External storage for home and business usually begins with the purchase of a USB drive connected to your PC. My first was a portable western Digital 300MB, USB 1 standard, which I still use today.

As my storage requirements changed, I moved to a 500MB USB device and when the space ran out a small 2TB NAS (which is painfully slow), which was all good since I was only trying to find a storage solution for those movies, holiday snaps and camcorder footages.

Then, I soon discovered that Cloud Storage services (Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox) are great for collaboration, but hopeless for larger files.

Have you ever tried to sync your holiday videos to iCloud or Dropbox?

Don't hold your breath, the last time I tried this took 14 hours before it had failed and asked me to try again.

If you may ask, well unfortunately most people forget that most ADSL have a maximum upload of 800 kbps.

Then with a growing number of cloud service accounts, passwords, and larger files that were created from my PC, and some DVDs for backup, I then had to turn on and connect to a TV to watch HD movies, which caused me to keep on hunting for a long-term solution.

With a little bit of research, I discovered there was an entire range of mid-sized NAS boxes, which in addition to storage would solve a lot of other problems I had no answer for. Firstly, they run VMWare / Hyperstation images, web servers, home automation, and surveillance; second, they automate organizing my files and media, plus surveillance, web tech and much more.

These boxes can do more like those of the big servers we have in the office, but in tiny little boxes. They don't have keyboard or monitor (which you can connect if you wish) so they can be placed in a discrete corner and blend into the household decor. At the time there were two manufacturers  QNAP and Synology specializing in this technology, the other manufacturers could manage large storage, but lacked the other capabilities.

CloudBox  - One Person's Evolution from Simple USB Storage to CloudBox Technology CloudBox  - One Person's Evolution from Simple USB Storage to CloudBox Technology

Both QNAP and Synology provide intuitive administration consoles to manage its services, and Synology (as of 2016) was only providing units with a maximum memory of 2GB, making them more suitable for home use (virtualization was very slow with 2GB of memory). QNAP by comparison has 4 units, 8 units of memory and fast processors, making them a lot more useful. QNAP also has larger units, which is 16 and 32Gb of memory and larger expansion units making it scale well into small business use cases.

Faster Network speeds in the Home

After setting up a QNAP 8MB or memory device with 4 x 6TB of RAID hot swap storage, I discovered other unforeseen benefits. Transfer speed on/off the device through its 4 x 1GB LAN adapters (two of which are set as a virtual switch so I get one LAN connector that handles 2GB simultaneous transfer), and when coupled with a power line connector between the CloudBox and my HD TV, all my WiFi disconnection issue disappeared.

For years, I was the home technician restarting the router, the Wi-Fi and the PC to reestablish connection. However, the transfer of larger files to the HDTV and other PCs was so quick that it did not require my home router/Wi-Fi (which only has a small powered computer inside) to act as a high-speed switch when network traffic is high. Therefore, packets did not get lost, people did not have to restart and renew DHCP leases because everything suddenly just worked.

Virtualization

With its ability to set up one or more Windows, having Linux servers means that I can run the business and the productivity software without another PC chewing up energy, thus making my home warmer in summer while I hum in the corner when the kids are out and to give myself some time to relax. Plus, these machines are available anywhere 24/7 from the PC or a mobile device. My SOHO business had two Amazon AWS servers that we no longer used, but I wanted to keep them for reference. No problem! Just convert them to a VM, download and run on my CloudBox for free!

Home Automation

Most cloudboxes comes with free surveillance software, so all you need is a few low cost IP cameras in your business. The QNAP comes with a server to run internet of things’ devices (iOT) which according to an article last January 2016 was limited to turning on/off lights, electrical appliances, controlling sound systems. However, all of that is set to change with large manufacturers who are investing profoundly to commercialize new and recent innovation.

Summary

In conclusion, my CloudBox is not just a network-attached storage (NAS). The high reliability of hot swap drives and automated backup and its low-cost set up is very comforting, which I found much better than those I had tried earlier which suggested for me to try out new ideas quickly without spending much time and money.

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