Local alternatives to Dropbox are worth looking into for those concerned about the security risks of uploading data to a cloud storage provider. We recently profiled AeroFS, which integrates a Dropbox-style folder into your file system and syncs it across computers. While it works quite well, the service is still in a limited beta, does not yet enable mobile or Web-based access, and isnt the only useful approach to building a “personal cloud.”
Another approach a lot of users might find interesting makes every file on your desktop, including those in external hard drives, available to any other computer, smartphone, or tablet. Luckily, this is quite easy these days—even if youve never set up a server, typed a line of code, or learned what NAS stands for.
For the purposes of this article, well look at two services: Tonido and PocketCloud. We chose them because they are cross-platform on both desktop and mobile, friendly to non-techie types, and provide their core services for free without requiring any hardware other than your desktop. At the end, well also briefly discuss some other options for secure file sharing.
Tonido and PocketCloud both keep your data on your own machines, never uploading files to their own servers except in one limited case involving PocketCloud.