1

I am looking for a good Samba alternative which allows outside LAN connections.

Why do I want this:

I have 1 Macbook and 1 iMac and a central server. I want to share files between them like photos and other documents. These files should be stored at the central server. This server is located in a datacenter. I need my macbook at different locations and I want data to be central. Samba is the best options, but it only works in your current network. Even if I am able to make Samba work with outside LAN connections it isn't safe enough to use it at public networks because the data isn't encrypted.

What am I looking for:

  • Server software which runs on Linux (CentOS but mostly packages work with all distros)
  • Client software (or just a protocol) which runs on both OSX and Windows
  • It should have something like a directory (Dropbox -> Directory, Network -> Device -> Directory)
  • Should be safe (Samba doesn't send data encrypted)
  • I should be able to authenticate myself with a username or password

I am not looking for:

  • Dropbox
  • FTP Server

Dropbox is nice and it fits 90% for what I am looking for. But I want my files to be stored on my server, not the dropbox server.

  • Have you considered any version control systems? – Lyndon White Mar 8 '14 at 1:23
  • Do you really need a directory, despite having only 1 server? – Nicolas Raoul May 19 '14 at 7:10
  • Modern (post-2010) versions of Samba do allow you to encrypt all communication. – jelmer Dec 24 '18 at 22:49
4

If you don't necessarily want something that integrates into your file manager, you can transfer files over ssh. I'm a big fan of cyberduck through the sftp protocol as a client but there's also tools that let you use a ssh connected file system as a network mapped drive.

  • Server software which runs on Linux: Absolutely, you just need a ssh server
  • Client software (or just a protocol) which runs on both OSX and Windows: Cyberduck for a ftp style client. Various options like sshfs for system integration - I talk about clients I have tried on the next point
  • It should have something like a directory (Dropbox -> Directory, Network -> Device -> Directory): not entirely sure what you mean by that, but you can mount a ssh file share on many OSes - I have had good luck with winsshfs on windows, and mounting it as a shared drive
  • Should be safe (Samba doesn't send data encrypted) : Its ssh - I need not say anything else
  • I should be able to authenticate myself with a username or password: Its ssh based, so that or key based encryption

I don't have an OS X box to test but sshfs would work with OS X. I've tested and had both clients I mentioned work on windows

2

There are two possibilities I can think of here:

Secure FTP

Secure FTP allows you to access your file securely using standard FTP clients such as FileZilla or Cyberduck. It's useful to have, but I find it rather cumbersome since you need a good FTP client to fully appreciate it, and it can be a bit awkward to set up.

VPN

Depending on which router you use, setting up a VPN might be the easiest option. It will allow you to access your data just as if you were on your home network, and to do so securely no matter where you are. A VPN is useful for a variety of reasons (bypass firewalls, see your devices at home etc) and it will work natively on pretty much any modern device, including Windows, Linux, OS X, iOS and Android.

If you use DD-WRT on your router, it's a matter of checking a few boxes. You can also set it up without involving your router, too.

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