by November 29, 2012 0 comments

Cloud computing needs no introduction. You may not know, you are probably using the “cloud” if a separate entity is hosting your data, but you are the owner of the data. While companies like Google and Microsoft entice you to utilize their free cloud services, wouldn’t you feel safer if your data was within your arm’s reach? This is where the concept of personal cloud comes in.

Personal Cloud: why should you go for it?

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Instead of outsourcing your cloud storage needs to third-party vendors, why not build your own cloud in your own home? With some personal cloud hardware and a network connection, this becomes a distinct reality.

According to Michael Gartenberg (Research Director, Gartner), ”Consumers will define their own sets of personal cloud services with regard to communication, collaboration and media consumption, despite vendors trying to control the digital ecosystem.” A personal cloud can be setup by using hard-disk and sharing it over a secured network, such that only the user with the right credentials will be able to access the data through any personal device, from a PC to a smartphone. Usually, the personal cloud will provide a web interface, so it can be accessed from any device with a web browser and data connectivity. We have a look now at some key differences between a personal and public cloud solution.

1) Security of data

Public cloud providers do not totally disclose the security protocols guarding your stored data, because the security used may be proprietary to them. Many of these service providers also disclaim any liability to your data if it is compromised, as stated in the legal agreement with the user. Whether these providers snoop through your personal data is also a shady area, with ample discussions on the web about popular providers facing lawsuits for selling personal info to advertisers. However, with personal cloud, one knows exactly the level of security protecting one’s data. Also, knowing the physical location of your sensitive data is a huge plus for a lot of people, as it enables additional control.

2) Cost in the long run

It’s clear that cloud computing is here to say. Within the next couple of years, we may even be booting our operating systems from the cloud! Hence, the personal cloud may be the best way to invest for the future. For example, according to our research, a year-long subscription to Google Drive for a 1TB storage space is approximately US$600. On the other hand, a personal cloud solution, like Iomega’s Home Media Network Hard Drive, costs just US$170! Hence, if you are an intensive cloud storage user, it obviously makes economical sense to go for the personal cloud solution!

3) Speed of access

This is one area in which the public cloud could be a clear winner. Companies like Amazon and Google are equipped with fast commercial connections, while most people’s home network connections are nowhere near as fast. This makes it particularly frustrating to download or stream large files from outside your home, as it will put an enormous strain on your home network’s bandwidth capability. Streaming that HD video show through a personal cloud just got a little bit tougher, didn’t it?

4) Draining the power

Another advantage with a public cloud solution is that the user does not need to concern themselves with power usage or downtime of the provider’s data centers. However, running a personal cloud demands attention to energy usage, unless you are ready to be extremely liberal in terms of your electricity bill. Personal cloud solutions will involve some kind of hardware that you will need to keep powered on 24/7, probably along with your PC, if you wish to have 24/7 access. This may prove cumbersome for folks who are concerned about energy usage at home. Although it’s not really like running a full-fledged data center, it is something to consider.

Go personal, or go public?

While both have their sets of pros and cons, the personal cloud may be a better option for someone very concerned about the security of their data. Although Google does encrypt data between the host machine and its servers, the data remains unencrypted on their servers. This may be something undesirable for people who wish their data to remain encrypted 24/7. On the other hand, a public cloud solution means that you can leave the maintenance of servers and technical know-how to the guys at the provider’s end. You will not have to mine through manuals to set up or maintain the personal cloud. Hence, it really is up to the individual if they wish to trade off a certain level of insecurity for the convenience of public cloud storage. In our next segment, we will present a DIY guide to implementing your very own personal cloud.

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