Outlook Cloudbar

The Outlook Cloudbar is an add-on for Microsoft Outlook that adds secure attachment options for Nextcloud or ownCloud users. It is designed to help keep you on the right side of data privacy laws, but it also serves as a handy solution to sending large files via email.

1. Cloud Service Login

The first time you click the Cloud Share button after starting Outlook, you will need to supply a valid set of credentials to connect to your Nextcloud or ownCloud server.

Once completed, this step will not be required again, as long as Outlook remains open.

Network administrators have the option to enforce the server address via group policy. If this is configured users will not be able to change the specified server address.

Cloud Service Login

2. Select Files To Share

The files available in the secure attachments library are listed here, click the check-box next files you want to share via email.

New files can be uploaded by dragging them onto the list or via the Add button. Old files can be removed by highlighting and deleting them.

Items displayed in green are files with an active download link. They can be chosen and shared again, but doing so will invalidate existing email links.

Select Files To Share

3. File Sharing Options

Various password protection and link expiry options are available depending on the level of privacy the data demands. If a password is required it will be randomly generated.

Setting a download expiration date is recommended, as a belt and braces means of protecting the download link once it has been sent.

Network administrators have the option to preselect the sharing mode setting via group policy. However, users retain the ability to ignore the default setting and choose their own instead.

File Sharing Options

4. File Share Results

The file share results summary is only displayed for password protected downloads where the 'Don't email password' option was selected.

This is a good time to notify the intended recipient of the password and the last chance to make a note of it.

Any other file sharing option combination will skip this step and move straight on to creating the email.

File Share Results

5. Shared File Email

An email containing the download links will be generated automatically. It will include details regarding the expiry date and information on obtaining the password where applicable.

If the download links are password protected and the 'Send password in a separate email' option was selected, a second email containing the download password will also be generated.

If required, both emails can be modified to suit before sending.

Shared File Email

The Outlook Cloudbar is designed to integrate with both ownCloud or Nextcloud as the back-end file sharing platform but, if you don't already operate one or other, it can be difficult to decide which way to go.

Both are stable open source projects available in enterprise and community editions with good support and can be hosted on-premises for free. It is probably fair to say that Nextcloud is more community focused and so may be more suited to use in schools, but they are both strong products.

This page is offered by way of an introduction to both platforms. There is no recommendation as to which is the more suitable product, we leave the choice in your hands.



ownCloud Home Page Nextcloud Home Page

The first release of ownCloud was in March 2010, but it did not gain a lot of traction in schools until version 4 in May 2012 when support for LDAP and encryption were added.

It has an established user base, particularly in the enterprise marketplace. It seems to have survived the Nextcloud exodus by retaining its customer base and focusing on its core file sharing facilities.

Nextcloud came into being in April 2016, as a fork of the ownCloud project, when the majority of the development team left ownCloud because they felt it was overly focused on enterprise support, at the expense of the community.

Since then it has developed far more rapidly than ownCloud with the introduction of many new features, such as on-line collaboration and audio/video conferencing.

ownCloud Wikipedia article

Nextcloud Wikipedia article