Set up your own cloud

Tutorials – Nextcloud

Article from Issue 195/2017

Get all the benefits of cloud storage and calendars without governments and megacorps spying on you.

Maybe you've heard this line before: "There is no cloud, just other people's computers." Indeed, if you've been to a Free Software-related event recently, you may even have a sticker with those words on it, courtesy of the Free Software Foundation Europe [1]. And it's a good point: "cloud computing," despite all the hype, is simply about handing over control of your data and resources to someone else. It's not actually especially new, but a bunch of technologies mean you can effectively "live" in the cloud, using a low-spec computer and doing all your processing and storage elsewhere. (Well, providing you always have a good Internet connection, of course.)

Still, there are some benefits to the cloud. If you're regularly switching between lots of devices and machines, having easy access to your data is a major bonus. Similarly, you can use cloud services to make regular backups of your data with minimal intervention. So what do you do if you like the technical benefits that cloud services bring, but don't want to hand over all your data to Google, Dropbox, or anyone else? Make your own cloud, of course!

Now, this may all sound extremely complicated when you consider all the things available in typical cloud services: file storage, file sharing, calendars, document collaboration, and more. Fortunately, though, there's an excellent Free Software solution in the form of Nextcloud. This is a spin-off of ownCloud (see the "ownCloud vs. Nextcloud" box for more information on its origins) and really simplifies the job of setting up your own cloud infrastructure. You can set up Nextcloud in your home or office for a "local" cloud installation – or for something more Google or Dropbox-esque, host it on a remote server so you can access your data, calendar, and documents everywhere. Ultimately, like all good things in free and open source software (FOSS), the control remains with you.


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