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Tech, Gadgets, Photography, Social Media and Poor Spelling

OwnCloud.. Exactly That..

Unless you’ve been under a rock or are the type of Luddite who thinks the pen and paper is modern hi tech, you cannot fail to have heard about the most miss used expression on the Internet, the cloud. It’s a buzzword which every ill equipped marketing goon has latched his crayon’s onto and will mention in every presentation ever.

Put simply the cloud is the image used when tech people wanted to display the Internet outside their own network, this turned into a location firstly where data could be stored and more recently where “Big Data” is stored.. Honestly I have no idea who comes up with this stuff.

Put 10 executives into a room, and ask they whet the cloud is and 10 people will give you a different answer, the answer however is fairly simple. The cloud is a location off your own network, usually accessible via the Internet to store data. This data can then be accessed via a web interface or Internet facing client to display the data.

Data in most cases at the moment means either files or database information with company suck as Salesforce using the latter to good effect and showing why storing this sort of information off site has both advantages and disadvantages.

Other examples of popular cloud services include systems like Google Drive, Dropbox, Box and SugarSync which you can host your files on a remote Internet service and all have cross platform clients for accessing your data.

There is however more to the cloud than this service wise people are starting to stretch the paradigm and find may uses for this “idea”  take a look at Adobe Revel for an example of this, however at its core its all about data storage.

While the concept of storing files on an always on server has its advantages, there are a few downsides as the services i’ve listed above all offer a few Gb of free storage and are making a bit of money on what you store on their services and once hooked on the service it will cost money to get more storage. Admittedly its often not much however i these times of austerity and security it might be worth looking at hosting your own cloud.

Yes with todays always on aDSL lines and services like DynDNS we can use the privacy of own own lan to provide us with own own cloud should we need to.

OwnCloud.com provides just this system you might be looking for, an open source server system which will turn your own network into a cloud based system with a nice selection of end point clients and a nice web interface.

Owncloud comes in 2 forms Rented or Self hosted and while i’m sure the rented version is ok, its the Self hosted option we should be interested.

The site does a really good job of explaining how to install the service on an Ubuntu/Debian server and the process should be pretty quick to get up and running for anyone who has ever installed Ubuntu. There are also instructions for prefacer’s of Windows to get this working on a Windows server too. Once running you can access via the webportal and as a user or admin you are provided with different “sections” which do actually offer different functionality, the Pictures section for example will take a look at the files you have uploaded in the files section and display thumbnails of the photos for your viewing pleasure. In the same vain the music section can stream playlists. You can import Contacts from external sites and calendars from CalDev and ical sites as well. This is a well thought out interface.

However the best thought out part is each section, lets take the calendar for example has links you can use in other applications such as carddav, caldav and they are displayed for example as IOS Links. So while it is possible to use the iPad client to access Owncloud, you can have the calendar accessible directly from the IOS calendar, same with contacts as well. this is a well thought out and HUGE usability feature.

As well as IOS and Android clients there are also Linux, Mac and Windows clients and as of right now i’ve only tried the Linux client  which syncs up from a Dropbox/Gdrive type folder back and forth very well.

Doing more is always a good thing and there are documents on how to mount existing SMB shares for example so they can be viewed in OwnCloud and the support seems to be very good.

Conclusion

Yes there are many paid for services, and even services which amalgamate the free services into one single service I however like the ability to hold my own data on my own servers. OwnCloud is a great well supported system for doing this…

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