Slowly, but surely… I am cancelling pretty much every cloud drive and service I was paying for. That includes Dropbox, Microsoft 365, iCloud, Google Drive… and even Evernote.
It isn’t as if I don’t have these accounts anymore, but I’m stopping paying for them. Everything is getting downgraded.
I’m moving to my own “cloud” that I fully control.
This seems like a pretty contrarian move, I know. But, here’s why I am doing it:
I was paying for too many cloud services. Premium accounts with Dropbox, iCloud, OneDrive and Evernote. There’s a lot of overlap there and I was paying over $30/mo just in cloud storage.
Seems like a lot of trust to hand over all of your files to “big tech” companies. So, I say, you don’t need a trusted third party. There’s no counter-party risk when you control everything.
The way I look at it, this is a natural extension of what I have referred to as digital sovereignty.
I’ve talked about this before in terms of the infrastructure of our online businesses. It means not relying on big tech corporations… and not putting any component of your business into a third-party service that can be turned off and leave you high and dry.
I am a MASSIVE proponent of building a business you truly own. Not “rent” from big tech corporations that not only are not incentivized to care about you or your privacy, but have been proven to actively abuse it time and time again.
Well, when it comes to how we manage our own files and documents, how could it make any sense for us to hand ALL of it over to big tech? Why are we uploading our photos to these companies so they can scan our kids, use the images to train their AI and God know what else is happening. Why would we blindly store all of our documents with these companies?
People are out there just throwing all of their private documents and photos into the hands of these “big tech” companies… with nothing but blind trust that they’re not going to abuse that or that you’re too small and insignificant for them to care.
I could go on about all this, but let’s just dive into what I have done instead.
I bought a Synology Network Attached Storage (or NAS). Specifically, I bought a little DS720+. It is a little 2-bay NAS device and I have put two big 12TB drives into it. The drives are exact copies of one another (via RAID) so that if one drive fails, the other has an exact copy. Here it is in my office:
The DS720+ sits up on a shelf in my office and is attached to a UPS for power control. If we lose power, the UPS will power the Disk Station for a little while and then automatically and safely shut it down if the battery gets too low before the power returns.
Synology does a great job with their NAS Disk Stations. They’re pretty user-friendly and the software that comes with it provides a ton of options that replace so many cloud services.
Synology Drive: This software is almost an exact clone of Dropbox and Google Drive. I can manage and sync files between all my devices. And I even have an interface that clones Google Docs and Google Sheets, but stores everything in-house. Just amazing.
Synology Photos: Basically a clone of iCloud Photos. I can organize and manage my whole photo library – and even share with others – but on my own cloud. I’m also converting my family over so all of our phones will backup to the Synology. We don’t need iCloud anymore.
Video Station: Not really a clone of anything, but a cool way to create our own in-house movie library for family videos and even movies. And watch them right on TVs across the house. Like our own in-house Netflix.
Audio Station: Kind of like a music cloud replacement. Basically, you can digitize your old CD audio collection and them stream them to any device as if you were listening to Spotify.
Notes Station: Very close to a clone of Evernote, but all the data is in-house and you control it.
There’s quite a bit more you can do with it… and this is not meant to be a commercial for Synology. The point is…
You do not NEED to use these paid cloud services. You do not need to blindly trust them with all of your files. You can keep all of your digital sovereignty and not sacrifice much in the way of convenience.
This Disk Station is like the “cloud” for my family and my own business. And you can even access it easily while remote via apps on your mobile phone or any other computer.
The cloud services I still use… are automatically backed up to the Synology. Even site backups of my own websites and those of my Concierge clients are backed up right on the Disk Station in my office.
Plus, like anything else, it makes sense to have an off-site backup. So, the Synology is also backed up to the cloud. However, it is all encrypted locally before being backed up, so there is total data privacy.
Yes, this week’s EDGE article is a little different than the usual fare. However, I think it is something to consider. Not only can you stop overpaying for so many cloud services, but you can re-claim your privacy and your own sovereignty over your files and photos by keeping it all within your own control without the need to trust any third-party.
And, frankly, the times we live in make that pretty important, I feel.
Well, you probably noticed that WordPress 6.2 launched last week. A lot of sites updated automatically. If your's didn't, you can upgrade manually and if you're a Conceirge client, I will be updating you this week unless it already happened. This was actually a pretty big update - code named "Dolphy". If you want the full rundown of what's been changed, Godaddy actually has a big blog on the subject that was written before the official release. Most of the changes have to do with the block builder for full-site design.
A long-time brand in the WordPress space - iThemes - has now officially rebranded to SolidWP. Their best-known products are iThemes Security, BackupBuddy and iThemes Sync. They will become known as Solid Security, Solid Backups, and Solid Central. The whole idea is to get out of the idea of "themes" being right in their brand name because they don't really do themes anymore. It makes sense, really. In fact, I could argue that Thrive Themes has the same problem, since they don't really focus on themes anymore, either.
If you have been using PDF Embedder (a plugin I use and recommend for building a document library on WordPress), be aware that the latest version has some problems. The document doesn't embed with the right size and the toolbar doesn't work correctly. They're aware of it, and frankly I'm surprised their latest incremental release didn't fix it. But, in the meantime, I would recommend you stick with version 5.02. If you've already upgraded, you can easily downgrade because 5.02 is available for download inside your account.