Raspberry Pi and Owncloud- our new server
So whats the point of spending extra time and money to build your own cloud server? There are so many great products such as Dropbox, Box.net or Microsoft's Cloud Drive. All of those options are super fast, secure and fairly inexpensive.
Well... here is an answer. We're geeks and it felt pretty awesome to build something cool. We made a tiny but powerful computer that can replace all of those services for less than $50. That included buying the Raspberry Pi B+ board, flash drive for the storage, a few screws and plexi to make the case.
Cool. So what does it take to build such a powerful little dude?
First of all, you need to have some experience with Linux. Raspberry runs Raspbian which is a lightweight variation of Debian. There are tons of good examples how to set up a Raspberry on your local network and that might be a good starting point for all R-Pi related projects.
The next step was to install the appropriate packages. There was additional information our little computer needed to know in order to run OwnCloud. We installed LAMP server with its MySql packages and some additional libraries to speed up PHP loading time.
Then we added storage. I've decided to add a tiny 64 GB Cruiser flash drive that had to be formatted and mounted onto Raspberrian.
Why not a HHD with more storage?
Two reasons. First: 64GB is more than enough for our current needs. Second: aesthetics. An external hard drive would be bulky and need its own power source, which would add another cord to our small case. We may need to upgrade to larger storage later, but the flexible format makes that very easy.
So how can we access it from outside our local network?
Good question. Since our IP address changes every few days, we use a free service called No-IP that would allow us to control the IP so we can use Owncloud from everywhere. The only tricky detail about this part was to enable appropriate ports on our router so it can handle external traffic requests.
Final question. Can it replace Dropbox and all the other cloud services we use?
The answer is yes and no. In terms of how efficient the setup is and how secure and easy to use it is, Owncloud can easily be a good replacement. If you're looking for a super cheap cloud storage to keep some movies, photos, music or documents, OwnCloud might be your way to go. However, keeping all your super-important files on Raspberry Pi might be a bit risky. Your internet connection or your power might be down, someone might break in to your apartment and steal your cool looking Raspberry or your cat might start messing with it...
So should I consider it?
YES! Raspberry Pi is super fun and setting everything up was a great experience. You will touch a bit of Linux, networking and if you want... you can build your own case! There are lots of resources that will help you with the setup so go ahead and build something.