Blaise Alleyne

ownCloud as Group File Server for Company and Clients

Blaise Alleyne at

I'm curious what anyone with experience about ownCloud thinks about the following...

  1. I'm interested in using ownCloud to replace a company file server... but I'm a bit put off by the user-first file management method. It seems like a user creates and owns the files (in the data directory), but can there share them with a group... is this the way to manage a group file server in ownCloud? The share is actually stored under the original user who created into, even when shared with a group? It just seems like the approach is about managing your personal files first, and it's more of a share-some-of-your-files method than really setting up a group-first system.
  2. If I wanted to run ownCloud for multiple clients, would it be best to run totally separate installs? Or separate users with groups under one install?

Evan Prodromou likes this.

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Sounds like that's the answer to my question on SN. It seems ownCloud does not have the concept of groups as full and equal entities. It sounds like they are more like per-user lists. at 2014-05-21T03:45:48Z

Yeah, it's like... ownCloud groups are just a way of sharing things... not a way of owning things.

This becomes awkward for something that's more groups based in several ways, from my experimenting:

  • The user who creates a shared folder sees it as a normal folder, but all other users with whom the folder is shared see it under a special "Shared" directory.
  • If a user shares a subfolder (or subsubfolder), it still just appears as a folder right inside Shared/ to other users
  • Behind-the-scenes, the files are actually stored in the user who created it's data directory... which could be really confusing if you ever have to dig into the filesystems for backups or something
  • With some quick testing.. it seems like the files still stick around if the user who created them first was deleted but they're still shared with other people... but I don't know if ownCloud just hadn't cleared it out yet, or if it just sticks around in the deleted users data/ folder as long as somebody has access to it?

Basically... the Dropbox / Google Drive / Microsoft OneDrive paradigm just doesn't sit right with me for company/group/team usage...

  • there's no concept of a master directory tree. A user sees their own files, or stuff other people have shared with them (directly or via group). This makes sense to me if dealing with your files and with my files, but not if you're trying to get a concept of a team's files or a company's files
  • All the permissions seem to be from an individual user's perspective: I'm sharing these files or folders with these other users/groups. I want a master permissions overview -- who has access to what overall?

Am I just being too old school though? Is this a more natural or flexible or modern concept? For stuff that really belongs to a team/project/company though... I want a master view, a canonical directory tree.. not a mish-mash of scattered shared directories from user to user (or even user to group)... I want to be able to say: this project group owns this directory,and these are the users/groups who currently have access to it.

The ownCloud/Dropbox approach seems great for managing your personal stuff, and sharing it with some other people. But I can't wrap my head around using this to replace my company's Samba file server (which is the kind of thing I was evaluating it for)... unless I'm just behind the curve in my thinking about file servers or something? It just doesn't sit right...

Blaise Alleyne at 2014-05-21T04:59:36Z

The special Shared folder will be gone with ownCloud7. ownCloud7 will place the shared files/folders directly in your root, from there you can also rename the shares or move them around.

Generally you describe the way sharing works in ownCloud correct. Sharing is the concept that userA wants to share files/folders with UserB/GroupC. So the owner will always be UserA but he grants access to it for additional users.

What you are looking for can probably achieved with the external storage app. This app allows individual users and the admin to mount additional folders to ownCloud. The app also supports local storage. So you can mount a folder somewhere else on your server to ownCloud. If you set up the mount as admin you can define which group of users should have access to it and ownCloud will place the mount point into the data folder for each of them. That's probably more or less the use case you are looking for.

Björn Schießle at 2014-05-21T09:27:10Z

Blaise Alleyne likes this.

Oooh, very interesting. Thanks! Maybe this is related to some of what I've started to read about ways to mount a Samba folder in ownCloud?

I'll definitely check out the external storage app... that might be the best combination of ownCloud's ease of use (web interface and WebDAV) with having more administrative control over access. Thanks!

Blaise Alleyne at 2014-05-21T17:32:01Z