Grow your own online cloud

You can create your own cloud services for things like storing photos, streaming your music collection, creating your own private messaging service, publishing websites or collaborating on projects.

The options presented here are all available through managed hosting, so you can avoid most of the technical stuff.

By the way, please do research providers before using their services.

Nextcloud ⧉

Screenshot of a NextCloud photo gallery, showing lots of photos of plants and animals arranged in a grid

Nextcloud is a really nice all-purpose cloud service, originally designed for businesses and governments but now available to anyone.

By default it lets you store and share files online, but the real beauty of Nextcloud is in the large range of optional add-ons ⧉ which let you create your own online services in a few clicks. For example you can sync your calendars and contacts, collaborate on documents, set up your own instant messaging service, stream your music collection, compile your own interactive cookbook and many, many other things. It has good mobile apps too.

For an in depth look at what it is and how to get started, see this site’s Beginner’s Guide to Nextcloud.

Nextcloud managed hosting is available from Gandi ⧉, The Good Cloud ⧉, Stuxhost ⧉, ⧉, Autonomic ⧉ and many others ⧉

WordPress ⧉

Screenshot of a WordPress settings screen, showing the themes settings options. There are lots of different screenshots of various themes, with different layouts, colour schemes etc.

Originally a blogging service, WordPress is nowadays used to create all kinds of websites, and about one in three sites worldwide use it. There are loads of themes for it and it’s extremely customisable, so it can be used for publishing pretty much anything on the internet. (And no, you don’t need to use!)

WordPress managed hosting is available from ⧉, Gandi ⧉, Autonomic ⧉ and many others.

Mediawiki ⧉

Screenshot of a Wikipedia article about a certain species of pink flower, with a photo of the flower alongside a large amount of detailed text.

Mediawiki is the software that powers Wikipedia and many other wiki sites. You can use it to create your own wiki about anything you like. By the way, wikis don’t have to be publicly edited, you can set it so that only people you authorise can edit stuff.

Mediawiki managed hosting is available from MyWikis ⧉, ⧉, Wiki Valley ⧉ and many others ⧉

Big Blue Button ⧉

Big Blue Button is an online video conferencing system, kind of like having your own Zoom. Originally made for education but it can be used for anything you want. It includes the standard features of modern chat services such as groups, screen sharing, whiteboards, polls etc.

Big Blue Button managed hosting is available from ⧉

Discourse ⧉

Discourse is a discussion forum, like classic message boards but with modern features and options. It’s very widely used by all kinds of online communities.

Discourse managed hosting is available from ⧉ and Autonomic ⧉