Create Your Own Dropbox Server With OwnCloud

Dropbox is a great system, as are it’s competitors like Ubuntu One, SugarSync & Google Drive. But the prices you pay when you need more than the free amount on offer can sometimes be quite high, especially if you have a large amount of data stored in the cloud. So what can you do about it? Well, you can get OwnCloud

What is OwnCloud?

OwnCloud is similar to cloud storage tools like Dropbox except that it has one massive difference – it’s allows you can host your own OwnCloud server. The OwnCloud team also have corporate versions available which are perfect for businesses, enterprise customers or service providers.

So now you may be thinking, “Why the hell would I want to host my own cloud server?”. Well there are numerous distinct advantages to this; the main ones being that the open source version is completely free and the amount of cloud storage available to you is only governed by the amount of space you have on your servers hard drive(s). Finally (and arguably most importantly) you have total control of your data.

OwnCloud Home

Yeah but I need to spend money on a server…

Well, kind off. Let me explain, OwnCloud runs on pretty much every environment you can think of. So you can install it on free server platforms like Ubuntu Server. So you don’t need to pay out for any software. Secondly, what you need for OwnCloud is storage space, not power. So get an old computer, buy a cheap 1TB hard drive for it for around £40 ($60) and put that in your machine. Hey presto! You’re ready to go.

Or even better, if you have a powerful machine already then you can create a virtual server and run that inside your home PC. That way OwnCloud really will cost you nothing! Personally, I wiped my desktop computer (Core2Duo 3GHz, 2GB RAM, 500GB HDD) and I used that. It’s brilliant! I’ve not seen my RAM usage hit over 30% yet.

OwnCloud Files

What if my server/Internet dies?

So what? OwnCloud syncs to your other machines and mobile devices using a client much like Dropbox does. If your Internet connection fails simply carry on working as you normally would and once your server comes back online, your changes will be synced automatically.

With regards to the server failing well that’s a little more tricky. It’s very unlikely that the machine will get a virus as it’s based on Linux. However, if you have a hardware failure you can simply re-build it as it only takes around 45 minutes to build from scratch once you know how. Then simply sync everything back up to your re-built server.


Run regular backups of your server like I do. Then, if anything fails you can simply restore it. If your server does fail though, everything is synced to your computer in real-time so you won’t lose any data.

OwnCloud Picture Viewer

Moving on

So I think I’ve answered most of the pitfalls that many of you may come up with. So what about the functionality of OwnCloud against other providers like Dropbox?

Basically, anything Dropbox can do, OwnCloud can do also (and most of the time better). Here is a list of some of the features included with OwnCloud:

  • File versioning – make a mistake then roll it back to a previous version.
  • Public sharing – you can share files or folders with anyone on the planet. For extra security you can password protect these public shares.
  • It’s secure – As long as you setup OwnCloud with SSL and enable the local encryption feature then your data will be securely synced to your devices and also securely stored on your server.
  • Extra’s – there are many extra’s you can add in the form of ‘apps’ in OwnCloud. A calender, document reader (not editor), music streamer, picture viewer and contact book are all added by default.
  • Calendar & Contacts – As mentioned above, these are added by default but you can also sync them with your mobile devices or computers using CalDAV or CardDAV.
  • Sync any folder – Unlike Dropbox, you can sync any folder on your local machine with any folder in your OwnCloud account.

Other uses

You don’t have to use OwnCloud as a replacement to Dropbox. You can use them together. You could use OwnCloud to sync your Dropbox folder as a secondary backup, or vice versa. Say you have 30GB in total of data but only 2GB of it is critical, well you could selectively sync that data with both Dropbox and OwnCloud to ensure that you data is 100% safe.

OwnCloud Music Player

You can also set OwnCloud up as a business or family repository of data. Think about, you come back from holiday and want to share your pictures with your brother in Australia, simply copy them to your pictures folder and then will be synced up and made available for your brother automatically. Or you could just give him a public share link.

As a business, say you have numerous remote offices, you can use OwnCloud as your own private cloud server giving all of your offices access to files anywhere in the world. You also have the option of keeping their data separated, yet easily backed up to one location.


As you can probably see from this long and positive article about OwnCloud, I an extremely excited about it and what you can do with it. I’m in the process of completely moving my data over to OwnCloud from Dropbox, but over the next few days I will be creating a very comprehensive setup & configuration guide as I haven’t been able to find one anywhere.

Most of the the work I’ve done have been trial and error with educated guess work. Now I have it running smoothly and securely, I will share my how to guide with you lot so you can enjoy OwnCloud yourselves if you want.

Do you use OwnCloud? If so, tell us your story in the comments section below…

Create Your Own Dropbox Server With OwnCloud
User Rating: 4.4 (7 votes)
  • undave

    Really looking forward to the how-to! This sounds perfect for what I do at work. A nice place where we have 11 TB of storage with full control and encryption to boot sounds excellent.

    • Kev Quirk

      I’m about 60% of the way through the how to guide Dave. So you should have it in the next couple of days :)

  • françois kevin Bile Ebelle

    is it better than Dropbox? Even if we know that the free account of Dropbox
    just allocates us 2Gb od storage space…

    • Kev Quirk

      Absolutely! I’ve fully migrated over to Dropbox and I’m yet to find something Dropbox can do that OwnCloud can’t. It’s quite simply a superb system.

      • françois kevin Bile Ebelle

        Videos are more explicit on manipulations… Good tutorial anyway Kev. I’m still quite skeptical about the performance of this platform

  • Stefan

    This sounds excellent! i’v been trying to find a solution just like this! so far iv been running a FTP server but this sounds much better! Can’t wait for the How-To guide!

    • Kev Quirk

      Thanks for the comment Stefan, I’ve been running it for a couple of weeks now and I am still to find something that doesn’t work as expected. As I’m sure you can imagine, OwnCloud is a bit of a beast so getting the guide together is taking time…it will come though :)

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  • Eddy

    Is the how-to completed yet? I’m new to the Linux environment and not sure how to move forward. The guide would be great. Thanks.

    • Kev Quirk

      Not yet, it is a lot of work to complete so I am doing it bit by bit. I hope it will be ready in the next week or so.

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