A)How to set up your own personal home cloud storage system
Storing documents on file sharing services like Dropbox and Google Drive has become a common practice online in the last five years. In that time, as people create, edit and hoard older data files, they find they are running short of the free space included with an account.
With more and more people opting for either a tablet-only existence or switching from a traditional desktop computer with multiple internal drives to a laptop with a much smaller SSD drive, finding an alternate storage system is important.
At a cost of between $0.05 and $0.10 per gigabyte per month for additional online storage, you can spend anywhere from $500 to $600 per year for just 1 terabyte. As you will see, a more economical solution is to own your own personal cloud hosted on your home network.
Personal cloud considerations
Not every solution to this problem is perfect. The following outlines some of the challenges you may face when managing your own personal cloud.
Upload speed – What is likely to be the biggest deterrent from using a home-based personal-cloud storage system will be your internet provider. When you are away from your home network, the fastest access speed you can expect from a personal cloud will be your internet connection’s upload speed. Looking at data collected by OOKLA, the national average for download speeds is about 21.5Mbps while the upload speed is only 6.8Mbps. For my own home network, those numbers are 18Mbps down and 2Mbps up respectively, which is where they should be according to my provider AT&T U-verse. Before investing in a personal cloud, run an internet speed test to see just how fast, or slow, your upload speeds will be.
Router settings – Your router plays an important part in the equation as well. By design, routers are meant to connect multiple devices on your home network to the internet, and not the other way around. If you happens to have a router that supports Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) you many simply need to ensure that this particular feature is turned on. Otherwise you may find yourself manually configuring the necessary Port Forwarding settings that are unique to each private cloud and router combination. Take a quick look at both products’ support site before you buy. You should find a list of compatible routers that work with the personal cloud product you are most interested in.
Remote access vs syncing – Syncing your files may be just fine when you think of a free Dropbox account. Files are typically accessed from a single user whose account comes with a relatively small amount of storage space. But when you realize that personal cloud based storage can have from 1 to 4 terabytes of space (some four-bay systems with as much as 16 terabytes), syncing is no longer a viable option. Keeping the majority of your files on your personal cloud means that both you and your cloud must be online in order to access your files.
Home computer as a personal cloud
There are of course many different ways to share files between computers and portable devices. With personal cloud software installed on your computer, you can more easily access the files located on your home-bound computer from across the internet.
Polkast is one such service that will allow you to share the files located on just one computer with a free account. Setting up an account and downloading the required software onto your PC or Mac is easy enough and there are apps for both Android and iOS. If you are looking to add more computers to the service, Polkast Pro costs $4.99/month or $49.99/year for an unlimited number of devices.
LogMeIn Pro also has a file-sharing feature in addition to its remote control service. With LogMeIn you not only do you have access to your files, but you can also log in and control your desktop. At $99 per year for the first two computers, it is a little more expensive than Polkast but you may find it a little easier to use.
Spotdox is a unique offering in that it is an add-on application to your Dropbox account. With Spotdox you can access all of the files from your home computer as it uses your Dropbox account to perform a sort of handshake to establish a connection. At $24 per year or $79 for life for an unlimited number of devices, this may be the most economical solution of the three.
Network device as a personal cloud
Leaving a computer on all of the time on your home network may not be possible. All you really need to do is attach just the hard drive to your home network. Such a device is called Network Attached Storage (NAS). NAS devices have gotten a whole lot smarter as they can now easily share their files outside of your home network over the internet.
Transporter was among the first such devices that turned a network attached hard drive into a cloud accessible file sharing device. With their own Selective Sync feature, you can decide which folders you sync and which folders you keep on the device. Starting at just $99 for a diskless version that you add your own UBB drive to, you can also get a 1TB version for $249 or a 2TB version for $349. Transporter is by far one of the easiest personal cloud devices to setup.
Zyxel NSA325 may be a lesser known brand, but has a highly adaptable configuration. Using Polkast as one of its cloud sharing options, you can also install a WordPress server and many other network services including a DLNA media server. It is more like a small Linux server than it is just a networked hard drive. Starting at around $75 for a 1-bay drive enclosure and $175 for a 2-bay enclosure (you supply the hard drives), this setup is geared more towards someone whom is comfortable setting up and configuring electronic devices.
Western Digital MyCloud offers easy setup out of the box like Transporter and yet still has some of the advanced features available in the Zyxel like being a fully fledged DLNA media server too. Starting at $150 for 2TB, $170 for 3TB, and $220 for 4TB, you can elect to move up to WD’s EX4 network appliance that has configurations all the way up to 16TB for $999.
Portable Wi-Fi device as a pocket cloud
A final solution would be to actually carry your cloud based storage around with you. Lacking the ability to create a sharable link on the internet, these devices will attach themselves to an existing Wi-Fi network or will create their own when none exists. This eliminates the complexities of having to deal with upload speeds and router configurations. Think of them more as like an on-demand personal cloud that you can carry around with you rather than leaving one attached to your home network.
Kingston Wi-Drive does not have the same capacity as some of the other personal cloud options, but makes up for that by being accessible in locations where there is not internet connection. With storage capacities of just 32 GB for $80 and 64 GB for $99, you end up paying a premium for the convenience of being accessible anywhere.
SanDisk Connect Wireless Media Drive takes things one step further by also allow you to connect to an inserted SD memory card. With a price point similar to that of the Kingston at $80 for the 32 GB and $99 for the 64 GB, having the ability to add-on storage makes the SanDisk a better option.
Corsair Voyager Air is a little bit larger than either the Kingston or the SanDisk, but with that increase in size comes an increase in storage capacity. You can also attach the drive to your home network with an Ethernet cable. Priced at $180 for a 1 TB drive, byte for byte it is definitely the most economical solution of the three.
B)Top Personal Cloud Storage Systems
It’s never been easier to store large amounts of data in the cloud
by Bradley Mitchell 2016
We never seem to have enough storage space to contain all of our files and data. That personal computing devices and home networks often don’t possess enough built-in storage space to handle all of our data is nothing new. Over the years, however, network storage solutions have been developed to help with this:
- USB keys (sticks) and external drives
- Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices
- cloud storage services on the internet
Each kind of network storage technology has advantages over the others, and Cloud storage has become especially popular as multiple providers now offer convenient internet-based services that can automatically transfer data from computers, tablets, and phones both at home and while roaming.
That Internet cloud systems send copies of personal data to unspecified far-away locations raises concerns over security and control. Vendors of Internet cloud systems put effort into improving their security safeguards, but these systems are a high-profile target for network hackers, and so the risk of breaches remains. Additionally, being reliant on a corporation to have access to one’s own data is not ideal.
Cloud Storage Systems
A special category of products offers cloud storage systems that combine the best features of both internet cloud storage and NAS devices. Instead of relying on remote data hosting, these systems support large amounts of local storage together with options for controlled online sharing.
Personal cloud storage systems are also available that offer large amounts of storage space for individual users at reasonable prices—and many offer a starter level of storage that is free—that do not require special hardware such as purchased storage drives. These services allow you to store files and data in the cloud and access them from multiple devices, such as laptops, desktops, smartphones, and tablets.
The following personal cloud storage systems are popular and represent internet cloud services that do not use special hardware like a storage drive, and those that work with devices that connect to a home network router via Gigabit Ethernet cable and support a range of Microsoft, Apple, Android and other clients.
Apple’s iCloud storage service offers free and paid subscriptions. As more iOS mobile apps and Apple devices become more interconnected, iCloud provides users with space where data can be stored and accessed by multiple devices.
Users with an Apple ID also have access to the base, free level of iCloud storage.
Dropbox offers both personal and business cloud storage options. Dropbox offers a small personal starting package for free, and users who have larger storage needs can purchase larger storage capacity subscriptions.
It was reported in 2016 that Dropbox was hacked and 68 million users’ account data was stolen in 2012.
Box (formerly Box.net) is a cloud storage service that offers free cloud storage as well as paid subscription storage for both personal and business users.
04)Western Digital My Book Live
The base personal cloud storage system from Western Digital includes a single 1, 2 or 3 terabyte (TB) capacity drive and the WD 2go (www.wd2go.com) portal for remote file access. The vendor also produces 4 and 6 TB My Book Live Duo models featuring a two- bay configuration, which provides (RAID) redundancy options in the drive setup to improve overall reliability of the system. Free WD 2go apps for both iOS and Android have proven popular with customers and are reasonably well-rated.
LaCie offers versions of the CloudBox external storage drive with 1 TB of storage up to 4 TB.
The vendor supports a remote access environment called MyNAS that enables users of a home network to access data on the unit remotely. The remote access services are reachable through the company’s MyNAS portal (mynas.lacie.com), and Apple devices can also be set up to run through an iOS app of the same name.
Available in 2, 3 and 4 TB capacities, Seagate Central is an external drive unit with cloud storage features similar to other products in this category. Free Seagate Media apps for iOS and Android provide client access for streaming video from Central (along with its support for other Seagate devices), while access.seagate.com provides remote Web-based file level access.
The company additionally has produced an app that runs on Samsung Smart TVs enabling streaming from Seagate Central to the television, billed as the first consumer storage device to offer such a feature.
07)D-Link ShareCenter Cloud Storage
D-Link offers the mydlink (www.mydlink.com) portal for remote access to its ShareCenter family of NAS enclosures—the 2-bay Cloud Storage 2000 (DNS-320L) and 4-bay Cloud Storage 4000 (DNS-345) models—not to be confused with D-Link’s other NAS products. Depending on the drive storage capacities chosen (drives can be purchased separately), these Cloud Storage systems may support up to 8 TB (via two, 4 TB drives).
Online reviewers give mixed feedback on these systems, some dissatisfied with the vendor’s customer support, although D-Link backs the product with its 3-year limited warranty.