Pogoplug is a really great concept. Essentially, it’s a box in which you plug in your home router and then one, or more, USB drives. The Pogoplug then connects these drives to “the cloud” where you can instantly access their contents wherever you are – via their website or using desktop software.
Up until now I’ve been using Dropbox – this doesn’t require any hardware and is simply a free storage area which you can freely access. However, this only comes with 2GB of storage, without having to pay a monthly fee.
Now, I have a 500GB USB hard drive connected to a Pogoplug, on which my daughter can backup her Laptop and I can backup my Netbook, wherever we may be. I can share files and allow others to send files to me.
Pogoplug started off a number of years in the US. Their first Pogoplug was literally a plug – it’s a large white box, with some status lights on the front, and an ethernet and USB socket underneath, which plugs into the mains. More recently they’ve launched their newest offering, including into Europe. The new Pogoplug is a bright pink standalone box with 4 USB connectors. Otherwise, though, it works just the same.
I have the original version (all you need to do is swap out the figure 8 power lead to a UK equivalent). For the sake of simplicity we’ll call the original “v1” and the new one “v2”!
So, I plug it in, run the supplied ethernet cable from the Pogoplug to my router and then plug my USB drive in (you can use USB hubs as well, so whatever number of USB sockets your Pogoplug has, you can always add more devices). I go to the Pogoplug website to setup my profile and it automatically detects and registers my device. Immediately I’m shown the content of the drive via their web interface. As well as the usual access options, I can also set up sharing options so that I can allow other users access to my drive contents.
There’s also desktop software (which includes 64-bit versions), as well as apps for the major phones OS’. Naturally, I have the Android version, and that allows me to save phone content to my drive as well as access the contents.
The desktop software maps your Pogoplug to a drive letter – I often find after a PC reboot that I have to select the option to “Reload” the Pogoplug for it to be picked up again. Hopefully this will be rectified in future program or firmware versions – firmware updates to the plug are handled automatically, so this isn’t even something you have to worry about.
But that’s about it. And that is what’s so good about it – it’s so simple to use. It was my youngest daughter’s Christening last weekend – I was so busy during the event I hardly got chance to get any photos. I knew other guests had, so I emailed everyone for them to send me copies. Of course, full size versions are going to be many MB each, so if somebody had taken lots of photos it was going to be difficult to share that. Pogoplug stepped in and I easily set up a shared folder and distributed links. In no time at all I had a folder full of photos.
Are there any downsides? Well, unlike Dropbox, which copies all the files onto your PC for quick access, all file access on Pogoplug is done directly with your attached drives. When you’re connected to your home network it goes directly and, therefore, quickly. However, when away, it works slower as all reads and writes are done directly back to the Pogoplug attached drives. I’d post access speeds, but my only remote access point away from home is at work, where I can only use the public wireless network. And that goes so slow to be near unusable. None-the-less, it is (and it’s to be expected) noticeably slower than when on your own network.
Also, I don’t appear to be able to access it from work (the non-public network) – I’m guessing it’s a firewall config issue, but I can get to Dropbox without any problems.
For the more technically minded, Pogoplug provide an API so that anyone can write code to access Pogoplug content – you can be sure they’ll be some WordPress plugins coming soon to do this (although I don’t as yet have ideas on what exactly they would do – if you have any ideas yourself, let me know!).
[review]Simple to use, yet incredibly powerful. A little slow at times, but this means all files are held at a single repository. Why pay monthly fees for fixed cloud storage where, for a one off hardware cost, you can have all the content you could want (or plugin)? Dust off those old hard drives, stick them in caddies and plug them into your Pogoplug!
You can see why this has been a hit with students in particular – leave all your data in a single, safe location and access it wherever you want.
Right now, Dixons have an exclusive £10 off, making it now only £69.99. An absolute bargain.[/review]
Update (March 2011):
I’ve been happily running my Pogoplug for over 6 months now, so I thought I’d share a few things about it that I didn’t know at the beginning.
- When sharing folders via My Pogoplug there is an option to create an RSS feed of the contents. Got a wi-fi enabled photo frame? Simply create an RSS share of a folder containing favourite photos and supply it to the photo frame. Or use the same method to set random desktop wallpapers on your PC using a program such as John’s Background Switcher.
- Want to get more from your Pogoplug? How about adding a completely different operating system to it onto which you can install various advanced tools? PlugApps will do just that. You’ll loose access to My Pogoplug, though, and it will void your warranty.
- One really good use for the Pogoplug is remote backups. I’ve set my daughters laptop up to automatically backup to a special Pogoplug shared folder (using the excellent SyncBack) and this is an ideal solution because she can use it whether she’s at home or otherwise.
- Pogoplugged is a great un-official forum (although Pogoplug link to it as a “Community Forum”) and general Pogoplug news site.
With it’s own API for both desktop and web developers I was expecting to find lots of useful utilities or sites making use of Pogoplug – sadly this doesn’t appear to be the case. There are plenty of suggestions in the forum, but there appears to be a lack of developers acting upon them.