Linux Friendly Cloud Services in 2020

There are so many cloud services, its practically raining them.  Bah duh.  Awful dad joke aside, there are countless cloud services that allow for seamless syncing from device to device.  What is lacking, however, is Linux compatible services.  Most popular services like Google Drive, OneDrive, or iCloud only work with Windows and MacOS.  Being the FOSS friendly folks that we are, we wouldn’t really want to rely on those anyway.

Every service on this list offers a native Linux client.  Not some work around.  Not a paid third party application.  Only legit Linux compatible programs.

Nextcloud FTW!

Nextcloud is ridiculously popular with the Linux community.  When I was researching what to use (confession: I’ve used Google Drive for a long time), Nextcloud was the most consistent answer the Tux fanboys offered up.  Why is Nextcloud so dang popular?  Probably because you can run your own cloud.  Yeah, seriously.  Install Nextcloud on a home computer, do some black magic wizardy, and you’ll be able to access your files from anywhere. 

Nextcloud is more than just file storage.  There are extensions for calendar, contacts, talk, bookmarks, and more.  Its very customizable and extensible.  The best part is still that its your own.  You’re not dumping your files on Google’s servers where they will mine them for anything useful. 

Nextcloud is likely the most economical choice on this list as well.  The software is free and open source.  If you already have a computer, its a matter of leaving it on 24/7.  If you don’t want to do that, Nextcloud can be installed on a low power Raspberry Pi (would that be a Pi in the Sky?).  For what a small storage plan costs elsewhere, a high capacity solid state drive or SD card could be added. 

The only big downside to Nextcloud is the setup.  Nextcloud can be tested with other providers.  This eliminates the setup and gives the user a chance to test drive before going through the hassle of installing it.  Providers also provide various paid plans for additional features and storage.

The Nextcloud client is already available in OpenSUSE Tumbleweed, Fedora, and Arch.  Debian and Ubuntu packages are available in a PPA.  Nextcloud offers an AppImage as well.  Nextcloud for Android is in the Play Store and F-Droid.

Your Cloud? No, My ownCloud

Its not that I have anything against ownCloud but I don’t use it.  It strikes me as a less refined Nextcloud.  Nextcloud is already open source and has lots of support.  It has Android apps on Play Store and F-DroidPackages and repos are available for the same distros: CentOS, Fedora, OpenSUSE, Debian, and Ubuntu.  OwnCloud has hosting partners similar to Nextcloud with the biggest difference being price.  Nextcloud can easily be test driven for free.  I couldn’t find anything similar on OwnCloud.

Dropbox Costs Too Much

Dropbox has been around for a long time.  Frankly, I’m surprised.  Other services started offering more free storage years ago.  Dropbox is still dishing out 2 gigs like its still 2012.  Yes, I could upgrade to more storage but its just too costly for me.  The cheapest paid plan on Dropbox is $10 a month with a year plan for 2 TB.  That is a lot of storage.  A lot more than what I need.  If you really need to store 2 TB of crap in the cloud, then Dropbox isn’t a bad idea.

Dropbox plans

Dropbox’s Linux support feels iffy to me.  There are two packages offered specifically for Ubuntu 14.04+ and Fedora 21+.  Dropbox can also be installed from a tarball.  I guess I appreciate that support but no one should be running Fedora 21 anymore.  I’m not sure if the desktop client is ever actually updated or someone just forgot to keep up with distro versions.  For whatever its worth, the file name for Fedora is nautilus-dropbox-2020.03.04-1.fedora.x86_64 which seems to indicate some updating.

I don’t mind installing proprietary things but I would prefer not to.  Some warning before downloading a package that’ll download the package would be nice.  The free plan only allows three linked devices.  I had to unlink my 17 devices to proceed.  Then nothing happened.  Dropbox disappeared.  I clicked on the Drobox icon.  Nothing.  Found the package in the Software Center.  Nothing.  Anything for Dropbox in Nautilus?  Nothing. 

Then it magically appeared days later in Nautilus. I didn’t reboot. The Dropbox folder finally made itself known.

The obligatory Android app is available on Play Store if you really want to punish yourself.

pCloud but please don’t eat yellow snow

I really want to like pCloud.  God bless America, they even have a Fourth of July sale going on as I write this.  Oh wait, they always have a sale going on.  Its like that furniture store that’s been “going out of business” for the last 10 years. 

PCloud is one those services that I really want to like but it burned me. I had to rebuild a spreadsheet because the the file was corrupted after being stored on pCloud. I’m thankful I didn’t the service with anymore than that.

I downloaded the AppImage from pCloud’s site and was greeted by a simple login screen. Upon signing in though, I had three windows blast forth onto my screen. First, pCloud made itself at home by creating a folder in the home directory. No verification like Mega about what to sync or where. Then the spam. I know that like Dropbox or Mega, pCloud is a business that’s ultimately out to make money and they are trying hard to do it. I feel outright spammed with the in your face offers. At least let me try the service before upselling. Buried behind their spam is the window I actually want to see with buttons like account, sync, services, and settings. Oh, and another ad offering to encrypt my files. Good to know that’s not included for free.

So what is free? Not much in this life. In pCloud’s case, about 10 GB. More if you obnoxiously send a barrage of referral links to everyone you know. See what I did there? You’re all worth a gig apiece to me.

The biggest selling point to pCloud is the “lifetime” plans. Imagine 2 TB of data for the rest of your life for only $245. That’s a steal compared to other services charging $100. I caution that virtually every other tech company that has offered some sort of lifetime deal has reneged on the offer down the road. pCloud has monthly and annual plans that are on par with other providers: $5 a month for 500 gigs and $10 a month for 2 TB with a 20% discount for annual plans.

Mega

Every story or review about Mega has to bring up some Kim person. He’s out of the picture. Long gone. No one cares about him. The only real or perceived concern now is the Chinese investment in the company. Like Deepin Linux, I’m not really sure how legit the Chinese threat is. If you’re concerned though, know it’s there.

Supposing you’re not concerned though, Mega is actually great to use. For a service located in New Zealand, transfer speeds from the US were quick. Mega also promises end to end encryption. Not just encrypted files but Mega also includes a chat service with audio/video calls.

I only ran into a small issue during setup. Mega couldn’t nestle itself into the system tray. Weird. Regardless, it still synced data quickly after setup.

Mega also has the most free storage (aside from a personal Nextcloud setup). They hand out 50 GB and upgrades are relatively cheap. Google One charges $10 a month for 2 TB. Mega runs slightly more at $11.27 but with the added advantage of encryption. If you need a ton of storage though, Mega comes through with 16 TB for $33.84 monthly. Google One is a hundred bucks a month for 10 TB.

I hate fine print. It makes me feel betrayed. I haven’t found an achievements program. My free account still shows 50 GB. Adding my phone number did net me an additional 20 gigs of storage… for 180 days. I don’t appreciate the bait and switch. Mega offers a referral program like pCloud (full disclosure: I use referral links; its a perk of writing these articles) that earns 20% on each purchase.

Mega browser extension warning.

Mega takes security seriously.

Mega really shines with Linux support. There are RPMs and DEBs that make my heart flutter. Mega supports Arch, CentOS/Red Hat/Fedora, OpenSUSE, and Debian/Ubuntu. There’s even a DEB for Raspbian. But wait! There’s more! Mega has packages specific to each default file manager. That means Mega can integrate into Dolphin, Nautilus, Nemo, and Thunar. MegaBird integrates with Thunderbird for sending larger files.

SpiderOak

SpiderOak is the only service on this list that does not have a free tier. Sorry, SpiderOak, but that’s a strike against you already. Even Dropbox can part with 2 gigs. SpiderOak does have a 21 day trial.

SpiderOak works well. The interface is clean. Its easy to select which folders to sync or setup a backup.

Let’s talk about the glaring issue: SpiderOak warns that data is stored in the United States. Europe has the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The United States does not have anything comparable. Like I covered in Tutanota vs Protonmail, data is secure and protected under the GDPR.

If that doesn’t dissuade you, then perhaps SpiderOak’s pricing will. Its more expensive than the other options presented.

Best Choices

If you want to own your data or you’re privacy conscious, choose NextCloud. You will not do better than hosting your own data on your own server.

If you want easy setup and lots of free storage, pick Mega. With 50 GB free, programs for everything, end to end encryption, and quick syncing, its hard to beat.

If you want lifetime storage, take your chances with pCloud. Their plans are always on sale and a lifetime plan will pay for itself after a couple of years.

What’s your favorite? Tell me in the comments below.

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