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Build Your Own Private Cloud Storage Server for under $1000

Storage and bandwidth are so cheap these days that there is no excuse for data loss. If you do lose data, it is probably your fault because you should have backed it up. And backup is easier than ever.

The easiest solution is to use one of the many public cloud services. However, this does not work for everyone. Many organizations just are not comfortable storing their data on someone else's equipment located who knows where. Plus the services involve a recurring monthly cost.

Fortunately, the same factors which are making the public clouds cheap - plummeting costs for storage and bandwidth - mean you can build your own cloud storage and back up to it. The storage will have redundancy to protect against hardware errors. You can put this server in some other location, because the only thing better than backup is off-site backup. Software does the rest. You pay for it once and it's yours.

We will show you how to put such a device together for well under $1000. It will have 5TB of redundant storage.

Several companies sell standalone, networked storage devices that will do the job for you. One possibility is the QNAP TS-251, and we will focus on this model. But alternatives such as the LaCie 2big NAS and the Buffalo LinkStation 421e have roughly similar cost. You can buy these products with hard drives already installed; we will assume a QNAP TS-251 with no drives and shop for drives on our own.

The QNAP TS-251 is available from many retailers. The best price we found was at Amazon.com for $307.49. Also at Amazon.com we found Seagate Barracuda ST5000DM000 5TB 3.5-Inch internal hard drives for $144.99. You may be able to find a better price, but not by much. We will buy two of these, so our total hardware cost is $307.49 + $144.99 + $144.99 = $597.47.

You will need software. Get Syncrify from Synametrics. It will automatically back up data on systems to wherever you specify, including your private cloud server somewhere else on the Internet. You can set up specific servers to synchronize automatically to the backup server. Syncrify encrypts all data in transit, so unencrypted data never exists on systems you do not yourself control. A license for six systems costs $245 (you get one free license when you buy five), bringing our total up to $842.47.

You will also need bandwidth. How to account for this is tricky, because you likely already have an Internet connection where the data to be backed up is located and at the site of the backup server (your home with a robust broadband connection will be fine). If you feel a separate connection either end is necessary, the cost of that will need to be figured in. But on the business site end you won't be backing up any more data with your own cloud than you would with a public cloud service, so the cost for that bandwidth is the same.

For a modest investment you can build your own personal cloud storage server and set your business systems to back up critical data to it, securely and automatically. You can do this in a way that keeps data strictly under your control and with no recurring cost. It's something to consider next time someone tells you that everything is going to the cloud.


Created on: 5/28/15 12:57 PM
Last updated on: 5/28/15 12:57 PM

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