Can Rclone Sync Client-side Hard Drive from Server-side?

An overview of my problem: We are planning to give out external hard drives that we want to allow users to sync on a quarterly basis (a few hundred users). I have been instructed that I am to avoid requiring the users to download software or create outside accounts. They do already have accounts on our own website, though. So the idea is to use these accounts to prevent unauthorized access. The data is large enough that we don't want to require users to redownload all of it whenever there is an update, hence syncing and not downloading. If we cannot find a good syncing solution, we will have to go with multiple small downloads. Syncing is simply to make it easier on the user so that they don't have to download multiple files. They would just need to click a button and let it go.

The research I've done so far has me confused on if there is a server-side solution for syncing client-side hard drives without them downloading any additional software. I keep looking at Rclone as if it might be able to do this, but I'm just not sure.

hello and welcome to the forum,

if each user can connect to the server via vpn, the server can see the local file system.

Thank you! If I had to guess, VPN connection will probably be a no go, as well. But how do other syncing technologies work if they require access to your file system? Is there no way to sync over a client-server model like I'm wanting to and this is a hopeless endeavor?

if client has access to a website, write a script that will run on the local.

Where is the data? Is it served by your website? If so you can use the http backend and rclone sync to keep a local copy in sync - that would satisfy your auth needs - the user would need to configure rclone with their username and password (or you could script that an provide a correct config in advance).

Then the user would need to run rclone (via your script) to do an incremental sync to the hard drive.

If you can serve the files from your website

  • with directory indexes
  • using the authentication you already have

Then this solution will work fine.

Alternatively you could push the data up to an S3 bucket then use rclone to sync the data back to the clients. You'd give the clients a key which only permitted them to read from that one bucket.

PS I do rclone related consultancy if you want some paid help with this!

Currently, the data exists on burned disks. This is what we're getting away from. I'm just in the beginning of researching to figure out what solutions we have. Hosting the data on our website just seems like the natural thing to do, especially since I can't make them get accounts elsewhere.

Your solution makes it sound like they will have to install rclone on their local machine? If that's correct, this doesn't quite hit my "no installations" requirement. A little background on why this is a requirement: some of these users, who are not technically a part of our company but instead are representatives, are the paranoid types that won't trust needing to download anything and I guess will think they're being bugged or something. I personally find this to be a bit ridiculous of a stipulation and the entire reason I'm struggling with solutions.

Currently, the goal is to find solutions for this problem. If it's not possible, then that will be my answer and we'll have to decide if we want to change our requirements to make this a more feasible endeavor.

I will definitely keep the consultation part in mind because I don't believe that is out of the question! Thank you!

Rclone is a portable executable - no installation required, so I was thinking you could put it on the hard disk you ship out along with a click here to update script. Would that work for you?

Also which OSes do you have to support? Windows and macOS?

If you can put the rclone executable on the disk then that will work.


Oh, I didn't realize it was a portable. I think that's the best I can probably hope for, honestly. So, I think that'll have to be fine. I'll have to write up some sort of proposal and we'll see. Unfortunately, I can't make the decisions!

I don't have the numbers but I'm sure a majority are Windows and possibly some macOS. That should definitely be a question I should get an answer on.

Good luck! Let me know if you need any more help.

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