Nextcloud is an open-source private cloud storage solution. This differs from the services that you can get from big names like Dropbox and Google because you’re able to self-host the Nextcloud cloud storage software on your own servers. Alternatively, you can sign up with a Nextcloud provider that will handle some of the administration and maintenance of your private cloud for you.
Hosting your own cloud storage gives you a great deal of control, but it requires a much more hands-on approach. In this Nextcloud review, we help you decide whether this open-source file hosting service is the best cloud storage solution for your needs.
Nextcloud: Plans and pricing
Nextcloud is free open-source software, so you can download and install it at no cost. But if you go this route, you must factor in the cost of running your own servers, the time setting them up, and the hassle of administering them. That said, if you already have the infrastructure in place, using Nextcloud instead of a commercial cloud storage solution could save you money.
Also, there are third-party providers like The Good Cloud, bloosite, and IONIS that can deploy, optimize, and maintain your Nextcloud installation for you. Each provider has its own pricing plan that depends on your storage requirements.
If you have at least 50 users, you can choose Nextcloud Enterprise, which is a pre-configured, production-ready version of Nextcloud that’s administered by the Nextcloud company. For €1,900/year ($2,250/year), you get portal and migration support. At €3,400/year ($4,026/year), you get added components, such as Nextcloud Talk secure online meetings and Collabra Online Office suite. Higher pricing tiers add more users and priority support.
Nextcloud meets the standards for a cloud storage service. It enables you to sync files between all your devices and share them with a team. It also has apps for all major desktop and mobile operating systems.
There’s much more to Nextcloud, though. Its secure messaging and video chat component is called Nextcloud Talk. You can edit and collaborate on files with others in real time using Collabora Online. A groupware component includes webmail, calendaring, and contacts.
With all these features, Nextcloud could become the primary software that your business uses on a daily basis. It’s also easy to integrate Nextcloud with other tools important to your business, such as SharePoint and Outlook.
Interface and in use
Most of your work with Nextcloud will be done through the web interface. There are also desktop apps for Windows, OS X, and Linux, as well as mobile apps for Android and iOS. The apps all feel responsive, but some of the UI design feels a little clunky.
Nextcloud keeps a log of all activities performed across all devices, and it supports file versioning, so you can roll files back to previous versions if you need to. You can even set up bandwidth restrictions and custom alerts so you can keep on top of how people are using your private cloud.
Nextcloud is a well-supported open-source project. Besides manuals for users, admins, and developers, Nextcloud’s website has support forums, an IRC channel, a bug tracker, FAQs, podcasts, and around 50 white papers.
When you pay for one of the Nextcloud Enterprise plans, you get another line of support from the developers. The Basic plan includes email support, with a guaranteed reaction time of three days. The Standard plan adds phone support, installation advice, and custom consulting, and the support reaction time is reduced to two days. Finally, the Premium plan guarantees a 24-hour support reaction time, faster upgrades, and a service level agreement on fixes.
If you host your own Nextcloud private cloud, some of the security protections are down to you. You must ensure that no one unauthorized can get physical or remote access to your Nextcloud server.
But if you set up Nextcloud properly, it’s very secure. All stored content can be encrypted, and there’s even support for end-to-end encryption. You can use two-factor authentication, biometric authentication, and hardware keys. Supported authentication protocols include CAS, JWT, OAuth2, Kerberos, SSO, LDAP/Active Directory, and OpenID Connect. Few other cloud hosting solutions have such a solid security framework.
Nextcloud was forked from open-source ownCloud in 2016, and the two cloud storage solutions remain similar to this day. While ownCloud has a few features that Nextcloud doesn’t, such as experimental support for virtual files, we feel that the Nextcloud developers have added more useful features over the years. Nextcloud continues to gain ground on ownCloud by offering file access control, file locking, secure audio/video chat, and more apps in its app store.
Nextcloud is a highly impressive open-source alternative to expensive commercial cloud storage. Not only is it a fraction of the cost of well-known providers like Dropbox and OneDrive, but it also offers much more flexibility and is more secure if implemented correctly.
Of course, hosting a complex cloud backup system yourself presents its own challenges, but if you have the infrastructure in place, it could be the best option for your growing business.