"Data storage: a solution to create your private cloud"

To meet his needs for storage and sharing of files via the Internet, Aurélien Grosdidier, researcher in bioinformatics, recently adopted an “Open Source” solution, called “ ownCloud », Which allows you to create your own private cloud to host your data confidentially.

How does this solution work compared to competing offers? What are the advantages ? Lighting by Aurélien Grosdidier.

  • Landmarks
    • Aurelien Grosdidier
    • ownCloud

CCM - Can you introduce yourself and your professional activities?

Aurélien Grosdidier - I am a bioinformatics researcher. I moved into this branch after studying pharmacy, in order to combine the scientific and medical aspects of this training with computer science, which had fascinated me for a very long time.

It is a recent discipline which seeks to understand, model and predict living phenomena thanks to data processing. It covers scales ranging from ecosystems to atoms.

For my part, I am specialized in the development of computer methods allowing the development of new drugs, particularly in the field of the fight against cancer.

CCM - What file storage / sharing solutions did you use before switching to an open source solution, like ownCloud? For what reasons ?

AG - I mainly used Dropbox, for its ease of implementation and its coverage of existing platforms. I also took a look at Sparkleshare, Bittorrent Sync, or more experimental tools like DVCS-Autosync.

CCM - What were the limits of these solutions and what arguments made you adopt ownCloud?

AG - Mainly security / confidentiality arguments, and then curiosity. My choice of ownCloud was part of a more global approach of independence, as far as possible, vis-à-vis web players who are now almost unavoidable by the services they offer (email, online storage, social networks), but which made me uncomfortable with their dominance, systematic advertising profiling and potential espionage. The PRISM affair and its consequences have confirmed this approach.

Dropbox is very practical, but I do not want to entrust my data to software whose operation is not public, which stores my data in a place that I do not know, and which therefore has the technical possibility of doing so. what he wishes according to his good will.

I was then impressed by the first versions of Bittorrent Sync, which allows me to avoid storing my data I do not know where. On the other hand, for the data to be accessible, at least one of the machines containing them must be turned on.

However, just like Dropbox, the actual functioning of the software cannot be verified as its source code is not available. In practice, this means that it is impossible for anyone to verify that a backdoor allowing a third party to gain access to my data is not implemented somewhere.

OwnCloud is open source software. It is therefore possible to check the functioning of the software, and depending on the installation chosen, it is possible to store the data in a trusted location. In addition, its additional functions interested me a lot, especially since it is possible to connect any Windows, Mac, Linux or smartphone to it.

CCM - How does this platform work and how do you start using it? What technical knowledge does it require?

AG - OwnCloud actually consists of two different software.

The client, which is very easily installed on his computer or phone, just like Dropbox.

The server, meanwhile, is a PHP website. It must therefore be installed on a computer
with a web server, and which must be turned on for the data to be accessible.

The procedure is very standard, within the reach of any user fairly familiar with the world of operation of a website.

For my part, I installed it on a server that I manage myself. It is a very interesting exercise but which may not yet be within everyone's reach. It is nevertheless possible to install it very easily on a Synology network hard drive, for example, which puts it within the reach of everyone.

Finally, it is also possible to install it at your favorite host, but in this case, it is also he who hosts the data and you must therefore trust him.

CCM - What are the strengths of ownCloud?

AG - It creates a private cloud of trust: its behavior is verifiable, and the data can be stored at home. It allows much more than that: contact management, calendar, and much more through extensions that can be activated on demand.

In addition, it is multi-user and allows them to share content with each other very easily.

CCM - What are the weak points or need to be improved?

AG - It's a young and ambitious project, and some features, especially if they are seldom used, have not always seemed very reliable to me.

It is therefore particularly important to make updates and backups because if the server has a problem, the data may be lost. It's the price of independence, in a way.

CCM - What types of users is this solution intended for based on your experience?

To all those who want to set up a trusted cloud: individuals, but also family, group of friends, small business.


Aurelien Grosdidier

  • Bioinformatics researcher
  • Storage solutions tested: Dropbox, BitTorrent Sync, ownCloud
  • His Twitter account


  • Client / server storage software
  • Data storage on the server of your choice
  • Website
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