Tim Flynn

Private Cloud Storage with OwnCloud

With the end of my college career coming up, my computing habits are likely to change. My personal and work computer usage will become much more separated, and this opens the door for me to change a few of my personal computer usage habits. Over the past few years I've become increasingly reliant on Google's services for things like navigation, email, file storage, and lots of other things. While these services are great and useful, it would be nice to have a little more control over my information. After doing some research I read about OwnCloud, a self-hosted cloud storage system that allows for users to roll their own cloud and have much more control over their data.


In order to self-host own cloud all you need is a web server with PHP5 and MySQL. I already had all these boxes checked so I figured why not give it a shot. Installation was as easy as creating a few SQL tables, running through an installer in the browser, adjusting a few Apache settings, and creating some login credentials. Within about half an hour I was up and running, not too bad for an entire cloud storage system.


To test out my new cloud, I downloaded the desktop client then queued up my music selection. I had about 9 gigs of music saved on my hard drive, so this presented a good test of the system. Uploading took a little while (slower than Google Drive for sure), but seeing as it was running on my (relatively) weak web server I was fine with it. Accessing files worked as expected, from both the web client, and the Android app (which was also incredibly easy to setup). After my music collection was uploaded, I decided to throw some photos up to test their performance. Uploading went as expected, but when it came to view them I really began to notice a drag. Scrolling through hundreds of pictures and loading them was a bit tedious, and while this is a good solution for storage, I would not recommend my current setup for image consumption. My underpowered Linux server just isn't capable of pushing out tons of images in a decent resolution all at once. In the future I will consider upgrading my server, and maybe pushing my cloud to a separate VPS in order to improve performance.


One of the nice parts about OwnCloud is the ability to add extensions. The barebones installation is exactly that, with few frills and very little bloat. It is easy however to add extensions for things like documents (like an OpenOffice Google Docs), email, music playing, and image viewing. These extensions are a nice feature and definitely make the service much more powerful, and help it compete with users with service providers like Google that offer such a wide swath of services.


All in all OwnCloud has done exactly what it was advertised to do. It made it easy for me to setup my OwnCloud and access my information securely, while giving me control over many different aspects of the service. In the future I could see myself beefing up a web server a bit to provide a better platform for my cloud to run on, but for now I will continue to chug away on the server I already have. With personal security being as big an issue as it is, I will continue to make efforts to protect myself and my information as best I can.