Sunday, January 05, 2014

Second Thoughts on Having a Personal NAS

A year ago I finally took the plunge and joined Amazon Prime. What a happy prison it is. Good discounts, fast shipping, and lots of incentives to buy an Amazon Kindle tablet. But that's not really what I wanted to write about. It's fallout from being in the happy prison that has caused me to question whether my approach to having a personal NAS is a good idea.

So here's what's happening: I'm now buying a lot of ebooks from Amazon. I've got a Nook HD+ tablet so I also buy them from Barnes and Noble. I also have found my way on to some nice free ebook mailings. And I have digital magazines on Zinio. And comics on Comixology. And more ebooks on Steam, and some on Humble Bundle, and some more from Groupees and still more on BundleHunt. I also have a few loose ebooks on my local drive, managed by Calibre.

Do you begin to see the problem? In a world where technology is supposed to make life easier, I now have several more accounts and passwords to remember, and the sad truth is I'm probably not going to read but half of those ebooks, and that's being optimistic.

"So wait," you ask, "isn't this exactly why you got the NAS? To put all that content in one place and be able to access it from any device?" Well, sort of. The effort involved in transformation of that data from the commercial cloud to my personal cloud is sort of a pain in the ass. It's more effort than memorizing ten passwords.

When I use Amazon's cloud service for storing my MP3's or Microsoft's SkyDrive or DropBox for a commercially provided network storage, it's really convenient. Security, infrastructure, capacity and maintenance are all someone else's problem. I do get the point of the personal NAS: I have full control of my content and if Amazon goes out of business (unlikely) or Microsoft decides to pull the plug on SkyDrive or change it into something else (less unlikely) then my content is still safe on my own hardware. Not to mention that if any of the data is sensitive such as client information, it's better on my own device than on someone else's.

But for non-sensitive materials, I'm not sure having a personal NAS is really that big a deal. I love the Synology Diskstation I have, but it wasn't free. And it's not free to maintain, although as you've learned from my last several entries, harnessing additional functionality was really cool.

I think what I need is for someone to write a consolidation app that pulls all of this together. In the meantime, I've got a Frankenstein of a storage approach. And you know what? Even with all their problems, the happy prisons that Amazon and Steam give me for all those books, music, and games are awfully comfortable and I'm glad to have them.

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