Use an FTP folder as your very own, Dropbox-like backup service with FTPBox


Do you have access to FTP storage? Most hosted website come with many gigabytes of free space that stay mostly unused forever, that could easily be utilized for backup purposes.

Even if you do not have access to an FTP server, you could sign up for many free or very cheap hosting plans that provide FTP support.

FTPBox is a free, open source program that lives in the background and synchronizes a local folder with an FTP folder, Dropbox style, and supports FTPS and explicit or implicit TLS/SSL encryption. It is still in beta but has such features planned as shared links and access through a web interface.

FTPBox Screenshot - tray icon

First off, a few reasons for and against.

Why use FTPbox rather than a cloud service such as Dropbox:

  • Because the hosting plan you already have anyway offers gigabytes upon gigabytes of space that you do not and will never use, and you would rather not pay extra for a commercial cloud service. Also the trust factor; i.e. because you want your data on your own server

Why use Dropbox or another cloud service instead:

  • Because of all the bells and whistles; device support; (i.e. iPhone and Android apps), explorer integration, versioning, easy folder and file sharing, etc.
  • However, there’s no reason not to use both services in conjunction.

Setting up the service:

Is remarkably easy. Create two folders, on an FTP server and locally, and run FTPBox. All you need to do is provide the FTP connection details and browse to the 2 folders in the FTPBox app, and you’re done.  The two screens below are about it.

FTPBox Screenshot1FTPBox Screenshot2 - add directory

Shared links and the ‘web interface’:

I was not able to use either feature. Web links did not open either on my or a colleague’s computer, and I simply did not know where and how to access the web interface, despite looking for information for a long time. I expect both of these will be ironed out in future versions of FTPbox.

The verdict: a brilliant concept. Even if you are wedded to Dropbox or a similar service (and who isn’t), there’s no reason not to use FTPBox to backup certain kinds of files that you do not want to be eating up your Dropbox storage space (especially if you already have an FTP server with oodles of free space).

Oh, and less ambitiously, you could also use FTPbox to simply sync an FTP folder with a local folder, to keep a changing site perpetually backed up on your hard drive, for example.

Version tested: 1.8.5 beta

Compatibility: Windows (requires MS .NET Framework 4.0); Linux and MacOS versions are planned.

Go to the program home page to download the latest version (~2.4 megs).