Saving Data on Your NAS is Greener Than Saving in the Cloud

The Institute for Applied Ecology in Germany found that storing smaller amounts of data on network attached storage (NAS) devices will result in fewer greenhouse gases than stocking your information in a data center.

The organization estimates that storing 4.7 GB of data, or the data volume of just one DVD, online causes greenhouse gas emissions of 121.3 lbs of CO2 equivalents. Storing the data in an efficient home NAS would result in only 0.33 lbs of CO2 equivalents. In addition a 1 TB NAS would cost only about $130 per year to purchase and operate, while the same money would buy only 100 GB of storage space online.

The Institute also recommended to buy 2.5-inch NAS drives due to their lower power consumption, as well as network storage products with a network standby feature that does not consume more than 4 watts.


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  • As much as I like an at-home NAS over an out somewhere cloud system managed by some company that could go under or something like that, I am a little suspicious about this. Generally when you can consolidate the activities of multiple people into one place, it saves money and resources. That's the logic of public transportation - an individual bus may not have great fuel mileage, but they are more efficient thanks to the fact that each trip carries a dozen or more people who would otherwise be driving. I get that a data center would need extra cooling that your NAS at home would not, and that is the source of the inefficiency, but I question if the difference is as stark as presented here.
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  • drosencraftAs much as I like an at-home NAS over an out somewhere cloud system managed by some company that could go under or something like that, I am a little suspicious about this. Generally when you can consolidate the activities of multiple people into one place, it saves money and resources. That's the logic of public transportation - an individual bus may not have great fuel mileage, but they are more efficient thanks to the fact that each trip carries a dozen or more people who would otherwise be driving. I get that a data center would need extra cooling that your NAS at home would not, and that is the source of the inefficiency, but I question if the difference is as stark as presented here.

    I doubt that the cloud system would get any cheaper electrical rates than you or I. At least where I am business actually have higher rates of electrical energy costs. Also consider the green house emissions of not just cooling but the staff at the place that may have to drive there, heating costs of working spaces in winter, cooling int he summer and lighting costs etc... (not sure if calculated in though)

    I understand where you are coming from with the public transportation thing but I would consider an example of buying vegetables at the supermarket vs growing them at home. Growing at home is more work (NAS) but you reduce carbon emissions by not driving to store (drive once to buy seeds and stuff). Also cut out the carbon emission from trucking the food and the carbon emissions of the store itself.
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  • This is obvious and shouldn't need research. The point of the cloud is that YOU don't have to personally worry about making backups and storing them off-site. You pay for convenience.

    Someone else deals with access issues, backups, etc. and you just pay to use it.

    Of course it uses more energy, there's a ton of servers that make up the cloud and to store your trivial amount of data would be more cost efficient to store locally. duh.
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