Google Photos alternative: How to create your own cloud at home – Times of India


Cloud services like Google Photos, Drive, OneDrive, iCloud, almost made us forget how we used to manage our photos and videos in the pre-smartphone era. Days when we used to take backups manually and stored them in the pen drives and external drives.
Cloud service has almost convinced people to move on to a more modern, simplified and easy-to-use option which not only allows unlimited storage for our photos (Google Photos) but also offers the convenience of sharing them with others in just a click as well as accessing them across all the devices.
However, last November, Google announced changes in its storage policy for Google Photos. Starting June 1, Google has ended unlimited storage in Google Photos. Post this, all photos backed up in Google Photos will be a part of the 15GB storage that comes with every Google account. This means that this 15GB storage will be shared with other Google services like Gmail, Docs and Drive. This means users no longer get unlimited storage for their photos.
This brings us to look at alternatives that can offer more storage. The most common and easy solution appears to be buying additional storage from Google or any other cloud service provider. However, while this is a good idea, the long-term costs are not really cheap.
Let’s do simple Math. For 100GB of additional storage, Google One costs Rs 1,300 per year and for 2TB Rs 6,500 per year. Now, in the long run, let’s say 5 years this figure becomes Rs 32,500 and still you will have to keep paying to continue using the service.
If you one calculates, buying additional hard drives and storing photos in them may prove relatively less expensive. You can get a 2TB external drive for around Rs 6,000 or even less. You have this much storage with you forever, no additional cost, no monthly subscription.
What if you can configure these hard drives with the internet and access them anywhere and everywhere across all the platforms. Well, that brings us to our second solution — creating your own cloud service at home using the broadband connection and router you already own.
This is where you need to create a local NAS at home. Let’s understand the idea behind the entire system.
What is Network Attached Storage (NAS)
As mentioned, the NAS is secure personal cloud storage for your data which works somewhat similar to Google Drive, OneDrive or any other cloud service. It gives users the ability to store, manage, share and access content locally or remotely from all your devices. In simple terms, an external hard drive is connected to the internet via ethernet cable.
Network Attached Storage (NAS): Setup and features
NAS systems are available in different formats. You can either buy pre-configured ones from brands like WesternDigital or Seagate and download the compatible software or app on your laptop or smartphone and start using it.
Alternatively, you can get NAS unpopulated enclosure with open bays where hard-disk drives can be inserted to add to the total storage capacity or replace drives.
They require an IP/TCP Ethernet network to work which is present in all the routers and modems. It also provides controlled access to your data over local Wi-Fi and the Internet.
NAS devices with more than one HDD bay support RAID for data redundancy which makes it a reliable option for taking backups. Also, they support automatic backups just like Google One claims to offer.
Let’s understand the RAID configuration. It basically creates a clone of your primary hard drive which reduces the risk of losing data in case something goes wrong with the primary drive. You can simply replace it with the other drive and all your content and data will be transferred to the new drive automatically.
NAS systems work across all the operating systems and devices. You can access your data from anywhere in the world using the compatible app or software or by creating FTP servers. For instance, if you are using Western Digital NAS devices, then you’ll need to download the WD Cloud app to access data.
What are the benefits of Network Attached Storage (NAS) setup
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  • Affordable and flexible storage option
  • Easy to expand storage capacity
  • Easy to set up and works with standard Ethernet connection
  • Automatic backup of all the connected devices on the local network
  • Works with RAID configuration
  • Gives users complete control of permissions, restricted access and more.
  • These systems can be configured from 2TB to 28TB at home

Drawbacks of Network Attached Storage (NAS) setup

  • High initial setup cost
  • More risk of losing data compared to cloud storage
  • Requires good internet connectivity and stable electricity
  • May not be as fast as cloud storage
  • NAS solutions are limited in terms of the number of users or devices that can access files at the same time.

The real question is how do they work and are they as good as the cloud services offered by Google, Apple, Microsoft and others.
As already mentioned, a NAS is hard drives connected to the internet just like it happens with any cloud data centre. The difference is you are using it on a small scale. Which makes it totally personal and solves two problems — chance to get hacked and limited storage
You can even configure a media service using a NAS. Services like Plex allow you to set up a home media server. That means you can simply transfer all your content, movies, videos, photos and configure it on your TV to access them directly from your local cloud storage.
The real deal is freedom from monthly subscription programs. For the price of this, you can create a 4TB cloud storage at home and this may last you years, of course, depending on how you use it.





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Sagar Biswas

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