Trying different tools to do file management/access, but I'm not doing too well, thoughts welcome

Hey all!

I hope we’re well and good today :slight_smile:


I waffled on way too long - so to cut to the chase:

Is it OK on TrueNAS to have a SyncThing dataset with 2 users - one for SyncThing itself to use, and another that’s read-only for my phone to access as an SMB?

How I'm getting away from Cloud services (Dropbox,GDrive)

I’ve probably said this before, but I’ve been trying solutions that gets me away from Dropbox and GDrive that I’ve been using for the best part of a decade. The tools I’ve chosen are TrueNAS Core, SyncThing and TailScale. I did try NextCloud a good while ago, I wish I could remember why, but I didn’t like it. I tried it for a good few weeks - I think it just provided more features than I needed (i.e. that could go wrong).


Obvious description of how Cloud services work for me

The way it 's been working, and working well is the file caching ability of Dropbox/GDrive - I don’t have to physically download files to a device, as I’m sure you know, it’s a ‘request and get’ facility. This is mainly a feature I need when out and about and on a mobile device such as a phone…it is rarely needed, but when I do need it, it’s very useful.

So I thought, SyncThing to the rescue!

ST is great, it has useful exclude features (for folders/files/file types) so that I’m not downloading TB’s of data from a ST folder onto the relatively tiny memory of a mobile device. The downside is it’s quite fiddly, I have to go through my data carefully and if I had to re-install ST on another device, i might forget a file type and fill up my phone accidentally!

So I’ve got another plan, TailScale and SMB:

I’ve set the SyncThing folder to have 2 users, one for SyncThing and another just for me to access the ST directory via Tailscale and SMB (read-only) when I’m out. So far there are no conflicts.

I do welcome any thoughts on this, as well as raising any problems I might have in the future.


Chris :+1:

I just separate what I really want to sync.
I have some icons and home related files I keep on my phone sync’d whereas on my pc I also have another set of files I like to keep handy. I set it up so I have 3 folders in sync… 2 for phone and the full 3 for my pc. I find that to be the quickest and easiest way and I have the same user with no mucking about.

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Last Time I did this, I recalled I had 2 directories:

  • One for the full 2-way sync so that changes can be propagated to all copies. I keep the files small and have 5 version backup
  • Another was for 1-way “push” synchronization from my the DCIM directory of my android phone to my main pc where it gets transfered to my Photo repository.

You only really needed to setup a device once so it shouldnt be much of a hassle once it is set up.

I recently started a nextcloud on a VPS similar to your intended use case. I do agree it is a bit bloated but it is the best out there. You can disable some of the bloat and make it as lean as you desire. You can alternatively try an OwnCloud alternative (I havent really tried that one). Also make sure that end to end encryption is enabled as well as server side encryption. It will make things transfer really slow so keep your files few and small.

Recently the wife complained to me that our local TrueNAS system feels too complicated and wanted a more simple/barebones approach to address the “bus problem”. This made me revert to a simple SMB share in the network but I am still afraid to expose it to the internet.

In your use case, you have Tailscale/Headscale or Zerotier to safely expose the share outside your home network. I am not confident to do the same.

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Cheers for that, I am thinking of only having certain folders sync’d, but I just feel I might end up going, “doh, wish I had that other folder sync’d too!”.

Cheers @regulareel , I did wonder about that feature, I read a few peoples comments that it wasn’t too reliable, but you’ve been OK with it?

May be I will try nextcloud again when I’ve got some more confidence.

Sorry, but can you explain that please? Is it slow or something?

I do try to minimise risk a little, I turn the Tailscale VM on only when I know I might need it. It does of course me, I sometimes forget to turn it on :roll_eyes:

Cheers! :+1:

In order of comfortable-ness to expose over the internet:

Tailscale > SSH > caddy/nginx > smb

Tailscale is based on wireguard, even if someone stumbles onto a random UDP port Tailscale uses (it’s not 51820 that most wireguard users leave by default)…

use of wireguard means that it ignores packets without proper crypto, … no clogging logs with usernames starting with test,test2,admin,samba,printer,… and eventually rolling into aardvark… no risk of stumbling into an unprotected account.

The greatest risk is that one of your devices was owned somehow, and whatever or whoever owned it can now move laterally through your tailnet. Tailscale has ACLs that can let you segment your network a little bit, but I digress.

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Bus problem is the problem delegating a critical responsibility to only one person - in this case, us, with the sole responsibility of maintaining our home networks.

The bus problem arises when one unlucky day, we might get hit by a bus and die (knock on wood there) and now, no one else knows the various passwords and the technical know-how of maintaining our home networks. Potentially, we will lock our partner and family member out of our system.

You reduce the bus problem by training other people in the household, significantly reducing complexity of the computer and network systems and letting other people help with the responsibility of maintaining computer systems.

I had this setting on my older smartphone and I had no issues with it. IIRC, I had it to sync in a local network only though.