You’ve decided to take the plunge into sharing digital storage between your computers, tablets, phones, home theater PCs, etc. Fantastic. It may seem like overkill, but as I’ve pointed out before we have so much to capture, share and download from the Internet, while keeping all the old artifacts will eventually lead to problems with storage space. You may have started this mess long ago and simply limped along with a numerous band-aid solutions but now it’s time to get serious. Let’s begin, shall we?
Two roads diverged in a wood and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. (Frost)
When looking at a storage solution for yourself, I find it’s best to start of by asking a simple question:
Do I want to buy something off the shelf or make something myself?
Do you have the time and are you tech savvy enough to create your own storage solution, or would you rather buy something from a vendor and avoid the minutia of technical details? What are the consequences of each path?
For those who are tech savvy and want to dive into the technical details, you’ll reap some benefits such as:
- Save some money (YMMV) in comparison to most vendor based solutions
- Usually more flexibility versus off-the-shelf solutions
- The ability to upgrade your solution to a greater extent than vendors can with their products
With these benefits come the usual downsides:
- No one to call for help if something goes wrong
- More time to setup and get going; maintenance may be required
- May be a steep learning curve
If you’d rather avoid said downsides, buy your way to a vendor-based storage solution for:
- Less setup time and hassle versus building your own
- Technical support given per your vendor of choice warranty policy
- Typically set-it-and-forget-it interaction; low-to-no maintenance
The downsides of buying a vendor-based solution:
- More costly. Period. The more options, flexibility and support you want, it will cost you dearly
- Technical support isn’t always a cure to all ails
- You are at the mercy of the manufacturer’s technical choices which may affect you later as time goes on
It’s not an easy picture to paint, but you should take to heart the importance of the first step: how do you want to create your storage solution. It should be a simple decision for yourself. Be selfish. It’s your data. It’s your money. Experts and friends be damned. And furthermore, be creative! If you have some ideas of how you want your storage to work, now is the time to get imaginative and let lose some crazy ideas. The crazier the idea, odds are, you’ll need to build it yourself.
So what features would you want in your own storage solution? In the next article, I’ll cover some of my experiences in building my own storage.