Although there are some great cloud storage services on the market today, there are lots of benefits to building your own cloud storage platform.
For one, you have complete control over how and where your data is stored, allowing you to implement better security standards than the level that traditional cloud storage services offer.
Additionally, if you build your own cloud server with an open source cloud storage program, you may be able to save cash, as the main cost will be buying the storage medium you use.
Still not convinced? Think that it's inconvenient or difficult to do?
Most people hesitate to set up a personal cloud server because of that perfection. Fortunately, that's not actually the case.
In this review, we'll take a look at five great ways to make it work. These are the best tools to build your own cloud server:
- ownCloud: Easy to sync with mobile devices
- SparkleShare: Great for the technically adept
- Resilo Sync: Very easy to use cloud storage app
- Seafile: Cloud storage tool good for enterprise users
- Pydio: Ideal for cloud collaboration
Free version available
Recommended for: encryption and document editing features.
But none of that comes at the cost of its core functionality. ownCloud comes with client desktop applications that work on Windows, Mac, and Linux, and only take a minute to install. You do, however, have to run the cloud server itself from a Linux machine.
ownCloud also offers Android and iOS apps, letting you access your files on the go. And if you aren't ready to give up your third-party cloud storage quite yet, ownCloud uses a flexible architecture that allows it to sync with services like Microsoft OneDrive.
With ownCloud, you can rest assured your files will be secure because it encrypts all transfers using SSL. ownCloud also uses chunked uploads, which keep your cloud system reliable by uploading different parts of a file simultaneously.
Some amazing features right? You might be expecting it to cost a fair bit, but ownCloud is actually free.
A paid enterprise edition is available, with premium subscriptions starting at $3,600/year, but for personal use, the free version will work great.
- File syncing client works with any OS and on mobile
- Additional features like document editing
- Great security with encrypted connections
- Reliable thanks to chunked uploads
- Completely free edition available
- The server has to be run from a Linux computer
Free version available
Recommended for: technically advanced users.
However, if you know a little bit about Linux or have used the Git software system before, it's a great option to consider.
Like ownCloud, SparkleShare is an open source cloud storage system and is completely free. Another similarity is that the host SparkleShare computer will need to be running Linux.
SparkleShare does offer Windows and Mac client applications though, so accessing your cloud storage won't be hard.
Once you've installed SparkleShare on your Linux computer, and have run a simple script, you'll find that a special project folder has been created. Any files kept in this folder will be automatically synced between the host and client computers.
Note: Sparkleshare isn't the most general purpose Cloud storage tool. It was designed for collaborative project work, so it's great if you have a set of constantly morphing files to keep track of. However, it's not really suitable for storing entire drive backups.
- Completely free
- Excellent for users with a Linux background
- Perfect for file collaboration
- Not the best if you aren't tech savvy
- No mobile applications
3. Resilo Sync
Free version available
Recommended for: transferring large files easily.Previously known as BitTorrent Sync, Resilo Sync is the easiest to use cloud hosting tool in this list. It won't give you any compatibility problems because it can be run on almost any operating system.
Resilo sync can be installed on Windows, Linux, Mac or even FreeBSD. Files added to Resilo can also be accessed through iOS, Android and Windows Phone.
To get started, all you have to do is assign a 'drop-off point' folder on your computer, and Resilo will automatically sync it to every Resilo-connected device.
Resilo allows you to throttle the amount of bandwidth used to sync files. That means you can avoid large data charges when syncing over a mobile internet connection.
A free version of Resilo Sync is available. However, some important features, like changing file permissions and selective file syncing are only available if you purchase the 'Pro' version, which is available for a one-off $59.99 payment.
- Very user-friendly
- Compatible with a large range of operating systems
- Includes advanced features like bandwidth limits
- The free version is more limited than competitors'
Prices start from $100/month
Recommended for: enterprise users.
While a free version is available, it's limited to just three users. If your reaction is "but I'm just a single user, why isn't that suitable for me?", remember that any device you add will be counted as an individual user instance.
Essentially, the free version isn't appropriate for personal use.
But don't worry, the paid 'Professional' edition is affordable and comes with a ton of features that will help it to meet your cloud storage needs in a business setting.
Seafile is able to support over 1,000 users, making it applicable for use in even the largest companies. Once you get above 750 user instances, the price drops to just $35/user. And for businesses with less than 10 users, the Seafile license costs $100/year.
It's a flexible tool, with desktop clients that can be installed on Windows and Mac, and mobile applications for Android and iOS. It's also possible to access your Seafile directory through a browser interface. Another great feature is a selective sync option which lets users choose the folders that they need access to.
- Great for enterprise use
- Supports absurdly large numbers of users
- Browser-based file management
- The free version is limited compared to the competition
Free version available
Recommended for: users who want to sync with other cloud services.Pydio is another strong DIY cloud storage option. It was formerly called AjaxPlorer, and it goes above and beyond by providing a powerful interface you can use to edit your cloud-hosted files.
It will let you build your own cloud server using 'cells'. These work like traditional folders, but let you add users with different permission levels. That makes Pydio a great option if you want to use your personal cloud server for a collaborative project.
Pydio runs natively on Mac and Linux, however, a bit of a workaround is required to get it going on Windows. Android and iOS applications are available too. A key advantage of Pydio is that it can be installed on traditional cloud services like Amazon AWS, as well as on local drives.
Both home and enterprise editions are available. The home version is free, but you'll need to get in touch with Pydio for a licensing quote if you want to run the enterprise variant.
- Syncs with Amazon AWS
- Cells give you simple control of user permissions
- Powerful file editing features
- No native Windows app
Building Your Own Cloud Server - Final Thoughts
What exactly is a personal cloud server?
There's no single answer, and the different tools in this list all take a slightly different approach. Therefore, consider your personal needs to work out which is right for you.
- ownCloud is the best for mobile devices
- SparkleShare is ideal for Linux users
- Resilo Sync is extremely easy to use
- Seafile is perfect for large businesses
- Pydio offers great collaboration functionality
What did you think of my guide? Please share your experience of creating a DIY cloud storage server in the comments below!