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. Several types of network storage
solutions have been developed over the years to help with this problem including
- 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. 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.
A special category of products called personal cloud storage systems attempts to 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. The below personal cloud storage systems are popular, representative products in this category. All of the devices listed connect to a home network router via Gigabit Ethernet cable and support a range of Microsoft, Apple, Android and other clients.
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. Lack of Android app support for the CloudBox may be a serious drawback for some.
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.
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.