Cloud-based File Storage

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ownCloud

SIAT provides a Dropbox-like service with the added benefit of storing your files on our local, hosted-in-Canada, on-campus server. That service is called OwnCloud.

http://owncloud.iat.sfu.ca


You can learn more about ownCloud here: http://owncloud.org


FAQ

Big deal - I already use DropBox.
For personal use, Dropbox is fine. But for research work, SFU has a stated position that no SFU business or documents (including email, calendars) should be sync'd to non-Canadian cloud services:
http://www.sfu.ca/itservices/info_security/cloud-computing-faq.html
I want to access all my stuff on all my devices.
ownCloud is great for seamlessly integrating field-work with lab-work and office-work! Clients are available for Windows, OS X, Linux (desktop clients are free), Android, iOS and Blackberry (mobile clients cost $$$). And, you can always use a web-browser on the platform of your choice:
http://owncloud.org/install/
Rather than using a client, is there another way to work with my ownCloud share?
Sure - WebDAV! Here are some guidelines if you want to try WebDAV: http://doc.owncloud.org/server/5.0/user_manual/files/files.html
Can I share my stuff selectively with other SIAT Researchers?
Yes, ownCloud can share individual files, or even entire folders, with other SIAT system-users. Simply hover over the object you want to share, and magically - the "share" icon appears :-) Autocomplete will help you as you begin to type the recipient's name.
You can apply for a SIAT Research Computing Account right here: http://research.iat.sfu.ca/network/apply.php
image showing OwnCloud dialogue for sharing
Can I selectively share stuff with non-SIAT folks?
Yes, you can share a really, really long link (tough to stumble across), and you can even password-protect your shared information. Perfect for collaboration. You can turn off sharing at any time.
BIG FAT WARNING: email does NOT work with our owncloud server; cut-and-paste the link into your own email for sharing!! Even though an ownCloud dialogue box pops up for emailing, it does not actually work.
What do I need to begin using ownCloud?
Log in, using your SIAT research-computing-credentials: http://owncloud.iat.sfu.ca Try logging in with a web-browser first, then set up the desktop/mobile clients.
Is my data safe?
Probably; let's look at three aspects of "safe":
  1. The hardware is the "best" we've put together in SIAT - in the interests of not losing data from hard-drives, we've employed RAID-6, which allows for two drive-failures without data-loss, and on top of that we have already-spinning "hot-spare" drives ready to step in and auto-replace any failed drive. We DO NOT have tape-backups, nor off-site storage/replication of data.
  2. Your data is encrypted when communicating with the server. We use better cryptographic quality than DropBox does (AES-256 encryption with RSA 4096-bit keys).
  3. Your data IS NOT ENCRYPTED on the server. This was a deliberate decision to faciliate collaboration and file-sharing. Please use your own file-encryption utility if this is important to you, and be aware that collaboration becomes much more difficult.
Does syncing consume lots of bandwidth?
It can, if you have lots of data (either a large number of files, or a few files which are themselves large). You can help reduce bandwidth consumption by selectively-syncing.
How much storage space can I use?
50GB. Obviously, we have a finite amount of storage and 50GB has been estimated to be a modest-but-useful amount of space. OwnCloud at SIAT began as a skunk-work project, and only a modest amount of disk-space was purchased. If this service is valuable, and if more storage is desired, then some improved funding can certainly be applied toward more storage!
How long can I continue to use ownCloud?
We've discussed 6 months beyond graduation / cessation of working with SIAT, but this is a new service and we all expect flexibility and open dialogue... Please voice your thoughts!