Is it worth setting up your own cloud at home?

You can build your own networked online storage using your home network. — dpa

Cloud storage services from the likes of Microsoft, Amazon and Dropbox offer access to photos, movies and documents everywhere and on any device as long as you have Internet access. But you can also build your own networked online storage using your home network.

All you need is a USB stick or an external USB hard drive: Plugged into a modern router with a media server, they become a data store for the home network. "Not so long ago, that was relatively complicated," says Hannes Ruegheimer, a home network expert with Connect magazine. "But the manufacturers have learned."

Routers today not only ensure that you can access the Internet at home, they also connect the devices in the home via cable or WiFi and allow the exchange of data between them. One of these connected devices can be a USB stick or a hard drive. But to set up the device for remote access, you'll need to go into the router's settings.

One thing to consider is security. While the major providers of cloud services are obliged to provide security for the data that they store, the home network is the responsibility of the homeowner.

In that case, the most up-to-date software is essential. However, one issue is that the frequency of router security updates varies greatly between manufacturers. Luckily, hackers aren't very interested in a private photos or someone's music collection; what they really are after is sensitive information such as bank account details.

Those details should never be stored in the cloud anyway, regardless of whether it's your own cloud or one provided by a service provider.

Cost is another factor to consider when deciding whether to store your data on the home network or online. A large music or movie collection will easily exceed 100 gigabytes, and from that scale onwards it can make financial sense to build your own cloud.

For comparison, Amazon Drive charges US$12 (RM48) a year for 100 gigabytes of storage, while 1 terabyte costs US$60 (RM242) per year.

A mid-range router costs around US$130 (RM525) and a hard drive around US$60, with the advantage that they can distribute data within the household at high quality. This is especially important for video content in full high-definition resolution and higher.

For that reason, Andrijan Moecker from c't magazine advises buying a high-quality router for the home cloud: "Starting at a price of about €150 (RM704), the processing speed of the router is usually so high that even UHD films can be viewed without problems."

If you want to access data from the home cloud via the Internet while out and about, there's also the question of upload speed to consider.

The router can work only as fast as the speed of the Internet connection allows. "You're only on the safe side with 20 megabits per second upload," Moecker says. And the reality of what a broadband provider delivers often falls far below the maximum speed promised. — dpa
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