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.