NextCloud (or NC) is an open-source software that allows you to organize your cloud storage and control your data storage. The web version of NextCloud is the most functional, but desktop and mobile applications also offer many features.
NextCloud Cloud Features: Sharing and versioning
Among the main features of the cloud platform are file version management and file sharing. NextCloud is also a cross-platform software that supports a number of scheduler features. Their list includes:
- File sharing. Access is provided via a web link: a URL is created which, depending on the settings, can be accessed by both registered and non-registered NC users;
- Scheduler functions. These include calendars, contact blocks, notes, and tasks. Synchronization of functions is provided by extensions: for calendars, it is WebCAL, for contacts and tasks - DAVDroid, and for notes - NextCloud Notes. We should add that the calendar allows displaying tasks and events for different groups of users, and you can also import a calendar from other systems (for example, from iOS via the Import Calendar function in NC). The rest of the functions look quite standard, but all together they are quite convenient solutions for planning;
- File version control. The version control system allows the user to roll back a file to any required version. It also supports automatic deletion of old versions of files according to a user-defined template;
- Cross-platform. All NC applications and extensions work equally stable from any operating system, and convenient management of cloud storage is performed through the web interface.
Features of installing and configuring the NextCloud app
To install NextCloud, you will need a physical or virtual server with an operating system from the Linux family (e.g. Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS) - you can rent them from a hosting provider. Also don't forget to have PHP installed on the server with the necessary dependencies (NC is written in PHP). Off-the-shelf solutions are also offered for users:
- A limited free option (demo NextCloud) with 8 GB of free space, available after registering an account on the platform;
- already configured NC server; however, this service is more expensive than self-installation.
Ease of use
As you can see, setting up NextCloud can take time and some specialized knowledge, but an already-configured NC is very easy to host and use. For corporate use, NextCloud will be more efficient to integrate the software with an office suite - such as ONLYOFFICE. This is also an open-source service.
NextCloud Cloud Storage Usage Scenarios
There are three basic scenarios for working with NextCloud:
- Streaming multimedia files. The server functions of the platform are enough to provide streaming. The app also has a built-in media player, and the web and mobile versions of NextCloud allow you to play video files;
- File collaboration. After installing the Collabora Online extension in NextCloud, you can organize collaboration with files in various formats (documents, tables, presentations). Without installing this tool, only files in text format can be edited;
- Automatic photo import. You can unload entire folders of images from your mobile device and thus clean up your phone's memory.
Personal Cloud Protection and Privacy
Security issues have already been partially touched upon above when we wrote about SSL certificates. Now let's consider the issues related to privacy and a little more detail on encryption algorithms and protection with 2FA.
Jurisdiction. NextCloud is a product of German developers, but this doesn't matter from a security point of view, as NC is open-source software. However, when working with the platform, it is important to take into account local legislation.
Encryption. By default, all data is protected using the TLS protocol, which uses HTTPS. Server-side encryption using the AES-256 protocol is also possible, but the encryption keys are stored together with the data in the NC instance and even in the server's RAM. This makes it easier to access the keys in case of targeted hacker attacks.
In addition, NC does not encrypt file names and the directory tree. Therefore, when storing sensitive data and meeting legal requirements, you should use full cloud encryption and end-to-end encryption algorithms. The latter is available in NC but must be enabled separately. For more details on the possibilities of end-to-end encryption in NC, please visit the developers' website. We should add that NC does not use E2EE browser encryption, which is good because this technology is vulnerable.
2FA. Two-factor authentication involves using different applications to create one-time passwords (like TOTP or Yubikey). At the same time, the platform provides easy and flexible configuration of 2FA. For example, you can install the Two Factor TOTP Provider extension, which supports Google Authenticator and FreeOTP.
Features of the free version of NextCloud
The NextCloud free version, which the user receives after registering on the website, offers full functionality. But it has a limitation on disc space. Nevertheless, the programm itself is completely free, and you can deploy NC if you have a server with the necessary software installed. You can find a dedicated server at a favorable price at 3HCloud.
NextCloud is not the easiest to install, but it is a very functional software solution. A way to deploy your own cloud storage virtually anywhere. And the available free extensions allow you to customize the service by adding the features you need.