All the files! FAQ

Here are some answers to common questions about ownCloud and personal clouds (ha, I used that term!) in general, and All the files! in particular.

Just to clarify, you are providing an ownCloud front end which I can use with the backend storage in my own Rackspace account?

How it plays out is that I am hosting an ownCloud instance, and you get a gig of space. Then you can mount your own storage as a directory. I point that out, because it means that your storage is at least one directory in.

I have the same setup, and I mount multiple containers in Cloud Files (Rackspace’s branded Swift service), for different things like photos and music. In case you were wondering how serious I am about running the site, I share my photos directory with Susan through ownCloud so she has access to all our babby photos. ^_^

I would like to host ownCloud on a Raspberry Pi. Is that possible?

It certainly seems like it is possible. If you want to try that out, make sure to check out Pagekite, for putting it on the web.

I am thinking of dropping Flickr for ownCloud. Advisable?

That depends on what you are using Flickr for, but there is only really one scenario that ownCloud replaces Flickr: if you are sharing private photos with a small group of folks.

If you want to share photos with folks on the public web, you want MediaGoblin. I run an instance for my family (soon to include our tribe), and I use Rackspace Cloud Files for storage.

If you are looking for a backup solution for your photos, then I recommend using your operating system’s preferred backup software. I use Duplicity (found in many GNU systems) to backup my files to a local server at my house, which I backup to a Rackspace container. I do that because we also backup other computers, and it is easier to have those backups at home for our setup. Before that I just backed up my computer directly to Cloud Files.

Check the next question for more on backups and ownCloud.

I have a ton of photos! Can I back them up on

Nope! ^_^

You should not use my instance of ownCloud for backing up files; it isn’t a great way to do it. ownCloud is great for sharing files between private groups, and even has some features that let you publish it publicly. However, there should be a backup system under it, and I do only the basic amount of that, in part because my files are already backed up elsewhere. If you want to use ownCloud as part of a backup system, you should set that up, or you can pay me to do so.

There is another reason that you shouldn’t use All the files! for uploading a huge amount of files to your own mounted storage backend: I pay for the bandwidth. If you upload 40 gigs of photos and then sync that to another machine, then I end up paying for 160GB of bandwidth (40 to my server, 40 to your backend, and then again the other way). I would prefer not to do that. I don’t think it will be a problem, and if anyone uses so much bandwidth that it catches my attention, I will just ask them to stop. Not a huge deal.

I am looking into how exactly the backend storage system works, to see if we can get around that, but that is how it stands at the moment.

If you have any other questions, please contact me or leave it in a comment. ^_^

Personal clouds

I went to this event last night about “personal clouds”, it was kinda weird. Maybe it is the circles I hang in, but the language they used to describe it was like a joke to see how many buzzwords they could fit in before writing “synergy”. As Mike pointed out, there is no such thing as Vendor Relationship Management.

I was bored with most of the presentations, and there was one that I actively disagreed with and I hope to find an opportunity to be assertive and disprove eir company’s assumptions about how the human brain works. That aside, there were a couple of interesting bits, enough for me to sign on to the mailing list and listen to what these folks are talking about.

I found their list has a better description for a group than I got from other places:

Cloud computing today typically means that we have to hand over our data to big companies who decide which features they give us (and sometimes force on us), and who can and do unilaterally change their terms of service on us whenever they like.

What if instead, we could each have our own, personal cloud? Where we decide what data to put there and whom to share it with, where we decide which apps to run on it, and where we define the terms of service?

Personal Cloud is a fairly new idea. It has been compared to the wild idea back in the 1970’s that everybody could have a Personal Computer, instead of having to accept whatever the mainframe guys gave us. Obviously, Personal Computers turned out to be an idea that has appealed to hundreds of millions of people who today all own PCs. Could it be the same for Personal Clouds?

Personal Cloud right now is barely beyond the Homebrew Computer Club stage, but things are happening.

This mailing list is the place where the community hangs out that makes this idea real. Why don’t you join us?

There’s a companion wiki at

This greatly appeals to the hacker historian in me. It made me think that maybe if there were more people like me involved at this early stage, it might produce useful software for people who need help. I haven’t given a presentation in a couple of years, but I would like to share with folks how I am using a personal cloud, and where I hope it goes from here.