How to Install FreeFileSync on Ubuntu 16.04/14.04/15.10

Dropbox, ownCloud, syncthing and btsync are great tools for syncing files and folders between your computer, tablet and smart phone. But what about syncing files and folders on the same device? FreeFileSync is a free and open source file synchronization tool that fits this purpose. It can be used to back up your files to external USB hard drive. The latest stable version is 8.2. This tutorial shows how to install FreeFileSync on Ubuntu 16.04/14.04/15.10.

Install FreeFileSync on Ubuntu 14.04/15.10

FreeFileSync isn’t in Ubuntu repository. The official PPA supports Ubuntu 14.04 and 15.10. So to install it on Ubuntu 14.04/15.10, simply open a terminal and run the following three commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:freefilesync/ffs

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install freefilesync

Install FreeFileSync on Ubuntu 16.04

The official PPA hasn’t been updated for 27 weeks. It doesn’t support Ubuntu 16.04 LTS at the time of this writing. We can manually download and install it.

Go to FreeFileSync download page.

Select Ubuntu 16.04 64-bit.

install freefilesync on Ubuntu 16.04

Once downloaded, open file manager, navigate to the download folder. Then right-click on the tar.gz file and select extract here.

freefilesync Ubuntu download

The content will be extracted to a new folder FreeFileSync in the current folder. In that folder you will see two executable binaries: FreeFileSync and RealTimeSync.

freefilesync binary

Double-click the FreeFileSync binary and you will see the program running.

FreeFileSync - Folder Comparison and Synchronization

Create a Launcher

First, to keep the file system tidy and organized, move the FreeFileSync directory to /opt/.

sudo mv FreeFileSync/ /opt/

Then unzip the file which contains png files.

sudo unzip /opt/FreeFileSync/ -d /opt/FreeFileSync/Resources/

Next, install Gnome Panel which allows us to create .desktop files.

sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends gnome-panel

And create a .desktop file in /usr/share/applications/ directory.

sudo gnome-desktop-item-edit /usr/share/applications/ --create-new


Give the launcher a name and specify the command to execute (/opt/FreeFileSync/FreeFileSync). Clicking the spring icon allows you to choose an icon for the launcher (/opt/FreeFileSync/Resources/FreeFileSync.png).

Click OK button and you will see a luncher in Unity Dash.


Source Folder and Target Folder

On the right pane, click the left Browse button to add the source folder. Click the right Browse button to add the target folder. Once it’s done, click the Synchronize button to start syncing files between source and target folder. You can also click the Compare button to see what’s the difference between the two folders.

FreeFileSync ubuntu

Two-Way vs Mirror

By default, FreeFileSync uses two-way synchronization. That means changes made in either source or target folder will be synchronized to the other folder.

If you only want the target folder to replicate change from the source folder, you can configure it to use mirror synchronization by clicking the green gear icon and selecting Mirror in the setting window. And now changes made in the target folder will not be synchronized to the source folder.

FreeFileSync Synchronization Settings

Comments, questions or suggestions are always welcome. If you found this post useful, ? please share it with your friends on social media! Stay tuned for more Linux tutorials.

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10 Responses to “How to Install FreeFileSync on Ubuntu 16.04/14.04/15.10

  • Great! Works very well! Thank you!

  • Justine Dreco
    3 years ago

    I need some help: This is not an install. Is there a way to add it to the dash?

    • Xiao Guo-An (Admin)
      3 years ago

      Hi, I updated the tutorial to include instructions on how to create a launcher for Free File Sync.

      • Justine Dreco
        3 years ago

        Thanks for the update!
        I use it for moving large numbers of files. I feel it is so much safer than doing a simple cut and paste – Easier to track errors, especially in situations where subfolders are nested too deep. Plus, everything is visual or with GUI.

      • michael
        1 year ago

        Hi, it works, but: I had to copy the files via “sudo nautilus”. When I close FreeFileSync I get the following message: The file /opt/FreeFileSync/GlobalSettings.xml can not be written. Error code 13: No authorization [open]. What is the problem? Thanks for help!

  • Dmitry S
    3 years ago

    There is a useful option in FreeFileSync: Instruments -> Settings -> Copy rights (need administrator rights). To use it, you need to add “sudo” before command.
    sudo sed -i ‘s/Exec=//Exec=sudo //’ /usr/share/applications/FreeFileSync.desktop

  • Alex Webb
    3 years ago

    thank you. A pity this is not on their own site as it is not straightforward. Excellent instructions that worked! Hopefully snappy will end installation pain.

  • Caio Nunes
    12 months ago

    Ótimo tutorial!

    7 months ago

    Thank you!!! I would like to see FreeFileSync put something like this on their website! I will start following your webpages now so it was a double good deal for me!

  • Linux Newbie
    4 months ago

    How to install it on Ubuntu 18.04?

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