There is a distinct reality that faces people who use regular computers as part of their personal or business media workflow. This is where they use the desktop media management software like iTunes, Windows Media Player, iPhoto or Windows Live Photo Gallery to curate the media collection that is on the hard disk but transfer it out to a network-attached storage device for safeguarding and continual avaiability. This could extend to us integrating content hosted on an online storage service like Dropbox or GMail.
This is being augmented by the trend with these devices effectively becoming the hub for our home media networks. But what happens is that we could do something like import photos from a digital camera or a smartphone; scan 35mm and Polaroid snapshots; rip content from optical disks or simply buy content from online services on a “download-to-own” basis, with all this content ending up on the hard disk. Typically the content is managed and curated on the regular-computer’s hard disk so as to provide fast and reliable data transfer through this process, before it is copied over the network.
But we have to make a routine out of synchronising the material that we prepare on our computers to the NAS and do this very frequently. Typically the task involves us synchronising the material using the file-system tools or third-party backup / file-sync tools. We then have to repeat this process if we update the metadata such as adding location and people tags to the pictures or simply reposition files to different folders.
Some of us may even adopt a storage strategy where we keep newer material on the computer while older material resides on the NAS. This may be done as a way to conserve the hard-disk space occupied by our media. Similarly, those of us who use laptops on the road may want the hard disks on these machines as a staging post for our media, whether to keep selected music or video content to have on the road or a temporary download point for our digital pictures like I did with the Acer Aspire S3 when I used it on my Sydney trip.
I would like to see an improved ability with media-management software to allow for integration of “off-system” resources as part of our media workflow rather than just a viewing location. This could be implemented with rules-based synchronisation that could work on a schedule, especially when we shut down the computer or put it to sleep. The file-modified test would be based on whether a file was new or had its metadata modified.
Similarly, it could be implemented through the positioning of a NAS or collection of NAS devices as primary storage locations while the local hard disk and online storage locations serve as secondary storage locations.
This may not just involve desktop media-management software but also involve working with file-synchronisation / data-backup software and data management software that is part of a network-attached-storage device or online storage service.
I am reviewing the Seagate GoFlex Home network-attached storage system which I had first seen in action at the Australian Audio and AV Show at the Melbourne Marriott Hotel. Here, this unit was working as a DLNA media server for a small network that was to feed music to a Naim ND5 network media adaptor component.
Now, due to my WD MyBook World Edition network-attached-storage becoming full, I had wishlisted a network-attached storage device as a birthday gift and received this unit as a gift.
Prices (may change as you seek better deals)
3Tb hard disk
2Tb hard disk
1Tb hard disk
Consumer Network Attached Storage
1 detachable hard disk
USB or similar connection to connect directly to a host
USB Device Connection
Type x quantity
UPnP Internet Gateway Control
Features and Protocols
SMB / CIFS
DLNA / iTunes
Remote NAS Sync
The Network-Attached Storage System itself
The Seagate GoFlex removable hard disk module
The Seagate GoFlex Home network-attached storage system is based around Seagate’s “GoFlex” detachable hard disk setup. Here, the hard disk is housed in a module that clips on to a connectivity base. This could allow people who have the smaller-capacity units to upgrade to larger-capacity variants by purchasing the larger-capacity disks. Similarly, one can easily replace a failed or damaged disk unit by buying the replacement GoFlex module and clipping it on to the base.
The base that connects to the power and home network – USB, Gigabit Ethernet and power
Like most consumer NAS units, the Seagate GoFlex Home can be difficult to set up without the use of the software that comes on a supplied CD. This is although you can discover the NAS using the UPnP abilities in Windows XP onwards so you can get to the setup screen. The CD-supplied “Seagate Dashboard” software hasn’t been updated for Windows 8, so anyone running that software on this operating system will get an error message to that effect.
I was still able to work through the setup routine using the NAS unit’s Web interface but the Seagate required you to determine its own login parameters and couldn’t learn any existing login parameters that existed for other NAS units or network shares on the operating environment.
Where the hard disk module drops in to the base
The only time you can create a distinct identifier is through the setup process. This is reflected in the NetBIOS / SMV network name that is visible in the Network View for Windows. It is also reflected in the DLNA server list as <Network_Name>:UPNP-AV. Personally I would like to see this made available in the management menu so you can get the name right especially if you have multiple GoFlex Home or GoFlex Net devices on the same network.
The Seagate GoFlex Home uses the SMB / CIFS (Samba) method of sharing its disk resources which is expected as a standard with Windows, MacOS X and Linux.
For backing up your computers, there is the supplied Memeo backup software. But you can use your operating system’s backup software like Apple’s Time Machine or the Windows Backup for this task.
The supplied DLNA Media Server abilities have it that the media library is indexed by the date or the folders. There is the ability to have the DLNA server share particular folders in the Public tree which can be good for funnelling what appears on your Smart TV. This setup can improve the library-aggregation performance and reduce the number of confusing “non-media” files appearing in your media list that appears on that smart TV.
When you discover this NAS on your DLNA client device, the server appends “UPnP-AV” to the NAS’s name to remind you are looking at the device’s DLNA server and the media behind it.
The Seagate GoFlex Home NAS yielded a consistent throughput of 500Mbps when transferring data from the existing WD MyBook World Edition to it. Of course, it is worth remembering that a connection’s rated speed like the Gigabit Ethernet’s capability is really the medium’s link speed.
For media streaming, I had observed that the GoFlex could yield a smooth and reliable experience with audio and video content. This was in both the experience with a similar unit at the Australian Audio and AV Show in 2010 and with this unit when I ran one of the “how-to” demo video found on this unit through our Samsung Smart TV.
As for operating noise, I had noticed very little of this even through the data transfer between the two NAS units. There was a bit of buzzing but this was due to a hard disk being active as data is being transferred to it.
Limitations and Points Of Improvement
A similar Seagate GoFlex Home single-disk network-attached storage working at a hi-fi show as a DLNA server
Here, I would like to see Seagate implement simplified device naming, including access to this function in the setup menu. This would then apply to what it is known as in the “cloud”, on the network and via your DLNA-capable media devices.
As well. Seagate could implement always-available “public folders” that don’t need you to supply credentials to login. This can be useful if you are wanting to run this device as a “content pool” for drivers, PDFs and similar material or you need “non-computer” devices to gain access to a shared resource.
Like a lot of consumer network-attached storage devices, this could support “cloud-driven” NAS-to-NAS data synchronisation / backup. It could come in to its own with units located at secondary locations or as secondary storage for a business-tier NAS.
I would recommend that one purchases the Seagate GoFlex Home network-attached storage as either an entry-level network-attached-storage solution or a secondary network storage point for their home network. This could be as a simple backup solution, a file-transfer point, a communal file pool or for sharing media content to DLNA-capable devices.
Business users can see NAS units of the same calibre to this one work well as a DLNA media server for serving images or videos to a few endpoint devices, or simply as a secondary network file storage for less-critical files.
There is a new trend that is affecting how we store data on our home computers and in our home network.
The three-island trend
This is the existence of three data islands
The main secondary storage that is part of our regular or mobile computing devices
A Network-attached storage system or a removeable hard disk.
The NAS would serve as a network-wide common storage destination as well as having ability to serve media data to network-capable media playback devices without the need for a PC to be on all the time. On the other hand, the removeable hard disk simply is used as an auxiliary storage destination for a particular regular computer.
A Cloud or remote storage service
The remote storage services like Dropbox or SkyDrive are typically used either for offsite data backup or as a data drop-off point that exists across the Internet. Most of these services work on a “freemium” business model where you have a small storage capacity available for free but you are able to rent more capacity as you need it. Some of these providers may work alongside hardware or software partners in opening up increased storage space for users of the hardware or software sold by these partners. In the same case, the remote storage services are increasingly offering business-focused packages that are optimised for reliability and security either on a similar freemium model or simply as a saleable service.
The role of file-management and backup software
Previously, backup software was charged with regularly sending copies of data that existed on a computer’s main secondary storage to removeable storage, a network-attached storage system or, in some cases, remote storage services.
Tiered data storage
Now this software is charged with backup not just out to removeable or local-network storage, but to be able to set up storage tiers amongst this storage and remote storage. This is a practice that is familiar with large-business computing where high-cost high-availability storage is used for data that is needed most, cheaper medium-availability storage for data that isn’t as needed like untouched accounts with the cheapest, slowest storage media used for archival purposes or for data that doesn’t change.
The remote storage and the NAS or removable storage can each serve as one of these tiers depending on the capacity that the device or service offers.
Remote storage serves as temporary data location
In some cases, the remote storage may exist simply as a data drop-off point between a backup client on a portable computer and a backup agent on a network-attached storage device as part of a remote backup routine. Here, a user may back up the portable computer to a particular share in something like Dropbox. Then an agent program built in to a small-business or high-end consumer NAS would check that share and move or copy the data from Dropbox to the NAS.
Similarly, a remote storage service could work alongside a locally-installed network-attached-storage and another NAS installed at another premises for asynchronous data transfer between these devices. This can be useful if one of these devices isn’t always accessible due to unreliable power or Internet service.
In the case of that small business that starts to add branches, this concept can work well with sharing business data such as price lists or customer information between the branches. Businesses that work on the “storefront-plus-home-office” model could benefit this way by allowing changes to be propagated between locations, again using the remote storage service as a buffer.
Remote storage serves as a share-point
In some cases, a remote-storage service like Dropbox can permit you to share data like a huge image / video album between multiple people. Here, they can have access to the content via a Web page or simply download the content to local storage. In some cases, this could be about copying that image / video collection of a wedding to the “DLNA” folders on a NAS so they can view these pictures on that Samsung Smart TV anytime.
What does the software need
Backup software needs to identify file collections that exist in a backup job and make the extra copies that appear at different locations, whether as different folders on the same target drive or at a different target location. Similar a timed backup job could also encompass synchronisation or “shifting” of other file collections to one or more target locations.
Similarly, the backup routine isn’t just about “copy and compress” files to a large metafile before trransferring it to the backup destination. It is about working the collection file-by-file according to the destination.
You could do this with most software by adding extra backup jobs with different parameters. But this involves creating more large metafiles with most backup software. Here, file-synchronisation software could perform the job better by working at the file level.
Support for remote data storage in a NAS
Some network-attached-storage devices, especially those that work on an application-driven platform, work as clients to remote storage services. Here, this can cater for off-site file replication or “data-fetching” setups without a desktop or laptop computer having to be on all the time.
In some setups where portability is considered paramount, the idea of a NAS using remote data storage can allow a user to temporarily hold files destined for the remote data storage service on a NAS that is offline as far as the Internet is concerned. Then the NAS is just connected to the Internet to synchronise the files with a remote storage service.
Similarly, a media file collection that is shared via a remote data storage service like Dropbox may then end up on a NAS primarily to be made available to DLNA client devices at all times as well as not occupying precious disk space on the computer. This may be relevant for one or more large video files or a collection of many photos from that special occasion.
As we start to see the concept of the “three-island” data storage arrangement in our home and small-business networks, we well have to be able to work with these arrangements whether by copying or moving the data between the different storage “islands”.
Seagate GoFlex Home single-disk network-attached storage – an example of an entry-level NAS
As you outgrow an existing network-attached storage device that isn’t upgradeable, you may think of buying a newer higher-capacity NAS.
The older NAS is a secondary network data storage
This is something I have done lately as I outgrew the Western Digital MyBook World Edition’s 1Tb capacity and received a 3Tb Seagate GoFlex Home NAS as a birthday gift. Here, I was able to move my “work” data and system backups to the GoFlex while running the My Book World Edition as a DLNA Media Server for my photos and music. I could run either of these units as part of shifting data between two computers or run the My Book also as a data store for drivers, anti-virus, service packs and similar computer-service needs.
Spreading data storage across multiple units
Here, you don’t need to get rid of the older NAS, but run it as a secondary unit. For example, you could simply move most of the data like backup data or work-in-progress data off the older unit to the newer unit and run the older unit as a media server or simple data drop-off point. This can come in handy if you have to shift user-created data from that old half-dead laptop to that shiny new fast laptop before you retire it, or keep a collection of drivers and service packs for when you have to install new computers.
Separating business and personal data
In some cases, you could move business data to the newer NAS and have personal data on the older unit so you can segment the units easily for tax or corporate reimbursement purposes.
Your children and their data
The same situation can also be a boon for your teenage or young-adult child where they can keep their data and file-based media on the older NAS. Here, it then makes it easier for them to shift their data out with them when they grow their wings and leave the family nest. Here, they can use this device with a DLNA-compliant media player to play out their music at their new location as well as operating it as extra / backup storage space for their computer.
Media storage in another location
Similarly, you may be responsible for another small home network such as one at your vacation or seasonal home; or the “family house”. Here, the older network-attached storage unit could serve as the hub of a DLNA-based network media setup for this location with similar media content, especially music and video, at that location.
Auxiliary data storage at your small business
The small NAS that has been supplanted by your larger or more flexible unit can work as an auxiliary storage service for your small business. An example of this is to keep a small-business NAS working the mission-critical data with high security while you have the small NAS doing tasks such as being a DLNA media server in the context of a smart TV or Blu-Ray player providing cost-effective digital signage for your business.
Therefore it doesn’t mean that you have to retire that small one-disk network-attached-storage device when you outgrow it and buy a newer better unit.
Small business can now move towards what the “big boys” at the top end of town are doing courtesy of LenovoEMC (Iomega). This is through the latest firmware update for the StorCenter ix and px series of small-business network-attached storage systems.
Here, the business can benefit from “virtualisation” where the network-attached storage system can become effectively two or more servers with dedicated performance to these servers. This can appeal to the small business who wants to run various “headless” servers on this device like a database server or a Web server.
Similarly the NAS units can implement solid-state-drive caching in order to speed up data throughput on these systems. There is even the ability to implement solid-state RAID arrays in order to assure higher capacity or failsafe operation.
As well the systems can offer snapshot backup ability so as to grab an “image” of volumes of data across the system at particular moments in time.
What I am amazed about is that this kind of functionality is available in the “breadbox” and “pizza-box” NAS units that can appeal to the small business and the IT value-added resellers that pitch these businesses. In some cases, these systems could continue to serve as a business grows and has different needs. It also is an example of technologies that were just used to satisfy the big end of town filtering down to the smaller operations.
Before the rise of Internet-hosted online gaming setups, we saw the existence of multi-player multi-machine gaming setups that existed either peer-to-peer with a cable or a local area network.
What was valued about these setups was that you could establish ad-hoc local games challenges ranging from connecting up a pair of PlayStations to each other towards the huge “LAN party” frag-fests with players playing various games on many overclocked PCs connected via a business-grade Ethernet network to a games server in a large room that is hired for that party. In some cases, it could include a Bluetooth link between two phones or PDAs to play a game while on a train or over a coffee at that café/
There were advantages like being able to play against people you know well, through having the network game become a feature for a party to the ability for a venue to host their own challenges based on these games.
As we have moved towards the online games model, we have drifted from the localised multi-machine gaming model. But we can re-integrate the localised model with the online model if the game or situation allows for it.
One approach would be to create local teams, gaming challenges or play spaces for your immediate area. These would require users with the online accounts to be aware of and play with the teams, challenges or spaces. They could be locally authenticated using GPS, network discovery or manually through the user entering in a seat number or room number for the local challenge.
Another way of facilitationg these local challenges is to “go hybrid”. This is where you have the online gaming setup but you also have a local games server available to a local network, which could be the function of a high-end network-attached storage device. This local server can team with the online server either to cache activity when the online link is a slow link or to host the local challenges.
This concept of local-network gaming may go against the dream for the purely cloud-driven online lifestyle but can allow for increased opportunities for developing the network-gaming concept further. It doesn’t matter whether you are at home, run a public-access network or want to take gaming further than the online gaming services.
Previously, I commented on a news article about Sony releasing a NAS that allows you to upload pictures from your Android device just by touching the device to this NAS. Now, Sony have premiered this device along with another mobile NAS at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year.
But there are two devices rather than the one device. The former device that I touched on previously allows you to upload photos, videos and other content to its 1Tb hard disk using USB file transfer, NFC or SD memory cards so you can effectively “dump” your pictures and videos from your smartphone, camera or camcorder, thus making way for new material.
The Personal Content Station can play the images to a regular “brown-goods” flatscreen TV using an HDMI connector or you can make them available through your home network using the open-frame DLNA standards. I would also like to be sure that you can transfer the images between your PC and this device using standard network file-transfer protocols like CIFS or HTTP. Of course there is the ability to use an accompanying app to “throw” the images to a social network, blog or other Website using your smartphone or tablet.
As well, the Portable Wireless Server can share the content you have on a USB storage device or an SD card to its own wireless network so you can quickly share “just-taken” photos with your smartphone, tablet or Ultrabook. This is becoming important with devices like the Dell XPS 13 which doesn’t come with an SD card slot or the detachable-keyboard hybrids that have a standard SD card slot only on the keyboard module.
The Sony Portable Wireless Server also works as an “external battery pack” for the many battery-thirsty gadgets that are important to our mobile online life. This is so true if you are dealing with the smartphone that serves as your mobile Internet terminal or your Walkman.
At least Sony is fielding devices that work as a team to satisfy the reality that confronts us through our online content-creation lives.
I was impressed with the Sony Personal Content Station which is an elegant ceramic-white device that works as a 1Tb mobile NAS for your mobile devices and, perhaps, your home network.
One feature that stands out is to be able to use NFC-based pairing to permit device-to-NAS file transfer between an NFC-equipped Android handset or tablet and this device. Of course, it works as a Wi-Fi NAS for other devices and you can of course upload from a USB-connected device or dump the contents of your SD “digital film” card to this device.
There is the ability to show the content on a TV whether directly-connected via HDMI or via a DLNA network connection. Of course, a good question worth raising is whether the Personal Content Station could interlink with an existing home network as a media server / NAS or simply be one of many devices of this ilk that are their own network. This includes whether a Wi-Fi Direct transfer could occur while the Personal Content Station is connected to the home network.
Another question yet to be raised is whether “other” NFC-initiated Wi-Fi-Direct file transfer software like Samsung’s S-Beam could do the file-transfer job without the need to install Sony’s software. This could avoid the need to “crowd out” an Android phone with many of these apps to suit different devices. Similarly, I would prefer this device to support any DLNA “media-uploader / media-downloader” standards so you can move content between this device and similar devices; and your mobile handset or digital camera via Wi-Fi by using one piece of software.
A network-attached storage can come in handy for storing software updates rather than downloading them frequently
Operating system and application developers are now being required to provide updates for their products during the product’s service life and beyond. This is to provide for a computing environment that is performs in an efficient, secure, reliable and optimum manner. The updates may be released at regular intervals such as on a monthly basis or in response to a situation such as the discovery of a bug or security exploit.
A common situation that happens with most regular and mobile computing devices when a user takes delivery of them is that the user downloads a large data package to bring it up to date. This may be done many times if multiple units running the same platform are purchased.
Similarly, a household may have multiple units running the same operating environment and they have to keep these up to date. The typical example of this may be a family with two or three children who are at secondary school. Here, they may have two or three computers for the children to use as well as one computer per adult. This could be brought about with the older child being given a more powerful computer as they enter senior high school or another computer given to the younger children as they start their secondary school.
But the same bandwidth would be used again and again to update each and every device. This may not be a problem for a couple with one device per adult but would be a problem when you are thinking of environments with more than two devices which is fast becoming the norm.
Using a network-attached storage to locally cache updates
Somehow the network-attached storage devices need to be able to support the ability to locally hold updates and patches for operating systems and applications used in computers on a home or small-business network.
The practice is performed frequently with large-business computer setups because of the number of computers being managed in these setups. But it could be practiced with home and small-business setups using a simplified interface. This could be based on the use of a local-storage application for regular or mobile client operating environments which supports this kind of local updating.
A local client application to manage system-update needs
Here, the local-client software could register which operating environment the host computer runs and what eligible applications are on the system so as to prepare an “update manifest” or “shopping list” for the computer. The “shopping list” would be based on the core name of the software, no matter whether different computers are running different variants of the software, such as home laptops running Windows 7 Home Premium while a work-home laptop runs Windows 7 Professional. This manifest would be updated if new applications are installed, existing applications are removed or changed to different editions or the operating system is upgraded to a different version or edition.
A local software manifest held by the NAS
This manifest is then uploaded to the NAS which runs a server application to regularly check the software developers’ update sites for the latest versions and updates for the programs that exist on the “shopping list”. There could be a “commonality” check that assesses whether particular updates and patches apply across older and newer versions of the same software, which can be true for some Windows patches that apply from Windows XP to Windows 7 with the same code.
At regular intervals, the NAS checks for the updates and downloads them as required. Here, it could be feasible to implement logic the check the updates and patches for malware especially as this update path can be an exploit vector. Then the computers that exist on the network check for new software updates and patches at the NAS.
Such a concept could be implemented at the client with most regular and mobile operating systems and could be implemented on network-attached storage devices that work to a platform that allows software addition.
It would also require software developers who develop the operating systems and application software to provide a level of support for update checking by intermediate devices. Initially this could require setups that are particular to a particular developer being installed on the client device and the NAS, but this could move towards one software update solution across many developers.
A change of mindset
What needs to happen is a change of mindset regarding software distribution in the home and small business. Here, the use of local network storage for software updates doesn’t just suit the big business with more than 50 computers in its fleet.
It could suit the household with two or more children in secondary school or a household with many young adults. Similarly a shop that is growing steadily and acquiring a second POS terminal or a medical practice that is setting up for two or more doctors practising concurrently may want this same ability out of their server or NAS.
The NAS shouldn’t just be considered as a storage device but as a way of saving bandwidth when deploying updates in to a household or small business who has multiple computers on the same platform.
These network-attached storage devices could be part of a personal data-replication cloud
Whenever the “personal cloud” is talked of, we think of a network-attached storage device where you gain access to the data on the road. Here, the cloud aspect is fulfilled by a manufacturer-provided data centre that “discovers” your NAS using a form of dynamic DNS and creates a “data path” or VPN to your NAS. Users typically gain access to the files by logging in to a SSL-secured Web page or using a client-side file-manager program.
But another small data cloud is often forgotten about in this class of device, except in the case of some Iomega devices. This represents a handful of consumer or small-business NAS units located at geographically-different areas that are linked to each other via the Internet. Here, they could synchronise the same data or a subset of that data between each other.
This could extend to applications like replicating music and other media held on a NAS to a hard disk installed in a car whether the vehicle is at home, at the office or even while driving. The latter example may be where you purchase or place an order for a song or album via the wireless broadband infrastructure with the content ending up on your car’s media hard disk so it plays through its sound system. Then you find that it has been synchronised to your home’s NAS so you can play that album on your home theatre when you arrive at home.
What could it achieve?
An example of this need could be for a small business to back up their business data to the network-attached storage device located at their shop or office as well as their owner’s home no matter where the data is created.
Similarly, one could copy their music and video material held on the main NAS device out to a NAS that is at holiday home. This can lead to location-specific speedy access to the multimedia files and you could add new multimedia files to the NAS at your holiday home but have this new collection reflected to your main home.
Here, one could exploit a larger-capacity unit with better resiliency, like the business-grade NAS units pitched at small businesses, as a master data store while maintaining less-expensive single-disk or dual-disk consumer NAS units as local data stores at other locations. This setup may appeal to businesses where one location is seen as a primary “office” while the other location is seen as either a shopfront or secondary office.
This kind of setup could allow the creation of a NAS as a local “staging post” for newly-handled or regularly-worked data so as to provide a resilient setup that can survive a link failure. In some cases this could even allow for near-line operation for a business’s computing needs should the link to a cloud service fail.
User interface and software requirements
This same context can be built on the existing remote-access “personal cloud” infrastructure and software so there is no need to “reinvent the wheel” for a multi-NAS cloud.
Similarly, users would have to use the NAS’s existing management Web page to determine the location of the remote NAS devices and the data sets they wish to replicate. This can include how the data set is to be replicated such as keeping a mirror-copy of the data set, or contributing new and changed data to a designated master data set or a combination of both. The data set could be the copy of a particular NAS volume or share, a folder or group of folders or simply files of a kind.
The recently-determined UPnP RemoteAccess v2 standard, along with the UPnP ContentSync standards could simplify the setup of these data-synchronisation clouds. This could also make it easier to provide heterogenous data clouds that exist for this requirement.
But one main requirement that needs to be thought of is that the computer systems at both ends cannot collapse or underperform because the link fails. There has to be some form of scalability so that regular small-business servers can be party to the cloud, which may benefit the small-business owner who wants to integrate this hardware and the home-network hardware as part of a data-replication cloud.
A small data cloud needs to support cost-effective hardware requirements that allow for system growth. This means that it could start with two or more consumer or SME NAS devices of a known software configuration yet increase in capacity and resilience as the user adds or improves storage equipment at any location or rents storage services at a later stage.
This could mean that one could start with one single-disk NAS unit at each location, then purchase a small-business NAS equipped with a multi-disk RAID setup, setting this up at the business. The extra single-disk unit could then be shifted to another location as a staging-post disk or extra personal backup.
What NAS manufacturers need to think of is the idea of supporting easy-to-manage multi-device data-replication “personal clouds” using these devices. This is alongside the current marketing idea of the remote-access “personal cloud” offered for these devices.