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5 Best VPNs for ownCloud That Work in 2017

Stephen Cooper

Stephen Cooper

August 4, 2017

What is ownCloud?

OwnCloud is a personal online cloud storage system. If you’ve used services like Dropbox or OneDrive, you understand the concept of cloud storage. You don’t have to use a commercial service in order to access your files from one central location over the internet. You can set up your own cloud storage facility with ownCloud. This is an open source system that anyone can use to create both a cloud server and access programs that run on your local devices.

You can download the software for ownCloud for free from a GitHub repository. Although the client software is pretty straightforward, even technical experts struggle to get the server side running properly. The server software for ownCloud only runs on Linux, so you need to be familiar with that operating system. Most people who try to install the ownCloud server program do eventually manage to get it working. However, installing the security software is another story. Most abandon the project in despair. Without proper connection security, your dream of having your own cloud storage system just isn’t going to be viable.

Don’t worry, though. You don’t have to tear your hair out trying to get your cloud storage security in place. One of the timesaving principles of IT is component reuse. Buy in your security system and add on a pre-existing service that is tried and tested and a breeze to install: Subscribe to a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

A VPN can give you full end-to-end security. Normally, your home computer gets full encryption for all communications through to the VPN server. After that, connections are forwarded in a normal state. You could pre-encrypt all of your connection requests at both the client and the server. However, as mentioned, the encryption component of ownCloud is excruciatingly difficult to implement.

There is a way to reverse a VPN service to make it fit the cloud storage model and provide you with full end-to-end protection. In order to get this cheap, fast solution, focus your VPN search on services that include a dedicated IP address option and an allowance of multiple simultaneous connections.

If you don’t want to spend hours searching for a VPN with specific characteristics, keep calm. We’ve done the searching for you. You can see our list of suitable VPNs for ownCloud below. After you’ve read about those services, continue to the final section of this report to find out how to set up your end-to-end ownCloud security.

Quick Links to our 5 best VPNs for ownCloud

  1. TorGuard
  2. VPNArea
  3. LiquidVPN
  4. NordVPN
  5. BolehVPN

Best VPNs for ownCloud: Summary

BestVPN Editor's Choice Award
TorGuard Homepage
PROS:
  • Dedicated IP addresses for the US, Canada, UK, Italy, Germany, France, Finland, Japan, and Australia
  • Manual setup for Linux
  • Allowance of five simultaneous connections on the shared IP service
  • Apps for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Android, and Ubuntu
  • Extra DDoS protection available
CONS:
  • Can be difficult to install

One big positive of our TorGuard review is that it lets you have five simultaneous connections with its shared IP services. These would be the installations on the client devices that you want to access the cloud storage from. Your cloud storage server needs to run on a Linux machine and you can get a TorGuard dedicated IP address for it in the US, Canada, the UK, Italy, Germany, France, Finland, Japan, and Australia. Extra Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection is available for free on servers in Canada, France, and Romania. The company offers apps for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Android, and Ubuntu.

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#2 Best VPN for ownCloud: VPNArea

VPNArea Homepage
PROS:
  • Dedicated IP addresses for the US, Canada, UK, Netherlands, Australia, Germany, and Romania
  • Manual setup for Linux
  • Apps for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android devices
  • Allowance of six simultaneous connections on the shared IP address service
  • Kill switch
CONS:
  • Customer support not available 24/7

VPNArea has very strong encryption and the support staff is well versed in technical issues, such as installing the VPN on your Linux machine. The service includes apps for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android devices. You're allowed six simultaneous connections with the shared IP service. The VPN has a kill switch, which will prevent connections from you Linux machine other than through the VPN. You can get a dedicated IP address for the US, Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, Australia, Germany, and Romania with VPNArea.

#3 Best VPN for ownCloud: LiquidVPN

LiquidVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Dedicated IP addresses for Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK
  • Port forwarding
  • Allowance of two, four, or eight simultaneous connections, depending on which plan you choose
  • Combined kill switch and firewall, called "Liquid Lock"
  • Installation script for Linux
  • Apps for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android
CONS:
  • Relatively small server network

LiquidVPN's founder and owner, Dave Cox, is a networking wizard. His deep knowledge of internet protocols flows through to the high quality of his support staff. When reviewing LiquidVPN we found that the help desk would have no difficulty advising you on setting up the VPN on your Linux box for your ownCloud server. You won't need any advice on installing the client device VPN software on Windows, Mac OS X, and Android operating systems. The process of installing the app on iOS is a little more complicated and requires some manual steps.

#4 Best VPN for ownCloud: NordVPN

NordVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Dedicate IPs in the US, the UK, the Netherlands, and Germany
  • Manual installation for Linux
  • Allowance of up to six simultaneous connections
  • Apps for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android
  • Good transfer speeds
CONS:
  • Customer service not so fast

With NordVPN you can buy a dedicated IP address in the US, Germany, the UK, or the Netherlands. You get a full allowance of six simultaneous connections. The dedicated IP protecting your ownCloud server counts as one of those. There are apps for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android operating systems. NordVPN offers good speeds for streaming and uploading and the two-year special offer makes this a very affordable VPN service.

#5 Best VPN for ownCloud: BolehVPN

BolehVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Dedicated IP addresses in Luxembourg
  • Manual installation for Linux
  • Apps for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android
  • Strong cloaking technology
  • Good for access from China
CONS:
  • Only two simultaneous connections allowed

BolehVPN offers dedicated IP addresses on its server in Luxembourg. This is not an ideal location, because the chances are, you don't have your ownCloud server there. However, the software can be loaded onto Linux and there are apps for your ownCloud client devices on Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android. Another downside of the BolehVPN service is that you only get two simultaneous connections with the shared IP address service.

VPNs for File Transfers

When you join a peer-to-peer (P2P) network with a VPN active on your computer, the client software operating on peer computers is able to see the temporary IP address that the VPN assigns to your connection. The peers apply to that address for a segment of a file. The VPN passes the request on to the P2P client running on your computer.

The P2P software on your computer acts as a server to peers. It can also contact other computers to request segments of files. These requests are delivered by the VPN. It gives the temporary IP address assigned to your computer as the source address of the request. Responses to these requests are sent to that temporary address at the VPN server. It then forwards them to your computer.

When you set up a private cloud storage server with ownCloud, you create a similar scenario to that which P2P networks use. The only difference is that your home computer and your other devices are the only peers in the network.

You need to protect both ends of the connection with a VPN. You can achieve this with one subscription because most VPN companies permit multiple simultaneous connections.

Dedicated IP Addresses

The one problem of using a standard VPN service with ownCloud is that you need to enter the IP address of the file server in the configuration of the ownCloud client program. Each VPN company owns a pool of IP addresses. When you log into the VPN system, it allocates you one of them for the duration of the session. When the connection ends, that address goes back into the pool for subsequent customers to use.

If you install VPN software on your server and connect, the VPN will assign that server connection a temporary IP address. You can enter that IP address in the settings of the ownCloud client software in order to send requests for files. However, you would need to alter that address every time the file server makes a new connection to the VPN.

A solution to this problem is to get a VPN service that offers a dedicated IP address. Although VPNs allow multiple simultaneous connections, only one of these can use the dedicated IP address. This is not a problem, because the server will respond to requests for files that come from any address. You don’t need to instruct the file server to only accept connections from one particular address. As such, you should allocate the dedicated IP address to your ownCloud server. You can then use the shared IP address service with your spare connection allowance for the other devices that you want to connect to the server. Thus, you know the permanent IP address of the ownCloud server and you can enter that in the configuration of your client devices.

ownCloud VPN Architecture

Once you’ve set up your system, the operational scenario of your connections will work as follows:

  1. Start the ownCloud server program on your home computer.
  2. Connect your home computer to the closest VPN server location using a dedicated IP address.
  3. Connect the VPN on your mobile device to the same VPN server that your home computer uses.
  4. Start the ownCloud client program on your mobile device.

With these elements in place you’ll be able to access your files through the ownCloud client interface on your mobile device. The VPN will protect the connection with end-to-end encryption. When you look at the listing of files in the client interface and click on one of them to open it, the following procedures will occur:

  1. The client software on your mobile device sends a request to the server IP address in its configuration. The VPN software intercepts that request on your mobile device. It’s fully encrypted and encapsulated in an outer packet, which is addressed to the VPN server.
  2. The request travels across the internet to the VPN server in a fully encrypted state.
  3. The VPN server strips off the outer packet, decrypts the inner packet, and places your mobile device’s temporary IP address in the header of the packet as the source. It uses the dedicated VPN IP address of your home computer as the destination.
  4. The VPN processor sends the unencrypted request packet to its gateway device.
  5. The gateway server immediately returns the packet to the VPN because this is the true home of the dedicated IP address.
  6. Next, the VPN program reads the destination address. It recognizes it as a customer address, encrypts the packet, puts it in an outer packet and puts the real IP address of your home computer in the header as the destination, with the temporary IP address of your mobile device as the source address.
  7. The VPN sends the packet to its gateway server, which forwards it on to your home computer.
  8. The VPN client software on your home computer unbundles the packet and decrypts the inner packet. It then sends the revealed request packet to the ownCloud server program, which processes the file request.

ownCloud protection with VPN

The delivery of the requested file takes the same path, but in reverse.

  1. The ownCloud server sends the packets containing the file to the return address on the original request. This is the temporary IP address that the VPN server assigned to your mobile device.
  2. The VPN client intercepts the packets, encapsulates them and addresses the outer packet to the VPN server.
  3. The VPN software recognizes the source address of the packets as a customer. It unbundles the packets, decrypts them and sends them to its gateway server for delivery.
  4. The gateway computer delivers the packets to the temporary IP address of your mobile device, which is really back at the VPN server.
  5. The VPN server recognizes the destination address, encrypts the packets and encapsulates them, addressing them to the real address of your mobile device.
  6. It sends the packets in encrypted format to your mobile device.
  7. The VPN client program on your mobile device intercepts the arriving packets, unbundles them, decrypts the contents, and passes them on to the ownCloud client program.
  8. The ownCloud client reassembles the transmitted file and makes it available to you.

VPN Protection Benefits

Although the above scenarios seem complicated, the VPN system takes care of all of these tasks. All you have to do is install the VPN client software on your home computer and the mobile devices that you want to use for file access.

This configuration has a number of additional benefits. You might think that adding encryption through a remote computer exposes your home computer to unencrypted access by those who know its real IP address. However, once the VPN client is active, it will only allow in traffic that arrives from its corresponding VPN server. So, it effectively blocks all direct access to your home computer.

Your computer probably doesn’t have enough capacity to withstand a DDoS attack. VPN servers have. Many VPNs offer specific DDoS protection as an optional extra. However, engaging the VPN to guard access to your home computer effectively gives you all of the bandwidth of that server as a load balancer to absorb attacks, even if you don’t specifically choose to pay for DDoS protection.

VPN for ownCloud: Conclusion

VPNs can simplify the end-to-end security of your personal cloud storage file transfers. Although ownCloud gives you an exciting option to make your own cloud services, the headache of managing all those security issues can be off-putting.

Make sure that you choose a VPN that can run on Linux, offers a dedicated IP address option, and allows multiple simultaneous connections. All of the VPNs on our list meet these requirements. Remember when you connect to choose a server that is physically close to your home.

The five best VPNs for ownCloud will give you the independence of running your own cloud storage, with the added benefit of iron clad security. Enjoy!

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