DIY Dropbox using WebDav

So I’ve long held back from signing into one of the free cloud resources due to concerns over privacy. I’ve used Google Docs for a few non-descripto documents but nothing more. However, having just placed an order for an iPad3, I’m looking to improve my remote working and document management.  I don’t want to be dragging my laptop everywhere with me next year. There is not an iPad app for the ‘new’ Google Drive and writing Google Docs on the iPad just doesn’t work.   Pages, Numbers and Keynote are all apps of notoriety for the right reasons so how can I import/export easily from this?  Bottom line I can’t.  Dropbox allows documents to open into Pages but not the reverse. It appears WebDav is the only option so this is how I’ve set mine up on our home Ubuntu 10.10 server.

What you’ll notice about this set up is that I’m using a folder within a home user directory for the webdav service. This will allow me to use Samba when I’m at home to access my files.

Create a Drop Box Folder

You need to create a folder to use as your dropbox and set permissions. This should be it!

Setup Apache and the WebDav modules

First you need to install Apache – there are a number of ways to do this so I’ll let you figure that out. Now enable the WebDav modules.

Now restart apache

Create a virtual host for your WebDav service

We now need to create a virtual host that we can use for the WebDav service. As I intend to be able to access this from outside home I have given **** a dynamic dns domain. I created this in a file called dropc.****.com (replace ****.com with your domain) and saved it in the sites-available folder of /etc/apache2. Once created I was able to enable to with a2ensite dropc.****.com. So the server knew to respond to this domain I added an entry into the /etc/hosts file linking its internal ip address to that domain. I run many virtual hosts on this machine but only enabled the external url for this one site. Once this exercise is complete you will need to restart/reload apache again.

Set up the password access for the WebDav

You’ll notice that in the virtual host setup we refer to a AuthUserFile. To create this you must create a htpasswd and then set the permissions for the file.

Once you have entered your password and confirmed it.

Test it using Cadaver

Accessing it

Via Osx e.g. iMac/Macbook

Open Finder and pull up Go > Connect to Server

Once you have entered the Username and Password you set earlier the webdav folder should open.

Via iPad

Using Pages as an example application you can add a document via + and then copy from WebDav.

and likewise you can save it back there after you have finished editing.

Via Windows

Typically this isn’t so easy and at the moment I’m suffering the well documented issue and getting bounced back to the login prompt. I’m assuming I can solve it using 3rd party software (shameless plugin for BitKinex) but that really isn’t the point.

About CDB 360 Articles
Self-Employed Software Developer, Spark, Property Management, Hobby Forestry, Ex-Teacher, Engineering - Wood, Metal, Electrics & Computers. Outdoors - Walk, Cycle, Kitesurf,

1 Comment

  1. Another way to do this is to install owncloud (I run it on Debian Wheezy). I have used both simple WebDAV and the owncloud method (which uses SabreDAV as its back end). Owncloud is the more useful of the two I think because it keeps versions of all files and you can revert changes. You can also easily share files and you still have the fallback of a browser or Finder mountable WebDAV share.
    The owncloud client also reduces the confusion for first time users and keeps files synchronised with a local copy.

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