Cloud storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive make it easy to store your files online and access them across a range of devices. But if you don’t want to give Google or Dropbox that much control over your data, you can also set up your own “private cloud” by installing OwnCloud or Nextcloud software on a server.
Too complicated? Now there’s a simpler way: The Nextcloud Box is an $80 private server-in-a-box. Well, almost.
The box itself is basically a case with a 1TB Western Digital USB 3.0 hard drive and a microSD card that comes preloaded with Snappy Ubuntu Core (the operating system) and Apache, MySQL, and Nexctloud 10 (the software you need to set up a server).
There’s also room in the case for a Raspberry Pi 2 or other single-board computer, but you’ll need to supply the PC yourself. Right now the software is optimized for the Raspberry Pi 2, but support for the Raspberry Pi 3 and oDroid C2 is also in the works.
So here’s the idea: insert the microSD card into the Raspberry Pi 2, place the computer in the case, close the lid, connect power and internet, and you have everything you need to set up a personal server for saving backups of your files, synchronizing them between devices, and sharing media or other files with others.
Nextcloud offers more than file synchronization though. You can also install software that like Collabora Online Office to run a version of LibreOffice in a web browser (sort of the way you’d run Google Docs), use Nextcloud’s Calendar and Contacts apps (sort of like Google Calendar), or even run your own private cloud-based audio, video, or text chat-based services with Spreed.ME.
Powered by a Raspberry Pi and limited by the speed of your home internet connection, it’s probably unrealistic to expect the Nextcloud Box to offer service that’s as speedy or reliable as the online apps you’d get from Google, Microsoft, Zoho, or Box. But it’s nice to be in control of your own data.. and even once you factor in the price of a Raspberry Pi, the Nextcloud Box is cheaper than paying for 1TB of cloud storage for a year or two.