Gadgets, Geek, History, Reviews, Tech

Best Cloud Storage Hard Drives

The cloud has made data accessible and convenient – anywhere, on the go, for a reasonable price! From simple storage to a complete internet tax prep system, the cloud has revolutionized so many aspects of our day-to-day lives. However, some users still don’t feel completely safe trusting some cloud server on the net handle their precious data, and trust the company to prevent data loss and backups. Thankfully though, you have more options. With the rise of the cloud it has also helped develop the Network Attached Storage market – giving you the ability to have your own little data center – or your own personal “cloud” attached to your business network – protecting your data in house with the same conveniences as what the cloud provides as far as accessibility across your devices and teams.

What Is Network Attached Storage?

It is nothing new, but here is a brief explanation of what we are talking about today.

Network-attached storage (NAS) is file-level computer data storage server connected to a computer network providing data access to a heterogeneous group of clients. NAS not only operates as a file server, but is specialized for this task either by its hardware, software, or configuration of those elements. NAS is often manufactured as a computer appliance – a specialized computer built from the ground up for storing and serving files – rather than simply a general purpose computer being used for the role.

As of 2010 NAS devices began gaining popularity as a convenient method of sharing files among multiple computers. Potential benefits of dedicated network-attached storage, compared to general-purpose servers also serving files, include faster data access, easier administration, and simple configuration.

In the early 1980s, the “Newcastle Connection” by Brian Randell and his colleagues at Newcastle University demonstrated and developed remote file access across a set of UNIX machines. Novell’s NetWare server operating system and NCP protocol was released in 1983. Following the Newcastle Connection, Sun Microsystems’ 1984 release of NFS allowed network servers to share their storage space with networked clients. 3Com and Microsoft would develop the LAN Manager software and protocol to further this new market. 3Com’s 3Server and 3+Share software was the first purpose-built server (including proprietary hardware, software, and multiple disks) for open systems servers.

Inspired by the success of file servers from Novell, IBM, and Sun, several firms developed dedicated file servers. While 3Com was among the first firms to build a dedicated NAS for desktop operating systems, Auspex Systems was one of the first to develop a dedicated NFS server for use in the UNIX market. A group of Auspex engineers split away in the early 1990s to create the integrated NetApp filer, which supported both the Windows CIFS and the UNIX NFS protocols, and had superior scalability and ease of deployment. This started the market for proprietary NAS devices now led by NetApp and EMC Celerra.

Starting in the early 2000s, a series of startups emerged offering alternative solutions to single filer solutions in the form of clustered NAS – Spinnaker Networks (acquired by NetApp in February 2004), Exanet (acquired by Dell in February 2010), Gluster (acquired by RedHat in 2011), ONStor (acquired by LSI in 2009), IBRIX (acquired by HP), Isilon, (Comanter), (acquired by EMC – November 2010), PolyServe (acquired by HP in 2007), and Panasas, to name a few.

In 2009, NAS vendors (notably CTERA Networks and NETGEAR) began to introduce online backup solutions integrated in their NAS appliances, for online disaster recovery.

So as you can see, the NAS has been around for a while – only recently has it expanded it’s horizon into the realm of a true cloud setup. If you do just need a cloud storage service though, be sure to consult the Top 10 Compared Cloud Storage Reviews before you commit to anything to make sure you get the best, most reliable service possible.

Cloud Alternatives

If you want the best of both worlds though, there are alternatives to the cloud, that provide top notch security and peace of mind that your files are safely within your reach – as well as backed up and accessible over a network or via the web on the cloud then we’d recommend a nice NAS setup. Another advantage of going this route is the money you will save on monthly plans with cloud services – pay up front and enjoy your own personal cloud service for years to come!

You also get privacy. Many corporate or professional agencies cannot use Dropbox-style storage due to HIPAA or legal concerns. Sending data to third-party sites in the cloud can violate security best practices or even some laws. With NAS, you not only own your data, you control it, ensuring you limit who can access it remotely (and who can’t).

Just like choosing cloud storage though, it can be hard to find the right solution for your local data storage plan – well you are in luck! Today we round up some of the best Cloud storage capable hard drives that would make a great addition to any network! So dig in and enjoy the power of these devices!

WD My Cloud 2TB Personal Cloud Storage

From a trusted and recognizable hard drive brand – Western Digital – comes this x-box looking quality low-cost entry-level network storage device. It is surely very impressive both in performance and features, making it one of the best deals for home users that need expandable storage as well as access to files from your mobile devices.

Transporter Private Cloud – 1TB

As the name suggests, it is your own private cloud! Just like Dropbox with more capacity at a fraction of the cost and 100% private, the Transporter will automatically sync all the files you choose between your computers. You can privately share and collaborate on entire collections of files with anyone you want. There is no limit on file size, file quantity, or number of people sharing and accessing all of your files via mobile devices anytime from anywhere in the world.

Seagate Central 2TB Personal Cloud Storage NAS

This little guy was made to be your central entertainment hub that looked good enough to put in your living room alongside your other entertainment devices. Easy to setup with only one Ethernet port and USB expansion slot. Just use your WiFi router to connect and load it up with photos, videos, music, files and backup. This one supports streaming music and videos from the device to your gaming consoles, media players, DLNA-certified devices and some smart TVs. If you need your files on the go, no problem, just use a web browser or free app on tablets and smartphones.

Seagate Central Review – Compared to WD My Cloud – Network Hard Drive

Transcend Information Storejet Cloud 64 GB

One of the cheapest cloud storage hard drives in the list! If you need your own personal cloud storage on a budget, this one is probably going to be your best bet – doesn’t get much cheaper under $60. It offers you most of the features you can find on the other devices with 64 GB of internal SSD storage capacity. You can get up to 6 hours of continuous playback and share content with up to five devices simultaneously. There is an iOS app and direct streaming playback capability for movies, music, photos and other files. Looking at the reviews, the interface is a little clunky so its probably not the easiest to use, but for that price you get what you pay for, but it works for the price.

LaCie 5big NAS Pro Diskless

This is one of the big boy solutions, so if you have a small business or need a heavy duty solution, this one won’t break the bank but its surely more expensive than some of the personal options in this list. The Lacie provides up to 200MB/s with dual-core 2.13GHz Intel processor, a single interface for local/cloud storage and remote access, and quick integration and user-friendly management. It also offers offsite backup for ultra security! Have peace of mind even if something happens to your data server.

NETGEAR ReadyNAS 316 6-Bay Diskless Network Attached Storage

Another industrial grade solution to private cloud storage, this Netgear provides safe and easy backup for all your computers and mobile devices as well as the ability to stream movies and music with DLNA, iTunes, & PLEX. Like the other devices this one also comes with a free mobile app. Enhanced peace of mind with automatic RAID protection against disk failure as well as an exclusive snapshot feature for recovering past versions of a file – so it comes with its own version control, how cool is that?

Iomega 1 TB Home Media Network Hard Drive Cloud Edition

Another mid-range contender, the Iomega offers comparable features with its easy to setup design. The Personal Cloud feature allows you to easily share content with friends and family outside of your home using the exclusive Iomega Personal Cloud. Invited guests will have access to read and write to files and folders on your network drive! (most of the hard drives included here have these basic features)

Synology DiskStation 5-Bay Diskless Network Attached Storage (NAS) with iSCSI/DS1513+ (DS1513+)

One of the highest end storage devices on the list, the Synology packs lots of high end features such as four LAN Ports with Link Aggregation Support, it can Scale Up to 60TB with Synology DX513, it has expandable RAM Modules (Up to 4GB), CPU Passive Cooling Technology and System Fan Redundancy, VMware, Citrix, Microsoft, Hyper-V Ready!

WD My Cloud EX4 Diskless: High-performance NAS, Ultimate reliability

Probably the most bang for your buck high performance NAS setup you can get – won’t break the bank but its super heavy duty. If you are looking for usability (the mobile app is award winning) and reliability then look no further than this beast of a western digital storage cloud!

We hope we helped you narrow down your choices and find the right storage solution for you, whether it be cloud storage, or your own personal NAS setup with cloud capabilities. Have a setup you love? Found a great cloud capable hard drive that we missed? Let us know in the comments below, and as always, Thanks for reading!

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