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Cloud Control

The best personal storage solutions for on-the-go media junkies



I’LL ADMIT IT, I have an obscene amount of media: hundreds of apps, thousands of albums, countless hours of TV shows and movies, folder after folder of pictures and who knows how many plain old documents. That’s at least a terabyte’s worth of storage space. What’s a media geek like me to do if he wants to access all that on the road? Storing it in the cloud is a prohibitively expensive proposition — it’d cost me $1,000 a year to keep it on Amazon’s Cloud Drive (and that much space isn’t even available on Apple’s iCloud).

The answer? Make your own cloud. If you already have an external hard drive at home with all your media loaded on it, the easiest way to turn it into a remote-accessible personal cloud is to plug it into Pogoplug ($50, pogoplug.com). This sleek, router-size device has built-in software that provides an interface for accessing files on any of the storage drives it’s connected to. Setup is a cinch — all I had to do was hook it into my router with the included cable, stick the power cord into an AC outlet and connect my external hard drive to one of the Pogoplug’s USB ports. After a quick automated sign-in, my personal cloud was up and running. Now, whether I’m using my iPad, Android phone or laptop, I can access my files from anywhere via my.pogoplug.com. I can upload, download and share pictures through e-mail or public links, as well as download, upload and stream movies, TV and music — even iTunes purchases — to any Web-connected device. Simple.

Pogoplug is great when I have a wireless connection, but when I need to keep it local, I use the Seagate GoFlex Satellite ($200, seagate.com). While it looks just like any other flask-size hard drive, it has one killer additional feature: the ability to stream up to five hours from more than 300 movies to an iPad, iPhone, Android device or laptop via its own localized Wi-Fi hot spot. That means I can’t use it to surf the Web, but also that I don’t need Internet access for it to work.

What’s more, I can watch the pilot of “Terra Nova” while one of my colleagues (or family members) watches Bridesmaids, since the GoFlex Satellite can stream up to three different movies to three different devices simultaneously. Accessing the files is as easy as downloading and opening up the GoFlex Satellite app or launching your Web browser.

These hardware solutions may not have all the cool push features of iCloud, but they do give me access to more of my media at a fraction of the cost. What do I do with the savings? Buy more music, movies and TV shows, of course.

Tech columnist TOM SAMILJAN also has a large collection of vinyl and cassette tapes — none of which are saved online.

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