IT Pro Verdict
Nextcloud is an affordable open-source cloud storage solution with great collaborative features, productivity tools, speedy performance, and an intuitive interface. Its lack of support options for non-paying customers, however, is a great drawback.
24/7 support only comes with higher tier plans
Nextcloud is an interesting open-source alternative to the best cloud storage providers like Dropbox and MEGA. The service grants businesses a great deal of control, allowing them to self-host their cloud on their own servers situated in their premises. Users who prefer something right out of the box could sign up instead for a pre-configured solution for a quicker and less tedious setup process.
Nextcloud review: Snapshot
In our Nextcloud review, we found that the service presents users with flexibility, enhanced productivity and advanced collaborative tools—all while remaining affordable, speedy, and secure.
Additionally, Nextcloud’s intuitive and clean interface has little to no learning curve. But if you do need technical help, the service’s comprehensive customer support will be more than adequate.
We were, however, slightly disappointed that non-paying customers do not have a direct communication channel with official Nextcloud agents. Beyond this minor drawback, Nextcloud ranks high among the best cloud storage providers on the market, and left us very impressed.
Read on for our full Nextcloud review.
How does Nextcloud compare to its main competitors?
|Header Cell - Column 0||Nextcloud||MEGA||Dropbox|
|Pros||Open-source platform - Great collaborative capabilities - Highly secure and felxible||Simple UI - Impressive free plan - Open-source sync client||Multiple pricing plans - Strong collaborative tools - Seamless software integration|
|Cons||24/7 support only comes with higher tier plans - May be time-consuming to set up||Business plan lacks advanced features - Unable to specify which network to use||Only 2GB of free storage - No zero-knowledge encryption - Quite pricey|
|Verdict||Nextcloud’s open-source, self-hosted model is affordable and highly secure. Be prepared to spend more time on set-up, though.||MEGA is one of the best consumer cloud storage providers around, but its lack of advanced features is a drawback.||Dropbox offers multiple pricing plans, advanced features, and an intuitive interface. But the lack of zero-knowledge encryption may be a reason to look away.|
|View deals||<a href="https://www.nextcloud.com/&aff_click_id=hawk-custom-tracking/">Visit site</a>||<a href="https://www.mega.nz/&aff_click_id=hawk-custom-tracking">Visit site</a>||<a href="https://www.dropbox.com/&aff_click_id=hawk-custom-tracking">Visit site</a>|
Nextcloud: Key features
Nextcloud isn’t quite like popular cloud storage providers such as Dropbox. Taking an open-source approach, Nextcloud allows you to self-host your own cloud on servers situated in your business premises. You could go with a pre-configured solution from Nextcloud and its partners for a quicker and less tedious setup process.
Nextcloud offers all of the basic features that you’ll expect from a cloud storage provider. We’ll break down some of the service’s key features.
Nextcloud’s file-sharing and syncing solution comes in the form of Nextcloud Files. With it, you can access all data in your organisation, no matter where it is. This feature also enables files to be synced across devices or shared among team members.
There is also a space-saving Virtual File feature that allows you to select which files you’d like to keep solely on the cloud, and which files you’d like synced to your device. To share an image, document or music file, simply send a password protected public link to the recipient.
Nextcloud shines in its collaborative capabilities. Standard and Premium users can add Collabora Online onto their subscription to enjoy the online office suite, which enables users to edit and collaborate with others in real-time. Communication is also made easy with Nextcloud Talk, the service’s Zoom-like secure messaging and video chat component. Fully equipped with a screen-sharing option and a whiteboard feature, Nextcloud Talk is perfect for meetings and presentations.
A particularly useful feature is Remote Wipe, which allows you to wipe documents from a third party’s device if you granted them the permission to download the documents during collaboration.
Nextcloud Groupware has three main components—Mail, Calendar, and Contacts—and is designed to improve your team’s workflow so that you can get things done more efficiently. Nextcloud Mail allows you to securely send and receive emails and unify multiple accounts into one account. The feature integrates seamlessly with Nextcloud Calendar, too—it recognises scheduled items such as travel itineraries and automatically adds them to Nextcloud Calendar.
Calendar makes it easy for you to schedule meetings with other team members, and Contacts allows you to sync, share, and keep track of your address book. You can also use it to share your contacts with your team.
Nextcloud offers seamless integrations with business-centric apps and tools like Outlook, SharePoint and Mozilla Thunderbird. On its app store, you’ll find a huge collection of apps neatly shelved into categories like Customisation, Multimedia, Organisation, Files, and even Games.
Designed to protect user data through multiple layers of protection, Nextcloud offers basic security features like 2FA, file access control, and server monitoring. Beyond these, the service provides advanced security features like brute force protection, video verification, end-to-end and server-side encryption, and machine-learning-based login protection.
Nextcloud: What’s new in 2022?
Nextcloud has an active blog dedicated to product update announcements and maintenance releases. The cloud storage provider has consistently added new features with each update. In July’s updates, Nextcloud announced Nextcloud 22, the latest version, which comes with eID Easy integration.
Through this integration, users can request a secure, digital signature on any document, right from the Nextcloud interface. Nextcloud 22 also comes with significant performance improvements and a bunch of new features, among them integrated chat, task, and knowledge management.
At its core, Nextcloud is free open-source software that you can install free of charge. You can then pick the services you’d like, but these services incur additional costs, along with the hassle of self-administering cloud storage services.
Alternatively, you could look at three different paid plans—Basic, Standard, and Premium—that are pre-configured and ready to use right out of the box. Unlike other cloud storage providers, who usually offer monthly, yearly, and lifetime subscriptions, Nextcloud only offers plans that are billed yearly. With all three plans, you’ll save some money if you have more users tied to the same subscription.
To get a feel for Nextcloud, you can request for a test account that you can use for an hour.
Nextcloud's pricing plans
|Cost per year (100 users)||£30.84 per user||£55.68 per user||£81.80 per user|
|Cost per year (200 users)||£24.41 per user||£41.54 per user||£63.81 per user|
|Fully open source||✔||✔||✔|
|Maintenance life cycle||One year||Three years||Five+ years|
|Collabora Online Office||✖||✔||✔|
|Email support||No priority||Business hours||24/7|
|Phone support||✖||Business hours||24/7|
To better benchmark Nextcloud against its competitors, we analysed its upload speeds, which are a key factor in terms of cloud storage, and the response times for its customer support.
How fast is Nextcloud?
We tested Nextcloud’s upload and download speeds to see how it matches up against its competitors. With a stable and fast internet connection (23.97Mbps download, 37.13Mbps upload), the service took an impressive 11 seconds to upload a 51MB folder filled with 83 separate files. For comparison, the same folder took 1 minute and 16 seconds to be uploaded onto Dropbox, a provider that prides itself on its speediness.
In terms of downloading, Nextcloud took three seconds to download the same folder back onto the local device. Dropbox, on the other hand, took about 15 seconds. Overall, Nextcloud has much to boast about in this area.
How responsive is Dropbox's customer support?
We tested the responsiveness of Nextcloud’s team by sending a message via a contact form on Nextcloud’s website. The contact form is intended for the team to respond to general questions and comments. Upon sending out the contact form, we received a confirmation email for our query. That was the last we heard from the Nextcloud team, though. We waited a week and still did not hear from them.
If you’d like to have solutions to your problems quickly, relying on Nextcloud’s contact form might not be ideal. Fortunately, the service has pretty comprehensive customer support. You can get help from an active community forum and an IRC channel. There are also manuals available for users, admins, and developers, an FAQ page, multiple white papers, and even podcasts.
Alternatives to Nextcloud
Nextcloud stands out among its competitors as a self-hosted cloud storage provider. The open-source nature of the service offers users unrivalled flexibility and unlimited customisation options. Because the service is self-hosted, businesses are accorded maximum control over their data.
We love that this flexibility is optional too—users who prefer a service right out of the box can opt for pre-installed and hosted solutions. The cheapest paid plan sets you back about £3.08 per user a month, which is extremely affordable, as compared to options like MEGA and Dropbox.
The open source service also offers a suite of productivity tools like Collabora Online, Nextcloud Talk, and Groupware—collaborative features like these are useful (and often mandatory) for businesses, but absent in services like Mega.
If you’re coming from MEGA, you’ll find that Nextcloud’s customer support is much more comprehensive. On MEGA, you’ll have access to a knowledge base, email support and a contact form for you to submit a support ticket. With Nextcloud, on the other hand, you’ll find an active community forum, an IRC channel, manuals for users, admins, and developers, an FAQ page, multiple white papers, and even podcasts.
Paying customers are granted even more support. With the Basic plan, you get email support with a reaction time of three days. The Standard plan reduces your wait time by a day, and you get additional phone support during business hours. The priciest plan, Premium, gets you 24/7 phone and email support. Non-paying Nextcloud customers, however, will find it hard to reach out to customer support.
Dropbox, with a chatbot, live chat, email and phone support, as well as a help centre, matches Nextcloud in terms of comprehensiveness. In our experience, however, Dropbox’s customer support is a hit or miss in terms of response time.
Nextcloud's features compared to the competition
|Header Cell - Column 0||Nextcloud||MEGA||Dropbox|
|Open source||✔||✔ (client apps are open source)||✖|
|Support||Community forum, IRC|
channel, knowledge base, email, phone
|Knowledge base, email, support ticket||Chatbot, live chat, email, phone, help centre|
|Basic plan||£36.48 per user a year||£42.75 a year||£7.99 a month|
Nextcloud: The verdict
Without breaking the bank or compromising on speed and security, Nextcloud offers flexibility, enhanced productivity, and collaborative tools to business users. And if you opt to host your own cloud, Nextcloud grants you a great deal of control. However, users who’d like to be less hands-on can opt for pre-configured solutions offered by Nextcloud and its partners.
The service also shines in terms of its productivity features. Tools like Collabora Online and Nextcloud Talk make communication and collaboration a breeze, while Nextcloud’s integration with popular apps like SharePoint and Outlook also aid in workflow management and productivity. At the same time, the service offers industry-standard security features to keep your data safe.
There are also multiple channels through which customers can get support. However, our test found that non-paying users will find it difficult to reach an official Nextcloud agent. Thankfully, the service is extremely easy to use, with a clean and intuitive interface. The dashboard is uncluttered, and you’ll find all that you need at a glance.
You’ll be able to upload, organise, and share files with a few clicks, right from the main screen. We also loved Nextcloud’s high-contrast colour scheme for easy readability.
Overall, Nextcloud is a powerful cloud storage provider that is perfect for those looking for a flexible and highly configurable solution.
Further reading on cloud storage
Learn more about cloud storage in our comparison pitting cloud storage vs local storage; our discussion on how you can start reducing cloud storage costs; and our buying guides evaluating the best free cloud storage, and the best cloud storage for photos.
Joanna is a freelance writer based in Singapore, with a background in Sociology and a keen interest in technology. A seasoned and passionate writer, Joanne has worked with such global publications as TechRadar, Tom's Guide, CreativeBloq, and more. When she's not writing, she's usually binge-watching trashy reality shows on Netflix.