OWNCLOUDPublished : 2013-12-02License : None1


1. INTRODUCTIONT he main focus of ownCloud is storing and sharing documents,calendars and contacts in a secure way, which also embraces openstandards.T here are two main reasons why you or your group may want to useownCloud rather than a similar service like Google Docs or Dropbox.T he first is that it offers more security for the files that you store,because you store them on your own server and can also encryptthem. T he second reason is that by using ownCloud, you aresupporting a more decentralized and less monitored internet. If youare uncomfortable about the level of data analysis and surveillanceinvolved in signing up for corporate internet services, then ownCloudprovides a very usable alternative.ABOUT THIS MANUALT his manual is aimed to be a complement to the existingdocumentation at Our focus is to createbeginner level help which is very visual, which includes screenshots ofthe interface and explains technical terms when they are used.We also separate out the use of ownCloud by 'user level'. T his meansthe guide begins with the tasks that are easiest to perform and getsprogressively more technical. In this way new users can get startedwith this manual without being bogged down with advancedterminology.T he guide begins by focusing on using an ownCloud instance thatsomeone else has installed. We cover simple admin of ownCloud viathe web interface and follow that with detailed information on keepinginformation in-sync between devices. Only then in the ownCloud ServerAdmin section will there be a chapter on how to install it and begin toconfigure its use.T his manual was written by Donna Metzlar, Anna Morris and Mick Fuzzfor FLOSS Manuals. T he guide has been commissioned as part of theHuman Rights Connect project of Internews Europe.OVERVIEW OF OWNCLOUD’S FEATURESSharing filesOnce you log in you will see an interface for sharing files under theFiles menu on the left. You have options for uploading new files andfolders, and for sharing these with other users on your ownCloudinstallation.You can connect to online ownCloud folders without having to log invia your web browser. You can do this by downloading the ownCloudclient and setting it up to share folders on your computer. T his clientworks in a similar way to the popular Dropbox client. T his piece ofsoftware can be installed on any desktop operating system – fromWindows to Mac OS X to Linux – it is completely cross-platform.3

Sharing calendarsYou can use the shared calendar in the ownCloud web interface byclicking on the Calendar tab; or if you use T hunderbird as your emailclient you can connect to various calendars and display them under anEvents tab in T hunderbird.T he calendars that ownCloud uses support the creation of 'tasks',making it suitable for simple project planning.Sharing contactsT o use ownCloud as a shared repository of contacts, you can exportyour contacts as vCard (.vcf) files from your email service – fromT hunderbird or Gmail, for example. You can then import thesecontacts into your ownCloud account. You can also use T hunderbird tomanage your shared contacts by setting up a remote address book.4

Using ownCloud as an alternative to Google DocsWhile ownCloud works well as a file-sharing platform, it still lags behindin terms of real-time collaborative document editing compared toGoogle Docs. However: you could use Etherpad, an open-sourcecollaborative editing program, to collectively edit the document, andthen save it to ownCloud when you're finished.SOME BACKGROUND ON OWNCLOUDownCloud was started and is still maintained by the German opensource software developer Frank Karlitschek. He first presented it atCamp KDE in 2010.T he name of the software partly explains the main goal of ownCloud.T he term 'own' refers to running the service yourself, i.e. not beingdependent on third-party services like Dropbox and WeT ransfer. T heterm 'Cloud' refers to the service being on the internet as opposed toon your desktop computer or laptop. Because the software is runningon a server on the internet the way to find or reach it is through anURL or web link.Tiers of the cloudCloud computing refers to a range of different technologies and hasbeen rather over-used in marketing. However, in this context we canunderstand it as technologies that take advantage of virtual servertechnology which means you no longer have to own or rent a physicalcomputer in a data center to take advantage of the benefits ofrunning a server.T he termcloud has been associated with this centralization of servers in thehands of smaller numbers of providers. However, not all companiesthat use 'cloud technology' rent space from huge corporations.T here are initiatives like OpenStack that bring an open sourceapproach to cloud computing and many independent ISPs and hostingcompanies are embracing the efficiencies brought by servervirtualization. Because of these advantages the cost of renting serverspace has fallen dramatically. You may be surprised at how cheaplyspace to run your own cloud space is available via a VPS (virtualprivate server).5

2. CASE STUDIESWe look at three groups that can benefit from using ownCloud: homeusers, smaller organizations including media and NGOs, and largerbusinesses.Your options for file sharing are Dropbox, WeT ransfer or othercommercial services on the internet. Good news however, ownCloud isa free and open source file sharing alternative. It is actively beingdeveloped and rapidly gaining popularity.HOME USERS SHARING FILESImagine you have a relative or friend who lives on the other side of theworld and you want to share photos and home movies with eachother. Or, you are part of a local community or interest group thatwants to share contacts. You don't want to upload these personaldocuments to a commercial file sharing space because you areconcerned about the integrity of your data. Or maybe you areuncomfortable with the increasing monopoly of huge corporationscontrolling data sharing.If you already have some server space or a VPS, you can take fulladvantage of ownCloud.Previewing images from within your pictures areaUsing ownCloud is also a good way to learn about how to set up aweb application and undertake server administration. Use this guide asa starting point to teach yourself how to set it up and keep ownCloudrunning. It can become a valuable service for your family, friends orcommunity.NGOS, MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS ANDSIMILAR PROJECTS6

While some businesses can afford expensive in-house or third-partyimplementations for sharing documents and working collaboratively,there are also many charities, NGOs and smaller journalism outlets thatdo not have large budgets. T hey often rely on free tools forcollaboration including Google Drive (docs) and sharing services likeDropbox.However, many of these organizations also work with confidential infothat needs to be protected. Anyone holding data with regards toinvestigating regimes, authorities or corporations should be carefulabout the information systems they are using. T his includes contactdetails or information on 'who is meeting who and when'. Preventprivate data from becoming public data.ownCloud includes an app to encrypt your data. T his is to prevent thesystem administrators on your VPS from being able to view your data.T he encryption app is still under development and hasn't been widelytested. However, simply by having your documents, calendar andcontacts on your own servers rather than those controlled by largecorporations is a major step in preventing your data from beingaccessed by governments, agencies and associated contractors.BUSINESS USEBusinesses are a primary target group for ownCloud. So much so, thatownCloud Inc. provides a commercial service which runs from thewebsite Some of the following material is adaptedfrom documentation provided on here are also other organizations like OwnCube that provide hostingfor business.Ways a small business could use ownCloud7

If you run a business with just a few people, or even alone, ownCloudcould save you time, keep you organized and make collaboratingeasier. You could use it forBacking up important filesKeeping master copies of files that several people use (such asyour business logo)Keeping libraries of important files, for example product photosKeeping 'your data at your fingertips': for example, having acentral copy of your cash-flow allows everyone to check theimpact of their spending/selling quicklySharing files easily with customers, e.g. sharing your productspecifications/photos with your retailersAvoiding sending large attachments by email, instead you couldjust send a download link (may save you money/bandwidth)Keeping you mobile – allows you to access important info whenyou are 'on the shop floor' or 'out of the office' on your mobileor tabletKeeping a centralized address bookMinimizing problems caused when a colleague leaves or is off sickBy making use of free and open source software such as OwnCloud,you can maximize your efficiency (and compete better) withoutspending lots of money and becoming vendor-locked to specificcompanies and products. T his keeps you flexible, enabling you to growand change as you need without extra expense. It lowers the risk oftrying something new and enables you to have the tools of bigbusiness on your side, without having a huge IT department behindyou.Businesses: keeping control of your dataOne of the major issues faced by businesses is the widespread use ofconsumer services – such as Dropbox – by their staff. If accounts arehacked or opened up to the public by mistake, businesses lose theircompetitive advantage. Employee behavior bypasses all of the hardwork done by the IT department of the company to protectintellectual property. As as business you have essentially no control ofa document once it goes into someone's personal cloud file share.Business management is based on information. If you don't knowexactly where the data goes next, you can't reliably plan and steeryour business.Image from

T here are some statistics on the website which areaimed at those making decisions about IT for their company.More than 7 5 percent of businesses have shared or storedsensitive company information on public cloud services –Symantec40% experienced the exposure of confidential information40% reported that they had lost data in the cloud and had torestore it from backupsOne out of five users surveyed said they use the consumer filesync-and-share system with work documents – Nasuni, anenterprise storage management companyHalf of those users do this even though they know it’s againstthe rules.Average cost of a data breach equaled 5.5 Million in 2011 –Infosecisland.comT he reason that employees use Dropbox, their personal emailaccounts and home internet connections is mainly due to the ease ofuse of these services compared to the more clunky solutions offeredby the traditional business's IT department.ownCloud is presented as a user-friendly and reliable solution tosharing, that is also easily maintained and monitored by ITdepartments.9


3.FILE UPLOADING AND SHARINGDepending on the operating system and browser you're using, the logwill look something the image below:One needs a name and password to use ownCloud. Once you're loggedinto your account you see the following:T o upload a file click on the arrow. Hovering over it you will see howlarge the upload may be. T he default value is: Upload max. 512MB.11

Once you've uploaded an image and a sound file (music or podcast)you will see them listed in the Music and Pictures menus in thenavigation bar on the left. Click the icons to access the media playerand image viewing functions of ownCloud.CREATING NEW FILES AND FOLDERSClicking on the New button will result in a menu with three options:create a new Text file, a new Folder or to create a new file From link.Creating foldersT he most common use will be creating Folders to help you to organizethe files in your ownCloud.You can create as many folders as you like. Inside the folder you canonce again upload and create new files. One reason to create folders isthat they allow you to manage access to the data within those foldersfor different users or groups. For example, the homework folder youonly want to share with fellow students, and not with friends andcolleagues.Creating text filesYou can create a simple text file. T his can be edited fom right insidethe browser - to start editing click on the file name.Unlike Google docs or blogging software, there is no WYSIWIG (forformatting) in ownCloud so creating a text file is simply a matter ofgiving it a name, opening it and entering text. T here is also the optionto Search the text.12

When you're finished click Save (or Close if you don't want to save thechanges).Importing files from linksT he import From link can be used to import a file from the web URLinto your files section. Click on From link text then type/paste the URLof the file you want to import into the box and press Enter.T he file will be downloaded into your current folder.MANAGING FILESRenaming, downloading and versions of filesYou may want to change a file's settings, for example to Rename,Download, revert to older Versions, Share or delete the file (markedby the X). If you hover over the file with the cursor you will see theoptions to achieve these things.Most of the options are self explanatory, after clicking one of theabove options either the action will proceed right away, or a pop-up ora field appears. T here is more information on Versions elsewhere inthe guide.Sharing files and foldersT o share a file or folder with other people click on the Share icon.At first one only sees the Share with field and an option Share withlink.Sharing with users or groups13

T o share with another user or group on you ownCloud enter the nameof the user or group in the Share with box. You can find a list ofgroups in the Personal menu item under your name in the top righthand corner.In the example below, the folder is being shared with other familymembers.One can choose to give the group different access levels. T heseinclude the ability to edit, update, create and delete files.If you don't want to run the risk of someone in the group accidentallydeleting or wrongly editing files you leave only the share settingactivated.Sharing with a linkIt is also possible to share a file or folder with a link. T his is a veryuseful option for sharing with people quickly, especially if you don'twant to give them an account on your ownCloud, or if you want toshare one file with several people (even a mailing list). Once you'veactivated it copy the link and paste it into an email to theperson/people you want to share with.14

When the recipient clicks on the link in the email they will instantly beredirected to either the file or list of files in the folder you haveshared on your ownCloud website.T here is also the ability toPassword protect the link you are sharingEnter the email of the person you want to send a link toAllow people to upload into the folder you are sharingWe can see and example of a shared folder containing some imagesbelow. You will notice the ability to Upload. T his is a simple way ofsharing files with and receiving them in return via the web and verysuitable for group working.It is good practice to set an expiration date for shared files of folders.Your shared files are normally publicly available on the Web. If therewas no expiration date there is a chance that a piece of softwaretrawling the internet for data will find the link eventually and downloador index your files. T his might make them turn up in search enginesand be shared in this way and this is not really what ownCloud isdesigned for.Deleting and downloading multiple filesT o select more than one file or folder to delete or download click onthe check-boxes to the left of name of the file or folder.You will now see the option to either download or delete all in one go:15

SEARCHINGownCloud has a new full text search engine where you can find filesfiles by name and content. If you want to search for something, typeinto the search box, located at the top right of your screen.Hit return to search. You can see in the example below, files aresuggested and scored on their relevance to your search term.T here seem to be some bugs in ownCloud 5 with the search, which areset to be fixed in oc6. One particular issue seems to be searching inshared folders, and also a delay in how long items take to turn up insearches. 4416


T his section covers altering your user details, previewing photos, musicand text based files.CHANGING YOUR PASSWORD AND OTHERDETAILST o change your own passwords you can do this in your Personalsettings page.Click on your user name and select the Personal option.Here you can change also the Language of ownCloud's user interface,your display name and your password. You also see how much of yourspace allowance you have used. Users can ask the ownCloudadministrator to change this setting if the limit is too low.It is highly recommended that users enter valid email accounts as youremail address is used by the system for sending password resetdetails.18

If you forget your password click on the red field Lost your password?and enter the email address that corresponds with the email addressthat you added to your ownCloud account, in the Personal menu.After clicking on Request reset you should receive an email with a linkto reset your password.If you don't receive an email perhaps the ownCloud server's mailsettings have not been installed or are broken. Contact theadministrator to take a look at the problem.PREVIEWING PHOTOST here are two ways to preview photos in ownCloud, both are quickand simple.Previewing images from within your files and folders.19

T his method is best suited to situations where you know roughlywhere your image is already. First, find the photo that you want topreview by by clicking the Files icon in your navigation bar andsearching through your folders.T o preview an image from within this files viewer, simply click on thefile name.Your image will then appear in a pop-up window within the browserscreen.20

Previewing images from within your pictures areaT his method is best suited to situations when you are unsure wherethe image stored, or when you do not have a specific image in mindand simply wish to browse all images.First, click on the Pictures icon in your navigation bar and browsethrough the thumbnail images till you find an image which you wouldlike to preview.T hen click on the image,and view it in the image viewer, using the left and right arrows tonavigate further.21

Previewing music and audio filesMusic and audio files can also be previewed using your web interface.First click on the Music icon in the navigation bar.T he web interface will then collect all the music files together into oneplace for you to preview. T he first song may auto-play. T o select anew song click on the file name.You can use the play, pause, forward, backwards and volume controlsjust as you would in any music player.Previewing other documentsYou can preview various types of documents in your ownCloud webinterface by clicking on the file.22

For example you can preview .odt word processing files,and .ods spreadsheet files,and plain text files.23

Plain text files including html or code files can also be edited fromwithin the web interface.Other preview and editing appsT here may be ownCloud apps that are available that allow you topreview or edit other kinds of files that you use.T here is a section on how apps work and how to install new oneselsewhere in this guide.24

5. USING THE WEB CALENDARThis section is called Using Web Calendars, as it is possible to accessownCloud calendars in other ways – via desktop synch applications or onmobile devices. This section concentrates only on using your web browserto use calendars.To start using web calendars, Select the Calendar button in thenavigation bar.When you use the calendar the first time, there will be already acalendar called Default calendar. T o alter the settings click on theimage of the cog in the top right.In this Settings area you can add, edit, export, enable, share and deleteyour calendars. You can also configure the right timezone. Without thecorrect timezone there will be a time offset between the events onthe server and on your desktop when using ownCloud'ssynchronization functionality. You may be asked to set your timezoneautomatically so it is a good idea to accept this request to helpownCloud keep all the devices in sync.T he URLs listed in the Settings area are for CalDAV access. CalDAV isa way of syncing your calendar with other applications on your phoneor desktop computer. T his process is covered in another chapter.25

T o start we will add a new calendar for a project. Click on the NewCalendar button and fill in the details and choose a color for thiscalendar.CREATING EVENTST o create an event just click on the date in the month view and enterthe event details.We can see an option to choose between our Default calendar and anynew calendars we have created.Click on the Advanced Options to set the description and the locationof the event. T here is also an option to create repeating events in theRepeating tab.Viewing events can be done by Week, Month or as a List of upcomingdates.26

SHARING CALENDARST o share a calendar with other users on your ownCloud set up, firstgo the the Calendar settings area.Click on the Share icon shown above. T hen enter the name of theperson you want to share with.27

We can see that if we allow the user to edit our calendar there aredifferent options available for us to control their level of access andset an expiry date too.EXPORTING / IMPORTING EVENTSExportingYou can export either a single event or a whole calendar. If you wantto export a single event click on it and press theExport button in the bottom right corner.If you want to export a whole calendar click on the Settings cog, andthen click the Download link arrow of the calendar you want to export.28

ownCloud generates an .ics file when exporting an event or calendar.T he iCalendar format must not be confused with Apple's old emailapplication which was called iCal. iCalendar is build on the previousvCalendar format which generates .vcs files.iCalendar files can be understood by nearly all email or calendarapplications.ImportingImagine the case in which a colleague has done some planning in theirown calendar for the coming months. T hey want to share this planningwith you and have mailed the calendar file to you. You save it to yourcomputer and need to import into your ownCloud now.Click on the calendar file you've saved and follow the instructions toimport it into a new calendar or into an already existing calendar.29

Syncing calendars between computers and devicesImporting and exporting is a good way of moving calendars betweendevices. However, it would be better if they were automaticallysynchronized so that when altered or added to in one place they areupdated automatically everywhere we access the calendar. You canfind out how to do this in another section of this guide.30

6. USING WEB CONTACTSownCloud has a simple web interface to manage your contacts. Itworks by allowing you to create, import and export contacts in thevCard (vcf) file format. T here is another section in this guide on howto connect to your ownCloud contacts with the T hunderbird emailclient and an Android App.ADDING CONTACTST o add a new contact, click on the Contacts icon in your navigationbar.T hen click Add Contact or New Contact.You are now ready to input your contact information.Fill in some or all of the boxes.31

When you have finished editing the contact, click Close.T here are various types of additional information that you can add toyour contact. It's a good idea to take time to explore the contactdialogues so you can get the most complete contact list right from thestart.While editing your contacts, click on the Add drop-down menu to adddetails such as Phone, Email Address and Web site.32

VIEWING AND EDITING YOUR CONTACTT o view your contact, click on the contact name.T o edit the contact information, click on the part that you wish to edit,and a cursor will appear. You can add to or replace information bytyping in the box.You do not need to save the contact, changes are saved automatically.You can also add photos of your contacts by clicking on the up arrow.T his may help you to 'put a name to a face' or to remember moreabout your interactions with the contact.33

ORGANIZING YOUR CONTACTST o organize your contacts you are recommended to use groups. T hiscan make it easier to find your contacts, and can be useful forcompartmentalizing your contacts between different jobs, for example,or between social and work.When you are editing a contact you can click on the Select Groupsdrop-down to put your contact into a group of similar contacts.It is possible to add your contacts to many different groups.You can also drag and drop contacts into groups from the mainContacts window.T o do this, click on the contact name and drag it to the left and dropit over the group you want to add it to.You can also add additional groups by clicking on the New Group icon.For example, you could break your work contacts down into Donors,Leads, Staff, Interns, Designers, Fund-raisersfont-family: "T imes uage:DE" lang "ENAU" – anything you like.34

HOW TO IMPORT CONTACTS FROM OTHERSOURCES – VCARDSIf you have a contact stored in another location, for example, inT hunderbird email client, Gmail web mail, or in another CRM system,you may be able to export it as a vCard. If so, you can import thecontact, rather than manually inputting all the data. T his will save youtime and reduce inputting errors.First export the contact, here is an example using Google mail.35

T o upload your vCard click on the cog-shaped settings icon (bottomleft).T hen click the up-arrow to import.Locate the file on your computer (try in your downloads file) and clickopen (or similar, depending on your operating system).Your contact will then be uploaded, and should appear in your contactslist. You can then add it to groups, and add additional information asnormal.SHARING AND EXPORTING YOUR36

CONTACTSBy clicking on the cog-shaped setting menu, you reveal a series ofbuttons for sharing and exporting your contacts. If you click the sharebutton,you can share ALL your contacts with another person on your team.Start typing their user name and you will be able to choose them froma list of suggested people by clicking on their name.All of your contacts will then be displayed in a sub-folder of theircontacts.37

You can export/download ALL of your contacts together, by clicking onthe second icon in the set.You can save your contacts as a .CSV or open them in an application,such as your email client.38

However, if you just want to download an individual contact, then thereis an option for this within the contact information box. Click on thecontact name, and click on the Download button.T he third icon in the set of sharing buttons, found in the setting menu,is CardDAV link. T his is used by other applications to connect to yourownCloud contacts.Limitations of contacts web interfaceT here several noticeable limitations to the way you can work withcontacts currently in the web interface of ownCloud especially when itcomes to sharing and organizing groups of contacts.You may want to explore using the CardDAV connection method in amore advanced client like T hunderbird to use the more advancedfunctionality and link this to your ownCloud site. T his is explained inanother chapter of this guide.39


7. USER MANAGEMENTIf you are the user who first logged in to your ownCloud install or ifyou are in the admin group, you have more powers than other users.You will have more options available to you including the ability to douser management.T his section covers the tasks of creating and configuring user accountsand resetting the passwords of other users.CREATING USER ACCOUNTSownCloud is a file sharing service which means that while it is possiblefor only a single person to use it, there will normally be more peopleusing an instance. Each person needs their own account and this will becreated and managed by any user in the admin group.Once an administrator is logged in, they can click on the triangle to theright of their username, in the top right hand corner.In the case below the user's name is admin. T his account was the firstone to be created during installation. T he first user is in the admingroup by default. It is possible to add more administrators simply byadding more users to the admin group.After clicking the triangle a menu unfolds with options to enter thefollowing sections: Personal, Users, Apps, Admin, Help and Log out.Click on the Users item to get an overview of which accounts arealready installed.41

Groups are normally used for sharing files between users. One of thefirst things to do after a new installation is to create groups based onhow you imagine people will be grouped on your server.Only an admin group exists in the beginning.Why not add two or three group

Symantec 40% experienced the exposure of confidential information 40% reported that they had lost data in the cloud and had to restore it from backups One out of five users surveyed said they use the consumer file-sync-and-share system with work documents - Nasuni, an enterprise storage management company