Enabling the Cloud for the Home
Anyone who has used a virtualized system or seen what the Cloud can do has wondered what it would be like to have your own personalized Home Cloud. Most of the time they would think about how cool it would be to get your latest files, media and stuff through any Internet device (read smartphone) without having to worry about DLNA or WiFi settings. However, they’d probably get grounded really quickly after they took a gander at the infrastructure required to do most enterprise or even SMB level Cloud offerings.
Thankfully, there are actually a number of devices that let you have your own personal Home Cloud. Most of these devices are NAS or Network Accessed Storage related and while some are quite interesting and deserve a second look, some others are just not worth the effort. For this article we’ll be covering the latest Home Cloud devices including the Pogoplug Series 4, Seagate GoFlex Home Network Storage System and the Iomega Home Media Network Hard Drive Cloud Edition.
As the latest of these Home Cloud enabler devices, the Pogoplug Series 4 is a plug-in storage system designed to work in tandem with Pogoplug’s existing Cloud storage services. This means that you get 5GB worth of storage space in Pogoplug right off the bat regardless of what or how much storage you plug in. It also means that you have to plug in some storage. Thankfully, you have a lot of choices as the Pogoplug Series 4 allows you to plug in an SD flash memory card, a 2.5-inch SATA hard disk drive (following the Seagate GoFlex format) and other USB connected hard disk drives.
Like other Pogoplug devices setup and usage is super-easy, especially when accessing your Home Cloud. Performance is entry-level though, which is quite good for such a small plug-in-type device, all things considered. However, bear in mind that while it does offer NAS type services such as DLNA compatibility and centralized storage it is not a NAS per say and may lack many of the more common NAS device functions and features. The price is by far the most attractive since it’s $99 price tag is much lower than other Home Cloud NAS offerings. Do remember that it is affordable mainly because it doesn’t come with storage hardware of its own. While the extra 5GB cloud storage is a nice addition, most Home Cloud NAS in this range come in at least 1TB.
Since the Pogoplug Series 4 above uses the Seagate GoFlex format we thought it only fair to also feature Seagate’s own Home Cloud offering from their GoFlex Home Network Storage System line. Like the Pogoplug Series 4, the Seagate GoFlex is also a plug-in-type system but it comes with an external hard disk drive that can be plugged in to the GoFlex. There are 1TB, 2TB and 3TB GoFlex external hard disk drives but many tests have shown the system to be incompatible with 3TB drives (which should solve itself once the right firmware update comes out). While it does come with a single USB port it is meant more for a USB printer to be used with the device’s built-in print server rather than another USB external hard disk drive (although this is still possible).
Setup is relatively painless for the Home Cloud service but isn’t very easy to use as the web interface leaves a lot to be desired. Performance is also entry-level but for the Home Cloud function it tends to drop IP rather and has quite slow initial loading times. Its much more reliable as a home NAS offering and for its price of $139 for the 1TB version is quite a good deal for a NAS, just not as a Home Cloud enabler.
Unlike the other two systems the Iomega Home Media Network Hard Drive Cloud Edition is a closed system. This means it comes with a 2TB hard disk drive encased in the upright casing and you won’t be able to access it (or risk voiding the warranty). It packs a bit more power than the other two systems in that it runs on a dual-core processor and has Gigabit Ethernet connectivity. As such the price is also quite high at $179.
Setup for the Personal Cloud function is very easy though and usage is also very easy as it is compatible with Microsoft’s SMB stack (Mac users may have a little trouble at first). While it is still entry-level, the performance is above average for the most part, although it works best in a single server situation. This Personal Cloud system also has a higher degree of control and administrative functions than the other two but as such it does raise the complexity level a bit higher if you want to try these out. The USB port allows you to add another external hard disk drive making it a good NAS and Home Cloud enabler.
Other NAS Home Enablers
The above Home Cloud enabler devices are mostly meant for the average consumer and as such have been chosen mainly for their ease of use in terms of setting up a Home Cloud. Other business-class NAS devices such as those from QNAP and Synology also have their own Cloud functions and as such can be used as a Home Cloud enabler device. Bear in mind though that even entry-level business-class NAS devices are significantly more expensive than their consumer-level counterparts but they also offer more robust performance and a lot more NAS functions and features.
By Muz Ismail
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