For this article I’m going to use the term Cloud and Cloud computing to mean “an awesome service” that is available from any computer and hassle free, which is super convenient. I understand why people use them. As I just said… they’re awesome. I’m going to point to two good ones. Gmail and Dropbox. Get your email or files anywhere you want. Very simple, very useful.
You do and you don’t need to use cloud services. You can host your own email and you can host your own Owncloud instance. There is a problem in that we’ve sleep walked into ADSL internet for the last ten years, where your upload speed means you can’t really download files from your house quickly. To offset that issue, I rent a server on the Internet and run my owncloud instance on that.
I personally feel rather uncomfortable with Google hosting my email and working with intelligence companies and advertisers because I feel that email allows you to be profiled quite accurately. It shows who you talk to and what you say. It can also work out who you are on Facebook or Twitter. It knows who your bank is and maybe your electric and water companies. It knows what things you buy online. What books, what flights, what hotels and essentially what holidays. It knows the websites you sign up for and sometimes what collection of passwords you use. Your C.V., possibly your dating site and why other people are a good match for you. Undoubtedly your address along the way and the company you work for. All of this is picked in your average users’ mail account.
Anyway, End rant. You know what they have. You’ve chosen convenience and you like the company. Well.. you like them now. And they’re free now. Will you ever change your mind? I feel like people may be unwittingly walking into a lock-in situation. I think these cloud providers are playing “the long game” and it’s all well and good saying that it’s nice they host your files but when you’re at > 40GB of data moving that somewhere else is incredibly tough. Tougher than most of you realise. Tough enough, you probably won’t even bother and accept you’re locked in. Pay money you don’t want to, for a company that may heavily lobby political parties against your best interests.
Right now I’m copying a directory from my computer to my NAS. I’m using wifi because that’s what we do these days and it’s slow. I cancelled a copy command to use the Internet for something else and now I’m left holding a diff program to see what files did get copied and which ones need to be copied over manually again. It’s so annoying and this is a simple job. I couldn’t imagine doing something like this with a larger service. Yes I could script this or actually read the documentation of a program like rsync which could do it for me but I’m lazy.
When I bought a NAS I was incredibly hesitant. I know it shares a file system on the network and it has a few media streaming capabilities. They are generally quite expensive and I didn’t know if it could actually do what I wanted. So what follows are some screenshots of my NAS’s interface, giving you an idea of whether the technology has come far enough for you to use it. For me, and to avoid lock-in this the state of NAS’s devices is awesome enough that it’s the right time for me to switch. I’ve clearly got the cloud stuff I want. Maybe this post will encourage you to follow my lead?
In summary I was incredibly shocked by what a complete and finished product this is. It’s an excellent device and worthy competitor to cloud services. With my growing digital footprint and with a mail server to back up, it definitely felt worth sharing.
Phillip Taylor, 29th Sept. 2014