Seafile Client not properly syncing read-only Library/Folder (content not synced back)

We have some read-only Libraries (CE) and also read-only Folders (Pro) that users Sync with the Windows Desktop Client.
If they add files or folders locally, the Client of course can not sync them to the Library (or Folder) that is read-only.
The point is, the user does not know this - he just puts a file in a read-only folder and gets no notification at all that this particular file can not be synced to the server.
I looked through the “file sync error” list and log files - could not find any entry.
Also the Icon in the taskbar tray does not show any problem - nor does the Library icon in the Client.

This is quite dangerous - there could be many users having lots of files in read-only folders that never get synced and eventually lost some day.

I’ve tested Nextcloud the last weeks and they do this by altering the tray icon to a red cercle and the Desktop client shows clearly and very easily all sync problems right away.
I think it is very very important that Seafile Client has something similar or even better.

If I make something weird, please tell - but I could not figure out how I can prevent such problems.
…and honestly: moving to Nextcloud is also not a real option as their Client has other serious problems.


Hi Adrian,

you are right that users can create/copy files into shared libraries with read-only permission. No notification is sent, the client does not signal any sync problems.

You are not quite right in saying that users are oblivious of the status of a read-only library. Read-only libraries feature an icon that marks them a locked (see the screenshot).

This said, it is possible that the lock icon is not shown on your computers. In fact, it is rather likely if your machines also have Dropbox and/or OneDrive (or any other sync service for that matter) installed. This is a well-known deficit on Windows machines and not easy to fix (see here).

Lastly, I do not dismiss your call for better notification of sync problems. Not at all. Whatever makes Seafile a more customer friendly solution should be welcomed and prioritized according to its criticalness/urgency.

Hi rdb,

I know that users actually can see each Library and Folder in the Client if it’s read-only or read-write.
(NB: the iPhone App with the latest Beta has a issue - not showing the Glasses !!!)

The point is, users in a company want this Client to work and not to care about it.
Only if they do something that must be corrected (e.g. file conflict, putting files in a read-only folder that can not be synced, etc) they should be noticed.
We used Seafile CE for some years now and most users simply had read-write everywhere.
Now we just bought the Pro version and want to implement read-only shares (so all sub-folders are read-only) and enable read-write on specific (many, in different locations) for people who actually should put files.

Users tend to make mistakes (e.g. putting files in a read-only folder by mistake) - but if the Client does not pop up a message that the user should correct this, you can imagine the mess after a few days.

Seafile has so many advantages over other solutions (very fast sync for instance) and the Client really works well. But we can not guarantee that users will not make mistakes and we don’t want to have important files offline in read-only folders on users computers.

Before we made our choice last week to buy the Pro license, we tested Nextcloud for some weeks and the result with file sync and Desktop Client showed many issues (one being that if you move a folder structure into a synced share, it simply wont sync - big issue… only if you close and restart the client it will do the sync - and there are other problems with their Client)

But - here is the but
They have a better understanding on what to show to the user and what not if a problem arrises.
Here are some screenshots of a synced folder called “Read only share”
(no subfolders)


the tray icon is very clear, simple to check, that all is hunky-dory

Now whatch what happens if I put a file in the read-only synced folder
the tray icon instantly chages its state and the user knows that there is a problem

When he clicks on the tray icon, the Desktop Client opens and the problem is listed, so the user can correct his mistake

If I add another file or let’s say folder within this read-only share, I get anoter line in the problem overview

and so on

We specifically have chosen Seafile PRO for these reasons over Nextcloud:

1.) file sync is solid, fast and incremental
2.) fine grained read/write permissions on any share and folder/subfolder
3.) file locking

All these basic features are impossible and a nightmare on Nextcloud
They do a very fancy web UI and the Phone App seems to be better too - but what does it help if the sync with the Desktop is crap.

So - we bought the PRO and wanted to move all company data back to Seafile… but now this.
I don’t see how I can safely roll out with lots of read-only folders if users can put content in there without anybody noticing the problem.
Even if I ask everybody to be very very very careful to first always check each folder if it is not read-only (via Web UI or via Client) it will eventually happen that mistakes are there…
You can imagine the trouble.

So here we are again: choosing between a very solid Seafile with solid sync and risking that data get’s forgotten in read-only shares or jump to Nextcloud which has a so-lala desktop Client but at least a clear communication to the user.

The Seafile Desktop Client should really help the user show easily if

  • he has a conflict somewhere (this is possible today, but a nightmare for the user to find out)
  • he has put files in a read-only location (so he can easily fix it himself - no support from IT required)
  • leave him do his work and simply show the “OK” tray icon (if the OK sign is there - the User should sleep well knowing that all his data is 100% synced to the server)

I think these are obvious points and I really would love to see it happen.
Why not look and steal the good ideas or even make it better.
I’d love to roll out Seafile Pro with a Desktop Client that leaves the user quiet if all is ok and alerts him in a very simple way if he must take action.

If there is a way to accomplish this already today and I simply don’t see how to configure it, please help.

PS: please note that we do not use the Explorer Extension at all - it slows down rendering, makes the Explorer slower and adds way too much color to folder icons for nothing.
And even if we would use it - I can not guarantee that users will not put content in read-only folders.


Hi @adrianriedo

Thank you for the suggestion. We’ll make some improvements to such cases in later version.


great - hope it will happen
I can gladly help with some more ideas for the Client
In my opinion Seafile wins over many other similar solutions due to its sync method - would be great to see the client improving with more user friendliness.
Fancy Web UI is what other solutions concentrate on, but they lack the very basic and stable sync feature that Seafile brings.

A short feedback on this topice:

Our users who use Seadrive are not affected by this problem. They can only write in “read-write” Folders, so all is working great for them.

Users that have Seafile Cleint to Sync Libraries have not the Browser Extensions activated and are alerted to be very careful not to store folders/files in read-only Shares in order not to have documents unsynced.
But as we also have Linux users, they do not have this Extensions.

Story short: if users place files/folders within read-only Shares we’d really love to see messages from the Client that there is unsyceable data on the local drive.
I really appreciate Jonathans feedback and hope to see such improvement in the next release of the Seafile cleint.

@Jonathan any idea what timeframe you have in mind?

@Jonathan We plan to make some improvement to this in 7.0.x version. The next version of Seafile sync client would be 7.0.0, which includes other important improvements such as a new version of encrypted library format. So we think it should be improved in 1-2 months.

@Jonathan great news, thanks

btw: if a user accidently deletes a file (or folder) in a read-only synced Library, it will never get synced back until the user manually starts a “resync”.
I think it would make sense that in read-only situations, the content is automatically synced back if the user deletes something.
So if a file/folder is deleted (mostly by accident) the client simply resyncs it again a bit later.
(this is what Nextcloud is doing btw)

Having this - and the new warning that we mentioned above - users don’t have to worry any more about read-only content.

Looking forward to your implementation - keep up the good work

OK. We’ll add this into the plan too.

Great news, thanks

In summary:

  • content in read-only folder that the user deleted (maybe by accident) will automatically sync back to his machine.

  • contend added in read-only folder (maybe by accident) can not be synced and the client will show a easy to understand message (maybe list) of elements that can not be synced.
    The message will go away automatically if the problem is resolved by the user.
    I’d be happy to beta-test your implementation and help you from a user’s perspective

  • Please also consider updating the iPhone App
    The read-only symbol is not present on the app - all Libraries and folders look like they would be read-write folders. Just make the icon (symbol) of read-only folders the same as on the Desktop client.

  • Because we talk are already about the Clients
    In the Phone Client the user always has to scroll down to update the folder list from the server. It might be that users are not aware of this and think the content is not there.
    I think it would make sense that the App does this automatically or at least there is an option to let the app do this automatically. I explained all employees that they have to make shure to scroll down each page they are navigating to with the Phone App to make shure the content list is updated.

  • The same applies for Activity Log - in all clients you have to manually push the refresh button in order to update the Activity Log. It would be handy to have the list automatically updated when navigating to it.

-> I guess it makes sense to not always update the content and it can upset other users if you change this.
I recommend to have a global configuration that you can set in the client to tell that it should automatically updated lists, activity log, etc or not.

We can also live without this being automatically updated but wanted to share this with you.
I don’t know what other users think about this. Anyone?

Hi Jonathan, thanks for the new Seafile Client 7.0.0
I have noticed that when a user places a file/folder in a READ-ONLY Library/Share there is now a warning in the Sync Error List.
Unfortunately I can not see improvements in the visibility - the Icon in Seafile still is green, indicating that all is ok, but it is not - It would be great to see a warning in the icon of the Library so the user konws that something is wrong. Also I did not get an active notification when I tried to place a file in a read-only Share - I manually had to look in the Sync Error List - did I miss something?

I’ve also tested the other way: deleting a file locally in a read-only folder did not automatically sync back the file from the server. Because it is defined to be read-only, I would expect that if a user (accidentally) deletes a file in a read-only folder locally, it will simply be synced back on the next occasion.

In summary I think it is very important that read-only data should be treated as the word says: “read-only”
I fully understand that this is not easy with a sync client, but my suggestions should help it make as close to perfection as possible.


1 Like

The improvements will be added in several updates, instead of one.

Hi @adrianriedo and all,

The 7.0.3 version has redesigned the error notification mechanism. Now the few sources of error information are more consistent, which includes: main window, file sync error dialog, system notification and the tray icon.

Please try it and give feedback :slight_smile:

Hi @Jonathan
thanks for the update
I made a quick test

If you now add a file in a RO Folder/Library the icon in the system tray changes to “have some sync errors” - that’s good.
Unfortunately it is optically hard to distinguish from the regular “no error” icon.
Also the “have some sync error” disappears once you have looked at the file sync error list.
→ please be aware that just looking at an error but not resolving it does not means it is resolved.

The same happens to be the case for the library list.
The RO Library in this example properly shows that it has an error (I tried to put a file in a RO folder within this library).
But again - if I click “sync now” (what users might do when they have seen this error - the error is not shown anymore.
So again - the user might think all is ok.

If you look closely at my previous posts and examples from Nextcloud, you can see that if a user puts a file or folder in a RO library or folder, the error PERSISTS until the user solves the problem.

You have done one step forward - but the user experience is not complete in this release.

I thank you for your progress and I can help again to make your software better.
In my opinion the guys from Nextcloud have it done already the way it should be - I would gladly see a similar implementation in Seafile.

Also, if a user deletes content from a RO folder it disappears on the local drive but is NEVER synced back - even if you manually start “sync now”.
Also this is wrong - if there is a synced RO library its content MUST always reflect what is on the server.

Seafile Client must resync what users might delete locally - otherwise it is not read only.

Also here - just check what Nextcloud has implemented and do the same - they have done it correctly.

In our company we have RO Libraries and also RO Folder for users and they think they have lost files from time to time - in fact, they made a mistake by locally changing, deleting files that are meant to be RO.

I appreciate your progress - still I think you should have a look at how Nextcloud handles this - they have done it exactly as users expect - I would just do the same for Seafile.


We’ll further improve this by actually checking whether the error is resolved.

Thanks for the suggestion. We’ll change to a red ! (just like on Mac).

I understand your proposal. But it turns out to be a big change to the current syncing procedure. So it’s not scheduled in the short term.

The new client added notification when user changes a RO file. And the ! in try icon won’t disappear until the user open the “file sync error” dialog. I think the user will at least be notified about this.

Also note that: Automatically syncing back the delete file will not recover the changed content, because it’s not uploaded to the server.

It’s not so complicated

Seafile offers option for read-only (RO) Libraries and Folders.
So if you offer this, you must think also for the user.

If a user deletes a file in a RO location, it must be automatically synced back - otherwise we are not talkinng about RO

If the content in that location was alteredl, it will be a Conflict (as with any other sync) that the user must repair.

I don’t see why this should be so complicated - you have proven to write software that is good and you have done many other things that are way more complicated than this.
Proof us that you can do it.

If you decide not to offer proper RO features, I think it is better to remove read-only features completely from the Seafile software - so at least it will be consistent.
Right now I have always the problem that users delete by accident files on a read-only share and don’t find the files - only because Seafile does not sync back RO content.

We have chosen Seafile for many technical and performance reasons against Nextcloud.
I would love to see that Seafile implements RO properly.
It’s a basic function an not a nice-to-have gizmo in my opinion.

Sorry to be so direct - but it is a pain to use RO as it is right now.

Does any other use have some feedback?
I’m quite surprised that in this forum there is no real discussion about Read Only
either the community is very small or everybody waits for the guys from Seafile to come up with ideas and solutions.

I’d like to add that I further tested the error notification handling.
When I start seafile and I had previous errors, the icon in the tray shows an error.
I did not find out how to clear old errors - so every time Seafile starts up, it looks like there are errors but actually they are all old errors…

Anybody knows how to get rid of old errors?

I still believe that there is work to do for error handling, user friendliness and especially Read Only libraries/folders.

Hi Adrien,
I agree that there is work to do. I like your thought through suggestions.
I would agree with the developers that - living in a world with scare developer resources - it is not topping the list of development priorities. There are more urgent things that should be addressed.