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NextCloud Review: A Free Option That Allows You to Access Files Anywhere

Secure business collaboration is rapidly becoming essential, particularly for those companies who have geographically distributed work forces. Collaboration Software systems provide this capability to leading-edge businesses. It is particularly important for those who exist in a highly competitive, rapidly changing space. One of the top Cloud services providers is NextCloud. If you’re looking for a collaboration solution, read this NextCloud review to learn about one of the best.

 

What Is NextCloud?

To begin our NextCloud review, let’s discuss the basic concepts behind the product. NextCloud is a web-based set of tools that enable collaboration between employees either working from a central location, or a distributed workforce that may even work in different time zones or even different countries.

nextcloud website

image via NextCloud

Client-Server System

NextCloud is a client-server software suite that users can install on site. The basic package is open-source and is free. It is the most deployed self-hosted file share and collaboration platform available.

NextCloud Origin

NextCloud’s creators began with a separate product called OneCloud, They developed OneCloud as a DropBox competitor; a client-server product that businesses could license for free and install in-house. In 2016, a OneCloud founder took the concept in a different direction, and began development of NextCloud.

Build Custom Solutions

NextCloud is a suite of tools that work around the NextCloud platform that allows businesses to build custom solutions to satisfy their business requirements. The service provides file sharing, email, chat, software development systems and other computer services.

Current Release

NextCloud’s current release is NextCloud 16. NextCloud 16 became available in April 2019.

Product Specs

The app is divided into four separate sections:

NextCloud General

NextCloud Files allows users to sync and share files. NextCloud 16 changed data organization from a classic file server model to an access control lists.

In the file server model, IT controls the single fixed folder structure that all users are required to access. With access control lists, users have their own view of data, and can share files and folders at will with whoever they choose.

NextCloud Talk is a fully self hosted, on-premises audio/video and chat communication service, NextCloud Talk features both web and mobile apps. It is designed to offer a high degree of security, while still being easy to use.

NextCloud Talk allows users to share screens, schedule and attend online meetings and collaborate in person over the web, all while ensuring secure communication for all its functions.

NextCloud Groupware

NextCloud Groupware provides an easy-to-use web mail, calendaring and contacts function that helps a business’ group’s team increase their productivity
and collaborate more easily.

NextCloud Groupware integrates with other NextCloud products, in particular with NextCloud Files, extending users’ ability to both communicate and collaborate.

NextCloud At Home

NextCloud at Home is a subset of NextCloud functionality meant for home users. Home users can install NextCloud on their own server, or with an ISP or trusted data center. NextCloud at Home provides home users with secure access to files, allowing users to synchronize, access and share their files through a desktop computer or mobile device.

NextCloud Security

Our NextCloud review revealed one of NextCloud’s claims to fame: the depth and robustness of its security. It is hands down the most secure of the various collaboration systems available today on the market. In today’s cracker-heavy intellectual property environment, we cannot overemphasize the benefit of having the most secure collaboration platform available. NextCloud includes a security scan tool, as does ownCloud, but NextCloud also has a hacker reward program at HackerOne. This program provides rewards of up to $5,000 for uncovering security vulnerabilities in the product.

The NextCloud team has invested heavily in bolstering the security features of their product. They have improved the password handling, added brute force protection, improved rate limiting, have provided integration with various enterprise authentication methods, and more.

Pricing

The NextCloud application is free. This means you can use the app for unlimited users, for an unlimited time and with unlimited data. The Enterprise Edition gives businesses support directly from the NextCloud organization. Pricing for support is given in Euros on their website (NextCloud is a German company) and there are price breaks given as user count goes up.

There are three levels of support: Basic, Standard and Premium, with a 50-user minimum for each. Comparisons of these plans are below:

  • Basic Support
  • Standard Support
  • Premium Support

In addition to Standard Support, Premium Support provides a five-year maintenance life cycle. The SLA reaction time goes down to 24 hours (or less, with a separate fee). Subscribers also receive email and phone support up to 24/7; upgrade standby support; clustering support; and an optional SLA on fixes.

people in the office

image via Pixabay

NextCloud Review: How It Compares

For our NextCloud review, we picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare.

  • ownCloud
  • GoogleDrive
  • DropBox
  • NextCloud

NextCloud

Price – $$?

Ease of Use – 4 Stars

The GUI is intuitive; however, using more advanced features requires some training.

Functionality Depth – 5 Stars

NextCloud has significantly more functionality than Its competitors.

Open-Source – 5 Stars

NextCloud is written in PHP and supports SQLite or MySQL/MariaDB..

Free Option – 5 Stars 

The basic software is free to install and access with unlimited users.

Ease of Upgrade – 4 Stars

Users report it is easy to upgrade to new releases, with some caveats.

Backup Capability – 1 Star 

NextCloud leaves backup totally in the hands of the user.

Website

OwnCloud

owncloud website

image via ownCloud

ownCloud is a full-featured alternative to NextCloud. However, it lacks functionality compared with NextCloud in document editing for email users with no login. File Access Control is available only in the Enterprise Edition, and no file locking is available. Compared to NextCloud, the chat, security rate limiting, and resource monitoring are all substandard.

OwnCloud has experimental capabilities in the areas of delta synch and virtual files, which are unavailable in NextCloud.

Price – $$

Ease of Use – Four Stars

OwnCloud’s ease of use is similar to NextCloud’s.

Depth of Functionality – Four Stars

This system is only slightly behind NextCloud, but NextCloud holds a clear edge in functionality and growth path.

Open-Source – Five Stars

OwnCloud is built in the same language as NextCloud and supports the same data structures.

Free Option – Five Stars

The Basic Software Is free.

Ease of Upgrade – Three Stars

Upgrades require manually fixing permissions, removing add ons, and having no scripted update available.

Backup Capability – One Star

As with NextCloud, backup is the user’s responsibility.

Website

GoogleDrive

google drive

image via Flickr

GoogleDrive exists in a different space than both ownCloud and NextCloud. It is a cloud-based system similar to DropBox. GoogleDrive has a suite of office software that allows users to create and store files on the web. It lacks the rich functionality of collaboration that ownCloud and NextCloud have.

GoogleDrive does have some advantages over DropBox. GoogleDrive offers 15 GB of free storage, while DropBox’s free storage is limited to 2GB. GoogleDrive supports large files, while DropBox has a 20GB limit.

Price – $-$$

Ease of Use – Three Stars

GoogleDrive needs other Google apps to provide its entire suite of functionality. Switching between them can be challenging.

Depth of Functionality – Three Stars

Both NextCloud and oneCloud have significantly more functionality.

Free Option – Four Stars

Not all of GoogleDrive’s functionality is available in the free version.

Backup Capability – Five Stars

Your work is automatically backed up to the cloud.

Website

DropBox Business

dropbox in phone

image via Flickr

DropBox Business is a file-sharing and collaboration tool similar to GoogleDrive. Where GoogleDrive shares through its web app, DropBox shares through its desktop app. As with GoogleDrive, the online visual and audio collaboration tools are lacking.

DropBox Business features include SmartSynch between users and the cloud; an admin dashboard; an account transfer tool, remote wipe for removing files from lost or stolen devices, and DropBox Showcase which allows for professional presentation of work.

Price – $$-$$

Ease of Use – Four Stars

DropBox Business is a totally browser-based system.

Depth of Functionality – Three Stars

It lacks considerable functionality compared to NextCloud and ownCloud.

Free Option – Two Stars

The free version is simply an unsupported file collaboration tool.

Backup Capability – Five Stars

Backups are automatically synched to the cloud. If you have multiple computers on a network, DropBox will sync to all of them and then sync to the cloud.

Website

NextCloud Review: Conclusion

NextCloud Overall rating: four and one-half stars.

NextCloud is the clear winner in the cloud collaboration space, but by feet rather than yards. It has the most features of any collaboration application, and its security is second to none. NextCloud offers support for 33 languages versus ownCloud’s fifteen. NextCloud’s releases occur more often than ownCloud’s and its upgrades seem to go more smoothly and with fewer problems than have been reported with ownCloud.

NextCloud’s audio and video collaboration capabilities are far and away the best available in this market space, and NextCloud’s support response time is more rapid and more complete than ownCloud’s.

NextCloud Overall

If your business is looking to upgrade their collaboration capabilities beyond the limited functionality available in apps such as DropBox and GoogleDrive, then, in our opinion, definitely include NextCloud in your evaluation.

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