Make a private dropbox with an old computer in minutes

Do you want the ability to get files from a central machine that you own, wherever you are? Do you want to enable multiple people to share files without using cloud storage?

AKA: Do you want to set up your own private dropbox?

Well, all you need is odrive and a spare Windows or Mac computer and you’re in business!


What your private dropbox will be able to do:

  • Enable you to access all of your files on other computers
  • Enable you to work on synced files whether you are online or offline, on the same network or different networks
  • Enable others you invite to be able to access files from it
  • Enable a group of people who have access to the same folder to be able to work on the same files

What you need:

  • Windows 7 and above, Windows Server 2008 R2 and above, or OS X 10.7 and above. *Linux support coming soon!*
  • Enough storage to host the files you want to serve. Add an external USB drive if necessary.
  • The odrive gateway installer for Windows or Mac
  • Good connectivity.
  • “Always On” power settings on the machine, so it does not switch to standby mode.
  • If you want your private dropbox to be accessible remotely (outside of your network), you may need to setup port forwarding on your router to map port 8888 to your odrive gateway local IP. Get more networking info at: and 

Once you have the machine set up, all you have to do is install odrive gateway and follow the steps! It’s that easy! No setting up a web server. No contacting your hosting service (if you even have one). No installation and configuration of virtual machines or OVFs.

Here’s a short overview, and then step-by-step instructions.


1. Install the odrive gateway

You can get the latest odrive gateways for Windows and Mac from Install the odrive gateway on the old computer you’ve picked as your “server.”

2. Create your odrive account

3. Setup the odrive gateway

Name your gateway something specific, particularly if you plan on using multiple gateways on different machines. By default, odrive will use your current IP, but you can also assign a static address if you’d prefer.

4. Pick content that you want to share with yourself

This process simultaneously selects the folders you want to share with your other machines and invites you by email. Just browse the system that your gateway is installed on to pick folders. If you want to access the gateway remotely, you may need to set up port forwarding on your router to map port 8888 to your odrive gateway local IP. For further information on networking, see our odrive FAQ or visit this forum topic.

Simple right? Now go over to the Windows or Mac machine you want to use to access and work on content.

1. Check your email

Invitees will receive an email invitation to an odrive folder. This email contains the folder owner, folder name, and contact email. As the gateway administrator, you will automatically receive an email invitation to the email address you used during registration.

2. Install odrive desktop (which also installs your odrive folders)

Clicking the “install folder” button in the email will take you to a few web pages that will help you install the odrive desktop and link to the odrive folders you were invited to.

3. That’s it! You can now start using your private dropbox!

Open up the folder directly from the confirmation screen. Later on, you can always get to your odrive folders from the tray icon (look for the pink infinity symbol), or from your file manager.

Now that you have your odrive set up, you can experience some of its unique capabilities:

Enjoy! And always let us know if you have questions.

– Leo

8 thoughts on “Make a private dropbox with an old computer in minutes

  1. I am using Parallels with Windows installed on an iMac. I am assuming that I would need to install odrive on both Windows and the Mac in order to access the files from my remote server, right?

    • Hi Teresa,

      At a high level, you should be able to install odrive on the base iMac, and use “coherence” mode to see and use the Mac odrive folders. This Parallels article should be a good guide ( If there is a more specific thing you are trying to accomplish, or you don’t want to use coherence mode, let us know!


      • I do use coherence mode. I went to the link that you provided and the instructions as stated did not work (I already had all the boxes checked). But…I clicked on the custom folder and added my odrive folder and that worked! Thanks for the help.

    • Do you mean the accounting software? It depends on how MYOB works. If it is an application that operates from a database, then our technology may not be a fit. Are you able to provide more details on the version of MYOB and how it works?

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