Synology's DS718+ NAS DiskStation (Amazon) is $400 data storage box. For me, it replaces very two annoying things: a monthly subscription to Dropbox, and a drawerful of USB drives used to back up a houseful of computers.
But file syncing and backups are just two things a modern NAS can do.
In fact, the first thing you'll notice after setting it up is that it's really a fully-featured computer that happens to be set up with storage in mind. The web-based control panel replicates a desktop user environment, complete with windows, folders, icons and drop-down menus.
There are pros and cons to this. One one hand, you'll not only get rid of cloud subscriptions, recover your data privacy and have less gear lying around, but find yourself with a hundred other interesting applications to fool around with. Want a basic web-development box? There's one-click setups for Apache, nginx, common databases and popular platforms such as WordPress, Discourse and Node. Want to use it as a 4K media streaming box? Easy. Want a fancy-pants router? It has dual gigabit ethernet and can be set up as to provide DHCP or VPN. On the other hand, it's more complicated than the things it replaces. I just wanted to get out of the cloud and get rid of all these damned backup drives, but now I'm a sysadmin. (There are less fancy options such as WD's My Cloud devices, but they're almost as expensive (Amazon) when the cost of drives is factored in)
And I'll admit that I enjoyed experimenting with Synology's add-ons. Read the rest