4 Options to Create a Safe Personal Cloud

No matter where you turn, people seem to be talking about the cloud. And while cloud computing does have its attractions and advantages, there are still a few concerns about it.

Like what? Well, your data is in someone else’s hands. And what happens if a service you’re using closes up shop, denies you access to your data, or is just unreachable? Then you have a problem.

The solution: create your own cloud. Believe it or not, doing that isn’t all that difficult. You don’t need a degree in computer science or training in networking. All you need is the right hardware and software.

Let’s take a look at four options for creating a personal cloud.

1. TonidoPlug

Imagine having a server that literally fits in the palm of your hand and which you can just plug into a handy socket. That’s the idea behind TonidoPlug. When configured, the TonidoPlug sits on your network and you access it using a unique URL.

Tonido Plug

But what does it do? TonidoPlug is a file and application server that runs Ubuntu. TonidoPlug comes installed with a number of media streaming, file sharing, and productivity applications. There’s also a blogging application, a bit torrent client and a file browser.

There are also a bunch of free mobile applications so you aren’t chained to a desktop or laptop computer.

2. ownCloud

If you have a web server (or space on one) and are willing to embrace your inner geek, then give ownCloud a look. It’s an Open Source project that lets you access your files anywhere, sort of like Dropbox. While ownCloud’s main capability right now is storing files, you can take advantage of that capability to sync items like bookmarks across different devices and machines.

You can access your files through ownCloud’s web interface or using WebDAV. If you need to, you can also connect to the server on which ownCloud is installed via SFTP or SSH.


Setting up ownCloud isn’t easy. It’s not very well documented, and you’ll have to search around for information on setting up the database that ownCloud uses. As well, there is no desktop or mobile client for ownCloud. Clients for the desktop and Android devices are being developed, though.

3. iTwin

iTwin takes a slightly different approach to creating a personal cloud. Instead of relying on servers, you plug a USB flash drive into your computer and then drag and drop the files that you want to share or sync on to the flash drive.

Then, you detach half of the drive and plug that half into another computer. From there, you drag and drop the files on to that computer. Using an Internet connection, the files are securely transferred and synchronized between your two computers.

iTwin USB drive

The USB drive doesn’t store your files. It just creates a secure connection between your computers. Well, at least as far as the files that you’re sharing go. And you can remotely disable iTwin if you lose one or both halves of the USB drive.

The drawback? iTwin only works with computers running Windows.

4. Opera Unite

When is a web browser not a web browser? When it’s Opera. While you don’t hear much about Opera these days, it has one killer feature: Opera Unite.

Opera Unite turns the web browser into an application server. You can share files, access applications, and collaborate with with people. And those other people don’t need to be using Opera. They can access the files and applications that you’re serving with Opera Unite using any web browser.

The applications range from the interesting to the useful. They include media streaming and file sharing tools, productivity apps, and communication tools.

Opera Unite in action

To use Opera Unite, you need an account with My Opera (Opera’s online community). You’ll get a unique URL for your Opera Unite server, and as long as your computer is connected to the Internet and Opera Unite is running you can access the server anywhere.

Creating your own cloud isn’t too difficult. And it can be a lot more secure than commercial cloud offerings. If nothing else, creating your own cloud gives you some peace of mind and keeps your data in your hands.

Photo credit: Lunaaldent

Scott Nesbitt

Scott is a writer of various things -- documentation, articles, essays, and reviews -- based in Toronto, Canada. He loves to play with tech, and to write about it too. Scott hasn't snagged that elusive book contract. Yet.

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