FileStash, a drag and drop GUI for file management on server

One thing most of the beginners miss while setting up their own Virtual private server or server in the cloud is the ability to easily transfer files using a drag and drop interface like they do locally on their PC or Mac. It makes transfer of data to the cloud server cumbersome resulting in less enthusiasm to host server software and make changes thereto. Not every one is fine with command line and SSH client setup. Further, there is a good possibility that you happen to use multiple devices to access your cloud server and it gets hard for you setup authentication on all your home devices.

Have you ever thought of a Dropbox like GUI to manage your files on the server in the cloud? A Sydney-based Independent contractor or developer who goes by the name of Mickael Kerjean did and wrote FileStash. It is a brilliant application, totally web-based, works out of the box in any modern web browser with a classic yet powerful and slick interface. It is a primarily a neat file manager to transfer, access, append or delete your files in the cloud server. Before we get into the details, it is really kind and generous of lead developer to release it under GNU AGPL v3.0, a strong copyleft license. You get to self-host this free and open server software on your own server without any restrictions or additional cost of licensing. You have to respect years of hard work that Mr Mickael has put in and support the project for robust persistence. The lead developer is still paying to maintain the project from his own pocket as donations are not able to cover the costs.

FileStash as a web-GUI gives you a layman access to your virtual server’s storage in a file manager in your web browser like how any other cloud storage solution offers. It can be completely self-hosted if you like. It supports a plethora of open and proprietary protocols to gain access to your data in the cloud from anywhere viz. FTP, FTPS, SFTP (SSH), webDAV, Git, S3, LDAP, MySQL, CardDav, CalDav, BackBlaze B2, Minio and not forgetting Dropbox and Google Drive itself. It is not just a robust web client for said protocols but also a fine an extension or a bridge to attach your existing cloud storage data with providers elsewhere to your own cloud server. Other than managing your files with ease to use GUI in web browser, it has a lot of other functions and features to offer like a modern cloud storage service.

The benefit is that you get to control things here as it is in your control and locally hosted on the cloud server that you rent or own. So, all the additional data processing is private in comparison to using a cloud storage solution provider. Filestash is a FOSS solution to convert your cloud server into a web-based storage solution in a way with added functionality versus classic SSH access right from your web browser.

Here are a few features that Filestash as a web-based file manager offers in addition to a drag-and-drop style web client for above said protocols:

Collaboration and sharing

When have files in the cloud, you always want to share it with friends, family or other team members. Filestash offers you share files and folders with others using links which is a built-in mechanism. You get to use allow view, edit or upload access [only for folders]. You can control who you wish to grant access with password or users through their email addresses. There exist advanced sharing options like ‘Expiration’ and ‘Custom Link url’, if you desire to set expiry for your links or make a custom named url as the name suggests.

It is really useful feature that Filestash offers out of the box. In my opinion, this kind of flexible share mechanism gives more value to Filestash as a server software and helps it compete with a basic cloud storage drive solution in the market.

Photo Management

One of the most common thing that people do with a web-based file storage solution is to upload digital photo albums and share them. Post-Snowden times have really made us cautious about privacy when it comes to personal photos. Hosting your personal photo albums is fun and games with FileStash. It includes a built-in Image viewer and transcoding with support for raw images from popular camera manufacturers like Nikon and Canon. The image viewer supports full screen and shows metadata from your images, if any. Just create folders with sub-directories and drop your images therein to share. It is as simple as copying it to your PC or Mac from camera.

Media Player with built-in transcoder

Filestash is fully equipped with audio and video player for files in the cloud. You can now play your video presentations or family travel videos anywhere right from your web browser. There is a built-in basic transcoder that handles for mov, mkv, avi, mpeg formats and much more. In our tests it plays quite well. It does the job. Same goes for the audio that you have uploaded on the cloud server. You can now stream your own content from your own cloud server and further share it with others using built-in share mechanism.

Powerful text editor

Filestash includes a text editor with full org-mode client support. It has a lot of potential as you can use it to create reports, notes, agendas, todos and much more.

Easy Onlyoffice integration

There is an easy to deploy OnlyOffice solution to create office docs with confidence that will delivery privacy configurable in Filestash as a solution. It extends a simple, neat, robust file manager to a full fledged web-based office suite that you can host on your own cloud server itself.

Customizable with built-in Admin panel

You are at liberty to customize Filestash to your liking thanks to the flexibility model the lead developer has adhered to. Thanks to the free/libre code and license, you as a coder can design your own plugin with added features.

It offers a ready to use admin panel or console for non-developers to configure your instance of Filestash however you like. For instance to bind your access to SFTP locally or to a specific server only. It helps you audit and see access logs. You can also customize the login screen to minimal use case by binding it to a specific protocol and server as an example. You control what is allowed on your instance to the most precise selection you desire. This level of unprecedented customization options is not common and greatly admirable.

File Manager itself is crazy slick

When you access files and actually browse it, you feel how slick of a File Manager it is. Whether it is media files including photo, video, audio, text or word or spreadsheets, it just handles it all in the most reliable manner that I can expect from a FOSS server software. It is better than a lot of proprietary solution out there. You must try it out once and use it to manage your cloud server for a good week and you would start to love managing files in your personal server in the cloud. The fear of fiddling around with SSH is just not there even for layman with FileStash like solution hosted on your server that offers best integrity and privacy for your own data.

Some worth mentioning features are full support for upload of files and folders. Full text search that works well. Filestash being a mobile friendly solution offers more value no matter the platform you use. Support for cloud drive providers is a huge mileage for a lot of users. The interface is apparently well thought for instance ‘Quick Access’ are pinned to the homepage. It helps you save time with hundreds of folders in your cloud server.

Very low on resources

Filestash has really amazed us with the hardware requirements. When you see how powerful and slick it performs on surface. A decent size RAM and computing powerful is expected to be spent to deliver it. In fact, it is quite the opposite. The code is so well written and optimized that the official minimum requirement as per the documentation with docker setup is 64MB of RAM and single core. Even with such low basic resources your Filestash is not going to under-perform by any means. Filestash team has officially benchmark level of concurrency with three most common operation type and the results are amazing. If you are ready to give 128MB of RAM, I would say it is enough for a small team or group to run the instance properly. For photo sharing users, the official data can be great to know what size of virtual private server instance to deploy for their albums and much more.

Conclusion

FileStash is an easy to use yet powerful File Manager solution with a lot of add-ons and extensions to make your server management fun. It certainly does not limit itself to file management but goes beyond by attempting to address multiple issues that a newbie system admin or a layman faces while managing files in the cloud. Filestash as a server software wins my heart to be my favorite file management solution for my cloud server. It is not imitating to be your cloud storage solution but offers you a skin or front end solution to be your own cloud storage provider. With Filestash you won’t ever miss Dropbox again!

1 comment

  1. it’s a great article.. and a great solution.. currently only docker are supported tht is a pain agains others solutions.. but well we hope developers try to improve it!

    for a quick view.. a CEO will prefer a fsat to deploy solution event a complicated container that already still need a working OS running a docker manager!

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