Resilio Sync (formerly known as BitTorrent Sync) is a great way to keep files synchronized across multiple computers and/or other devices while avoiding the cloud and forking over money.
It works on just about any device you could possibly have, with apps available for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, BSD, Amazon Kindle Fire, and lots of NAS manufacturers. Best of all: it’s free. There are some premium versions available that have access to a few more features you probably won’t need, and there’s a business subscription if you plan to use it at work, but we’ll be looking at the free model which is plenty sufficient for basic file sharing.
How does Resilio Sync differ from cloud services?
Resilio won’t store your data in the cloud. It’s peer-to-peer, so all of your data remains on your devices (and the devices of those with access to the folder you’re sharing). Resilio Sync uses the BitTorrent protocol to transfer file changes across the devices connected to the shared folder.
Resilio Sync features
We’ll do a quick run-through of what we like most about Resilio Sync, in case you’re contemplating whether or not this is the correct solution for your needs.
- It’s free! It also won’t push upgrades on you or be annoying.
- Compatibility with every major computer and mobile OS.
- No limit of how much data can be stored or transferred.
- Share and sync your folder with as many users and devices as you want.
- Protection against accidental/regretful file deletions.
- Grant either read access or read & write access to users.
- No speed cap (many cloud providers will sync your data slowly at times).
- Encrypted folder option is available.
Those features are what drew me to Resilio Sync. I’ve been using it for a long time in order to keep a folder on my PC shared and synced with a few family members, and it’s really worked well for this purpose.
How to setup a shared folder (on Windows 10)
If you’re ready to give it a try, head over to Resilio Sync’s site and download the installer. You can install with the default settings and complete the installation by choosing a name.
To create a folder that you can share out with other people (or connect to other devices of yours), click the plus sign and standard folder.
Now you’ll need to select where the folder is located. If you haven’t already made one, now would be a good time. Keep in mind that if you pick a folder with a lot of files already in it, those files will begin transferring to any device that you connect to this folder.
You’ll allow other users/devices to access this folder by either giving them a link, key, or QR code that Resilio Sync generates for you.
Before generating the link through the Email or Copy button, be sure to configure the permission and security settings you’d like. “Read Only” means that the user/device can access the files but not edit them or add their own. “Read & Write” grants that user/device full access to add, edit, or delete files.
Now that your folder is setup, other devices can access it with the link (or key or code) you generated.
They can just click the link or scan the QR code, or enter it manually under ‘Enter a key or link.’
You’ll be asked to select a sync folder on the new device as well. Resilio Sync will then make sure that those two folders are kept in sync.
You can now begin to share or collaborate in the synchronized folder. You’ll know that Resilio Sync is busying syncing changes if you see it animating in the taskbar.
Detailed stats are displayed at the bottom of Resilio Sync’s main screen:
Recovering deleted files
Another feature we’ve found useful is that if someone in your group deletes a file, you can still access it on your device in the hidden ‘.sync’ folder. The deleted files are kept in .sync\Archive in case you still need them or wish to restore them.