ownCloud is not a backup!

I see a lot of people are setting up ownCloud these days that do not think about what it really means to do their own data management.

A lot of people have ownCloud running on a server somewhere and have the desktop sync client running on their laptop. They think their data is safe because if their laptop gets stolen or crashes the data is still on the server. Or that if the server crashes the data is still on the laptop.

What they have is a mirror of their data. Not a backup. A quick search on why mirroring is not a backup can give you all the details. But in short mirror is not a backup because it does not protect you against:

  • File corruption
  • Viruses
  • Software bug
  • Humans (deleting a file by mistake)

This list is not complete but it does show the most common problems.

For example: if you delete a file by mistake on your laptop the file will also be removed from your ownCloud. If you only notice your mistake after a month it is very likely that your systems trashbin (if you have any) and the ownCloud trashbin have already been emptied. And you will have no way of restoring the file.

So should I dump ownCloud? Absolutely not! Since ownCloud allows you to store all your files in 1 place it actually intergrates very nicely with a backup system. Just setup a (proper) backup system on the server that is running your ownCloud! There is plenty of material available on how to (properly) setup a backup system.

So the homework of today is to make sure that a proper backup system is in place. Once that is done tell all the people that you know that run ownCloud to do the same.


The problem described here is not unique to ownCloud. If your cloud storage provider does not create backups for you then the only thing you have is a mirror.