Storage Backends

External Storage Backends

This section shows how a standard app can provide external storage backends. To do so, requires several steps. These are:

To save time, however, you can learn from an existing example, by reading through the source code of the FTP external storage app.

Configure the Filesystem Type

First, the /appinfo/info.xml must be adjusted to specify the type as: filesystem. For example:

Implement the Storage Class(es)

Next, you need to create a storage class. Usually, you should implement the interface \\OCP\\Files\\Storage\\IStorage. But, the easiest way is to directly extend \\OCP\\Files\\Storage\\StorageAdapter, as it already provides an implementation for many of the commonly required methods.

Here’s an example of how you would create one that implements all the filesystem operations required by ownCloud, using a fictitious library called FakeStorageLib.

For this example we mapped the available storage methods to the ones from the library. Note that, in many cases, the underlying library might not support some operations and might need extra code to work this around.

When extending StorageAdapter, it is good practice to implement the following methods, for performance reasons:

  • file_exists

  • filetype

  • fopen

  • getId

  • mkdir

  • opendir

  • rmdir

  • stat

  • touch

  • unlink

If you don’t, your storage backend will still work. But, it will likely not perform as well as it could. In the case of the rename method, this is because it uses a combination of a stream copy plus a delete for renaming a file.

Stat/Metadata Cache

To create a mature implementation, we need to consider stat and metadata caching. Within a single PHP request, ownCloud might call the same storage methods repeatedly, due to different checks which it needs to carry out. As a result, there is the potential to incur significant overhead, when working with the underlying filesystem.

To avoid — or at the very least reduce this — a stat/metadata cache should be implemented, if the underlying library does not support stat/metadata caching. To do this, the metadata of any folder entries which are read should be cached in a local array and returned by the storage class’ methods.

Writing a Flysystem Adapter

Instead of writing everything by hand, it is also possible to write an ownCloud adapter based on a Flysystem adapter, as external storage. You can see how it was done in the FTP storage adapter.

Create the Backend Adapter

After implementing the storage class, a backend adapter needs to be created. To do that, create a class that extends from \\OCP\\Files\\External\\Backend:

Definition Parameters

Flag Description


No flags (default)


For optional parameters

Type Description


Text field (default)


Masked text field, for passwords and



Boolean / checkbox


Hidden field, useful with custom


Authentication Schemes

Several authentication schemes can be specified.

Scheme Description


No authentication supported


Authentication is provided through

definition parameters


Support for password-based auth,

provides two fields user and

password to the parameter list


OAuth1, provides fields app_key,

app_secret, token, token_secret

and configured


OAuth2, provides fields client_id,

client_secret, token and configured


Public key, provides fields user,

public_key, private_key

Custom User Interface

When dealing with complex field values or workflows like OAuth, an application might need to provide custom JavaScript code to implement such workflow. To add a custom script, use the following in the backend constructor:


This will automatically load the script /js/script.js from the app folder. The script itself will need to inject events into the external storage GUI as there is currently no proper public API to do so.

Register the Backend Adapter

With the backend adapter created, it next needs to be registered. This can be done in the Application class by implementing the IBackendProvider interface, as in the example below:

:include: examples/storage-backend/OCA/MyStorageApp/AppInfo/Application.php

Then in appinfo/app.php instantiate the Application class:


$app = new \OCA\MyStorageApp\AppInfo\Application();

Test the Storage Backend

Once the steps above are done, you should be able to mount the storage in the external storage section.

Create Custom Storage Backends

The preferred way for applications to create new storage backends is to create a subclass of \OC\Files\Storage\Common and implement the abstract methods. It’s also possible to create storage backends by implementing the required interface.

However, by sub-classing the common backend a lot of the boiler plate is taken care of. What’s more, it provides common implementations and fallbacks to reduce the amount of work it is to create a storage backend.

Required Methods

All storage backends sub-classing the common storage backend must implement the following methods:

Method Description


Creates a new folder on the storage.


Deletes an existing folder on the storage.


Opens a directory handle.


Retrieves the metadata for the file or folder. The returned array should, at least, contain mtime and size.

ownCloud does not preserve directory mtimes (modification time), though it does update file mtimes.


Returns the file type; either file or dir.


Checks if a file or folder exists.


Removes a file or folder. This isn’t only for deleting files, unlike PHP’s unlink method.

fopen($path, $mode)

Opens a file handle for a file

touch($path, $mtime = null)

Updates the mtime of a file or folder. If $mtime is omitted the current time should be used.

Suggested Methods

The common storage backends provide fallback implementations for a number of methods to make them easier to implement. However, some of fallback implementations are either inefficient or don’t always provide the correct result for custom storage backends. Given that, please consider overriding one or more of the following methods:

Method Description

rename($sourcePath, $targetPath)

Renames a file. The default implementation uses copy and unlink which is very inefficient.

copy($sourcePath, $targetPath)

Copies a file. The default implementation copies using streams. This is inefficient for remote storages as it downloads and re-uploads the file.


Checks if a file is readable. It defaults to true if the file exists.


Checks if a file or folder can be updated. This includes being written to or renamed. It defaults to true if the file exists.


Checks if new files can be created in a folder It defaults to isUpdatable($path).


Checks if a file can be deleted. It defaults to isUpdatable($path).


Checks if a file can be shared. It defaults to isReadable($path).


Checks the free space on the storage in bits.

Other Useful Methods

The default implementation for the following methods are good for most storage backends. But, providing an alternate implementation can improve user experience.

Method Description

file_put_contents($path, $data)

Stores a file on the storage. It defaults to using fopen($path, 'w').


Retrieves a file from storage. Defaults to using fopen($path, 'r').


Retrieves the mimetype of a file or folder. Defaults to guessing the mimetype from the extension. The mimetype of a folder is _[required] to be 'httpd/unix-directory'.

hasUpdated($path, $time)

Checks if a file or folder has been updated since $time. If you’re certain the files on the storage will not be updated outside of ownCloud you can always return false to increase performance.


Retrieves the Etag for a file or folder.

verifyPath($path, $fileName)

Checks if a filename is valid for the storage backend. It defaults to checking for invalid characters or names for the server platform.

Copying and Moving Between Storage Backends

When copying or moving files between different storages a stream copy is used by default. This works well for copying between different types of storages, such as from local to SMB. But, there are cases where a more efficient copy is possible, such as between two SMB storages on the same server. In these cases, storage backends can override the cross-storage behavior by overriding the following methods:

  • copyFromStorage(\OCP\Files\Storage $sourceStorage, $sourceInternalPath, $targetInternalPath, $preserveMtime = false);

  • moveFromStorage(\OCP\Files\Storage $sourceStorage, $sourceInternalPath ,$targetInternalPath);

Working With Streams

Both fopen() and opendir() require storage backends to return native PHP streams for maximum compatibility. ownCloud comes with several classes which make it easier for storage backends to create native PHP streams for backends not supported by PHP’s own streamWrapper.


Icewind\Streams\IteratorDirectory allows for creating a directory handle from an array or iterator.

$fileNames = $this->getFolderContentsSomehow();
return IteratorDirectory::wrap($fileNames);


Icewind\Streams\CallbackWrapper wraps an existing file handle, and allows for hooking into file reads and writes, and closing streams. The most common use case for this class in storage backends is for implementing fopen() with writable streams. This is because writing to and closing streams happens outside the storage implementation. As a result, the storage backend needs a way to upload the changed file back to the backend. This can be done by attaching a close-callback to a stream for a temporary file.

$tempFile = $this->downloadFile($path);
$handle = fopen($tempFile, $mode);
return CallBackWrapper::wrap($handle, null, null function() use ($path, $tempFile) {
    $this->uploadFile($tempFile, $path);

Storage Wrappers

Besides implementing a complete custom storage backend, ownCloud allows for modifying the behavior of an existing storage by applying a wrapper to it. Storage wrappers need to implement the full storage API methods. Examples of storage wrappers are

  • The Quota wrapper. This changes the behavior of free_space by limiting the free space returned by the wrapped storage to a configured maximum

  • The Encryption wrapper. This encrypts and decrypts the data on the fly by overwriting file_put_contents, file_get_contents, and fopen.

When implementing a storage wrapper, the wrapped storage is available as $this→storage. Storage wrappers can either be applied globally to all used storages using \OC\Files\Filesystem::addStorageWrapper($name, $wrapper) or to a specific storage, while mounting the storage from the app. Implementing a storage wrapper is done by sub-classing \OC\Files\Storage\Wrapper\Wrapper and overwriting any of its methods.

Global Storage Wrappers

For using a storage wrapper globally, you provide a callback which will be called for each used storage. The callback can than determine if a wrapper should be applied to the given storage, based on the storage or mountpoint, or whether it needs to return the storage unwrapped.

Filesystem::addStorageWrapper('fooWrapper', function($mountPoint, $storage) {
    if ($storage->instanceOfStorage('FooStorage')) {
        return new FooWrapper(['storage' => $storage]);
    } else {
        return $storage;

Wrappers for a Single Storage

Sometimes an app can avoid having to create a custom storage backend by instead modifying the behavior of an existing one. ownCloud comes with a few generic storage wrappers which might be useful when doing so, which include PermissionsMask and Jail.


\OC\Files\Storage\Wrapper\PermissionsMask can be used to restrict the permissions on an existing storage. A sample use case is to create a read-only ftp backend.

$storage = $this->createStorageToWrapSomehow();
return new PermissionsMask([
   'storage' => $storage,
   'mask' => \OCP\Constant::PERMISSION_READ | \OCP\Constant::PERMISSION_SHARE


\OC\Files\Storage\Wrapper\Jail can be used to limit storage interaction to a sub-folder of an existing storage.

$storage = $this->createStorageToWrapSomehow();
return new Jail([
   'storage' => $storage,
   'root' => 'some/folder/in/the/storage'

A Note on instanceof()

Since storage wrappers wrap an existing storage instead of sub-classing it, it is not possible to determine if the storage is a specific class using PHP’s instanceof operator. Instead, you need to call the instanceOfStorage() method on the class with the fully-qualified class name.

// Only works if no wrappers are applied
if ($storage instanceof \OC\Files\Storage\DAV) {
    // ...

// Works regardless of any wrapper
if ($storage->instanceOfStorage('\OC\Files\Storage\DAV')) {
    // ...

instanceOfStorage() can also be used to check if a certain wrapper is applied to a storage.

Mounting Storages

For an app to add its storages to the filesystem it should implement a mount provider and register it with the filesystem. Implementing mount providers is done by implementing the \OCP\Files\Config\IMountProvider interface, containing the getMountsForUser(IUser $user, IStorageFactory $storageFactory) method, which returns a list of mountpoints that should be created for a user.

class MyMountProvider implements IMountProvider {
    public function getMountsForUser(IUser $user, IStorageFactory $loader) {
        $config = magicallyGetMountConfigurations();
        return array_map(function($mountOptions) use ($loader) {
            return new Mount(
        }, $config);

Registering a mount provider should be done from an app’s appinfo/app.php. Note that any mount provider registered after the filesystem is setup for a user will not be called again for that user.

$provider = new MyMountProvider();