Btsync is also developed by the torrent technology creators which make me believe in it even more. Install guide for btsync...

Why don't you install both of them and try them out and let me know what you think in the comments?

Posted by Kristofer Källsbo

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