There are a number of plug computing devices on the market, some specifically do this kind of function commercially. These small form factor devices are Linux server computers running on ARM processor architecture, and consequently only draw between 4W and 13W of power. They have an Ethernet socket and from 1 to 4 USB sockets. Once you couple an external USB HDD and plug into an Ethernet socket you have a Network-attached storage (NAS). This can then provide secure cloud backup, remote access and collaboration services, and allow sharing and synchronize of files on your local network.
The options include:
- Pogoplug v2 Pink
- Tonido Plug
- Seagate Dockstar (based on Pogoplug software)
- Iomega iConnect WDS
- CTERA CloudPlug
I’ve gone out and got a Pogoplug v2 cos it was the easiest and cheapest route for me at the time. I coupled a Western Digital 1TB HDD to it and plugged it into an ethernet socket. The setup was relatively straight forward, and didn’t take very long at all.
There are three options for access with the Pogoplug:
- Web access via the security https://my.pogoplug.com login
- Download a small desktop client for Windows, Mac OS or Linux
- Install a mobile app for iPhone, Android, Blackberry or Palm.
You can manage, access, upload and download content from anywhere. You can view your images, even as a slideshow, and stream video (you need to have the videos transcoded first or you’ll only see the first 10 sec by default).
Here’s a video of me streaming a video from the external HDD via Pogoplug simultaneously to a laptop and an Android mobile:
You can backup and synch folder.
You can share your content with other people by allowing access to specific folders and inviting them using the email invite option. Alternatively you can open the content of a folder completely and have a URL allocated. From your logged in access side it might look something like:
Then from the open web side using the supplied URL you’d see:
(This folder isn’t open any longer, so the URL doesn’t work.)
By default security isn’t set, but you can optionally enable SSL, though this will slow down access.
I must admit that for about the first three days following setup I did experience some difficulties. Uploading files wasn’t working successfully; they would hang or bomb out. I resorted to plugging the HDD directly into my PCs to transfer files across. Then accessing these files was a little slow via the Pogoplug interface. However, following this initial period, things have gone much more smoothly.
Interestingly, the Seagate Dockstar also uses the Pogoplug service.
If you have any worries about the longevity of Pogoplug, they have said that if the company does dissolve then the code will be made available via SourceForge so you’d be able to continue using your Pogoplug.
I think the Tonido Plug runs all open source so that might be an area to consider further.
I intent to write another part in this Personal Cloud series of posts soon.
- Tonido – Run your own personal cloud – http://www.tonido.com/
- Tonidoplug – TonidoPlug is a tiny, low-power, low-cost personal home server and NAS device powered by Tonido software that allows you to access your files, music and media from anywhere for just $99 – http://www.tonidoplug.com/
- Pogoplug – http://www.pogoplug.com/home-en.html?
- Seagate Dockstar – http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/products/network_storage/freeagent_dockstar/
- Comparison of hardware specs http://plugapps.com/index.php5?title=Portal:Hardware