On April 27, 2016, Frank Karlitschek, who was one of the founders of ownCloud, left his position. A few days later, he founded Nextcloud, a competing company. Karlitschek did not say much about the situation, but his actions spoke very loudly. Leaving the company he had co-founded to create a competitor was a bold move.
ownCloud vs Nextcloud is one of the biggest points of debate in the file sharing world. ownCloud was started to provide a free alternative for cloud storage service providers. Nextcloud came from a fork in ownCloud’s development map and was created by one of ownCloud’s core developers.
Nextcloud, although not a completely new software, is much more ambitious than ownCloud when it comes to collaboration, security, and user experience. Over the years, Nextcloud has grown from a simple file syncing and sharing solution to a premium alternative to Microsoft 365 or Google Drive. Additionally, it includes almost all the features in its free edition, and its subscription cost is minimal.
Nextcloud has made a lot of progress since the division, and there are many differences between Nextcloud and ownCloud now. The licensing, features, and philosophy are different, as well as the community behind product. There is also a difference between ownCloud and Nextcloud in terms of their approach to distribution.
Nextcloud is open source and free, while ownCloud has Enterprise and Community offerings. The enterprise version is not open source and has extra features not available in the community version. And while the two are similar in features, both offering the same core functions, Nextcloud seems more rigorous and stable in implementing new features. In other words, Nextcloud is more cutting edge.
Nextcloud has surpassed ownCloud in terms of security. Nextcloud offers an automatic setup of brute force protection, easily implementable two-factor authentication, and server-side file encryption. It also supports LDAP, SAML, Active Directory, and Kerberos out of the box. These are just a few of the Nextcloud security features worth mentioning.
Nextcloud is also continuously upgrading its app’s security. There is also a bounty program for people who manage to find bugs in their open-source software that helps with this process.
License and Features
ownCloud provides its Community edition under the AGPLv3 license, but its Enterprise edition is made available under ownCloud’s commercial license. Both of Nextcloud’s editions come under the AGPLv3 license.
ownCloud’s licensing policy enforces that features such as full-text search, workflow management, and custom branding are only available to paid customers. Nextcloud users do not experience such limitations, since they only need to pay for support and update services, and Nextcloud has many advanced features to offer, such as real-time document management (think Google docs) and audio and video calling (like Hangouts).
ownCloud features include many productivity and security components necessary for enterprises in its Enterprise edition. The workflows feature automated file management, ownBrander helps you customize your cloud, and SharePoint integration grants you access to all SharePoint files on ownCloud. ownCloud, however, does offer exclusive features only for its premium subscribers.
Alternatively, Nextcloud offers all of its features for both Community and Enterprise editions for free, and the premium subscription cost is only for support or technical help for enterprise deployments. For people who choose to go the free route, they have a very active community that can help navigate difficult situations. It is a polished solution with various collaboration features, making it a Google Drive and Hangouts rival.
User Experience and Support
ownCloud has a comparatively complicated setup process that will need some tutorials to get through. ownCloud’s apps and desktop software, however, are generally easy to use after they are set up, provided you are willing to spend a couple of hours exploring features and customization options.
Nextcloud offers a neat and user-friendly interface on its free apps. If you’re not a tech user and usually get lost in endless options and long drop menus, Nextcloud may be the right application for you. The interface is friendly and straightforward to work with. Everything is neat and adaptive, and it’s easy to figure out how to change things. The ease of use that Nextcloud provides is not the case with ownCloud. With ownCloud, it’s hard to customize the look and feel of the tool. Nextcloud is much easier to customize; they give you options to edit the color, logo, background image, and more.
When it comes to customer support, Nextcloud’s free users get access to the community forum, which is very active and helpful. With ownCloud, you have access to ownCloud’s documentation and official tutorials, but no access to live customer support.
Software with hybrid models (open source and commercial versions) tend to focus more on the commercial side than the open-source option, and they tend to limit features in the community version. At a certain point, it becomes almost a requirement to use the paid version if you need some advanced features.
Additionally, Nextcloud is much more rigorous than ownCloud regarding collaboration features. Since its release in 2016, Nextcloud has grown from a simple file synchronization and sharing solution to a high-end alternative to cloud suites like Office 365. The differences in file sharing are minor, and because of features like integrated real-time document management or audio and video communication, Nextcloud has quickly grown to outperform its predecessor in functionality and security. That is why Nextcloud is the way to go.