The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
Storing files in the cloud provides convenience and security. Having a second (or more) copy of a file stored some distance from your computer provides a lot of safety in case of hard drive crashes or accidental deletions. Cloud-based file storage services include Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, OneDrive, Amazon S3, Amazon Glacier, iDrive, SugarSync, Box, SpiderOak, and probably a dozen or more others. However, all of these services have one thing in common: they store your files on other companies’ servers. Many individuals and almost all corporations are reluctant to do that for security reasons. They simply do not want to keep their secrets on someone else’s servers.
Luckily, there is an easy answer: store your files on your own servers or on rented servers that are TOTALLY under your control, not accessible to anyone else, not even to hackers.
Instead of trusting someone else to keep your files safe and secure, you can create a privately-owned equivalent of Dropbox and the other commercial file storage services. You can have this private file storage product installed in a computer in your own home, in your employer’s data center, or in a data center where you have a server installed, or you can rent space from a web hosting service.
Wherever you put it, this is space that is encrypted by you and is not visible to anyone else unless you give them the encryption key. Thanks to encryption, even the data you host on someone else’s servers will be invisible to the system administrators of that service. Anyone who does manage to access your data—which is doubtful—will only see something that looks like this:
However, when you log in with your encryption key, you will see everything in exactly the same manner as it was when you stored it on your cloud-based file storage server(s).
The data you keep on your own file storage service will be safer than the data you keep in your own desktop or laptop computer. Also, you can either keep all your data secret to yourself or you can share bits and pieces of it with others, as you wish. You can also create your own multi-user service and assign separate (and private) file storage areas to other family members or to your organization’s staff. Each person can have his or her own private and secure space and still have the option of sharing selected files, pictures, videos, music, and more with others, if desired.
Still another option is to have items stored in your file storage service automatically copied to your other computers and also make them available to your iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. You can save documents, pictures, videos, music, and more on your desktop computer or take pictures with your smartphone and have them automatically copied to your private file storage server as well as to your desktop computer, office computer, and other devices.
In other words, the file storage service you create can operate just like Dropbox or Google drive with only one significant difference: YOU control everything; you are not dependent on the whims of the folks at Dropbox or at Google.
I created my own cloud-based file storage service this week and have now moved almost all the items I previously had stored in Dropbox, Google Drive, SpiderOak, iCloud, and elsewhere to my new file storage server in the cloud. All my files, pictures, videos, music, and more are now available in my own private cloud and are automatically being copied (or replicated) to my two desktop computers.
In addition, I specified that some of the files, pictures, videos, music, and more should automatically be copied to my laptop computer. My laptop’s hard drive is too small to keep copies of everything, so I only synchronize a few of its high-priority folders with my personal file storage service. (If needed, I can manually retrieve anything else on the file storage service that I might want within a few seconds.) In addition, any of the 500,000+ items in my private file storage in the cloud can be retrieved to my smartphone or tablet computer as desired, wherever I am, as long as I have a cellular or wi-fi Internet connection available.
The same personal cloud-based service also (optionally) keeps track of my calendar, includes cloud-based word processors, spreadsheet programs, music players, video players, email services, and much, much more.
The total cost of all this? $1.68 US (€1.50) per month for up to 25 gigabytes of storage space. In fact, I probably will soon switch to annual billing in order to make it just a bit cheaper: $20.14 a year (€18) for 50 gigabytes. That works out to be $1.19 a month. Even more space is available at very low prices.
I was a bit surprised and impressed at how little technical expertise was required to create all this.
The total time required to set all this up? A couple of hours.
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