NAS, Cloud or External Drive – Storage for all your Cat Videos

Today we have a more choices for storing our files, pictures, videos and music; from the old reliable External Hard Drive to Network Attached Storage (NAS).  But which one is the right choice for you?  Which offers the greatest flexibility?  And which one is the most affordable for your storage needs?

Let’s take a quick look at each storage option available.

  External Hard Drive Cloud Storage NAS
Cost Fixed Free/Subscription * Fixed **
Initial Set-Up Easy Easy Moderate
Scalable NO YES YES and NO ***
Remote Access Through Remote Desktop
or VPN connection
Streaming media Within Home/
Local Network
Apps available  NO Through Cloud Service YES

* Most Cloud Services offer a certain amount of space for free.  Once you reach that limit you have to pay a subscription fee for more space which range anywhere from $6.99 to $9.99 per Terabyte per month

** Preconfigured NAS devices have a fixed cost; Diskless – See notation below.

***   Diskless systems allow the replacement of individual drives when they become full or fail.  Preconfigured NAS devices are similar to external drives and are not scalable, when you reach their limit you have to buy a new one.

External Hard Drive

External Hard Drives have been around for a long time.  They’re easy to set up and offer a good amount of storage space for the dollar.  As we have become a more mobile society connecting to them remotely is a bit trickier and less than ideal.  But they still offer a solid choice for backing up our files and media.

Cloud Storage

Cloud based storage offers a great deal of flexibility compared to an external hard drive and they are becoming more popular because of that.  Sharing files and media with friends and family is relatively simple with the Cloud.  But while Cloud based storage is becoming more trendy there are some drawbacks, minor ones but still drawbacks.

  • Security Cloud
    Services have had some hiccups with personal accounts getting hacked and being leaked to the public (many celebs will attest), but this is something they are working on and have made improvements.
  • Streaming Media
    There are some Cloud Services that are still less than ideal for streamimg media easily. That too is changing and in time almost all should be able to offer some kind of streaming ability.
  • Ongoing Costs
    As noted, Cloud Services offer a certain amount of space for free.  But when that limit is reached you have to pay a monthly fee for additional space.
Network Attached Storage (NAS)

What is NAS?  In its simplest terms; NAS is one or more Hard Drives housed in a device that lets all users within a given network access to files, media, and storage.  Unlike an external hard drive that has to be attached to a computer to function properly, a NAS does not.  A NAS Device is attached directly to your network through your router.

Today’s NAS devices have evolved into a blend of Cloud and External Hard Drive giving you the best of both worlds and a great deal more for the Tech Savvy, more to come.  They are incredibly powerful devices.  But they also require a bit more management than the other two.  However, that is not necessarily a bad thing as NAS devices typically offer a great deal more flexibility than the other two.

  • Remote Access
    Many of the NAS devices today offer remote access so you can access your files, music and media from anywhere.
  • Stream Media
    The consumer devices available today offer Apps such as the Plex Media Server for streaming music and movies across your local network or remotely.
  • Apps
    Depending on the Brand purchased most will come with a few standard apps like HTTP/FTP download apps etc. But as this storage option becomes more affordable several third party developers, such as PLEX, are developing apps to work with these devices that further extend their abilities

No matter which one you feel is right for you, they each have their own strengths and weaknesses.  But your choice should be on what you intend to use it for the most and how much time and money you’re willing to put into it.