So many “clouds” but I’m down to just two: iCloud and OwnCloud

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I use iOS devices and my iPhone is my camera, so I use iCloud for syncing calendar & contacts as well as automatically uploading any pictures I’ve taken to a desktop or laptop. That works pretty well for me, and as long as I’m living in the iOS world, I can’t imagine not using iCloud for those basics.

Going beyond the basics there are a lot of alternatives. I could buy more storage from Apple, or use one of the many popular services like DropBox, Box, OneDrive, Google Drive, etc.

Factoring out music & photos, I don’t need much storage. I could live without having my music stored in the cloud since I’ve always got my phone with me anyway. I could mostly live without photos in the cloud too. But if you lose your phone, your computer breaks, your house burns down or is robbed the idea of having music and photos in the cloud sounds pretty good. Plus there’s the lure of being able to access that stuff from any device with an internet connection.

Google Drive gives you 15GB for free, which is a good deal, but probably only workable if you’re willing to factor out music and photos (or don’t listen to music or take many pictures).  And of course you could buy your own personal cloud (like Western Digital’s “MyCloud”) but that doesn’t solve for “the house burned down/was robbed” scenario.

I started looking for DIY (do it yourself) solutions and came across OwnCloud. So far, I’m pretty pleased with it. If you host your own web domain, even if it’s on a shared server and aren’t afraid of a tiny bit of tinkering* I’d recommend giving OwnCloud a look.

*and I mean tiny. If you’re not afraid of using an FTP client, you’ll be fine.

Installation was a breeze. I just followed the instructions and set up a directory to copy a single PHP file and then ran OwnCloud’s web-based install.  OwnCloud is free, open source software and desktop clients for Windows, Mac and Linux are also free.  I didn’t find their desktop clients particularly intuitive as far as specifying what you want sync’d on what machines, but it wasn’t difficult to figure out. The iOS app was $.99.

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