Due to recent skyrockets in data privacy interests, thanks to scandals from Facebook and the release of tracking techniques used by Google, the users of the internet have become increasingly privacy conscientious when it comes who is allowed and not allowed to have their hands on their personal data.
Recent news headlines in the tech sector have depicted large tech companies as evil agencies that track every move and click its users make. Which I have no doubt is true to the fullest extent.
Now these are companies that you and I use everyday, which include: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Huawei, etc…
But what makes these companies evil isn’t the fact that they serve a countless number of ads, they’re evil because they’re doing it at the expense of your data. They obtain this data via tracking you on their site, and throughout the internet.
How do they make money off of tracking users
Different companies have different money making practices, so let’s take Google into consideration here. I’ve chosen Google as the flagship partly out of bias, but also as they’re considered the best money maker when it comes to making money off of their user’s data.
Wheres this so-called data come from
Well, anytime you do anything on any one of Google’s vast number of platforms, they take everything you do into account. Let me rephrase that… “THEY LOG EVERYTHING“.
This is where they gather the rich-data on their users from.
Why do companies (Google) do this
They do this because it allows them to generate a unique portfolio of every single one of their users, which then allows them to serve targeted ads towards those unique users with the intent that these users are more likely to click an ad that’s related to them in some form. Then, if and once the user clicks an ad, Google will receive a much larger paycheck as opposed to if the user just looked at the ad.
This is why CPC, or Cost Per Click results in a higher payout per unit as opposed to CPM or Cost Per Mille, which is the amount the advertiser pays per 1,000 impressions/views.
What makes this a problem
As I’ve said previously, these advertising companies LOG everything you do on their platforms, and they can even log what you do on other websites around the internet (that’s a post for another time though).
Going back to the case with Google; Google has billions of users that use their platforms because they’re free. The only reason the platforms are free are because they are able to target their users with ads, ads which Google knows that the user has a high chance of clicking.
Furthermore, with the gathered data as evidence; they may be able to accurately predict what you were thinking based on what you were doing on the platform (This may or may not be over-exaggerated in some cases), which is thanks to artificial intelligence and machine-learning.
Ultimately, the problem comes down to this: “Not only does Google have access to everything you do on their platform, they have access to any and everything you upload to their platforms.”
How does this apply to me
Let’s take Gmail into account here. Recent evidence shows that Google has unrestricted access to your entire Gmail account; which means that they can read all your emails.
Don’t care about your Gmail? Pffff.
Well, what about your files in Google Drive? Yes, Google even has unrestricted access to any of your files in your Google Drive account.
Just take a long minute and think about everything you have stored in your Drive account. If you actually took a minute and thought about what you have in your Drive account, then chances are that you have some stuff in there that you wouldn’t want some Google employee looking at. If not, then you probably don’t want to continue looking into setting up a private cloud, but hey; who knows.
How can we stop this
If you’re like me, then you want to know how you can stop or at least limit your surface area to these advertising platforms.
And since we can’t replace the entire Google technology stack in one post, we’re going to be discussing if replacing Google Drive with a private self-hosted cloud is worth it in 2019.
Time for the “Next Cloud” talk!
A viable self-hosted private cloud
In my opinion, the answer to the easiest and best option for self-hosting a private cloud in 2019 is Nextcloud.
As the product name hints, Nextcloud is literally meant to be the Next Cloud.
What is it
If we were to put a definition on Nextcloud, we can simply say that Nextcloud is a piece of open-source software that enables its users to create a “self-hosted private cloud,” which entails users taking back ownership of their private data.
Is it worth it
The real question comes down to: “Is Nextcloud worth the hassle to setup and keep maintained.”
And of course, the answer to that type of question is always: “it depends.” The short answer: if you’re a technical geek who values their digital privacy, then the answer is “absolutely.” But, if you’re just an average online user, then you’ll have to decide for yourself.
And for anyone who want’s more supporting evidence weighing their decision; I’ve already wrote a post discussing the advantages and disadvantages of hosting a private cloud via Nextcloud here!
Hopefully this post has given you a little insight into how the online world works, and has provided you a little advice into whether you should Nextcloud in 2019 or not!