Matt Button

Host personal SVN projects for free using DropBox

If you’ve ever tried to find an svn host that’s willing to host personal, private projects for free, you’re probably well aware that are practically none. One of the best ones used to be Assembla, until they changed their business model so that only OS projects could be hosted for free.

Other free hosts include beanstalkapp and Spring Loops, both of whom give you at least one repository, 100mb of space and a few user accounts to play with. This is great for one project, but when you start another one / run out of disk space you have to create a new account with a different email address, a different url etc.

At the end of the day you’re just wasting time that you could be using to make the next awesome application. However there is an awesome (free) solution - DropBox. Dropbox is a cool program that lets you sync up to 2GB of files between computers (it even has a [very] basic revision control system that lets you download/revert to previous versions of a file). The awesomeness comes into play when you realise that it’s possible to create an svn repository inside your dropbox folder. You can then check out the svn repo locally using the url file:///C:/path/to/dropbox/folder/myrepo, and commit to it adhoc.

Some of the major benefits of this are:

  • It’s free
  • You always have access to the repository, even when you’re offline!
  • As soon as you come online the dropbox app swoops in and uploads the repo, backing it up on the dropbox servers and distributing it to your other computers
  • You have 2GB of space to play with - if you take a look at the major svn hosts you’ll see that they’re charging at least $9 / month for this
  • Did I mention it’s free?

Of course some of the (major) downsides to this are:

  • You don’t get as many features as you would in a product such as beanstalkapp
  • If you commit on one computer and then commit on another before dropbox has synced the files you may end up with a corrupted repository

The last point is probably a good reason why you should not use this setup to collaborate with multiple people, but for syncing a personal project between work, home and a laptop :)

It’s also worth noting that you can do this with just about any SCM system (inc. git)