Nextcloud vs other Cloud Storage: advantages and disadvantages

Cloud storage has become an integral part of the modern digital world, providing convenient and secure storage options. Such platforms automate the work of the company, allowing you to share important data with colleagues and partners. In this article we will look at Nextcloud, one of the popular cloud storage services, and compare it with other analogues, identifying advantages and disadvantages.

Nextcloud: Personal Cloud

According to Nextcloud itself, it has been installed and used on more than 400,000 servers. This makes it one of the popular open source software for creating your own cloud storage. The service provides opportunities for storing files, calendars, contacts, and much more.

Nextcloud scales from a 2-user Raspberry Pi to globally distributed networks with tens of millions of users across large hosting providers. The platform is also available in a web version, on Android, IOS, Windows, MacOS and Linux.

Service characteristics include:

  • Open source and APIs that give organizations the ability to set up their own server and control data.
  • Ability to create and manage a website using an integrated content management system (CMS).
  • Supports viewing and editing documents.
  • Integration with the Outlook email client.
  • A mechanism for tracking changes in downloaded files.
  • Ability to view statistics and server activity.
  • Full-text search by file contents.
  • Built-in virus protection through internal antivirus.

Advantages

  1. Control over data.
    Nextcloud gives users complete control over their data. Unlike many commercial cloud services, where data is stored on company servers, this service allows you to create personal clouds on your own servers, ensuring maximum privacy and security.
  2. Advanced collaboration capabilities.
    Nextcloud provides a wide range of data processing features, including collaborative document editing, sharing files with your team, and integration with various applications for improved productivity. The platform also allows you to make video calls.
  3. Increased security.
    The software solution offers a variety of innovative security technologies, including integrated client-side encryption with enterprise-level key handling and a comprehensive set of security enhancements. Particular attention is also paid to the protection of metadata.
  4. Extensibility and flexibility.
    Open source provides the ability to customize and expand functionality according to user needs. This makes it an ideal choice for those looking for flexibility in managing their cloud storage.

Disadvantages

  1. Technical expertise required.
    Installing and configuring Nextcloud requires a certain level of knowledge and skills. This may be difficult for regular users who prefer simpler cloud solutions.
  2. Limited free features.
    Although the platform provides a free version, some advanced features and integrations are only available in paid plans, which may turn off some users.

Comparison with other cloud storage

Let’s look at how Nextcloud compares with other popular services.

 NextcloudGoogle DriveMicrosoft Office365Dropbox
LicensingOpen source
open source = any OSI approved license. Anything else is proprietary.
Proprietary
open source = any OSI approved license. Anything else is proprietary.
Proprietary
open source = any OSI approved license. Anything else is proprietary.
Proprietary
open source = any OSI approved license. Anything else is proprietary.
Unlimited storage and amount of files

Limits imposed by either the purchased plan or your own infrastructure when self-hosting
 


The limit is customer infrastructure. There are no limits from the Nextcloud side.

 
 
Varies per plan
Large file support
 
 
10GB20GB
Self hosted / on premises
 


can be hosted wherever you decide, including hybrid.

 
 
 
Global Scalability

Sharding across clusters and data centers
 


single cluster: up to 100K active users. With Global Scale: unlimited.

 


5K in one group, 10K for educational organizations, unclear limits otherwise

 
 
Clients 
Mobile clients
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


free version only supports up to 3 client devices total

Auto upload
Images/Video/other files
 

/

 

/

 
 

/

 

/

 

*

can do files with external app

 

/

 

/

 

*

can be done with external app

 

/

 

/

 

*

Files can be done with third party app

Desktop clients
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


free version only supports up to 3 client devices total

LAN synchronization
 
 
 
 
Extensible with Apps

Allows third party to write apps that integrate apps in the cloud itself, adding functionality
 


Over 200 apps available

 


No third-party apps that can be integrated

 


Limited to Microsoft Apps

 


Limited Microsoft office integration

Server features 
Unified Search

Cross-application search (Calendars, mails, chat messages, files etc)
 
 


Full-text search costs money, cross-application search free

 
 


full-text search only in paid versions, with 365 integration no cross-app search

File versioning
 
limitedlimited

Only for MS Office files
limited

Max 1 month, up to 1 year with Business subscription
File locking/Checkout

Block a file temporarily from being edited while you work offline with it
 


Does NOT block collaborative editing

 
 
 


Only for business edition

Multiple link shares
 
 
 
 
Share note

Add a note for the share
 
 
 
 
Dashboard

Dashboard app with overview of info like recent files, chats, calendar items and more
 
 
 
 
View PDF, Images, Video, Gallery
 
 
 
 
Integrated Audio/Video/Text chat
 

/

 

/

 
 

/

 

/

 
 

/

 

/

 
 

/

 

/

 
Integrated Groupware (Calendar / Contacts / Mail / Kanban)
 

/

 

/

 

/

 
 

/

 

/

 

/

 
 

/

 
 

/

 

/

 


G = through Google Apps

Mobile calendar/Contact integration
 

/

 


both Android/iOS (Android with integrated 3rd party tool)

 
 
 
Online Office web/ Mobile apps

Online Office web / mobile apps
 

/

 


4 options

With Collabora Online, ONLYOFFICE, Hancom Office or MS Office Online

 

/

 
 

/

 


feature-limited in web and mobile UI compared to desktop

 

/

 

Microsoft Office 365

Knowledge management
A knowledge base/wiki with articles/pages, sub pages, search and other basic knowledge base functionality is available
 
 
 
 
Forms and surveys

The platform allows creating forms and surveys and store and display the results
 
 
 
 
User-managed groups
Normal users can create and manage groups without having to rely on the system administrator, a power user or a group admin
 
 
 
 
File Drop (customer file upload)

Public link to folder recipient can upload to, which hides existing content of the shared folder
 
 
 
 
Video verification

Protect public links with Video Verification
 
 
 
 
Inter-server sharing

Sharing between separate cloud instances of different vendors. Example, Nextcloud users can share files with users on Pydio and ownCloud servers.
 
 
 
 
Workspaces

Add context to a folder by having a space to add comments, notes and todo lists
 
 
 

*

Can pin files to the top of a folder, which gives a big preview.

 
Accessibility 
Keyboard/Screen reader support
 
 
 
 
WCAG 2.1 supportAA/AAA

AAA with optional theme
 
 
 
Dyslexia-friendly font
 
 
 
 
Admin features 
Access control lists
Permissions on files and folders, inherited by default, can be overridden at any level.
 
 
 
 
Content workflow automation
 
 

Only via third party app

 

limited to admins

 

limited to admins

Approval process workflow
 
 
 
 
Cryptographic document signatures
Request documents signed with DocuSign or another technology
 


DocuSign, EID-Easy and LibreSign

 
 
 
Automatic script execution
 
 
 
 
Impersonate users
 
 
 
 
Real time notifications
files created, updated, shared, unshared and deleted by user or others, chat or call received etc.
 
 
 
 
Monitoring web/API interface
 

/

 
 

/

 
 

/

 
 

/

 
Data retention policy support
 
limited
Max 6 months
 
 
Long term support (5-10 years)
Life cycle matching your operating system
 
N.A.

Hosted only, customer has no control over when/what changes
N.A.

Hosted only, customer has no control over when/what changes
N.A.

Hosted only, customer has no control over when/what changes
Branding
 


Easy self-service in UI or full custom CSS

very limited
 
very limited
Compliance features 
Audit trail

Mandatory if you have a legal requirement to find out who did what and when
 
 
 
 
Imprint and privacy links
 
 


Only to their imprint and privacy policy, not yours

 


Only to their imprint and privacy policy, not yours

 


Only to their imprint and privacy policy, not yours

Built in data-request/account deletion
 
 


You can request (deletion of) data

 


You can request (deletion of) data

 


You can request (deletion of) data

Terms-of-service
 
 


You and your customers you share with have to agree to their terms

 


You and your customers you share with have to agree to their terms

 


You and your customers you share with have to agree to their terms

Security features 
Server side encryption
 
 
 
 
Client side / End-to-end encryption
 
 


Google is working to introduce this

 
 
Video Verification
 


Optionally verify identity of recipient by video call

 
 
 
Brute force hacking protection
 
 
 
 
NIST compliant password policy
 
 
 
 
Web UI secured with CSP 3.0
 
 
 
 
Same-site cookie attribute
 
 
 
 
File Access Control
 
 
 
 
App access rights

Allow restricting mobile/desktop/third party applications access to filesystem or other data
 
 
 
 
Authentication 
Enforceable 2-factor authenticationU2F/OTP/SMS Signal/Telegram notifications

Supports multiple factors
U2F/OTP/SMS notifications

Multiple factors
U2F/OTP/SMS notifications

Supports multiple 2nd factor options
SMS/U2F/OTP
ML based suspicious login detection

Uses machine learning technology to protect authentication
 
 
 
 
LDAP/AD
 
 
 
 
Native SAML

Native SAML is implemented directly in the application without a requirements on external software like Apache modules. Native SAML is compatible with all webservers and supports group memberships, flexible session management, multiple identity providers and app specific passwords.
 
 
 
 
Auth via env variable

Authentication through Apache modules allows eg SAML/ShibbolethADFS, OAuth, OpenID, CAS and more.
 
 
 
 
Kerberos
 
 
 
 
Storage 
File storage (local/NFS)
 
 
 
 
Object storage (S3/Swift)
 
 
 
 
CIFS/Windows Shares
 


Also supports Kerberos

 
 
 
Sharepoint
 

2013/2016

 
 
 
Extensible storage
 
 
 
 

*Based on publicly available information collected as of July 1, 2021.

Depending on your needs and level of technical expertise, Nextcloud provides unique benefits for managing your cloud data. However, when deciding between it and other cloud storage services, it is important to consider both the pros and cons of each option.