Regain Control of your Life - With a Home NAS

According to your lifestyle, which era do you predominately live in?

As the 2010s have gone on, it has become increasingly customary to use outsourcing, leasing, and subscriptions to fulfill ever more needs in our daily lives. Transport? Uber. Need a home? Rent it. Want movies and TV? Netflix. Music? Spotify. Want games? Stream them with PlayStation Now, or just pay for access with Xbox Game Pass. Data storage? Everyone and their mum is getting into the cloud storage game. Home surveillance? There’s many a company that offers a subscription for that. There’s even at least one company that offers a subscription service for the ability to open your own garage door using already existing Apple HomeKit infrastructure. There’s a service for everyday computing power, too. Yep, just like your regular computer, except that now you get to pay for access, or lose it all. On the upside, most people seem to be above renting, like, couches or lamps… for now.

While it may seem cheap and convenient to rely on leasing and subscription services for your daily needs, the implications are… not good. For each need you hand off to someone else, usually a big company that doesn’t care about you or your needs, you lose agency and become more dependent on the external world to live your life, and potentially lose the ability to live and act the way you want to.

We’ve touched on this subject in a few articles, but as a quick tl;dr: There is no guarantee that a streaming service, or any subscription service, will continue to host or supply the thing that you like, and any number of things can effect that. This goes for Spotify, Netflix, Xbox Game Pass, and any other subscription service that you can think of. Unless you own it, you may lose access to it, all based on the company’s decisions for their bottom line. You have no power.

Related: Continued access to your own content after the company has lost interest

Do you think you’re safe because your favorite subscription service offers a physical product? Think again, just like those who leased, without the option to buy, the General Motors EV1 - one of the first modern, usable electric cars. With the company firmly in control of the vehicles, they were all forcibly repossessed within a few years, despite the customers desire to renew the lease, or even buy the car outright. General Motors wanted the cars back, so they took them back. The customer was given no say, and their will was subverted. Someone else’s will was forced upon them, all thanks to the leasing agreement. This could happen to any subscription customer, at any time, for a multitude of reasons.

So, are you sick of relying on companies, whose offering could change at any moment, for your everyday wants and needs? So was I, that’s why I got myself a Synology brand NAS (network attached storage) drive. It hosts all of my music and movies, as well as photos, documents, and pretty much anything I need. Many types of files can be viewed and edited on the NAS itself, via a web browser, removing the need for any software outside of the actual browser; the Office suite alone allows the editing and sharing of documents, slideshows, and spreadsheets, all exportable in proprietary Microsoft Office formats, simultaneously usable by dozens of people.

Whatever I need, available when and where I need it, via laptop, desktop, tablet, or smartphone, both at home, and elsewhere over the internet. Wary of the likes of Facebook or Google gathering your data? If any of your friends feel the same, switch over to the Synology Chat app, hosted securely on your very own Synology NAS. Note taking, automated file backup, home surveillance, and much more, can all be handled with the Synology NAS (and many other NAS solutions, I’m sure). If there’s a subscription service for it, there may well be a NAS-based app that can do the same job.

This may sound like sponsored content, but while I would love the opportunity to work with a company that makes technology solutions that I use and enjoy every day, they have nothing to do with this writing, aside from having created the kickass product that inspired it. It’s just so darn neat to be able to once again take control of my own data on my own server, after years of paying subscription fees for various services that my NAS now handles. There’s no-one in charge apart from me, and no-one can tell me what to do, come hell or high water. I’m in control.

As more of our lives give way to paid subscription services, it’s nice to know that I’m not beholden to Microsoft or Spotify to be able to access my own stuff. It’s nice to know that, even in a small way, I’ve wrestled control away from the big corporations and back into my hands. Think it’s expensive? Don’t; one purchase of a few hundred dollars can replace a dozen subscription services, on top of the other benefits already discussed here. If for no reason but economics, buying and using a NAS makes sense.

Related: What is Spotify's place in music listening and distribution?

So to QNAP, Synology, WD, and any other protectors of freedom that are the producers of a consumer-grade NAS solutions; here’s to you.