While cloud storage has revolutionised the way we back up, sync and share our data there are plenty of drawbacks to consider. First, you’re entrusting your data to a third party on the cloud. Second, you can easily find yourself paying a large sum for the privilege. And three, data has to be uploaded and then downloaded, which can play havoc with your bandwidth allowance as well as slow your connection down.

These problems have led to the idea of a "personal cloud" where data is kept on a local drive in your own home or workplace, then accessed over the internet only when required. An increasing number of Network Attached Storage drives offer this functionality, including the Tonido Plug, a small NAS/server that can be accessed over the internet or via Wi-Fi on the road.

For those who’d rather keep their data on a single computer rather than invest in yet another device, Tonido also offers this software solution. First you’ll need to install this: Tonido Desktop, the file server that transforms your entire Mac or PC's storage into your own personal cloud. Once done you can access any folder or file on your computer from another location or device, either via the mobile app or by typing in a simple web address – – based on your sign-up details. It’s easy to remember, secure and gives you access not just to any file or folder on the road, but also lets you stream photos, music and video too – all for free.

The desktop app is simple to use: install, set up your account through your web browser, pick additional folders to monitor for media and you’re done. So long as your computer is switched on and connected, you’ve got access over your local network and the wider internet.

By default your entire hard drive is accessible once the server is up and running – for security reasons we’d suggest you open Settings > Misc and tick Allowed Folders to only open access to specifically chosen folders. If you have problems adding other folders, try a different web browser - we had to use Chrome instead of Firefox, for example.

You can also designate folders for sharing to specific guests, and even set up a sync folder for seamlessly transferring data between computers via the free Tonido Sync app. But this is where the limitations kick in: free users can only make use of a 2GB sync folder, and are limited to five guests and five shares. If you want to lift these limits you’ll have to pay, although prices are much cheaper than investing in cloud storage.

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Simple to set up and manage, Tonido Desktop provides a cost-effective alternative to cloud storage while also giving you access to any file or folder when away from your computer.