The choice of how to store your personal digital data used to be simple. As long as your hard drive was big enough, you kept it on your computer and if you needed more space, you stored the data on an external storage media. This usually meant copying the data to a USB drive or burning it to a CD/DVD.
These days, you still have these options, but the number of choices has grown significantly and just archiving the data somewhere at home no longer meets everybody's requirements.
Share in the moment
For certain situations, direct attached storage with super fast transfer speeds is a must. However, for many people living in today's mobile world where news can often be outdated in a matter of hours or even minutes, it is often more important to be able to access and share files right away.
Going home, starting up a personal computer, attaching or inserting the external storage media and then sending the files by e-mail is simply too slow and cumbersome. The files have to be accessible anywhere and anytime!
Your personal cloud
There are numerous ways to make your data accessible over the internet. You can go the very public way and post your photos and videos on the social network (e.g. YouTube, Facebook, Flickr). You can buy a subscription to an online storage space and pay for your data to be stored in the cloud. Even your mobile phone and smart phone is a storage device, quickly filling up with snapshots and video clips that can easily be shared with your friends.
However, each of these solutions not only have their advantages but also their disadvantages and this is where getting your personal cloud gets interesting. The personal cloud allows you to store all your digital data in a centralized location, securily tucked away somewhere safe in your home. You decide how much of it you want to share and with whom, either going very public and posting it directly on the social network, keeping it among your friends with invites or very personal just for yourself.
There are no recurring fees. You pay just once to purchase the hardware and hard drive (as large or as small as you want) and then simply hook it up to the internet. Remote access is already included and free, so there are no hidden monthly costs or additional fees. Also, because both hardware and data are located in your home, you have full control over it and always know exactly what's going on and who has access to it.
Specs & technical jargon can be confusing
Yes, at the heart of the personal cloud is a NAS (network attached storage). It supports SMB, WebDAV and FTP; it supports DLNA, DDNS, UPnP and much more. But, whereas this network jargon might be interesting and important when comparing different network drives, it's just not relevant enough for the personal cloud and how it is used in real life. As an example, the transfer speed on the local network when mounting the network drive via SMB is just not as important compared to other functions and features.
What counts is how easy it is to access the data and that it's always available, no matter where and no matter on what kind of device. So, without mentioning any technical jargon, as long as there is an internet connection, you can access your media files on the personal cloud as follows.
- From your Mac at home, wired or wireless
- From your Mac in the office via web browser
- From your PC at home on the local network
- From your Notebook on-the-road
- From any network enabled computer with a web browser (e.g. Safari, Firefox, Chrome, IE)
- From your smart phone (iOS or Android)
- From your iPad or Android tablet
- From your PS3 game console
- From any DLNA compliant client at home
- Through iTunes on your local network
Even though this introduction to the personal cloud is fairly long, setup is extremely quick and with just a few simple steps. Install a hard drive, let the system format the drive and you are ready to go. No need for complicated network configurations or router setup (with some exceptions depending on the network environment). Simply connect the device to the internet, open your web browser and login to your device using its MAC address or your preferred device name.
Personal Cloud series from AKiTiO: