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submitted 9 months ago by netvor@lemmy.world to c/selfhosted@lemmy.world

This is not strictly self-hosted but another approach I which is similar in philosophy, and which I actually prefer in many cases: hosted services.

--

So about 5 years ago I got fed up with having to update nextcould (or was it owncloud? I don't recall) so I was looking for a hosting service.

Initially I expected this to be a bit of a burden on my budget (especially if one scales with users), but to my surprise, I found OwnCube (owncube.de), where the price was about EUR 18 per year. Great deal. So I went ahead, set it up, tested for a while and eventually ended up configuring my parents' phones to use it for storing contacts & photos instead of Google.

To be clear, I did not use nextcloud myself directly. I had been already paying for fastmail, and it's perfect, except it's single-user, so for myself I kept using fastmail, just synchronizing fastmail (using vdirsyncer) and owncube nextcloud just to have a backup and also alternate interface.

This was working perfectly, until one day, it broke. It just stopped working (throwing some errors on sync). When I opened my web interface there was just this message, saying the nextcloud intrerface is not compatible with PHP 8.0+.

Seemed understandable: they updated the underlying server to PHP 8.0 but not the Nextcloud instance. Not superb, but fine, I'll just open a support ticket.

However, the ticket went nowhere. The support engineer kept repeating something that amounted to,

  • they needed to update PHP for security reasons,
  • the plan I subscribed to does not "come with auto-updates",
  • so

I am responsible for updating the Nextclould instance, not them.

That does not make sense. I don't have access neither to the instance nor to the updater. All I can do now is stare at the message. Their admin UI did not provide anything, either (some "magic" button, URL or SSH access).

I pointed it out but they kept repeating themselves and eventually explained that I can either cancel the service and start it again (pay again!) -- which will give me updated NC but my data will be erased, or I can "book auto-updater" which meant I should pay one time fee about 70 EUR (more than double my yearly plan).

That does not make sense. I understand that I chose the basic mini plan, I can't expect anyone to jump over hoops. I also perfectly understand that any software can break because of version mismatch (after all, I'm a software engineer myself). But nobody knows how many times per year that can happen, so if I have to pay extra every time then my plan is unpredictable.

Sadly the ticket went nowhere, the support sounded like a broken record, with "pay X amount of EUR here" link. Seems like a definition of holding my data hostage.

Eventually I decided to cancel the service.

--

So the morale, I guess..?

  • Be careful to whom you entrust your data

  • Don't get too tempted with great prices. Make sure you understand what is (NOT) included.

  • DO keep your backups.

    • For me, vdirsyncer worked great; it is a bit pain to configure and troubleshoot but the architecture is great and it gives you opportunity to sync between independent accounts and even plain text files, which can be a life-saver. (Even sync with google worked.)
  • Consider having more instances.

    • Eg. you could pay one and self-host one, use the paid one as a primary access point (public internet, usually much easier), and the self-hosted one as a backup.
    • Alternatively, one could even share a pool of instances with friends, split the bill and sync both ways.
    • (You will still need an almost-always-running cronjob somewhere to sync the data, if you're going with vdirsyncer approach.)
all 13 comments
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[-] HamSwagwich@showeq.com 21 points 9 months ago

I don't quite understand why you are paying someone else to host your data? At that point, just use one of the major cloud services...

[-] netvor@lemmy.world 12 points 9 months ago

Unfortunately later I learned that for some reason, somehow (surely my mistake), the only full copy of my dad's contacts was at the nextcloud instance, so that collection was the "hostage". Far more sadly, my dad deceased earlier this year, so in a weird irony when I received bill this time, the sad fact enabled me to put this all behind myself, so today I just canceled the service and goodbye.

[-] Moonrise2473@feddit.it 11 points 9 months ago

That's really amateur hour.

  1. You can't bypass that screen if you don't have administrator access

  2. They could easily autoupdate everything using docker

[-] MangoPenguin@lemmy.blahaj.zone 9 points 9 months ago* (last edited 9 months ago)

That's quite the strange process for the host, I can't imagine why they would want you to update your own instance, and why they would roll out PHP 8 without testing things, and bringing everything else up to date first.

It kinds of sounds like a small operation, maybe 1 person? And they couldn't quite get things working properly.

[-] KairuByte@lemmy.dbzer0.com 8 points 9 months ago

You’re in the EU? Why not ask for a GDPR grab of your data?

[-] possiblylinux127@lemmy.zip 5 points 9 months ago

Just get a vps and install nextcloud

[-] netvor@lemmy.world 4 points 9 months ago

Just a follow-up with what I use now.

As a replacement, I ended up setting up Nextcloud AIO container set and so far the experience has been pretty good. I do occasionally have to go and do the update manually but the AIO interface makes it pretty straightforward.

The limitation is that I don't have a very strong machine to host it. I have cheap VPS with only few gigs of RAM so I could give 2G to the nextcloud machine, which prevents me from enabling the more resource-hungry features, on the other hand the base NextCloud with caldav/carddav (which really is all I need) works fine.

[-] NullPointerException@lemm.ee 2 points 9 months ago

not sure where you are but in the US I see a lot of cheap used laptops being sold online with broken screens for example or messed up keyboard/touchpad, etc. stuff that would make it awful for use as a laptop but almost entirely unimportant for a server use-case (if the kb/touchpad is dead you can just plug in an external during initial setup/troubleshooting). of course you gotta make sure that it wasn't damaged in a way that would matter more. ex: if the kb/touchpad are broken due to water damage I'd be wary of issues with other vital parts

[-] britneypeers@discuss.tchncs.de 2 points 9 months ago

For various reasons, I bought a TB storage for backups there for extremely little money. It never worked properly and there were always files that could no longer be accessed, even though they were displayed. I have therefore quickly canceled again and no longer paid. Yesterday evening I tested the login again (4 years after cancellation) and it still works and I can upload files. They seem to have neither technology nor their customer accounting under control. I would never buy/host anything there again.

this post was submitted on 28 Aug 2023
34 points (90.5% liked)

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