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I’m interested in an application that automatically syncs any kind of files on phones, tablets, and laptops (mine and my wife’s). Basically something like Google Photos, but not only for pictures. The most obvious options are Onedrive, Dropbox, etc, but since privacy is also a concern, I’m looking further to NextCloud - however, I’m not sure if there are any cloud options for it (one of its main features is self-hosting, in which I’m not interested in now)

Key features:

  • Syncing any type of files on phones, tablets, and laptops (mine and my wife’s)
  • Privacy focused (including encryption, of course), preferably open source
  • Turn-key solution on the cloud (just create an account, install the app and I’m ready to go)
  • Works at least on Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS
  • Ideally free of course, as lower price as possible as the budget is very tight (e.g. Google Photos offers 100GB for 2€/month, something similar would be great, but maybe I’m chasing a unicorn here, idk)
  • Multi-account (as mentioned, 2 users at least)
  • Having the default option of syncing everything (i.e. if I delete a file locally, it reflects on the server and also deletes it), ideally also allowing to change this setting on any desired device(s): e.g. on my phone choose to backup/move files at a certain time, and then if I delete files locally to save space, it doesn’t syncs with the cloud so that I don’t lose them.

Does NextCloud fill this need? Are there any other suitable/better options out there?

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    You can't really have it every way. Low cost means someone's app - so privacy is an issue. Cloud hosted again implies that it may not be private. And you don't want to host it - which would make it private !!!! Have a look at a NAS box. I shifted from dropbox to Synology box, hosted at home. Feb 5, 2023 at 3:45
  • Of course, that’s why I mentioned that maybe I was chasing an unicorn. So do you think there isn’t any valid privacy-focused cloud solution? (regardless of the price) Feb 5, 2023 at 11:31
  • I’m checking privacytools.io/encrypted-cloud-storage and some services are mentioned, namely NordLocker, Mega, Proton Drive, NextCloud, Filen and Skiff Drive. Any thoughts on these? Feb 5, 2023 at 11:41

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One of the points about privacy can be also related to where your provider is located in the world, as lax rules in some countries can void any assurance of privacy.

As you're reasoning in Euros for costs, I assume you're in Europe: then why not consider first European providers? The privacy rules in the EU on data are stricter than those (actually) followed by USA-based providers.

Among the many cheaper European providers I selected over time a couple of them

As I read a lot of details in their licenses, personally I found less freedom in the pCloud offer, then I opted for Infomaniak, and I'm happy with their offer and applications - the kDrive solution offers also a free plan, which you can use also for evaluation

A relevant point in choosing a good cloud service, over a self-hosted solution, is also about data safety: if they're well mirrored you are way much less exposed to data loss - e.g. with a hardware fault.

If on the other hand, you prefer the sense of security to own your data entirely, you can follow the advice to host it yourself. Note, however, that in that case you have also to ensure yourself all the software updates!

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  • Yes I'm considering primarly providers with european-based servers. One of the options I am looking at is Nextcloud with providers, but It seems it isn't easy to find prices for each one: nextcloud.com/sign-up I've read about pCloud but not about Infomaniak/kDrive, I'm checking it right now. And yes, besides being easier, I prefer a cloud solution because I think data redundancy is stronger. I’m also checking privacytools.io/encrypted-cloud-storage and some services are mentioned, namely NordLocker, Mega, Proton Drive, NextCloud, Filen and Skiff Drive. Any thoughts on these? Feb 21, 2023 at 18:39
  • Sorry can't be helpful further: I know Proton for their Mail service but didn't use the Drive one (however I see the free service is quite small). I know NextCloud, but I hadn't any significant experience with it.
    – LuC
    Feb 22, 2023 at 7:47
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At the end of the day, nothing is free. If you are paying very little or nothing, then you are paying with your data.

If you want it in the cloud you need to trust someone. That someone may be genuine and may not be looking at your data. But they could get hacked or they could sell the solution to someone else.

It is unlikely that anyone has teams of people sitting and perusing the data. But they may have robots mining it.

I was using dropbox (a free account) and managed to stuff everything I wanted in the default storage. All of a sudden they announced that if you were accessing it from more than 3 devices then you had to pay. I paid for a few years, but the monthly fees kept going up. When it got to $17 a month (that's $26 in my currency and buying power), I ditched it.

Now I have a Synology NAS box at home. Just a once-off cost for the hardware.

  • It supports raid drive configuration
  • The apps are really nice looking and functional
  • It provides a DynDNS style feature and a certificate to go with it (no charge).
  • You can use the apps or network share access.
  • I am storing, all my documents, all my receipts, my accounts, my photos, and my movies
  • And I have put my GIT repository (storage archive for software development) on it too.

The downside is that it is still at home and may get lost if your house burns down.

  • I have it placed in the lowest part of the house, unlikely to get destroyed by fire.
  • It supports backing the data to a number of cloud solutions
  • I have an arrangement with a friend to back my stuff to his NAS box and for him to back his stuff to mine.

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