When you put your data in the public cloud -- whether it be Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, iCloud, or other services. It's dictated by the terms and services of the service provider and is subject to laws that may give the government full access to your data without giving you the slightest hint of any compromise.
That's where ownCloud comes in. While there are providers that offer hosted ownCloud, that's really no better than using Dropbox or OneDrive. The best way to ensure that you remain the 'sole' owner of your server is by running it yourself on a private server.
It's extremely easy to install ownCloud on your server; if you have WordPress or Drupal running on your server, you will be able to install and configure ownCloud.
The newly announced version 8 of ownCloud comes with many new features that make it a serious contender against the other cloud storage services.
With version 8, ownCloud is making it easier to share documents with other ownCloud users. Just the way you share documents with other Google Docs users, now instead of 'sharing' the link with other users, you can just send 'invite' to other users and they can access the document.
That's a neat feature because now I can share documents with my wife or colleagues , even if they are not on the same ownCloud server, easily.
Jos Poortvliet, the ownCloud community manager, told me that they are going to be improving the sharing even further. They are working on auto-complete features within connected servers, so you won't even have to enter the full user-name; it will automatically auto-complete it. Other improvements they are planning include "a global, distributed hash table of ownCloud users on servers". Which means just like Twitter, Google+, Facebook you can use hashtags to communicate with users.
I have over 600GB of data on my ownCloud server and it gets really challenging to find the files that I need. With this version they have overhauled the search interface, making it a simpler and easier to use experience. The latest version of ownCloud also includes support for a 'favorite' icon so that you can easily find your most wanted files.
More than a cloud server
What makes ownCloud even more interesting is the support for third party applications; it works as a platform. More than just a data storage server, it doubles as an address book (never have to rely on Gmail), Calendar, Note-taking app, collaborative document editing, News reader, SMS music and movie player and much more. And since all of this data sits on your ownCloud server, it's synced across your devices.
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