The latest Pogoplug provides a fast, easy way to share any hard drive over the Internet; but the Web portal for access needs some work.
The Pogoplug lets you turn any USB-attached drive into a network-accessible drive. The Pogoplug Series 4 is a vast improvement over previous models, starting with the upgrade of the USB ports to the 3.0 standard. In addition, series 4 offers a SATA/USM (Universal Storage Module, such as Seagate's Expansion drives use) slot on the top of the unit and an SD Card slot.
Pogoplug makes implementing your own remotely accessible storage extremely easy. Power up the unit, attach it to your network router or switch, and step through a simple online setup procedure using your browser--and you can access the unit and any attached drives from anyplace that has an Internet connection. You don't even have to enter a unit ID, as in the past. I'm one of the very few people to have experienced trouble with the Pogoplug's auto-configuration. Long story short: If the light on the front of your unit doesn't turn green as it should, put the Pogoplug in your router's DMZ until the light turns green, and then place it back behind the firewall.
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The Pogoplug website portal where you upload, download, share, and view files is capable enough to get the task done. You use an email address and a password to log on. Of course, you're limited to the speed of your connection, but if you connect from the same local network, the Pogoplug is smart enough to bypass the Web portal and use the local connection for much faster uploads and downloads--a major benefit when you need to transfer large amounts of data before hitting the road.
The portal supports media streaming through your browser, and it understands a reasonable array of common music, image, and video file types, though it could use some tweaking. It misplaced an OGG Vorbis audio file in the movies section, and it doesn't visually delineate files and folders adequately. I could also argue for requiring a double-click rather than a single-click to tunnel down into folders, but that's being picky. The portal is certainly usable, but it has plenty of room for improvement. Pogoplug also provides passable remote access apps for both Android and iOS.
With Series 4, Pogoplug has finally addressed a major concern about the company's devices--that they would be useless if the company/portal ever went belly up. The company now has a PC/Mac/Linux software client that lets you directly access (restore) the files stored with the Pogoplug storage, and back up files from your PC. Portal or no, you can now use the Pogoplug for local network storage.
Since the danger that your Pogoplug might morph into an unreachable box has vanished, I can recommend it without reservation as a stress-free way to access and share files across the Internet without actually storing them online. The portal would benefit from some minor adjustments, but otherwise the Pogoplug Series 4 experience is top-notch.
This story, "Pogoplug Series 4: remote drive access made simpler and faster" was originally published by PCWorld.
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