Nowadays when it comes to storing data and files,The world is increasingly on the move away from legacy hardware and towards what we have begun to call “clouds”. No doubt you have already heard or used one of the many cloud based data storage services out there. The most prominent platforms that offer these services include Apples’ iCloud, Google Drive, Amazon’s AWS, and Dropbox. While there are certain advantages to using each of these cloud based file storage services based on the type of your stored data and used devices, there is also a valid case to be made for lesser known cloud storage devices.
Nextcloud is one of these lesser known platforms that in recent years has managed to gain a decent amount of traction and attention, particularly in the Linux user base. Specifically when it comes to some of the most popular Linux distros out there such as Ubuntu and Debian (which Ubuntu is based on), Nextcloud has managed to become one of the first choice options for many Linux users. But why has Nextcloud gained this popularity? What exactly is Nextcloud and what does it do? What are its key advantages? In this article we will go over these questions, and in the end we will cover how to install Nextcloud on Ubuntu and Debian.
Getting it Right: What is Nextcloud?
Nextcloud is an open-source software that was first developed in 2016. It allows users to run their own personal cloud storage units. In this aspect it has a lot of features similar to other services such as Dropbox and AWS.
The Nextcloud server software is free to install on Linux, and the client software is free to install on computers running Windows, OS X, or Linux. There are also apps for Android and iOS that enable mobile users to also securely store their data on Nextcloud. Nextcloud is a fork of the OwnCloud project created by many of the original OwnCloud team members. The two projects share many similarities, but they differ in their interface and licensing agreements, particularly for Enterprise editions.
While Nextcloud is by no means even close to being among the most popular cloud storage services out there like Google Drive and Dropbox, it has managed to find its own corner of niche
audience out there. Despite being only 6 years old, Nextcloud has shown great promise and capability as an standalone cloud solution provider, with potential to become a major player in the cloud file hosting business in the coming years as its development cycle further unfolds.
Also Read: ownCloud vs NextCloud Comparison
Why is Nextcloud Popular?
There are several major reasons behind the newfound popularity of Nextcloud. While Nextcloud’s base free storage size of 5GB is rather low compared to Google Drive’s 25GB, there are a number of other key factors that make it stand out in today’s market.
First and foremost, Nextcloud is popular due to its incredible integration with other programs and tools. Nextcloud is a highly adaptable cloud storage software suite. It can be configured in a variety of ways and integrated with over a hundred third-party apps. All of this is fantastic, but it gets even better when you consider the overall focus that Nextcloud has put on securing their cloud storage.
Some of the other key advantages of Nextcloud that have contributed include it being a FOSS (Free and Open Source Software), its self-hosted and third-party hosted data options and the fact that it’s a HIPAA and GDPR compliant cloud solution software.
Nextcloud also supports 2FA, integrated personal information management, as well as optional integration with third-party apps. You can go for optional version tracking if you feel like it. Nextcloud also offers its Nextcloud Hub service for users that are looking to run an in-house collaboration. Finally it provides users with diversity of choice as it comes in both the Regular and Enterprise version.
Know your Prize: Nextcloud Features
Now we’re going to take a closer look at Nexcloud’s features and advantages. These elements together have worked together to make Nextcloud the potential next big thing in the cloud based file hosting field. We picked eight categories where we thought Nextcloud had the best performance, however the actual advantages go beyond this, for the purposes of getting onto how to install Nextcloud, we decided to limit these to eight cases in total.
Now to be fair, highlighting security as one of the main advantages of a program that is facing rivalry from the likes of Dropbox and Google Drive isn’t exactly fair. But even in such a case, Nextcloud has an exceptional level of embedded security written into its base code. Nextcloud features user specific strings of code that make access exclusive to those users. On top of that, Nextcloud also features a world-class encryption process that makes your data unreadable even in the case of an unlikely breach. Nextcloud stores all your data within the company infrastructure itself using E2EE encryption. So as far as security goes, you’re covered.
Also Read: What is Linux bashrc and How to Use It?
Ease of Use
As we already mentioned, Nextcloud is a fork of Owncloud, which itself was famous for its smooth user experience and setup. Nextcloud maintains a lot of features that made Owncloud successful in the first place and combines them with an even more easy to use interface to take it to the next level. Installation itself is rather easy and straightforward. Configuration is also quite easy to understand. After a short installation and configuration routine, you get access to a platform that’ll easily allow you to access your data from anywhere and on any platform. Nextcloud provides you this access using famous protocols like FTP, NFS, WebDAV, among others.
Now as far as cloud file hosting services go, Nextcloud is by no means one of the largest. However there are many other services provided by them. When we consider their services as part of this extended package, Nextcloud is one of the most widely used self-hosted file sync and content collaboration platforms out there. This, coupled with its open-source nature provides one of the the industry’s most comprehensive set of add-on capabilities and integrations. Over 200 community developed apps provide robust security, team productivity features, and infrastructure integrations.
With Nextcloud, you can get rid of a confusing jumble of different SaaS platforms, as well as the security, cost, compliance, and productivity issues that come with them.
It would truly suck for a program of Nextcloud’s utility and stature to not be friendly with people with special needs wouldn’t it? In order to make life easier for people with all user preferences ,Nextcloud has extensive keyboard accessibility and screen reader support to ensure that users with visual impairments can use it. Nextcloud’s colors meet the WCAG 2.0 AA contrast standard, and they have also gone through the trouble of creating themes for users who require even more assistance. Nextcloud’s High Contrast theme strives for WCAG 2.0 AAA compliance, while a Dyslexia-friendly font option aids people who have difficulty reading. There is also a Dark theme.
Another major advantage of Nextcloud that makes it extra reliable is the fact that it keeps the users up to date with real time notifications and updates. Nextcloud is a sophisticated cloud platform that distributes real-time notifications and comments to all of the member devices at once, including mobile phones. You can easily use this feature in order to perform collaborative editing in larger projects. Nextcloud allows for a seamless transition to audio/video calls and chat. They also provide a plethora of other productivity tools for managing your emails and appointments.This time saving approach to notifications and updates is another major reason for Nextcloud’s popularity.
Advanced Account Management
Nextcloud supports integrated account management with single sign-on via optional two-factor authentication. System administrators can configure the name, disk quota, group membership, email, and so on. They are also capable of integrating various external user directories. System administrators can also configure each user to meet their specific requirements. Using Nextcloud’s built-in user management, administrators can create, modify, search for, and view user accounts. Names, disk quotas, email addresses, and group membership can all be managed, and users can be granted administrator rights if necessary. This in conjunction with other aforementioned utilities of Nextcloud, makes it perfect as a cloud file host for businesses with clear cut permission hierarchies.
The Nextcloud system administrator can use a graphical user interface (GUI) in order to monitor the status and performance of all tasks. This API procedure can be used to connect all of your apps. To keep track of all user activities, Nextcloud also generates a system log tab for you that you can refer to whenever your set of integrated apps malfunction in order to find what exactly went wrong with them. Not only do you get a reliable cloud file host with Nextcloud, but you also can use its IT monitoring function to compile different metrics about the ins and outs of IT environments, as well as their hardware and software in order to make sure everything works as you need them in order to support applications.
Nextcloud allows you to publish and manage your website using a secure and private web server over which you have complete control. During any downtime, you can always get an immediate hosted alternative server. Through the Nextcloud platform, you get continuous on-demand support, adequate server space, high availability, and regular software updates.
Their PicoCMS protocol allows you to create and manage websites with great ease. In Nextcloud, you can edit the website as simply as putting in some text commands. You also have the option of making the pages visible to all users or groups on your Nextcloud. You can also share the files that make up the website in order to collaborate with others in maintaining it.
Also Read: How to Get Docker on VPS
Let’s Get Technical: How to Install Nextcloud?
We went over what Nextcloud is, we evaluated its position in today’s cloud file hosting industry and we covered eight of its most prominent features as well as the reasons behind its newfound popularity. So if you read so far and decided that all of these made it appealing enough for you to want to install Nextcloud on a cloud VPS, get ready, because this is where we will cover how to do it.
Since the installation process is rather straightforward for most platforms other than Linux, this guide is going to be on how to install Nextcloud for Ubuntu and Debian, two of the most famous Linux distros out there. Keep in mind that since Ubuntu is based on Debian, and since the Nextcloud server install process for most Linux distros is the same you can use the following guide for both platforms. Not sure if you should install Nextcloud on Ubuntu or Debian? Use our guide on the battle of Ubuntu vs Debian to help yourself choose a distro. Let’s get to it!
Step 1: System Requirements
You are going to need the following requirements to install Nextcloud on Ubuntu and Debian:
|Web Server||Apache 2.4|
Step 2: Installing Apache
Your Nextcloud is going to be running on a web browser. It’s not going to be running on its own. So you’re going to need a web server to do so. Ours as well as Nextcloud’s own recommendation is Apache version 2.4. If you already have Apache 2.4 skip this step and if not, enter this command to initiate installation:
sudo apt update
sudo apt install apache2 -y
Wait until it finishes the installation process. Now verify Apache’s status using this command:
sudo systemctl status apache2
You’re going to see the following prompt which means that Apache has been installed and is now operational
Step 3: Installing PHP
Nextcloud is written using the PHP programming language. For this reason PHP is quintessential in ensuring that the program will run correctly on your Ubuntu or Debian. If you already have it installed skip this step and if not, now for installing PHP run the this command:
sudo apt install php libapache2-mod-php php-imagick php-common php-mysql php-gd php-json php-curl php-zip php-xml php-mbstring php-bz2 php-intl php-bcmath php-gmp php-dom unzip -y
Here you will be prompted to confirm the PHP version. Use this command:
Finally reload Apache for the changes you made to be applied:
sudo systemctl reload apache2
Step 4: Install Database Server (MariaDB)
Next on the list of the many prerequisites of installing Nextcloud is a database server. There are many options for this that you can choose such as PostgreSQL, MySQL, SQLite and MariaDB. This largely comes down to your own preference, for this guide we’re going to use MariaDB as an example. Run this command:
sudo apt install mariadb-server -y
Wait for the installation to finish, then run the following command to secure your MariaDB server with a password for your user:
Press the enter key on the next prompt and then press Y to set the root password for your server. Set the password to something strong as getting compromised on your database server will have major consequences.
Press Y for all the remaining questions and enjoy your new MariaDB database server
Step 5: Configuring the Database and User
Now, we’re going to use MariaDB to make a database and user for your Nextcloud use. Start by logging in as a root use into MariaDB:
sudo mysql -u root -p
Now set the name for your database. Replace “Cloudzy” with whatever name you like:
CREATE DATABASE Cloudzy;
Now you are going to run a lengthy command line to create the user for the database as well as to grant it permissions to operate. I chose Cloudzy-User as the name, but again you can replace it with whatever you like. Also replace “”your-password” with your own password:
GRANT ALL ON Cloudzy.* TO 'Cloudzy-User'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'your-password';
Now flush the privileges to refresh the operation:
And then confirm that your user can connect to the database with the password that you just set:
mysql -u Cloudzy-User -p
Finally, quit the program and let’s go for the next step:
Step 6: Install Nextcloud
We configured Apache as your web server, and then we went through the lengthy process of setting up MariaDB as the database server. Now we can finally start downloading and installing Nextcloud. The program itself is given out in a ZIP file. First head out to Nextcloud’s official page to check out the official latest version. When I’m writing the guide, the latest release is 23.0. You can choose to go for a quick version change in your command line depending on the version you want. Enter the command below to start the download:
Now you’re going to unzip the downloaded file and then create a specific directory in order for NextCloud to run and also grant it the needed permissions to run and operate. To do this, you need to run the following commands in order:
sudo unzip nextcloud-23.0.0.zip -d /var/www/html/
sudo mkdir /var/www/html/nextcloud/data
sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/html/nextcloud/
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Step 7: Configuration and Final Touches
Congratulations! You just installed Nextcloud on your Ubuntu 20.4 or Debian 10. Let’s take a moment to login and configure the settings to your liking.
Log in using your admin account here. After you’re in the program itself, you’re going to see the general screen. Here you need to click the cog icon in the top right to head into settings and set up some basic settings such as your data folder, as well as the connection settings which includes database user and password that you set up in step 5. Once you’ve configured this part, your Nextcloud setup is all done!
Nextcloud is certainly not the most famous or the most capable of cloud based file hosting services out there. But since it adheres to a very specific audience within the Linux community it has managed to garner a relatively large community and user base for itself. Nextcloud is still a young platform and has the potential to grow into a major cloud based file hosting platform in the coming years. It’s safe to say that if you’re a Linux main user, then Nextcloud is one of the best you can get.
Speaking of Linux, Ubuntu and Debian, you can also use a handy VPS service to give even more dynamic options to any project or business that you may be having using a prominent VPS service. Cloudzy has a host of different RDP and VPS services on the offer, all at convenient and competitive prices. If you’re interested in using Nextcloud, chances are you can also use a high quality Linux VPS by Cloudzy, featuring popular distros such as Ubuntu, Debian and OpenSUSE. Cloudzy’s VPS services feature 15 different locations, 99.95% uptime, minimal latency, 24/7 customer support and a 7-day money back guarantee, the latter a testament to its reliability.
What is the Best Way to Install NextCloud?
The best way to install Nextcloud is to first make sure you meet all the prerequisites by visiting Nextcloud’s official requirement documentation. Then the best course of action is to install a web server and a database server of your liking and use commands to download and install the files from Nextcloud itself. You can do all this by following my 7-step guide above.
Is Nextcloud Server Setup Difficult?
No. Nextcloud is known for its user-friendly and accessible approach to making a cloud server for your file hosting needs. Still, since the program is largely used on Linux distros such as Ubuntu and Debian, the installation can be a bit confusing for some of the more beginner parts of its user base.
Is Nextcloud Free?
Yes. Nextcloud is free up to 5GB of storage space per user. However should your need exceed this limit, there are a number of paid plans with their own respective advantages that you can opt for to get the most out of the Nextcloud experience.