Added in version 1.21.0.

When enabled, Syncthing attempts to also synchronise ownership between devices. Ownership is divided into two kinds:

  • “Unix” ownership, which is the Unix style UID and GID, and

  • “Windows” ownership, which the Windows file ownership concept.

The two are not mixed – that is, ownership information is not synchronised between POSIX and Windows systems, only POSIX-to-POSIX and Windows-to-Windows. Nonetheless Syncthing attempts to leave unknown ownership data intact: POSIX systems will not overwrite Windows ownership data but pass it on unmodified, and vice versa.


In order for there to be ownership information to apply, the peer device must have either syncOwnership or sendOwnership enabled.

Unix implementation

Syncthing records both the numerical UID and GID for a file and the corresponding user and group names, when they are known. When applying ownership Syncthing will first attempt to look up a local user or group with the given name, and if that fails it will fall back to the numerical UID and GID.

Elevated permissions

Syncthing, when running as a normal user account, doesn’t have permission to alter file ownership. There are several reasonable ways of running Syncthing with elevated permissions to enable ownership sync:

  • As root, in a Docker container, with the synced data mounted as a volume.

  • As a normal user, with extra capabilities granted to the executable.

To grant extra capabilities, the following steps must be taken:

  • The executable must be owned by root and not writable by normal users.

  • The executable must be granted the CHOWN and FOWNER capabilities. The CHOWN capability is required to be able to change ownership on the file. However, once that has been done Syncthing may no longer have permission to act on the file in other ways while running as anonymous user. The FOWNER capability overrides this.

Example commands of setting Syncthing up in this manner:

% sudo chown root /usr/local/bin/syncthing
% sudo chmod 755 /usr/local/bin/syncthing
% sudo setcap CAP_CHOWN,CAP_FOWNER=pe /usr/local/bin/syncthing


Note that automated upgrades cannot be used with Syncthing elevated in this manner as any automated upgrade would undo the capabilities granted.

When using systemd to start the service automatically, the capabilities can be set in the unit file instead of touching the executable, see Permissions.

Windows implementation

Syncthing records the account name of the owner, and whether it is a group or user. On the receiving side a user or group with the corresponding name is looked up and set as the owner.

On Windows, syncing ownership has a fairly significant performance impact on scan times.

See also