Nowadays, the cloud is a hyper inflated buzzword that seems to flow from the lips of everyone 5 to 95 years old. Despite the word itself, using the cloud simply means you’re storing your files on someone else’s server instead of on your local computer. The problem is, some may not feel quite so secure about storing their private files on a server owned by someone else, but they would still like to take advantage of the conveniences of online services. Pogoplug is the product for those individuals.
Pogoplug allows you to roll your own cloud with ease and style. Using your own network connection and a relatively cheap mini-server, you can create your own hosted services that give you everything web apps promise without having to save your files on a 3rd party server unless you want to. It’s an intriguing tool, so let’s take a look and see if it’s the cloud tool you’ll been looking for.
In the world of Internet storage, there is NAS or network attached storage, and cloud storage. NAS is storage you have connected directly to your network for your use locally. Cloud storage is a set of servers located at a data center that is available for a mass quantity of people and is owned by a corporation. Pogoplug is essentially a hybrid device of the two. It is network-attached storage due to direct connectivity to your network and using your own hard drive space. It is also cloud storage since Pogoplug gives you 5gb of space in their cloud, and lets you remotely access your files from your own device’s cloud.
Pogoplug simply uses your own storage devices and connects to your network to give access to your files on a wide range of devices and anywhere around the world. Your media and files that are stored on your Pogoplug are available on iOS devices, Android, Windows, Mac, and more via DLNA. DLNA allows you to view your media on your Xbox, Playstation, and other DLNA compatible devices, so your viewing options really are limitless!
Pogoplug is available in 3 different models. There is the Pogoplug Classic that includes USB 2 ports and a Gigabit Ethernet port ($49.95), the Pogoplug which adds an SD card slot and the new gen design from the classic (49.95), and finally the Series 4 that includes USB 3, a SATA/USM drive connector, and more ($99.95). This review uses the Series 4 model that Pogoplug sent us to review, but the overall software and cloud features would be much the same on all of the Pogoplugs.
Hardware & Design
The new Pogoplug Series 4 is a svelte, shiny black box that is just large enough to contain the assortment of connectivity ports. The front simply has the Pogoplug logo and an indicator light.
Move along to the back and you will see two USB 3.0 ports (backwards compatible with USB 2.0), a Gigabit Ethernet port, and power supply plug.
That’s not all! The Pogoplug Series 4 also has a hidden compartment. Pop open the shiny top part of the lid and you have a USB 2.0 port and a 2.5 inch SATA/USM port and space for the drive to sit comfortably. I wish there was way to access this secret compartment without having to pull the top half off. It leaves you with a stray piece and it is quite hard to remove.
We should of course not forget the SD card slot that is on the side of the Series 4; it is a great addition and yet another way to expand your storage abilities.
I have been a Pogoplug user for years and my Pogoplug, the classic, was great. However, the Series 4 is a great upgrade. It is dramatically smaller and includes next generation USB 3.0 ports for faster transfer, an SD card slot for expansion, and most importantly a 2.5 inch SATA/USM port. The SATA/USM port is my favorite hardware feature, since I have many of those 2.5 inch drives lying around and they are cheap to obtain.
Although the Pogoplug includes Gigabit Ethernet, I would love to see Wi-Fi added so that you can have greater flexibility to place your device anywhere without it having to be tethered by a cord. However, since you will have cords and cables coming from hard drives anyway, it is not really a big deal.
The hardware is simple to setup. All you really need to do is plug your power supply in, attach the Ethernet cable, attach drives and that’s it! After that you simply need to visit the Pogoplug activation website to activate. The activation website checks your network and automatically finds your Pogoplug. After that you are set up and ready to access your files anywhere!
The web interface is really the heart of the Pogoplug, the central headquarters if you will. While they have other apps that branch off, this web interface, which is my.pogoplug.com, is where you will come to directly control all components of your Pogoplug. There are quite a few things to note in this web interface.
First, all of your attached drives and cloud storage can be accessed from the side bar. You can also eject hard drives from here. Just as a side note, I had a drive mess up from unplugging it without ejecting first. I cannot stress it enough that if you like your data, eject the drive properly first!
At the top, you have all of your data automatically classified by type. You have Files, Music, Photos, and Movies.
You also have available settings, which can allow you to take advantage of sharing and other features. Sharing is also available from each file in the sharing options.
While I think the web interface is great, there are a few quirks that I sort of struggle with. I seem to run into problems streaming video over the web interface and in other Pogoplug apps. Also, there seems to be a slowdown when processing media to allow it to create previews. Movie files although it would seem their codec is supported, would play sporadically; they sometimes played and they sometimes did not.
In the end, I really love the Pogoplug Series 4. The thought of keeping my most private files and documents on my own server and hard drive really brings a great piece of mind. It is infinitely expandable and has next generation USB 3.0 built in for faster speeds. The design is minimal and svelte. I do not however like that you must remove the top half to get to the SATA/USM port; since that leaves half of the device unattached and ready to get lost. It is also quite hard to remove the top half as well.
The Pogoplug Series 4 has many cool options for viewing content across mobile and home theater devices. Sharing is also simple and easy. There are a few software quirks that need to be ironed out, but none that would be a deal breaker. Out of 10, the Pogoplug Series 4 gets an 8. With a few minor updates, this device could get a perfect 10.