Thursday, 6 May 2010

Review in Brief: Pogoplug

There's a very good chance that I'm going to spending some time working in continental Europe before too long. Somehow I always manage to get postings to the more expensive and remote parts of Europe. I spent six months in Oslo a few years ago, and now it looks like Zurich in Switzerland is on my itinerary. I only mention this because one of the problems with being away is that I often find that I need to access files on my desktop. Of course there are alternatives:

  • I could clone my desktop drive and carry that around with me, but that requires carting another piece of kit around, and demands the discipline of maintaining the contents
  • I could use ShareTool and connect remotely with the iMac from my laptop via the internet. This is my preferred option, but while my network problems persist this would fail on the first occasion that I lose my connection. It also means that the iMac is powered up24x7 for as long as I'm away. Not very green...

But now I believe I have found a better option in the form of the Pogoplug. This clever little bunch of tricks sits independently of your computer (PC or Mac) by plugging it into your router and then allows you to access up to four USB drives/memory sticks via an internet browser or a native application.


Pogoplug in profile


The rather lurid pink Pogoplug is small enough to sit tucked away on the corner of a desk or a shelf, and once set up you can pretty much forget about it. Set-up itself is a breeze. After plugging in at the mains, simply plug the Pogoplug into a spare ethernet port on your route, connect up to four USB drives, switch it on, and register it on the Pogoplug web site. You can also download a free Finder compatible OS X application and free iPhone app from the App Store giving you full access to your drives wherever you are. It really is that easy.


After following the above steps on my iMac, everything looked hunky dory, so I turned my attention to my MacBook Pro where the real test would take place. Sure enough, the USB drive attached to the Pogoplug appeared in it's proper place on the MyPogoplug web site in Safari without any problems. However after downloading the OS X application I was getting an error message as the app tried to connect to the drive - Failed Starting Drive: Exit Code 0. This wasn't what I wanted to see, and after several attempts and a restart, the message kept appearing.



Pogoplug - rear view


I posted a message on the support forum and was advised to check with Pogoplug tech support. I duly contacted them via email and within a few hours received a response suggesting that my version of MacFuse may be corrupted. I reinstalled MacFuse, ran the application, and everything was fine. I was very impressed with the quality and speed of response, and especially with the result. So (some of you may guess what's coming next...) Pogoplug Technical Support (notably AdamC), get the latest (virtual) Apple Harvest Service Excellence Award.


Pogoplug - head on


I've yet to perform any real tests regarding speed of access over the internet - wirelessly connecting across my LAN doesn't really constitute much of a challenge, but I'll provide an update at some time in the future when I've got something useful to report. I the meantime, I can report that the iPhone App works very well, and even allows me to view certain files (PDFs for example) in their natural format on the iPhone. Extremely useful.


As I was writing this review I did find one additional problem... I was repositioning the Pogoplug after taking the photos, and the attached WD Passport drive fell on the floor and required reformatting and re-cloning. So, if you do move the Pogoplug for whatever reason, it's worth un-mounting any attached drives first! But I don't think that problem is unique to the Pogoplug... just to dumb users!!!



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