I have been using Dropbox for the last couple of years and it’s a great service. It allows me to share photos, documents and other material across with my friends and across my devices. It also works as a poor mans backup, at least for small amounts of data.
The free Dropbox accounts gives the user a few gigabytes and it possible to upgrade to 50 or 100 GB for a reasonable fee.
Keeping stuff in the cloud is convenient but the recent NSA-scandals and Dropbox security issues gives us reasons to look for more secure (and why not cheaper) alternative solutions.
One such candidate is Owncloud, a free and open source cloud storage application written in PHP. It offers a basic “Dropbox-like” desktop and mobile client for Windows/Mac/Linux/iOS and Android with synchronization and sharing features. It also has a web based interface as an alternative to the native clients. The web interface has support for various extensions, but most of them need some more development time to mature.
The various interfaces are less feature-rich compared to Dropboxs alternative, but hey the basic “bread and butter” functions work, you can store and synch as much data as your harddrives can handle, your data is truly yours and it’s all free. It’s great stuff!
Setting up the server on Ubuntu or Debian is as simple as adding a deb-repository and running
sudo apt-get install owncloud
If you wish to access the server from a shared network such as the internet you most likely want to get a SSL-certificate to secure your login and traffic. If it’s a private server only used by yourself you can save some money by creating a self-signed certificate.