First Impression Review of ownCloud 4

Everyone has gone cloud these days. All the big companies are offering it. So it comes as no surprise then that individuals would want their own cloud too. And for those people there’s ownCloud!

I installed ownCloud 4.0.4 in my shared hosting account. It worked on the second try (it would have worked on the first try if I had followed my providers instructions for configuring PHP first). The fact it worked so quickly, without any fiddling around, is a very good sign. I also installed the synchronization client on my laptop.

The basic functionality included in ownCloud is quite impressive. And version 4 brought a lot of great new features. Of coure you can synchronize your files (and if they’re media files you can play them back using the integrate web player). There’s also Contacts, Calendars and a Picture Gallery enabled by default. There’s a lot more you can enable out of the box, including Tasks and External Storage (such as DropBox and Google’s gDrive), and Bookmarks.

For more advanced functionality ownCloud offers an API and an app store for user’s to contribute their own extensions. And there’s quite a few interesting extensions already available.

ownCloud is written in PHP (requires version 5.3) so you can pretty sure it will run just about anywhere – PHP is available on all OSes and every shared host I know includes PHP in their most basic plan. It also requires a database but fortunately it supports SQLite (as well as MySQL and PostgreSQL) so even if your hosting plan doesn’t include a database you’ll be fine for three or four users.

Yes, ownCloud is mutli-user! So you can set it up for your whole family, your friends, or organization.

I was somewhat disappointed by a couple things in ownCloud though. First of all I found some basic things missing or counter-intuitive. And occasionally navigation doesn’t seem to work (ex.: adding a date to a task brings up two different calenders depending on where you click; the button to add a photo to contact are not always visible; etc.). This is polish that will come but makes wonder if basic testing is being skipped.

I’m a bit more concerned but some of the fundamental things which I don’t see. Like the synchronization client doesn’t support proxies! This means you can’t sync from the office (I don’t know any company that doesn’t have a proxy/firewall). Also the advantage of PHP is mitigated by the fact it’s not a long-running process, so every request to ownCloud kicks off a new PHP script. That mean’s it slow(er).

ownCloud is a great idea with some great implementation and a good foundation. I expect a lot can be done by third parties using the hooks built into the software and the API provided. But at the moment I don’t think it can replace my SugarSync account or win anyone over from DropBox, gDrive or iCloud.

I am looking forward to version 5 though. Assuming they not only add the promised features but also polish up the existing ones.

Cross-posted on 2FatDads

Google’s Dropbox competitor will reportedly launch in April

The famed, mysterious G-Drive is apparently finally coming to the internet! There have long been reports since 2006 that the G-Drive, used internally at Google as Platypus, was coming. It’s hard to imagine that the initial, free, limit is 1 GB when services like Drop Box offer 2 GB and Sugar Sync offers 5 GB. Even Microsoft’s Sky Drive offers 25 GB (at least through certain partners) so why would Google only offer 1 GB?

Still, I like the idea of Google offering a cloud storage service. Of course it will integrate Google’s other services, like photos from Picasa Web, music, documents, books, and others. We’ll probably even be able to send files directly from our GMail account; and of course share them via Google+ (if you’re into that kind of thing).

And let’s not forget the Android integration! Of course Google needs that to put something on the plate to compete with Microsoft’s Sky Drive (on their Windows phones and tablets) and Apple’s iCloud.

So let’s line-up our files and get our internet connections ready, the uploading is about to begin!

Source: Boy Genius Report

Cross-posted on 2FatDads