We have many users on Macs that access their files on one big non-Mac server that supports FTP/WebDAV/CMIS.

PROBLEM: They can not use their files while not connected to the Internet.

QUESTION: Is there a Dropbox-like software for FTP? or WebDAV? or CMIS?

  • When connected, pushes local changes to the server
  • When connected, polls the server every n minutes to pull changes
  • Preferably open source
  • Dropbox-like UI: Tray icon, minimal configuration dialog, maybe green check in Finder to show which files are synchronized.
  • Starts automatically at boot or login

Just to make it clear: I am not looking for an online hosting service. I have an existing server and there are no plan to move any data to any cloud. I am looking for a client-side software that can synchronize local files with the server when connected to the network.

I was asked to add a short section describing why DropBox is not a solution: 1) Documents are confidential, third-party is not an option 2) Dropbox is not reliable enough (better uptime/SLA is needed) 3) Dropbox becomes crazily expensive for large scale 4) The FTP/WebDAV/CMIS interface is actually provided by "Alfresco", an enterprise document management system which has many other features (not just file transfer), and is integrated with other critical enterprise systems. So my question is really about client-side only.

  • 3
    Not to dissuade someone from answering, but might you add a short section why dropbox isn't for you? I could see sacrificing the nice software if you need to host it internally due to control or compliance issues. I could see different answers if you are primarily focused on minimizing cost at the expense of time / reliability / quality of the software. Or are you looking to re-implement Lion server's home folder tracking and syncing for mobile accounts? – bmike Apr 25 '12 at 13:14
  • @bmike: Section added, thanks for the advice, I am new here :-) – Nicolas Raoul Apr 26 '12 at 2:11
  • Now that is a great question! I'll think over some options and give it a whirl. Thanks for the extra details – bmike Apr 26 '12 at 4:17
  • @NicolasRaoul I was wondering what ended up being your solution. We are working with pieces of ownCloud and simply not utilizing their storage. – E1Suave Sep 9 '12 at 14:12
  • @E1Suave: We could not find the user-friendly tool our clients want, so we are developing one right now. It will be free and open source. We will announce here: twitter.com/CmisSync1 – Nicolas Raoul Sep 10 '12 at 7:08

You may want to look into the following open source applications:

  • FTPSync

    a Perl script to synchronize a local directory tree and a remote FTP directory tree.

  • ownCloud

    Web services under your control.

    Current features: file management, WebDAV access, share via public link, music streaming, users & groups, OpenID, LDAP In development: sharing, encryption, calendar, contacts, etc., desktop sync client, Android & webOS apps, server-server sync

    NOTE: You do not have to utilize their storage.

  • +1 FTPSync.pl is a valid solution, thanks! BBOX uses the SVN protocol, I was asking for FTP or WebDAV or CMIS. owncloud's Android client seems to have a WebDAV sync feature: gitorious.org/owncloud/android/blobs/master/src/eu/alefzero/… but I could not find any Mac client with WebDAV sync in their source code... did I miss something? – Nicolas Raoul Apr 26 '12 at 2:21
  • I have to admit I do not have much experience with ownCloud aside from discussing the use of this product in our recent IT committee. However, the following links may be helpful to you. blog.karlitschek.de/2011/06/… owncloud.org/support/webdav – E1Suave Apr 26 '12 at 2:43
  • I apologize I had intended on giving the other link first. Please check my updated comment. :) – E1Suave Apr 26 '12 at 2:44
  • The karlitschek link does not contain info about any Mac synchronization client... – Nicolas Raoul Apr 26 '12 at 4:50
  • Have you found any success with FTPSync.pl? – E1Suave Apr 26 '12 at 5:18

CmisSync is just like Dropbox, and syncs with any CMIS-compatible server:
SharePoint, Documentum, FileNet, Alfresco, Nuxeo, DocuShare, Oracle, Lotus, SAP, Windchill, etc.

enter image description here

  • Syncs both up and down
  • File stay accessible when offline
  • Conflicts are handled like in Dropbox

Open Source.
Disclaimer: I wrote CmisSync as a fork of SparkleShare, the tool mentioned in Patrick's answer which unfortunately supports only the Git protocol.


You can try IQ Uploader.com. For disclosure, I am the main developer working on this project.
It does exactly what you describe, and provides FTP sync for MacOs and Windows. It also uses FTP-SSL/TLS by default. It syncs local changes in real-time.
We just released a very usable Mac alpha that you can download. The official Mac beta will be released by the end of 2014.

  • +1 Looks like a good solution for FTP indeed! Too bad crawling FTP servers is intrinsically inefficient (because the FTP protocol does not have any "recent changes" concept). Great to see that it is open source! – Nicolas Raoul May 16 '14 at 5:31

I had a similar requirement when trying to work with files on a remote FTP-Server from several clients. For me the best working solution on OS 10.11.4 is Fuse for OS X together with MacFusion.

The first one can be found on sourceforge:


Fuse is the "background-package" which basically extends OS X-file-system-capabilities. (Some older tutorials point to MacFuse, which is, from my understanding, an older version that is not supported anymore.)

MacFusion is kind of an UI for Fuse. Basically, you don't need to know more than your credentials to access your FTP-Server. Here I found a (quite old) tutorial with screenshots from an older MacFusion-Version, that still works, anyways:




Interarchy sounds like it can do what you want. It came to my attention in the context of an iDisk replacement which can keep files backed up on a server, sync folders, share files, etc. I haven't used it myself - I'm reporting what I've read - but it sounds like a likely candidate.

  • Are you talking about their "NET DISK" feature? Or something else? – Nicolas Raoul Apr 27 '12 at 4:54
  • Mirroring. Netdisk wouldn't address your need for access to files when offline. They do say that the files can be kept available locally: "A mirror synchronizes a local folder and a remote directory such that they are identical (although you can have a few exceptions). This is done by uploading, downloading or deleting files." (help.nolobe.com/interarchy/#mirroring) – JRobert Apr 27 '12 at 13:19
  • Is the sync done automatically all the time, or do I have to click a button every time (like seems to be the case for Cyberduck trac.cyberduck.ch/wiki/help/en/howto/sync ) – Nicolas Raoul Apr 28 '12 at 3:20
  • Their support link leads to a set of Help pages and a support contact-form. – JRobert May 1 '12 at 16:47

Goodsync can be set up for automatic syncing. I just started using it a week ago. I have some folders set up to sync automatically on file change like DropBox and some to sync periodically like Time Machine, every x hours. It also syncs my ereader when I connect it to my mac. Some sync jobs are two-way some just one way, without a deep analyze, just automatically transfers everything.

I choose it because it's WebDav transfer speed was many times faster than anything else tried so far (Finder and Transmit).


git-annex Assistant is close to what you ask for:

  • it's dropbox-like;
  • it's free (= libre) software, i.e. you must be able to host it on your own, and adapt it.

What it is missing (at least, now):

  • git annex sounds great, but I couldn't see how it's anything like dropbox. doesn't seem to watch for folder changes at all. – cregox May 18 '13 at 19:43
  • @Cawas It does. git-annex.branchable.com : "git-annex assistant turns git-annex into an easy to use folder synchroniser". git-annex.branchable.com/assistant/quickstart : "Then any changes you make to its folder will automatically be committed to git, and synced to repositories on other computers." – imz -- Ivan Zakharyaschev May 18 '13 at 22:57

Have you tried out sparkleShare? http://sparkleshare.org/

  • My question is about accessing FTP/WebDAV/CMIS storage. SparkleShare does not allow this. – Nicolas Raoul Oct 20 '13 at 12:30

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