Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at 10:35 AM

We need a Dropbox for servers

I've been getting emails from one of my hosting providers, Linode, saying that my server there was exceeding its CPU allotment. I checked it out. It was Dropbox. As usual.

Dropbox is a total hog running on Linux. Maybe it is on the Mac and Windows too, but we just don't feel it so much. Not sure.

But I've been using it on all my servers for a very long time, years, and I can tell you -- it's wrong. It was a good first effort. But we really need the equivalent of Dropbox for servers. It would be organized differently, and it would be tuned up for the reality of servers.

I was hoping BT Sync was going to do it, but it got so convoluted in its various releases. I no longer know how to use it. And it's crashed my main machine the two times I tried to install it over an old version. I had to restore from a TimeMachine backup both times. One time it took out my fusion drive.

I was hoping that Amazon supporting filesystems (they call them elastic filesystems of course) would be the answer. But I finally got access to the service, and I can't figure out for the life of me what it actually does. As with almost all of Amazon's services, based on their docs and marketing materials.

What would a Dropbox for servers do?

  1. I don't need to share everything with every server. For example, each server does a backup at night, to a Dropbox folder. That does not need to be shared with all the other servers, just one other place, where all the backups appear.

  2. Some folders don't need to be sync'd all the time. Folders that store log files that can get huge and are updated every time something happens, if they sync'd once every hour or every day that would be enough. Or even never. Never would be often enough.

  3. It should be possible to put a cap on CPU utilization. If you're using more than say 30 percent of the CPU for file sync, something Dropbox does routinely (it goes up 90 plus percent) then just slow, the, fuck, down and relax a bit about sync. The job the server is doing is more important than keeping in sync with the other machines.

  4. However one thing must remain from Dropbox, it has to be easy to set up. None of the alternatives I've looked at are. They're all very very Unixy, and require fairly deep understanding of how the OS works. I don't have the time. The most appealing thing about Dropbox is that setup takes a couple of minutes. Sure it's a CPU hog after that, but if you can't get something going, it doesn't matter how efficient it is.

That's just a start. I'm sure other things will reveal themselves, if we ever get a new product in this area.

Last built: Mon, Aug 24, 2015 at 9:04 AM

By Dave Winer, Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at 10:35 AM. Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends.