Where to start? Years and years ago I signed up as a beta tester of what was to become Google Apps (and subsequently Google Workspace). As a reward I had a free 50user licence in perpetuity which gave me all the Google apps with my own domain. This ticked along nicely and soon most of my familiy members were onboard, all benefitting from gmail, drive, docs and photos.
A few months ago Google dropped the bombshell they were killing off the free version and all users had to move to a paid for version of GSuite. There was also no easy migration from Apps to Google One. I bit the bullet and agreed to pay whilst I sorted out a strategy. Google, so generous(!), offered a few months free, then half price for a year before moving to the full price.
I don’t object to paying for a good service but I started to do some modelling and across Google, Microsoft (Office 365 family subscription), webhosting, and other cloud storage services I’m going to end up paying over £500/yr for 5 users.
The use of my own domain is the killer, our email addresses have been around for over 20years now. I checked out all the privacy first email providers (protonmail, tutanota et al) along with others such as fastmail etc but their costs are similar to Google without the ease of use and other benefits such as drive and photos. Hosting my own email server is a ball-ache I don’t need – been there, done that! My webhosting provider offers email, and unlimited mailboxes/storage (within plan limits) which I’m already paying for so that seems to be the way to go for email.
What about calendars and contacts though? A few of us share calendars and contacts so I needed an alternative for that. Here enters NextCloud. More later…
A Google Drive equivalent? Well, Microsoft 365 gives us 1TB each so that’s that, it’s far more than the 30GB each we had with Google. Yes, our data will still be with one of the big providers but I’m not too bothered to be honest.
Back to NextCloud. I’ve been playing with more and more self-hosted tools, all sat behind traefik reverse proxy, on a raspberry pi 4. A quick docker install and hey presto! NextCloud offers calendaring and contacts (email too if you want it) so I think that is a go-er. And the data is on my own network. More on my pi4, docker, traefik, self-hosted stuff later.
Watch this space, a bit more tinkering is needed but then I think I’ll facing the unenviable task of extricating all of us from Google’s clutches. Technically it’ll be ok, it’s the ‘user’ element I’m not looking forward to…