Published by Lars Bobach on 11 Jan 2017

„My Setup“ by Stefanie Niemann, her own cloud

The day yesterday before, there was an article published on MacLife.de (14 Dec 2016) and it was announced that Evernote changed there T&C from January onwards on. Evernote allowed it under this new T&C to read users notes and other data uploaded to their network. I am guessing this will not keep by just looking and reading it.

 

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However some days later, Evernote withdraw the new T&C because loads of users were complaining this was issued on MacLife.de on 16 Dec 2016. I think they will try it again with or without announcements.

That’s only on example of many, showing how precious our privacy it and overall you should be sure that your private data do no get sold off. There is a saying „If you get something for free then probably the price for it is you or your data“.

I am always astonished how many times by land line provider sends me emails what I have not used their cloud. For what? I have got my own!

That’s are reasons they I believe to put the money for premium accounts or recurring payments into my own cloud.

Maybe, my setup will help people to get their own data home again and gain full control over these without the feeling to miss something if they are going to change from a third party cloud to their own.

In my opinion, you would use a cloud for:

  • Synchronisation of calendars and contacts
  • freeing space on tablet and smartphone
  • Access your data and download if and then needed over Wi-Fi or mobile
  • Save information and sync across your devices so that every single one is up to date – does not matter if you are at home, travelling or abroad

Did I miss anything?

Take your responsibility

You are responsible for your own cloud and for your data. You have to make sure that the accessibility is available, security from bad guy is in place. There are some more details on this later in this article.

  • Costs of devices, programs, apps
  • backup, updates and security of your data
  • planning the security properly.

What are the costs for an own cloud?

1. Cost for hardware

As a controller myself, I look always on costs and prices and how to run cost efficient. 🙂

At the moment we are close to Christmas and there a loads of discounts and specials around at this time. So, you can save money to wait until Christmas, Years end or Eastern , Black Friday etc.

If you do not like to buy right now, just wait until the next event comes up.

As a basic hardware I recommend :

  • NAS (Network Attached Storage) from Synology or Qnap (IOS and Android)
 You don’t have to get a very expensive device – for the start the basic would be good enough with 4 TB or more hard disks on several HDD, a RAM from 256MB is sufficient for the start i.e. DS215j or DS216j to run your own cloud. If you like to visualise other operating systems , then you would need more RAM of a minimum of 1GB.
  • if you like a fast scanner for your paperless office (but this is optional) – I use ScanSnap ix500 at home from Fujitsu.
  • a router you need – in order to get into the Internet a router is necessary. I like the AVM products Fritzbox very much as you can adjust all settings.
 Because you already in the Internet, you would need to buy a new router.

That it with the hardware – just check you the reseller and you will find very nice offers with 3 or 4 TB under EUR 250.

I think, overall you will have to spent approximately EUR 300 as a one-off investment.

2. Costs for program and apps

Here, you can get discounts as well – Specials and discounts are around all year long.

The issue I have encountered was that you would need software and apps which understands WebDav and / or HTTPS for Desktop and IOS. That was very time consuming for me to find the right software.

Here comes a list of apps which I use in my business and private life but there are thousands of others:

a) IOS Apps which comes directly with you NAS

  • Photos upload and download, save IOS photos
  • note program to be used with keyboard
  • Downloads, which you can use in your IOS browser and sent to your NAS
  • Stream music and download if needed
  • Stream videos and download if needed
  • Access to all of your documents and data
  • Wake-up-on-LAN (WOL) function
  • Sync everything at home and if you are outside of your network

b) Paperless and with your own cloud through the digital world from today – always up to date and in sync of all your devices

Contacts and Calendars

Native apps on your phone work nicely with your own cloud  – adjust some settings and that’s it.

Having said that, I prefer BusyCal and BusyContacts because of their nice layout and the functionality to add, find and adjust appointments and task super fast.

The developer of these apps are just great – they answer to your questions very fast. Even if you like to have additional features you can write to them and they will probably implement it in the next update. In my case, it was the travel time for the calendar.

Where to put all your knowledge, documents, audio, video and notes… GTD?

Since years, I use DevonThinkOfficePro and DevonThinkToGo – both are just great for your own cloud and you can search with easy all your documents in no time.

The „Global Inbox“ makes GTD possible – put everything there – does not matter if you have pictures, voice messages, videos, clips from Webpages, text, diary, blogs, feeds, documents, emails, downloads (for up to date information i.e. laws which will update automatically). Then I use the Eisenhauer Method to categorise and tag my inbox and put commentary on it etc etc after that it gets sorted in a file structure directly in DevonThink.

There are thousands of possibility to export and import your data (email, chat , notes, links to another document inside your database or outside). You can use the calendar function to put your documents with a link into you own calendar.  On click and you got the right document on iPhone, iPad or Mac – sorting done!

The developers are just great and develop the software further – you can contact them in German or English. The CEO is German and lives in the US. Further to this, you can get a weekly newsletter from them with tips and tricks.

BTW: Currently, there is a „WinterSpecial“ with 25% on this software!

Backup, Updates and Security for your data (in- and outside)

Backup and Updates

If you have chosen your right method, you can automatically run them. All data will be backed up on a hard drive in the morning, which will be removed from the NAS after completion.

Updates – I like to see which updates needs attention and what they are doing before I actual install them.

Security – the highest priority for a cloud owner

To be honest with you, I needed quite a long time to realise this after I found my perfect solution.

At first, I have planned my security setup and rules step by step.

  • my cloud should go into the Internet without setting up some rules
  • configure firewall on NAS and router
  • only one potential weak point should be there which I can monitor
  • Use as less as possible third party DNS – provider (IP forwarder). I have chosen one and if there should be reports of attacks I can shut down my own cloud really quick. There are other possibilities too.
  • If some bad guys would knew my IP, I have changed the standard ports to something else. There are more than enough possibilities to choose from 0 to 99999).
  • no usage of Telnet, FTP, HTTP, SFTP etc. Only secure connections should be allowed – which are not on the standard ports
  • Password protection: Passwords should be as complex as it can be, a two-way authorisation should be in place too
  • In the case somebody logs into my Cloud there got just two trials after that, their IP including subdomains etc will be banned immediately
  • in the case some attacked against my own cloud are made, it will shut down and sends me a detailed message

When I go to bed, my NAS and router should sleep as well; except I am travelling abroad of course. If it is night and NAS and router are asleep, no WOL can be done either to wake up the computer. In the morning both are starting automatically and start the ports, services etc. Meaning, if I wake up I have got my data on my devices.

Data, Data – DevonThinkOfficePro uses the AES 256bit security to send and receive data – one step more to improve your security.

Yes, I know the security aspect of this is pretty time consuming  – but if you do it step by step your workload will not be that much. One thing I say to me: It is worth going through all these steps but knowing that your data are safe and secured in your own power.

If I, as a Finance person, can do you can do it as well! 🙂

The workflow

On Mac: I scan all my documents directly into DevonThink and categories, name and tag them immediately and file it away. This is done once a week.

On iPhone and iPad: If I see something interesting then I can use DevonThinkToGo to capture it – does mater if pictures, voice recording, notes, clips  – everything goes into the Global Inbox of DTTG.

All my data are on my NAS and can be synchronised  – it is that easy – is not it?

What Apps do I use else?

ZoomNotes with WebDav: A super program which you can use for presentation too. I use it for my handwritten notes for my ACCA studies. PDF, pictures, voice recording no program and then it goes to the NAS or in DevonThink.
Yes, I know there are other like GoodNotes, Evernote, NoteShelf – there are all pretty good but there are not really useful within my own cloud as they lack on WebDav – and I do not like to use third party clouds to save my documents there. There are possibilities to export to my NAS from these apps but that is not the same than synchronising!

BusyContacts and BusyCalendar with CardDav – Server  for my contacts and calendars and tasks

Airmail: my emails

PDF-Studio11:  Similar to its „big brother“ but less expensive. Under IOS I use the pinch method to get my PDFs and they are going then to DevonThink.

for my ACCA studies: MentalCase and IThoughtsX

All research I do with DevonThink inclusive downloads

Ulysses and Scrivener: My writing tools depending on what I like to write and how the finished writing should look like. Both are mighty tools.

Diary: I use DevonThink for that in an own database

1Password: A password manager which you can sync via NAS – very efficient and useful. Update: Today, I use Enpass…

ScannerPro by Readdle: Scanning of documents on the iPhone or iPad. The advantage is that it adapts to the paper size  and then it goes automatically to my NAS in a folder which is monitored by DevonThink. Sometimes, I import directly into DTTG.

DevonAgentPro:  My research tool with picks only the good things from the Internet for my search and all research can be imported to DevonThinkOfficePro.

Setup Stefanie Niemann

I think that’s all to the main apps I use for my own cloud and being paperless.

The hardware

On the pictures you will see my MacMini from mid 2010 – I am guessing it will die soon …

 

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Currently, I am think that the best alternative would be but I am not sure if I could use a MacBookPro as a Desktop computer – at least it would be mobile ..

If you have the answer to this, please let me know.

MacBookPro 13’’ from end of 2011

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IPadPro 9.7’’ with ApplePen and a „proper“ keyboard as a cover

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I hope, that will give you an overview about running your own cloud and still being productive.

If you have any question just leave a comment.

Regards,
Stefanie