Have you ever wanted to access all of your files from anywhere, without having to store all of your data online? Online storage tools like Dropbox are incredibly useful, but you likely can’t fit all of your files in your Dropbox. Then, what if you want to stream your music to your work computer without downloading it all? The cloud is great, but sometimes it seems like it’s more trouble than it’s worth when you’re waiting for files to upload and sync.
Today we’re going to look at a way you can run your own cloud from your Windows, Mac, or Linux computer. Setting up web servers and file sharing systems can be hideously difficult if you don’t know what you’re doing, but there’s an exciting free app that makes it all as simple as a couple clicks. Let’s see how you can run your own personal cloud with Tonido.
What is Tonido?
Tonido is a free home server solution that makes it easy to host your own files and web apps from your home or business. It’s available in several different forms: as a free download for Windows, OS X, and Linux, as a $99, plug-sized, mini server, or as an upcoming hosted cloud server.
The TonidoPlug is a popular ARM based Ubuntu server that you can get setup on your home network in minutes. Just as easily, though, you can turn your PC into a Tonido server for free while still using it as your own normal computer. You can then access your files and run free web apps from Tonido without adding on expensive monthly subscription costs and uploading your data to a dozen services.
Ready to setup Tonido? Download the correct version of Tonido for your computer, or setup your TonidoPlug according to your instructions. On my Windows 7 PC, installing Tonido only took a few clicks, and within seconds it was quietly humming along in my system tray.
Create Your Account
Once the install is finished, the Tonido dashboard will open in your browser. You’ll need to create a new account to start using Tonido. Select an account name for your computer; you’ll then use this address as yourname.tonidoid.com to access your Tonido from any computer. This is the only data that will be stored outside of your computer. Everything else, from your password to your files, will stay right on your own personal machine.
Accessing Your Files
As soon as your account is activated, you can start browsing your computer from the Tonido interface. It’ll automatically be able to browse and display any file on your computer. In fact, you could never touch Tonido again from your main computer and still be able to access your files from any other computer worldwide via your yourname.tonidoid.com address. It’s that easy!
We’ve all left important files at home when heading on a trip, but if you’ve got Tonido on your computer, this is no longer a problem. You can browse your files or even search your entire computer remotely. Seconds later, you’ll be downloading your files right from the Tonido web interface. Problem solved!
Tweaking Tonido on Your Computer
For the most part, there’s nothing to configure on your computer. Most things you’ll need to tweak will be accessible from the web interface, which you can configure from any computer, even if you’re away from home.
One problem we did notice is that our connection to Tonido seemed extremely slow from other computers. Turns out, Tonido throttles your web access speed to save bandwidth on your network. If you don’t mind it using more data, just select a higher limit or select Unlimited from the Tonido menu in your system tray.
You can also select whether or not to run Tonido at startup and tweak a few more settings from this menu.
Stream Music From Anywhere
Remote file access is nice enough, but Tonido has more features than just that. You can share files with others, stream your music remotely and more. The JukeBox feature does require a bit more setup, though.
Open the Jukebox from the Applications list on the left, and then select the music folder you want Tonido to index.
Once it’s indexed your files, you’ll be able to stream your music and play it though any browser. The only downside is that the player is powered by Flash Player, so it doesn’t work on iPad or browsers without Flash. For the most part, though, that shouldn’t be a problem. The JukeBox integrates with the Tonido mobile apps as well, so once you’ve added your music you’ll be able to stream it on the go!
Add New Apps
You can also expand your Tonido with extra apps. There are tons of apps available for Tonido that let you download torrents remotely, manage your projects and contacts, write a personal blog, manage your money, backup files remotely and more. Click the Get More Apps link in the left sidebar to explore everything you can add to your Tonido. If you find something you want to use, just click Install to add it to your personal cloud.
Once you’ve added a new app, you’ll need to activate it before you can start using it. Click the Manage tab in the apps list, then scroll to the app you just installed and activate it. If you later decide you don’t want the app, you can deactivate it or remove it from your computer.
You’ll now be able to use your apps right on your computer or remotely. The biggest thing most of us want from web apps is to be able to access them from anywhere, and Tonido gives you this with your own computer and internet connection. Now you can locally manage your own apps and make your data more secure.
Use Tonido on the Go
While Tonido’s webapp works great from any desktop browser, it’s not quite as easy to use from a mobile browser. It works, but the interface is too busy to use effectively on a small touchscreen. That’s where the Tonido Mobile Apps come in.
There are free Tonido apps for iOS, Blackberry, and Android, so you can use your files on the go and stream music from your computer to your favorite mobile device. We’d like to see an included mobile web interface, but for now, this is a great solution.
Tonido is definitely one of the most impressive self-hosted webapps we’ve used recently. Within seconds of installing Tonido, we were able to access our files from another computer via a 3G connection! This was nothing short of amazing and the Tonido team has done an excellent job at making the tech disappear and simply give users the features they need without hassle.
Usually running your own cloud would be complicated, but Tonido makes it simple enough for anyone to do. Whether you want to have your documents and pictures online without paying a monthly subscription or simply want a way to search your home computer and find critical files from work; Tonido is a great solution.
Be sure to give it a try and let us know what you think of it in the comments!