netgear-storaCloud computing is the floating hot topic these days. Its purpose is to have your files and programs always accessible via the Internet, no matter where you are. Despite the name, the only place this cloud ever floats is on a huge hard drive somewhere.

You can rent access to clouds from lots of big companies, Microsoft, Google or Hewlett Packard, for example. But what if their cloud goes down? What if it’s a rainy day? Maybe you should have your own cloud.

What you need is a really big hard drive that has its own address on the Internet. No matter where you are, if you have access to the Internet, you just go to the hard drive’s web address and log in. Your computer at home or office doesn’t have to be on.

We’ve been trying out one of these big drives, the “Stora,” from Netgear. For $200 you get a shiny black box that weighs about two pounds and can store a terabyte (1000 gigabytes) of information. It sounds like a percolating coffee pot when it’s running.

You start by connecting the Stora to your router with an Ethernet cable. To get your files onto the Stora, you log onto your account at and drag and drop the folders you want to store from your computer or use their mirroring software to back up everything at once. The Stora gives you a web address where you can play or download your files, videos, photos, and music files, or share them with others no matter where you are.  Any device that connects to the Internet will do. You can move your entire computer system over to the Stora, which will allow you to restore it if disaster strikes– as long as the computer will still turn on.  It took a few calls to tech support to get everything working, but it wasn’t too bad compared to other devices we’re reviewed.

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