Today we are going to clarify what a “Private Cloud” is in very simple terms that anyone can understand.


A Private Cloud, in one sentence, is a website where you can store and share files and other information (like a calendar and contact lists) with everyone you need to. It’s a replacement for tools like Google Drive or DropBox. With a private cloud, your data is secure and private only to you.

A bit more in depth, a Private Cloud is a website which is password-protected so only you and your staff and students etc, have access to it. Inside of this website you can access files and other information that people shared on the cloud. Someone who is logged in would see something like this:

Private Cloud File Browser

This sample shows a list of files in a folder we called “Shakespeare 204.” You see in the middle a list of files that have been added to our cloud in that folder. We can now share these files with our students and colleagues. Whoever has access could download any of these files.

But there’s more. 🙂

We can edit these files online as well. Here you can see how we are editing the word “Venice” in our Othello document:

Online Editor

This is all happening right in the web browser, with no need to download the document — just like Google Docs, except this cloud is totally private.

There are other interesting features of a private cloud, which we will detail below, each in its own section.

Synch with your PC

One question is how do we get these files from our PC onto the cloud to begin with? For this, there is a “client” which means a program that runs on your computer that synchronizes your files with the files on the cloud. That means that if you had that Othello document on your PC and you edit it on your PC and save it, then it will automatically be updated on the cloud. And also the opposite–if someone else edits it (whoever has permission to edit that file) then it will be automatically on your PC. Same thing if a file is added or deleted from either place–every activity is synched in both places.

There are clients available for Windows, Mac and Linux. Let’s see a bit how this works, to make it easier to understand. After I install the client and put in the location of my cloud and my username and password (those are fairly easy tasks) then I tell the client which folders in my PC I want to synch with the cloud. In this screenshot, I clicked on the “Add Folder Sync Connection” button and then I chose the folder “C:\Courses”:

Synch with PC

The client then automatically synched me with the cloud and when I open that folder I see my “Shakespeare 204” folder and if I click on that, I see my files:

See Files on Your PC

During normal operation, the client is minimized to an icon in my Windows system tray in the taskbar and it will show me a message every time a change is made to my cloud.


Now that I have my files ready to share, I need to inform everyone. Of course I could just do that at a lecture or at a staff meeting or some such, but a private cloud provides more high-tech options also. 🙂

Here is a picture of what I see if I click on the little “triangle” icon next to “Hamlet”:

Share Files Online

On the right side, I can now add tags or comments to my file. I have selected the “Sharing” option and I can now share this with other users on my cloud or even with “remote users” which means someone who is not part of my cloud at all. I can put in an email of any person with whom I want to share my file. When I share a file, everyone who I am sharing it with will get an email with a link directly to the file in question. A “remote user” has no access to my cloud beyond this one file that I am sharing with him and I can add a password or even an expiration date which means that his access to this file will expire when I decide.


Using the built-in “Gallery” app, we can view images that have been uploaded in a gallery view:

Image Gallery Online


Share a calendar of events online:

Calendar Online


Store and share contact information:

Contact Information


There are many other features also, including external storage support to sync your cloud with a public cloud such as Dropbox, or media players for videos and audio files for online viewing. There are other features and tools as well, and new ones being added all the time.

I hope this gives you an idea of what a private cloud is and how you can use it. If you have any questions, just contact us.

You can read more here: Nextcloud 12 Awesome Business Features about more ways businesses can use Nextcloud.

If you’re looking for hosting for a private cloud, whether in the USA or Europe, we can help. Get hosting with CiviCRM we install and secure your cloud for you:

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