OWNCLOUD TRICKS

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Maximum PC - - FRONT PAGE - –NICK PEERS

YOU’LL NEED THIS

COM­PAT­I­BLE NAS WITH

OWNCLOUD SERVER For ex­am­ple, West­ern Dig­i­tal Live,

Synol­ogy, or QNAP.

LINUX-BASED SERVER Plus, OwnCloud desk­top and

mo­bile clients. CLOUD BACKUP AND SYNC is a bril­liant way to en­sure your data is both pro­tected and avail­able on all your de­vices. But you may have good rea­son not to want a third-party provider to look af­ter your data—per­haps the cost is too great, you don’t trust their en­cryp­tion meth­ods, or you’d rather re­strict syn­chro­niza­tion to your own net­work.

The so­lu­tion to hav­ing your cloud-based cake and eat­ing it is OwnCloud. OwnCloud works in ex­actly the same way as most cloud sync providers, but your data is stored lo­cally, so the only limit is the size of your server’s hard drive. It’s also re­stricted to your lo­cal net­work by de­fault—you can open it up, as we’ll re­veal, but if you’re leery about mak­ing it avail­able over the In­ter­net, you can keep it closed off.

The most dif­fi­cult thing about OwnCloud is set­ting it up, which is where we come in. If you have a NAS drive with the OwnCloud app, you can skip the tricky in­stal­la­tion part (cov­ered in de­tail back in is­sue 130), and get on with con­fig­ur­ing and us­ing OwnCloud to en­sure your data is backed up, in sync, and se­cure. Read on to find out ev­ery­thing you need to know.

1 IN­STALL OWNCLOUD Step one is—ob­vi­ously—to in­stall OwnCloud. If you’re run­ning a Linux-based server, down­load it from www.owncloud.org; if you’re in­stalling it on your NAS, visit its app cen­ter, or Google the NAS model and “owncloud” to see whether a com­mu­nity-built app has been pro­duced, then fol­low the in­struc­tions to in­stall it—typ­i­cally, it’s a sim­ple case of click­ing the OwnCloud icon or down­load­ing a pack­age, then up­load­ing it to the NAS, which then does all the tricky in­stal­la­tion stuff for you.

>> If you’re a QNAP owner, you’re stuck with OwnCloud 8.0.4, un­less you’re will­ing to jump through some pretty tricky hoops, or make do with just the ba­sic database (which is im­prac­ti­cal, as you’ll see in the next step).

2 CON­FIG­URE MYSQL Be­fore launch­ing OwnCloud for the first time, you need to set up a MySQL database for it to use. OwnCloud does ship with built-in sup­port for SQLite, but by its own ad­mis­sion, this isn’t very prac­ti­cal, and doesn’t work with any desk­top clients, so you need to up­grade. Any NAS sup­port­ing OwnCloud that’s worth its salt should give you ac­cess to the ph­pMyAd­min app (or sim­i­lar) to con­fig­ure your new database.

>> If nec­es­sary, in­stall ph­pMyAd­min through your app cen­ter, then se­lect the app, and click “Con­fig­ure” or “Open” to open it in a sep­a­rate browser win­dow. You then need to log into ph­pMyAd­min as the root user—if this is your first time, try “root” as the user­name and a blank pass­word. Once logged in, start by click­ing “Change pass­word” un­der “Gen­eral set­tings” to se­cure the ac­count with a strong pass­word—use the “Gen­er­ate pass­word” but­ton, then save the gen­er­ated pass­word to your pass­word man­ager (such as LastPass).

3 CRE­ATE AND CON­NECT TO DATABASE Se­lect the “User ac­counts” tab at the top of the screen. Click “Add User Ac­count” to cre­ate a new user—say, “owncloud.” Change “Host name” to “Lo­cal.” Next, set a strong pass­word by click­ing “Gen­er­ate” [ (make a note of this, or save it to your pass­word

man­ager). Check “Cre­ate database with the same name and grant all priv­i­leges,” then scroll down, and click “Go.”

>> Once done, switch to the “Databases” tab to ver­ify the OwnCloud database has been cre­ated. Click “Check priv­i­leges” next to it to ver­ify there’s an en­try for your user­name—it should read “lo­cal­host” for “Host name,” “database-spe­cific” for “Type,” and be given all priv­i­leges (but not able to grant ad­di­tional priv­i­leges). Once ver­i­fied, close the ph­pMyAd­min win­dow.

4 FIN­ISH CON­FIG­UR­ING OWNCLOUD Re­turn to your NAS’s app cen­ter, lo­cate OwnCloud, and click “Open.” First, cre­ate an ad­min­is­tra­tor ac­count for con­fig­ur­ing OwnCloud—make sure its user­name and pass­word matches the MySQL user­name pass­word you cre­ated pre­vi­ously. Once en­tered, click the “Stor­age & database” drop-down menu, and se­lect the “MySQL/Mari­aDB” tab. En­ter your MySQL user­name and pass­word again, then put the MySQL user­name in the “Database name” field, too, and change “lo­cal­host” to “127.0.0.1:12345,” re­plac­ing “12345” with the port num­ber dis­played in the Ad­dress Bar next to your NAS’s IP ad­dress. Click “Fin­ish setup” [ Im­age B].

5 SET UP USER AC­COUNT Af­ter a short pause, the main OwnCloud screen ap­pears, with handy links for ob­tain­ing the desk­top and mo­bile clients, plus in­struc­tions for synch­ing cal­en­dar and con­tacts from your smart­phone. Click the close but­ton. You’ll see a small list of fold­ers and files have been cre­ated for the cur­rent user—your ad­min­is­tra­tor, so to speak. Let’s start by cre­at­ing a ded­i­cated user ac­count for your­self: Click the down ar­row next to your user­name in the top right-hand cor­ner, and click “Users.”

>> Now type a more mem­o­rable user­name and pass­word into the boxes—you can make your­self a mem­ber of the ad­min group by click­ing “Groups,” and check­ing the “Ad­min” box if you wish [ Im­age C]— how­ever, for max­i­mum se­cu­rity, it’s best to leave ad­min­is­trat­ing OwnCloud to the mas­ter user. Ei­ther way, be sure to pro­tect your ac­count with a strong pass­word. Click “Cre­ate.”

6 ADD MORE USERS—IF RE­QUIRED If you plan to share your per­sonal cloud with other house­hold mem­bers, set up their user ac­counrs now—but don’t make any­one an ad­min. If you plan to set dif­fer­ent shar­ing priv­i­leges for dif­fer­ent users, click “Add Group” to cre­ate groups that you can place peo­ple into. Make a note of the “Quota” drop-down menu—this en­ables you to set lim­its on how much data peo­ple can store us­ing OwnCloud, which may be crucial if your NAS drive isn’t par­tic­u­larly big. Op­tions in­clude un­lim­ited, 1GB, 5GB, and 10GB, plus a custom op­tion for set­ting your own limit in gi­ga­bytes. Think about how much space you have, and how you would like to di­vide it up among the users—50GB each should be more than am­ple for most peo­ple.

7 SOME INI­TIAL TWEAKS Be­fore we switch at­ten­tion to set­ting up your ac­count, let’s con­fig­ure some set­tings. Click the ac­count user­name in the top right-hand cor­ner, and choose “Ad­min.” Work your way through the op­tions of­fered—you can re­strict shar­ing to this OwnCloud server only, plus al­low other users to only share within their user groups, for ex­am­ple.

>> We strongly rec­om­mend you check the “En­force HTTPS” boxes to en­sure all con­nec­tions are se­cure [ Im­age D]. Note your NAS or server needs to have an SSL cer­tifi­cate ap­plied to it—see the box­out on the right for some tips. It’s worth not­ing that OwnCloud’s built-in se­cu­rity isn’t per­fect, par­tic­u­larly on older ver­sions, but it’s a start.

8 SWITCH TO NEW USER Click the user­name drop-down menu in the top-right cor­ner, and choose “Log out.” Log in us­ing your newly cre­ated ac­count cre­den­tials to ac­cess your own per­sonal cloud folder—files and fold­ers can be cre­ated, up­loaded, or deleted di­rect from here when you need to, al­though in most cases you’ll use the desk­top client to stay in sync. You’ll see op­tions on the left for fa­vorit­ing files and fold­ers, plus shar­ing them with oth­ers. High­light a file in the list, and you’ll see op­tions for shar­ing and down­load­ing it [ Im­age E], plus “Ver­sions”—OwnCloud can store mul­ti­ple ver­sions of a file, en­abling you to roll back should you need to.

9 CON­FIG­URE DESK­TOP CLIENT If you’ve not al­ready done so, down­load and in­stall the OwnCloud client on your desk­top or lap­top—it’s broadly the same process on Windows, Mac, and Linux, but we’ll fo­cus on the Windows client. When you launch it for the first time, you are prompted to con­nect to your server [ Im­age F]— use the fol­low­ing syn­tax to do so:

https://192.168.0.2:8081/owncloud

>> Sub­sti­tute your NAS’s IP ad­dress and the port num­ber as­signed to OwnCloud, and en­sure it’s an https:// con­nec­tion. Click “Next.” You get a mes­sage about an un­trusted cer­tifi­cate, so en­sure it’s cor­rect, check “Trust this cer­tifi­cate any­way,” and click “OK.” En­ter your OwnCloud user­name and pass­word, and click “Next.”

10 LET’S GET SYNCHED Choose your sync set­tings—click the user data folder to choose a dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tion. If it al­ready con­tains data, be sure to se­lect “Keep lo­cal data,” so it’s synched to your server. You can choose to sync ev­ery­thing from the server, or se­lec­tively sync cer­tain fold­ers only [ Im­age G]; you can also opt to re­ceive con­fir­ma­tion be­fore synch­ing any­thing over a cer­tain file size ( 500MB by de­fault). Once done, click “Con­nect,” and OwnCloud starts to sync. Two but­tons let you ac­cess OwnCloud through your browser or the lo­cal folder you’re synch­ing to, but you can ig­nore these; click “Fin­ish.”

11 TRACK PROGRESS Click the “^” but­ton next to the Taskbar No­ti­fi­ca­tion area, and you’ll see the OwnCloud cloud icon is now present. Click this to open the OwnCloud sta­tus win­dow, where you can use the but­tons to track the progress of your file sync. Click your user­name for an overview and to browse fold­ers that have been up­loaded (you can also se­lec­tively choose fold­ers to sync from here, too, should you wish). A handy link to the OwnCloud browser con­fig­u­ra­tion page is also ac­ces­si­ble.

>> The “Ac­tiv­ity” but­ton en­ables you to get an overview of ac­tiv­ity—use “Sync Pro­to­col” to re­view the lat­est changes, while “Not Synched” pro­vides you with a list of files wait­ing

to be up­loaded or down­loaded. The “Gen­eral” but­ton pro­vides you with ac­cess to client set­tings, such as en­abling desk­top no­ti­fi­ca­tions, and whether OwnCloud should au­to­mat­i­cally start with Windows. Use the “Net­work” tab to ap­ply band­width lim­its to up­load and down­load speeds—we rec­om­mend en­sur­ing there are no lim­its dur­ing the ini­tial sync, par­tic­u­larly if you have a large amount of data to up­load to the OwnCloud server.

>> Re­mem­ber, you can in­stall the OwnCloud client on all your desk­tops and lap­tops—re­peat steps 9–11, and you’ll soon have data synch­ing be­tween all your com­put­ers, with a backup copy re­sid­ing on the server or NAS.

12 WIDEN YOUR AC­CESS As things stand, a lo­cally in­stalled OwnCloud server is only ac­ces­si­ble through your home net­work. That’s good from a se­cu­rity point of view, but you may have rea­sons for want­ing to be able to ac­cess your data or sync while out­side your home net­work. To do this, you should first sign up for a Dy­namic DNS (DDNS) ser­vice. Your NAS man­u­fac­turer may of­fer such a ser­vice (QNAP users should check out myQNAP­cloud, for ex­am­ple [ Im­age H]), or you can sign up with a third-party ser­vice, such as www.no-ip.com, that’s sup­ported by your router. If you choose the lat­ter op­tion, you need to con­fig­ure your router for re­mote ac­cess— if pos­si­ble, force se­cure con­nec­tions, and change the router pass­word to some­thing stronger. Also con­sider strength­en­ing your NAS’s pro­tec­tion—switch on two-fac­tor au­then­ti­ca­tion, for ex­am­ple, to pre­vent drive-by hack­ings.

13 CON­FIG­URE DDNS AS TRUSTED DOMAIN Once set up in your router, open your web browser and type the fol­low­ing: “https://your­name.ddns.net:8081/ owncloud/” sub­sti­tut­ing “your­name.ddns.net” with your dy­namic DNS ad­dress, and “8081” with the port you use to con­nect to your OwnCloud server lo­cally. You’re shown a mes­sage telling you that you’re at­tempt­ing to ac­cess OwnCloud through an un­trusted domain—try click­ing “Add ‘your­name.ddns.net’ as a trusted domain.” If this works, you can now con­nect to your OwnCloud server through the web, or by set­ting up a sep­a­rate con­nec­tion in your OwnCloud client to the DDNS ad­dress.

>> If this doesn’t work, you need to man­u­ally edit the OwnCloud con­fig.php file [ Im­age I]. If you can ac­cess it through your NAS’s file man­ager (on QNAP drives, for ex­am­ple, you’ll find it un­der Web\owncloud\con­fig), down­load the con­fig.php file to your hard drive, then cre­ate a copy of the orig­i­nal file called con­fig-old.php. Edit the con­fig.php file in your text ed­i­tor by lo­cat­ing the “trusted do­mains” sec­tion, and adding the fol­low­ing line in­side ar­ray () below the line trust­ing your NAS’s IP ad­dress:

1 => ‘your­name.ddns.net’,

>> Save the file, then up­load it back to the con­fig di­rec­tory. Ei­ther re­boot your NAS or stop and restart OwnCloud, then you should find you now have re­mote ac­cess.

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