How To Make Your Own Private Cloud Using Raspberry Pi

The past few months, I’ve been shopping around for some network-attached storage solutions from vendors such as Western Digital and Seagate. A lot of them are pretty good, with some even offering expandable configurations. However, I have been quite cash strapped lately, so shelling out $150++ for such “luxury” is quite unacceptable to me. More so, I do have a number of spare external hard drives lying around the house, so I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if I just make my own private cloud and save a few bucks?

What I want to build is a cheap, energy efficient and reliable personal cloud setup that will allow me to access my favorite Game of Thrones episodes wherever I am in the world, backup files quickly and efficiently, and also to share some of my hard drive’s storage space to my housemates.

So I browsed the web for a few inspirations on my little DIY project. I skipped the search results mentioning about repurposing old computers to serve as home-based file servers since doing so will eat up a lot of electricity. Of course I also ditched the sponsored search results about buying stuff from Amazon. Then, I stumbled upon this: an Instructables post about building a Raspberry Pi OwnCloud from scratch. Bingo.

I have been always intrigued with the Raspberry Pi, and upon seeing the post I immediately thought it will be the perfect platform for my budget personal cloud. For those not in the know, the Raspberry Pi is a $30 credit card sized, single board computer developed in the United Kingdom by the Raspberry Pi foundation with the intention of promoting computer science in schools. Despite its size, it is a very capable piece of hardware, able to output 1080p video, run a full desktop operating system, and do pretty much every basic to moderate computing task you can think of doing in a traditional PC. Of course, hobbyists the world over embraced the Raspberry Pi, and as of February 2015, 5 million units have been sold worldwide. OwnCloud meanwhile, is a software system built to be the open-source alternative to cloud hosting platforms such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Box.

The tutorial, published by Instructables user koff1979, is a multi-step process that requires a bit of command line tinkering, although there is a shortcut offered wherein you’d be able to skip the first few steps and just do the last two. Being the lazy guy that I am, I chose the latter, and here I’ll be describing them to you.




First, a list of what you’ll need:

  • A Raspberry Pi with SD card
  • A USB External Hard drive  or a USB Drive
  • An enclosure for the Raspberry Pi and Hard Disk
  • Wireless network card (optional)

Here we go.

Download the Raspberry Pi image with OwnCloud preinstalled at SourceForge

Once the image has been downloaded it needs to be written to your Raspberry Pi’s SD card.

dd of=picloud.img if=/dev/disk2

The image is 1.95 GB so it will take some time to write the image to the SD card. Once the image has been written boot the Raspberry Pi with the SD card installed. The default username is pi and the password is raspberryThe system will be running OwnCloud 4.51. The system is set to get an IP address from the DHCP server. 

Setup your OwnCloud.



The easy way to setup your external hard drive is to use gparted. From the command line, type the following:

$ sudo gprarted

You’ll then be able to partition and format the drive. Once done give the web-server permission by typing:

$ sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /media/owncloud

Afterwards, in a web browser, type https://IPADDRESS/owncloud, where IPADDRESS is the IP address provided by the DHCP server, to access your very own private cloud. Choose your username and password combination, click on the advanced toggle to change your cloud’s data location to point to your external drive. Click on the finish button and you’re DONE! You should now be able to upload and download files just as you would on Google Drive or Dropbox. To play video files, you might need to enable the video player app separately. To access your personal cloud outside your own network, you might need the services of companies such as

Easy, eh? For just $30, I now have my very own personal cloud storage. Safe, secure, and cheap! Of course, the cost of this build will be significantly higher if you don’t already own an external hard drive. In such case, maybe one of the prebuilt solutions such as the MyCloud from Western Digital might be better for you.

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