Change ownership of Nextcloud files (root to www-data)

Hi all,

I recently set up Nextcloud using the latest NextcloudPi docker image incl. bullseye debian. Everything works smoothly, but I ran into one issue:
I have multiple folders in my Nextcloud of which some were created via the web interface and some via the Windows 11 client. One huge folder containing several GB of Photo was generated in /var/www/nextcloud/…/ncp/files/ by copying them from an external HDD. When I check the permissions for folders inside the Photos folder, I see that all folders that I transferred from the external HDD have “root” as owner and group, while files that were added via the web interface/Windows client (and all other files) have “www-data” as user (example shown here):

drwxr-xr-x 8 root root 4096 Nov 25 09:29 Faxen
-rw-r–r-- 1 www-data www-data 21160 Oct 14 10:03 Filler01.png

Why is this relevant? Because I have no writing permissions in all the Photo folders to e.g. upload photos from my Smartphone using the Nextcloud Android app or the Autosync app. These apps upload successfully in all folders that are “www-data” owner/group. So I assume that the “root” owner/group causes the problem here.

As a side note: The scan and indexing of the manually transferred files worked smoothly and I can see all photos in my Nextcloud.

Can I just change the owner/group? Or does this break something else? Is there any option via the Nextcloud admin interface to change the ownership of folders and files? Any suggestion how to proceed here is highly appreciated.

Yes, you were supposed to have changed the permissions when you copied them. If they are owned by root, Nextcloud will get access denied when trying to manage them.

All files must be owned by www-data:www-data with permission 640 on files and 750 on folders.


Thanks for the quick reply. I am not unix proficient. Is it safe to just run
sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/nextcloud ? Or does that break anything else?

You can. The documentation says to do it like this:

chown -R www-data:www-data nextcloud
find nextcloud/ -type d -exec chmod 750 {} ;
find nextcloud/ -type f -exec chmod 640 {} ;

These examples use relative paths, so make sure they are correct for your system.


Are you able to change the user used by nextcloud?

For example if I change the apache default user, will that change what user nextcloud uses to make changes to the app?

Or is there a config variable that can be changed to change the default user nextcloud uses?

Nextcloud runs in the user context of the web server. I haven’t tried changing it, but I think you can.

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Off to make a dev environment… Will report back.