Once again, evidence arrives that Synology are a great company. They ship great software, with regular updates, for their Disk Station network-attached-storage (NAS) drives. The latest version ships with a personal Dropbox clone, called CloudStation, which appears much like the Transporter, although perhaps with less flexible sharing. There are CloudStation clients for most platforms (of course, there’s no need to provide an app for Windows Phone). The advantage here is that, in principle, you can buy storage capacity in your home with a one-off payment and negligible running costs, and whilst Dropbox is $120 a year for 100 Gb. Apple’s iCloud is even more ($100 for 55Gb).
Accessing a NAS remotely from the internet needs a Dynamic Domain Name System (DDNS) service. When I first got the Synology Disk Station, I used Dyn – at the time, a very good free service, with incentives to go “Pro”. But DynDNS has changed its terms and now requires monthly logins to existing free accounts, and new free accounts can’t be opened, only Pro-trials. I don’t blame them for cutting out the free, the free service I took advantage of was not a gateway: I was unlikely ever to pay them money for it.
I haven’t researched the availability or quality of other free DNS services, but there is now no need. Synology now provides the service, accessible via an account at their website. Of course, it makes a great deal of sense for providers of hardware that needs an internet service, to provide that service. The difference is that Synology understands the need, and that their customers will be better off if they provide a service that works really well. For example, the service notifies you by mail if it has a problem resolving – very useful.
Other advantages of DSM that I rely on include a customizable and reliable DLNA server and very reliable Time Machine support. Synology, a great company, with solid vertical integration and high standards.
I haven’t yet been able to connect the CloudStation client to the Diskstation at my home through my work ethernet. Perhaps the requisite ports are closed…