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OwnCloud vs NextCloud – Best Self File Hosting Application?

by Pratik
nextcloud-vs-owncloud

NextCloud and OwnCloud are the two most cited self file hosting services. Both of them are open-source, build on the same PHP framework, and free to use. In spite of so many similarities, they are not meant for the same kind of audience. NextCloud feels more enterprise-y while OwnCloud is ideal for individual users or a small firm. So, the question is “Should I use OwnCloud or NextCloud?”. Well, let’s discuss that in more detail.

OwnCloud vs NextCloud

If the name kind of rings a bell, yes they are similar products. NextCloud is a fork of Owncloud and was developed by the same individual Frank Karlitschek. Both the software have the same PHP and Javascript underlying framework. Hence, switching back and forth won’t be much of a problem. We will compare both the tools on grounds of ease of setup, speed & performance, Security, freeware, and collaborative tools available.

1. Both are free

Downloading and hosting OwnCloud and NextCloud is totally free. All the costs advertised are for additional technical support. In case you are setting it up for your own personal use or a small organization for 8-10 members, there’s no requirement to pay for support.

Both Owncloud and NextCloud have mobile apps for both Android and iOS. However, the OwnCloud Android and iOS apps are paid and would set you back a $1 each.

2. OwnCloud has an easy setup

In terms of setup, OwnCloud is pretty easy and straightforward. If you are configuring it on Ubuntu, you might need to install PHP, Apache, and MySQL.  For NextCloud, you would additionally need MariaDB. Since OwnCloud runs on MySql, you don’t need to install a third-party database over it.

If you don’t want to manage a private server, you can also rent space with OwnCloud’s hosting partners and NextCloud Hosting Partners. But, that defeats the purpose of self file hosting.

In case you are on Windows, the best solution would be to get the UCS VM and host it inside an Oracle Virtualbox. This is how my setup is currently running so I could avoid a dual-boot.

owncloud-startup - owncloud-vs-nextcloud

Coming to the mobile apps, the OwnCloud Android and iOS App is paid and will cost you a $1 each. On the other hand, NextCloud mobile apps are free.

The setup is pretty straightforward on these apps, you just need to enter the “http://ip-addr/owncloud/”, username, and password. This establishes the connection with the server and makes sure you have static IP for the server.

owncloud-ms-app

3. OwnCloud has more freeware while NextCloud has more apps

Both the software are free if you host it on your private servers. But, that’s not the real thing, we would need plugins, apps to better utilize the file-hosting framework. The popular collaboration and editing tools like Collabora Online, Zulu Desk, tine are paid on both the platform.

The biggest difference between both of them is the “Google Drive” integration. If you use G-Suite Apps, NextCloud could be a deal-breaker since the G-Drive integration is quite fudgy. OwnCloud supports Google Drive Integration via a plugin called “G Suite Connector”. The plugin is free and lets the user use G-Apps directly from the Unified Web Portal.

g-suite-connector - owncloud-vs-nextcloud

Read: Best Free Outlook Alternatives for Windows 10

Both of them support external storage as well as other cloud storage like AWS, Minio, DropBox, OneDrive, etc. Other free apps include WordPress, Squid Server, Jenkins, Fetchmail, etc. If your only concern is using it for file and media server, then this could be managed free of cost from your private server.

4. OwnCloud has less bloat and better performance

The biggest con with NextCloud is random crashes and too much bloatware for simple tasks. In the case of OwnCloud, all you get is essential pre-installed apps that let you share, play, comment, and tag files. Apart from that, you won’t get plugins to edit or view PDFs online. You will have to manually add plugins like Open Office, etc. This is the differentiating factor between NextCloud and OwnCloud. NextCloud comes with an overwhelming set of pre-installed plugins that you might not need if you aren’t an enterprise.

owncloud-preinstalled-apps

I found OwnCloud to be much faster in terms of file access and playback. I have NextCloud hosted on Ubuntu but I tried OwnCloud on UCS which played a small role. For example, I had uploaded a 1080p file of about 422 MB on my OwnCloud server and the playback was super smooth. The upload time was far less compared to NextCloud. The mobile apps are surely paid but stay connected to the server and rarely I have experienced random crashes. The OwnCloud Microsoft app is pretty good and stays connected to the server once the connection is established even after you change the IP Address.

5. Both have similar security features

The whole purpose of the self-hosted cloud services is security and privacy. In the case of NextCloud and OwnCloud, both fall on the same planar in terms of security. OwnCloud supports end-to-end encryption as well as all the GDPR guidelines. Auditing, Event logging, and backup tools are an integral part of both the apps. Both the apps run encryption using AES-256. You can also enable 2-Factor Authentication on both the apps. NextCloud supports Hardware-based tokens and Time-Based OTPS whereas OwnCloud only supports Time-based One-Time Passwords.

owncloud-interface - owncloud-vs-nextcloud

Virus Scanning is not available by default on both the applications as you see with Dropbox or Google Drive. You need to enable it through the Settings. With OwnCloud, when you enable virus scanning, it uses ClamAV to scan all the uploaded files prior to uploading. User roles can be created within OwnCloud which lets you decide which user scope of access. Security permissions are drilled down to file-level so you can decide which user has access to which file.

6. NextCloud has more Collaborative tools

OwnCloud might be slightly inferior to NextCloud in terms of enterprise-level collaboration apps. But for an individual or small firm, OwnCloud has a sufficient level of collaboration tools. Most of our collaboration work at TechWiser involves Docs and Excel. Since we use GApps for it, the GSuite Connector works fine for us. If you use Libre Office, you will have to pay for Collabora Online in order to collaborate on it.

g-suite-apps-univention

For Mails, you get Fetchmail, Mail server, Office 365 connector, etc. A couple of chat applications are also included such as Rocket.Chat, Stashcat. An excellent web meeting app for OwnCloud is Kopano Web Meeting. It can be used for free but the free version has certain restrictions. The UI is not that interactive and it would be best if you stick to Skype or Slack.

Summary

OwnCloud NextCloud
Fully Cross-Platform
Large Files
Synchronization
Integral Voice, Text
and Audio Support
2-Factor Authentication
File-level UAC
External Storage Support

Wrapping Up

All in all, OwnCloud seems a good alternative for NextCloud for people who have minimal use-case. It can work with the same underlying infrastructure and provide a much stable performance. If you use any other multi-platform self-hosted cloud services let me know in the comments below. We can have a good chat over it.

For further issues or queries, come hang out with me on Instagram.

Also Read: Slack vs. Teams: Which Communication and Collaboration Tool to Use

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