Here at Vooservers we use OwnCloud as a simple way of uploading and storing files on a server for ease of distributing direct link downloads to our clients, but as we begin to explore OwnCloud in more detail we found there’s a lot more under the hood then initially meets the eye.
For those that have not used OwnCloud before, it’s a free, open source piece of software installed on a server (you own) that operates as a very simple way to sync your files from one place to another. There are comparisons made with Dropbox and that is partly true in the way it works, but the key fundamental difference is that with OwnCloud you know where your files are being stored, with DropBox you are paying for storage space in which your files are dotted around the globe somewhere in which you have no control over. For some that is not an issue, but for those that like to know their confidential documents are safe, OwnCloud provides this.
The server software installation is very straight forward, compatible with both Windows and Linux. When you have OwnCloud Server setup, simply install the desktop client to synchronise the directory’s that you want to Sync and OwnCloud will sync any files placed into this directory automatically. There is even a mobile app that works with android/iOS and will sync files and photos, you can then set your phone to synchronise when you connect to Wi-Fi (to save wasting your mobile data). Let’s put that into an example, you are a photographer taking photos for a report that is being written back in the office by a colleague. You take a few photos and within 5 seconds they are readily accessible on OwnCloud for your colleague to add to his report, it saves time and is completely seamless.
This is just one of the many handy features that OwnCloud offers, for instance we regularly need to send clients large files, with OwnCloud we can drop them on the server and password protect the link and send directly to the client, again all very quick and simple. OwnCloud hasn’t tried to reinvent the wheel here and as with anything there are other ways this could be done, but the simple to use user interface makes it our first choice for storing and sharing files for the foreseeable future.
By Nick Stears on February 18th, 2015