Category Archives: cloud

ownCloud… not yet cloud

ownCloud logo

It’s now just one month since I installed ownCloud on my Ubuntu machine. Everything started when I realized I needed something similar to Dropbox, but totally mine. I wanted something faster than it,  with the possibility to grow without a specific limit, and without a monthly fee.
As I wrote in a previous post, I also explored Google Drive, directly comparable with Dropbox. I found that the both of them are very good products, but they share the dependence from internet band, surely narrower than the one in your LAN. So you cannot use them for your movies or CD mp3 version collection. And, yes, I don’t like too much it, having to pay a monthly fee for, say, 300 GB of data, if you really use just a handful of them.
So I wandered a lot around the net to find something similar, but installable in your machine, and I discovered this beautiful open source project, young but not too… unripe.

ownCloud is what I would define a sharing tool. Thanks to web power, it allows you to make your world accessible from everywhere: files, music, pictures, contacts. In concrete terms, it is a web application, based on a web server (usually Apache) and a database (usually mySql), taking care of your files and making them available via a standard browser.

The reason that initially pushed me was that you can install a client in your system allowing you to align a local copy of a directory tree with the one in charge of ownCloud – exactly like Dropbox.

Just to help you to better get the concept, ownCloud is very, very similar to the kind of software mounted on NAS like the QNAP or Synology ones. But in this case you are completely tied to the manifacturer by its proprietary software.

As I said, I installed it on my not-so-performant machine, and I found quite nice that it was not too difficult to install and it performs well.

On the side of access, obviously, if you don’t run a public server (in house or with an internet provider) you can make your private ownCloud accessible by the whole internet via Dynamic DNS.

Finally, a list of service providers exist, that rent ownClouds on their server. I consider it a strong confirmation of robustness of software.

The only funny consideration about ownCloud, at the end, is that – for now – it is not based on cloud! Authors are anyway working actively in order to add this little feature…

Dropbox vs. Google Drive

Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide – Napoleon Bonaparte

As I wrote in a previous post, I am a happy user of Dropbox long since. I used it as an aligner of directories among my different PCs,  as well as an intelligent (one-month) versioned backup.

I have long been using Google Docs, as a powerful means to share documents and work on them together with some friends or colleague. But while Dropbox merges seamlessly with a traditional approach to documents,  smoothly adding a persistence management, Google Docs is really innovative, and somehow breaks your usual way of working. So, when Google delivered Google Drive (GDr), a clear attempt to enter this segment of services, I was interested in it.

An important note is about Google Docs (texts, spreadsheets, …). I put it this way: Google Docs are just documents based on a new document format. It is proprietary, non-standardized and accessible only through its site. Those are not good credentials for my  judgement. But for the environment they live, they are very useful, anyway.

So now I must decide how to behave with my beloved files: Dropbox or GDr? I have set a table with _my_ main decision criteria:

feature

Dropbox

Google Drive

versioning x (1 month) x (just for Google Docs)
bin x (1 month) x
search engine a simple one Google (!)
Windows and Mac clients x x
Linux client x
synchronized folders and files selection x x
picture and pdf online reading x x
OCR service x
document thumbnails x
online collaboration (document editing sharing, chat) x
LAN syncing x
syncing notification very good less good
free ways
to increase space
Referrals, up to 16GB
security level (in my case and my opinion) enough enough
files grouping physical (directories) logical (tagging and directories)
Online editing
Google Docs documents x
non-Google Docs documents
pure text documents x, with 3-rd party app
Local editing
Google Docs documents
non-Google Docs documents x x
pure text documents x x, with 3-rd party app

As you can see, in my list of criteria I ignored space cost issues, because for my uses the available space is enough for Dropbox, and the cost of 5 $/y for 20 GB in GD is negligible.

So, at the end of the day, the only heavy thing dividing the opponents is IMHO the presence of a tremendously collaborative environment in GDr, but only for Google Docs documents.

So, in my case, given my solid Dropbox file base,  a possible line guide could be still using it for standard documents, and making use of Google Docs only when needing a collaborative environment.

I must agree with many affirming in this case Google (especially thinking  they were starting from a great tool like Google Docs) has offered too little, too late.

Dropbox enlarges!

These are a few of my favorite things!” – The Sound of Music

I find Dropbox very useful. I started using it almost three years ago, and I use it a lot, for private and professional aims. It makes a copy in the cloud of the whole content of a directory of your computer. But that’s not all. If you want, it can replicate and align it on every machine you like. The power of cloud!

That means that every change you make on a file in whichever PC, it will be (almost) instantly replicated in the cloud – and into the other machines you enabled. Not only, you can decide to share a subdirectory with everybody you want.

So you can use it

  • for backup
  • to align those very useful documents you need both at home and in the office, or travelling
  • to share documents among people working on the same job

In the free version, it offers you a month versioning of every changed copy of every file. So (inside this span of time) you can recover deleted copies or old versions of your files.

In the past I used USB pens, mail, FTP sites and so on when I had to synchronize files between my office PC and the home one. It was really an hassle. Now everything goes smooth.

And now the news.

They gave you 2 GB of free space in the cloud, and a 250 MB bonus for each person you convince to use it – until now. Just today they sent me a notice to inform me that the bonuses are – retroactively – doubled. So instead of 6 GB (2 initial dimension + 4 gained by spreading the info around) I have now 10 GB of free space!

The Sound of Music.