How can I get OneDrive-like behavior from Nextcloud? (full ~/ directory remote sync)

Hey everyone!

So, a while ago, I tried to get NextCloud set up to sort of work as an alternative to Google Drive, since I liked the idea of shedding some of my dependency on these bigger data-aggregating companies while maintaining my browser-based workflow. Unfortunately, I could never get Collabora to work, no matter how much I tried; .odt files just never opened. Oh well, Google it is for now then.

Now, however, I’m kind of shifting gears. I’ve switched to using ONLYOffice for my document-related work, and this local approach has been a godsend for working on stuff when I don’t have a stable internet connection. However, I now have the issue of potential data loss if something happens to my system. This gets me to my current goal: I would like some kind of OneDrive-like behavior, where a remote copy of my home folder is hosted on some other device, such that if anything happens to my actual personal system (say I install a program that send me into dependency hell and bricks my programs, or even something as simple as spilling a drink over my keyboard [using a laptop]), all I need is to reinstall my OS (or buy a new device in the latter example! :sweat_smile:) and then reconnect to my NextCloud instance to get all my files back where I expected them!

So, herein lies my question: how can I, a total self-hosting newbie, get this to work as intended? The only things I have is an old laptop that I intend to use as the remote host, and a less-than-rudimentary understanding of how NextCloud works. Ideally, I’d like to be able to use this instance even on the road, so perhaps some sort of VPN thing might be helpful as well (to avoid just opening a bunch of ports on my home internet). If any part of what I said has left some info regarding what I want to do kind of ambiguous, I’m more than happy to elaborate further on specific behaviors! Thank you anyone for your interest in assisting me! :grin:

I don’t know, what exactly you want to get.

Nextcloud is similar to OneDrive and the Nextcloud desktop syncs the local files of your computer with your Nextcloud server.

To prevent from data loss, you will need to backup your server frequently, I prefer a full-backup every 2nd day.
With the fullbackup you will be able to restore the whole OS with Nextcloud on a different server. If Nextcloud is running in a VM (f.e. VirtualBox) the backup may be recovered to any computer, that supports Virtual Box.

Because your Nextcloud Desktop client syncs with Nextcloud server, there only will be minor problems with restoring data on a different workplace computer in the case of emergency.

I’ll try to elaborate a bit; the last time I set up NextCloud on a spare device, it seemed to create some files that I had to connect to the IP of said spare device to access, without any syncing involved. How can I make it so that if, say, I create a new file in my ~/Documents directory locally, this file is automatically backed up on my NextCloud instance? Ideally, this could be automatically if I’m on the same WiFi connection as the NextCloud instance, and then I could (somehow) connect to my home WiFi with a VPN so that it would do the same thing abroad.

What in the devils tarball are you trying to do? Nextcloud works just like Onedrive. If yours doesn’t, it’s not configured correctly.

Nextcloud synchronizes the folder(s) only, you define in the desktop client.

This guide may help you to understand:

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I don’t mean to be curt, but this is quite unhelpful. That something is “not configured correctly,” to a newbie like me, is meaningless, because I don’t yet know what a “correct” configuration is; that’s what I’ve come to the forums for. Just something to keep in mind; I’ve seen a lot of people in the past trying to switch to F/LOSS alternatives to proprietary technologies, and comments like yours can sometimes make them give up and switch back. We should always do what’s possible to give the benefits of F/LOSS to everyone! :grin:

Thank you for the source! I’ll take a peek once I’ve got some free time so I can hopefully get everything up and running!

You asked how to get nextcloud to do something that is inherit to it’s operation. You can install the desktop client, and have the folders show in windows explorer just like OneDrive does (or Google). When you save a document in OnlyOffice, save it to a folder in your nextcloud, and it will be backed up. That is, assuming you have redundancy on your data folder.

You should not synchronise any files or folders from your home folder to Nextcloud. You do it the other way round. Nextcloud is effectively the single point of truth and then you use the Nextcloud client to make the data on your Nextcloud server abvailable to your clients, just as you should do with One Drive, Google Drive DropBox etc… Everything else is logic from the 90s and leads to chaos because you’ll most likely end up with different versions of the same folders and files on different devices.

Upload all your files to Nextcloud, install the Nextcloud client on all devices and then only work in the Nextcloud folder. You will no longer need the rest of your home folder and you will only make backups from the server. If your computer crashes, reinstall your OS, install the Nextcloud client and all your files will be synchronised from the server back to your computer again. Trust me, this is the only proper way to use something like Nextcloud, OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive etc. :wink:

Or you could of course install Nextcloud Office or Only Office on your server, which would allow you to work with the respective web apps directly in the browser (similiar to Google Docs), in which case you wouldn’t need to synchronize anything to your clients. This obviously only works for Office files and with a stable network connection to your server.