Nextcloud Vs ownCloud: What's the Difference? Which one Should You Use?

Nextcloud and ownCloud are two popular open source cloud storage software. Learn what is the difference between the two and which one should you use.
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Nextcloud and ownCloud are two of the most popular names that you will come across when we talk about self-hosted open-source cloud storage services.

Now, Nextcloud and ownCloud are similar in so many ways that it often confuses people.

And this is why we at It’s FOSS thought of creating this comparison of Nextcloud and ownCloud. I’ll discuss the difference between ownCloud and Nextcloud. I’ll also share how both services are similar.

The history of ownCloud and Nextcloud

In 2010, Frank Karlitschek started the ownCloud project by announcing it during a Camp KDE keynote session.

Owncloud Interface Screenshot
ownCloud interface

It started off as a personal cloud storage solution to give users the ability to have control of their data without relying on other cloud storage providers, which then translated to the start of ownCloud Inc.

Unfortunately, Frank Karlitschek, along with several original developers, left ownCloud Inc after running into issues with the company’s functioning.

Some problems included:

  • Key management and Investors did not understand the concept of open source.
  • The investors wanted something for quick money, which is why contributors were unhappy.
  • The tension between open-source developers and management.
  • Business model and licensing.

Now, ownCloud focuses primarily on Enterprise offerings and offers a separate server edition (to self-host) for users.

Frank Karlitschek started Nextcloud as a fork of ownCloud right after leaving ownCloud Inc.

Nextcloud Interface Screenshot
Nextcloud interface

Considering that it’s a fork, you will find many similarities. However, the product has evolved over the years, arguably making it more popular than ownCloud. It strives to become a collaboration platform like Microsoft Office 365 and Google Docs.

Similar to ownCloud, you will find a self-hosted option and an enterprise-tailored solution.

Nextcloud vs ownCloud: Similarities

Nextcloud Vs Owncloud Itsfoss
Nextcloud Vs Owncloud

Let’s talk about the similarities between Nextcloud and ownCloud.

User Interface

It’s safe to consider that the user interface offered by Nextcloud and ownCloud is very similar to each other.

Yes, you might find some under-the-hood changes and maybe several subtle differences. But, overall, it looks/feels very much the same.

Collaboration Features

Unless you consider all the nitty-gritty features that they both offer, fundamentally, it’s more or less the same.

You can manage tasks, upload files, have a calendar, and do a lot of basic collaboration activities in both Nextcloud and ownCloud.

Self-hosting Option

It’s quite obvious — but just for your information, you can easily deploy either of them (Nextcloud and ownCloud) on your server without opting for enterprise services.

Use a cloud service like Linode or DigitalOcean. They even have a one-click installer option to deploy a full-fledged Nextcloud or ownCloud server in minutes.

Cross-platform support

Both ownCloud and Nextcloud offer support for desktop clients and mobile apps (iOS & Android) to enhance the convenience of collaboration activities.

So, you should be good to go with either of them if you’re looking for cross-platform support.

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Nextcloud vs ownCloud: Key Differences

Now that you know the similarities, let’s see how Nextcloud and ownCloud differ.

License Differences

For most users, being a truly open-source solution matters a lot. And that is why it is important to know the license a service comes under.

ownCloud offers the standard edition (or the community edition) under the AGPLv3 license, but the enterprise edition comes under ownCloud’s commercial license.

While Nextcloud’s both enterprise and community editions come under the AGPLv3 license.

So, you must choose here depending on what you’re looking for.

Exclusive Features

Sometimes it’s a dealbreaker or a selling point to have a set of enterprise-exclusive features on a service.

So, when I looked around, I found out that ownCloud offers exclusive features only for premium subscribers.

On the other hand, Nextcloud offers the complete set of features for both community and enterprise editions, and the premium subscription only includes support or technical help for enterprise deployments.


Owncloud Documentation
Owncloud Documentation

Documentation is a very significant part of a product/service like ownCloud and Nextcloud, where many users manage the instances themselves.

Of course, depending on your technical expertise and preferences, you might find any of the documentation to be better than the other.

Nextcloud Documentation
Nextcloud Documentation

However, in our case, Avimanyu Bandyopadhyay (Research Engineer at It’s FOSS) felt that ownCloud’s documentation is more useful and easier to follow when compared to Nextcloud’s documentation.

ownCloud has provided a ready-to-deploy configuration file for enterprise use at the bottom of its docker documentation page. But, Nextcloud has kept it separately on GitHub – which might be a little inconvenient to find.

So, Nexcloud’s clarity on the documentation part could improve.

Depending on when you’re reading this article, the documentation of Nextcloud might have improved.

Pricing Plans (for enterprise edition)

No matter how good a service is — the pricing plans always influence the final decision for enterprises to choose a solution that suits their requirements within a budget.

If we compare the pricing plans of Nextcloud and ownCloud, you will notice that ownCloud starts offering enterprise services at 12 Euros (per user per month) for a team of 25 users.

In contrast, Nextcloud’s premium services start at 95.50 Euro (per user per year) for a team of 100 users.

Of course, it all comes down to your preferences on what you are looking for.

App Marketplace

Nextcloud Marketplace
Nextcloud Marketplace

The availability of apps to extend the functionality of Nextcloud or ownCloud plays an important role in helping you decide the best for your use case.

Theoretically, you should find useful apps on Nextcloud and ownCloud’s marketplace.

However, you might find a few things missing on ownCloud’s app marketplace, like Kanban-styled board Deck and W2G2 (File/Folder locking app).

Owncloud Marketplace
Owncloud Marketplace

At least, depending on what I look for on a collaboration platform — I couldn’t find anything similar on ownCloud.

Similarly, I might have missed something that’s available on ownCloud but not on Nextcloud. So, this should be one of your primary factors to consider before deploying ownCloud or Nextcloud for yourself or for your enterprise.

Potential Issues or Bugs

Both Nextcloud and ownCloud can have their own share of issues. So, if you’re going to self-host either of them, you should check out their GitHub pages to scroll through the active issues.

For instance, while writing this article, Nextcloud had an issue where the files in a sub-folder of an encrypted folder are not encrypted, but it was fixed. But, ownCloud had a bug with syncing the files when the user hits the reload button that hasn’t been fixed yet.

Of course, these are just examples I took from their list of issues. But, you should keep an eye on some active issues before deploying it yourself, that could ultimately help you decide what to select.

So, which one do you choose? Nextcloud or ownCloud?

Now that you’ve known what’s different and what’s similar between Nextcloud and ownCloud — it should be slightly easier to pick one.

However, given the potential of both the services and the number of add-ons they offer, I could have missed a few points here. So, I’d recommend you go through the documentation for each of them for enterprise use. For personal usage, you can select either Nextcloud or ownCloud as per your preferences.

At It’s FOSS, we used Nextcloud for storing files, task management, and a few more things.

What do you think? Nextcloud or ownCloud? Do share your thoughts in the comment section.

About the author
Ankush Das

Ankush Das

A passionate technophile who also happens to be a Computer Science graduate. You will usually see cats dancing to the beautiful tunes sung by him.

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