Tim Berners-Lee, credited as the inventor of the World Wide Web, is quoted as saying “Data is a precious thing and will last longer than the systems themselves.”
Certainly, there are no shortage of backup solutions on the market that provide redundancy, whether it is network attached storage, external USB-type hard drives, the standard file server or, more recently, Internet-based cloud solutions.
In fact, I’ve written in Radio World about such solutions in my own efforts to provide my station with some basic data backup. FreeNAS was a BSD server solution we used for a period of time. Then when we transitioned to the iPad platform for our writers and sales, I set up a server that provided webDAV (Web folders) for their data backups.
With the advent of “cloud” services, a number of our people have begun using outside sources to backup their data, namely Dropbox, iCloud and Google Drive. Obviously, the chief advantage is that the data is available at their fingertips with whatever device they choose to use. But another pro is that all of the services are intuitive and easy to use.
The con is that our company’s employee-created data was becoming an exhibit in the Internet zoo. Big targets on the Internet attract hackers who mean to do those companies harm; and there sits our data.
To protect against that possibility, I started searching for a solution that would rival what those companies provide and yet keep our data in a harder-to-find target under our watchful eyes — more specifically, in a server located about 10 feet from me and on our network. OwnCloud is where my search ended.
Users can log into an Owncloud instance on their local network
For the casual user, OwnCloud has similar attributes to each of the services named previously. The ability to upload files, place them in organized folders and to share those files (or folders) by providing a link to them are some of its primary features. Like Dropbox and others of that ilk, OwnCloud provides a number of their own as well as third-party apps that extend its capabilities beyond its basic use. Some of the higher-rated extensions are a Mozilla Firefox data sync, task synchronizer, a music server and client player and an OwnCloud Chat app. It is accessible via an app (99 cents in all mobile app stores) for mobile devices or by Web browser for computer.
Users can also log into the “rwguest” account from anywhere on the Internet.
Installation of OwnCloud is pretty simple. In the most basic sense, once you create a webserver, you copy the OwnCloud folder into the webserver’s publically available folders, and voilà, Owncloud!
With that last sentence, I may have dashed your visions of your own installation of Owncloud. “What do you mean ‘create a webserver’? You have vastly overestimated my abilities!” Perk up and stay with me; you’ll have an opportunity to log into our OwnCloud instance and download some step by step instructions for installing Owncloud on a computer running Windows, Linux or even a Raspberry Pi (wow — at $35, that’s a future article)! You won’t be hosting Amazon or Google on your webserver, so it won’t require the highest specification computer to run it. In fact, the Pentium 4 you are about to replace will be the perfect computer to experiment with and host your own Owncloud site on your local network and to the world.
The “rwguest” account with its files and folders. From left to right, users can manage available extensions, upload and share files and folders, and tweak their account settings.
If you’ll go to https://tinyurl.com/myuvrfg, the link will direct you to our Owncloud instance. You can log in with the username “rwguest” and the password “owncloud” and download the Owncloud installation document to your computer and take your first step toward getting back control of your data. The screenshots included here illustrate the simplicity of the user interface.
Todd Dixon is an assistant engineer at Crawford Broadcasting’s Birmingham facility and a regular RW contributor.