For a while now I’ve been trying to solve a particular issue with how I work. I use a Macbook Air, with a 128Gb hard drive. That’s not a lot of space, especially when you’re working with a lot of assets like video files and whatnot around an artist campaign. Across my campaigns a lot of assets wind up getting saved to my hard drive: photos, cover art, promo videos etc etc. Storing it all takes up more and more space – annoying when I may only need the files a few times across a campaign lifetime.
With that in mind, I was looking for a cloud storage solution with the following criteria:
1) Must be accessible as a network drive on my Mac so I can simply copy files to/from it
2) Must also be accessible from mobile/tablet so I can get to files on the move
3) Must be private by default (ie content not accessible via public URL)
4) Must also have means to share links privately to other people
On paper at least, this appear to be a relatively simple request. However, as it transpired it was actually a really tricky one to sort out. The likes of Dropbox, SugarSync, Box and others all rely on more of a sync method, whereby your files remain on your hard drive but also sync up to the cloud in order to access them from anywhere. The failing of that for me was that I didn’t want these files on my hard drive; I just wanted them in the cloud. Those services also cost a lot when you’re only using them to store a large volume of files that you access intermittently.
FTP therefore seemed like the next best option – and as a friend advised, Transmit on the Mac lets you now mount webservers as network drives for seamless access. However regular FTP meant files would be public (unless some .htaccess wrangling was done – not my forte), and would also fail on point 4 above, because there’s no easy means to share a private file.
With all that in mind, I decided to look into OwnCloud; an open source, roll-your-own-Dropbox cloud storage service. OwnCloud is free and can install on any webserver, and so its #1 USP is that you aren’t paying per gigabyte to store your data, as is the case with all commercial providers. Usefully though, you can also mount OwnCloud as a drive over WebDAV. And, if that fails, you can simply use Transmit to map a drive to your OwnCloud file storage area. Crucially for me though, OwnCloud also passed on points 2, 3 and 4 above: files are kept private, but can be shared easily via their web interface or dedicated iOS and Android apps.