Monday, 31 May 2010

My personal cloud – Pogoplug reviewed

There are plenty of sites – like Facebook – that allow you to upload last night’s pictures and videos, but there’s always a problem with security. You hope that Facebook etc back-up their servers and archive the older stuff, so that, should they lose their main data disks, they can restore them. But that leads to another problem. That incredibly funny photo that we uploaded last year, might now be considered – even by us – to be in bad taste, and we don’t want copies of it lingering somewhere out there on almost completely-forgotten storage media. What if you could have full control over what you’re sharing and who can see it? What if you can add or delete files whenever you decide? Enter the perfect cloud storage system – the Pogoplug.

The Pogoplug simply connects to your router and allows memory sticks and external hard drives to be plugged into it. You can download an application that allows you to treat these storage devices as if they were connected to your laptop and then copy photos, videos, and music to them and make those photos, videos, and music tracks available across the Internet.

You can see a picture of a pink and white Pogoplug at Let me tell you about setting it up. You plug one cable into the mains, and the other cable is a LAN cable that goes from the Pogoplug to a suitable connection socket in your router. You then connect a memory stick or whatever into one of the available sockets at the back (or there is one at the front). The light at the front of the Pogoplug goes green and you’re good to go.

Back on your computer you need to register on the site. You can then use your browser to talk to the memory stick. I found it easier to download the free software that makes the Pogoplug appear to be an extra hard drive. It was just very easy to create directories and organize files. With so many slots on the Pogoplug you could plug in four 1TB external drives. That would be an enormous number of files you could share.

I can access my files on the Pogoplug whenever I want from wherever I want by logging into and entering my e-mail address and password. I can add files, create directories, create slideshows, and share files or directories. I can also see files that other people have shared with me!

Looking at photos, for example from here, I can enlarge them, download them, delete them, or share them – all by clicking on an icon. If I want to share with one person or a few chosen people, I can enter their e-mail address in the box and invite them to share the file. I can even send them a personalized note with the link.

There is an alternative option. On the other sharing tab, called “more sharing options”, it’s possible to publish to Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace. You can also publish as an RSS feed and enable public viewing. This gives you a very long URL. I ran it through Tiny URL and sent that as a text message to a friend. But, it is simple enough to cut-and-paste the URL into an e-mail or even into a blog.

There is a feature that automatically copies photos, videos, music etc from my laptop to the Pogoplug. This software automatically synchronizes these folders whenever I’m connected, which means I’ve always got a back-up copy. This, of course, only works provided I have enough storage on the Pogoplug to handle the number of photos and amount of music and videos I have stored!

There’s apparently an iPhone app – hopefully there will be an Android one too soon.

Is it any good? Why is it cloud computing? It’s very easy to use and it’s useful to easily access photos particularly over the Internet. And that’s why it’s cloud computing – because you create a Web server and FTP files to it without needing to understand anything about these topics. It does make the area around your router look like a mini IT suite if you plug in external hard drives that require their own power supplies, but a couple of memory sticks don’t look too intrusive. But then, you’re restricted to how much you can store.

I thought it was great fun – and well worth having a look at.


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