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Best Raspberry Pi cloud projects

Learn how your Pi can stream music and act as your personal cloud server

Eben Upton at Rasperry Pi

The Raspberry Pi has taken the world by storm, enabling people to do incredible things. With the launch of the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled Raspberry Pi 3 B, and the slightly rehashed 3 B+ model, you can now harness the power of the cloud.

We've collected some of the top Raspberry Pi cloud projects for personal and business use for you to try out, including headless digital signage, in-home streaming and creating a personal cloud server. 

For some more general Raspberry Pi projects, check out our run-down on sister site IT Pro.

Raspberry Pi NAS drive

Network Assisted Storage (NAS) drives are fantastic tools for storing and backing up your data. However, they've also got a tendency to be power-hungry, and can often prove quite expensive.

With the Raspberry Pi, however, you can use your spare external hard drives to make your own NAS drive. Not only is this cheaper than buying off the shelf, it also drastically reduces power consumption compared to many shop-bought NAS products.

Get yourself a couple of 'dumb' external hard drives, and by following these detailed instructions you can save yourself a couple of hundred quid on an expensive NAS appliance.

Raspberry Pi Privacy route

Credit: Hackaday.io

Anonymising network Tor is beloved of privacy advocates everywhere. You can turn your Raspberry Pi into a router to send all your network traffic through Tor, keeping everything you do anonymous.

For this project you'll also need a WiFi dongle, an SD card of 4GBs or larger, as well as a power source. Just follow the instructions to set up your Pi. You can even slap a battery pack into the finished kit, so you can browse securely wherever you go (although be warned that wireless cards can slurp a surprising amount of power).

Raspberry Pi AI assistant

Official Raspberry Pi magazine The MagPi partnered with Google to release a hardware kit that lets you integrate natural language voice commands with the help of Google's Cloud Speech API and Google Assistant SDK.

The whole project will take around 1.5 hours to set up, but once running it will essentially behave like an official smart assistant, only you're able to supercharge it with additional open source software, or customise commands using APIs.

The kit includes a speaker, microphone and button, as well as a cardboard case to house your own lo-fi version of Google Home. While the issue of the magazine has been and gone, you can still buy the voice kit (£25, thepihut.com) and follow the installation instructions.

Raspberry Pi Wireless extender

Nothing highlights the versatility of a Raspberry Pi quite like Pi-Point project. With a USB Wi-Fi dongle, a microSD card and the Raspberry Pi, you can increase the reach of your wireless signal, create free access points, or even create honeypots

Guy Eastwood has created the excellent Pi-Point website, which takes you through everything you need to know about this project. Follow the link to discover detailed documentation and free downloadable images to help you.

Block internet ads

Fed-up with invasive online adverts taking over your screen? With the Pi-Hole software (pi-hole.net), you can block all adverts on your entire network. Once you've installed the software on your Raspberry Pi, follow the Pi-Hole instructions online to reconfigure your network devices to use your Pi as a DNS server.

Pi-Hole can then monitor all network connections that you make, filtering out any that contain adverts, on any device, and all without having to install any client software.

Raspberry Pi personal cloud server

Cloud storage is an excellent way to make sure all your files are accessible at any time, wherever you are in the world.

Companies like Microsoft, Google and Dropbox all offer robust cloud storage services, but why pay for space on someone else's cloud when you can use your own?

OwnCloud is a free and open-source alternative to services like the ones mentioned above and enables users to set up a Raspberry Pi to act as a cloud server. You can store data on it, and then retrieve said data from any place in the world, without having to go through a third party.

Networking novices be warned, though - the setup process is more than a little complicated, and not for the faint of heart. A full tutorial is available at Pi My Life Up.

Raspberry Pi thin client

Due to its lightweight nature, one of the perfect applications for the Raspberry Pi is operating as a thin client. Rather than doing any heavy lifting on their own, thin clients are designed to remotely access a server over the internet, letting the server take care of most of the complicated processes.

Providers such as Microsoft, Citrix and VMWare all offer VDI software which supports thin client access, but businesses don't need an expensive desktop to access them.

The Raspberry Pi Thin Client project is - as you might guess - dedicated to creating a low-cost thin client solution using the Raspberry Pi. It supports a huge amount of thin client packages, including Citrix ICA, VMWare Horizon, NoMachine, Thinlinx, Spice and more. It also includes compatibility with services like Docky and OpenVPN.

Raspberry Pi in-home audio streaming

Thanks to the rise of the cloud, companies like Sonos have carved out a niche providing in-home streaming solutions, allowing users to wirelessly play music from services like Spotify and Apple Music in any room of the house.

With Pi MusicBox, users don't need to shell out a fortune for their connected audio experience. With just a Raspberry Pi, you can hook up your old-school analogue hi-fi system to play music from Spotify, Google Music, and local and network drives, as well as Apple devices via AirPlay.

Take care, however, as the creators warn that the system is not fully secure, and runs the risk of potentially exposing your Spotify and Wi-Fi passwords if run outside of a firewall.

Raspberry Pi digital signage

For businesses wanting to invest in digital signage, Raspberry Pi can be a highly effective tool. As well as being used for promotion and advertisements, resources such as calendars and analytics can be used in offices and education spaces to improve workflow and productivity.

Screenly is a product that offers businesses a simple way to manage digital signage across multiple deployments. Screens can be set up to display pictures, videos and web pages, which can then be organised into groups and playlists.

A basic version of Screenly is available for free, which allows for one screen, with a maximum of 10 assets of up to 2GB. Greater allowances are available via subscription, starting at $19.95 per month.

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