Consumers today generate more digital content than ever before, on a wide range of different devices. From music, television series and movie downloads to documents, emails and thousands of photographs, on computers, notebooks, tablets and smartphones, the volume and variety of data has never been greater, says Ruben Naicker, WD product specialist at DCC.Storing this content has become quite the challenge, especially since on-board storage is limited in many personal mobile devices. Furthermore, most of us wish to be able to access all of our files from any of our devices at any given time. The cloud offers a solution to this dilemma, however, for many of us the public cloud is less than ideal. The personal cloud is answer to this dilemma.

The thought of storing highly personal data in a public domain, which has been proven to be less than secure by numerous hacks and attacks, is not an appealing one. However, combining centralised storage and access of the cloud with the security and peace of mind of your own hard drive, personal cloud solutions are the consumer’s best friend in a digital world.

The digital content explosion is well known. In fact, statistics estimate that 90% of the world’s content was generated in the last two years alone. As consumers, our entire lives have practically become digital – our photo albums are all online or on computers, phones or tablets, the majority of our correspondence is conducted via email, we download music, movies, games and other entertainment, and even our social lives have a digital aspect. Storage is therefore essential for preserving our memories and our precious content, and being able to access the same content no matter where we are in the world or what devices we are using is essential.

Uploading our content to cloud providers like Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive is one solution to this problem. However, in South Africa we are still challenged by bandwidth availability and affordability. The reality is that uploading Gigabytes (GB) worth of content into the cloud is expensive and slow, and is just not a viable option for the majority of consumers. Public cloud providers also offer only a limited amount of free storage, after which an annual fee is payable. For consumers with large amounts of content, this can get costly. In addition, many of us still have nagging concerns over the privacy of our content when it is released into the public domain, which is essentially what happens when one utilises the public cloud.

The cloud remains the only solution to the challenge of centralised and accessible data storage. However, if the public cloud is not viable, and private cloud solutions are not affordable for consumers, then what is the answer? In short – the personal cloud. Personal cloud solutions offer the best of all worlds. They offer a Direct Attached Storage (DAS) solution for uploading large volumes of content, as well as a cloud component providing remote access to data regardless of your device or location. Your data is still in your control, because you own the storage device, and you can leverage all of the benefits of a centralised, online repository for backing up and accessing content from an endless variety of devices. These hard drives offer several Terabytes (TB) of storage for a once-off, fixed fee, and also enable users to plug in a secondary USB-driven external hard drive to provide easy scalability and cater to future growth.

The personal cloud is the easiest, most secure and affordable way for consumers to have the best combination of access and security. With the personal cloud, families can connect, share, sync, and back up numerous mobile devices and computers in their household, so that users can enjoy their digital videos, photos and music on all of their devices. Personal cloud devices also offer integration with public cloud solutions, which allows files to be easily transferred between the different solutions, ensuring users retain complete control over their personal data. In addition to providing a central repository for storage and access of media, personal cloud solutions can also perform a dual role as a backup device for computers and digital files, protecting data and content.

There is no doubt that digital content volumes will continue to grow, and consumers will need the ability to safely store, backup and access their data from all of their devices whenever and wherever they desire. The personal cloud is therefore becoming the new storage standard, allowing consumers to do more with their content without relinquishing control. By enabling users to keep media and files safe at home on their own physical drive and then access this information over the Internet with any number of devices, personal beats public when choosing a cloud solution.