Monday, January 12, 2009

Thinking about Pogoplug

OK, somehow I managed to ignore the information about Pogoplug coming out of CES.  I saw people mention it, but I thought it was something different.  On closer inspection though, I think I will be ordering one.

What is Pogoplug?  It is a very simple device for connecting a USB hard drive to your network and to the Internet without having to know anything about networking.  Basically, you plug the device into the wall, plug in a ethernet cable and a USB drive and you are set.  You go to the Pogoplug website and link your device to an account.  After that the drive is accessible anywhere you can get to the web page.  They also have a small application you can run that will integrate the drive with Windows Explorer.

There is an API  for Pogoplug, and I am hopeful that it might be used to allow the Pogoplug to connect to web services like SkyDrive and Google Docs .  I am not sure if that is the intention, but it would be a unique offering.  I have been playing with Gladinet  for that sort of web services integration, but it is not very polished.  The few videos I have seen of the Pogoplug web interface are a lot nicer.

I sent the company, Cloud Engines, that makes the device an e-mail with a few questions.  Depending on the results of that call I will decide whether or not to place an order.  The device is currently on a pre-order special of 79.00, but will be 99.00 after the release.  Pre-orders are expected to ship in March.  I will post the questions and answers here when I hear back.

Lot's of good reading about this device if you are interested in knowing more.

I received a response from Jed at Cloud Engines a little while ago, and said I would share my questions and his answers.
Q: If I want to access the PogoPlug drive from a computer in the same house as the drive itself does the traffic route directly across my LAN or does it need to go out to the Pogoplug site?  Can I access that drive when my Internet is down?
A: Computers on the same LAN speak directly to the Pogoplug, however there is an initial call to the Pogoplug service to find the location of the Pogoplug.  If the internet was down, you would have to pull the drive out of the Pogoplug and attach it directly to your computer.
Q: Does the format of the drive matter?  Can I format it as NTFS?
A: Yes, all FAT, HFS+, and NTFS partitions will show up separately for access.
Q: Can I have more than one partition on the drive?
A: Albums can contain contents that spans partitions and drives.
Q: Can the drive (or part of the drive relating to question 3) be encrypted with something like truecrypt and still be accessible?
A: Currently only block devices that are probed as being one of the above file systems are supported.  Software encrypted block devices are not supported in this version.
Q: This final question does not really relate to my purchase, more my curiosity.  I see that you have an API.  Is the intention of the API to allow web services to link into the Pogoplug device?  For example, could a developer use the API to link Pogoplug to the Google Docs document store or maybe something like Sky Drive or Microsoft Mesh?
A: The API makes the Pogoplug look like any other cloud storage service.  We are expecting web developers to come up with really cool apps, using drives attached to the Pogoplug as the back-end storage - i.e. photo printing, sync, backup, ....
A big thanks to Jed for getting back to me so quickly. I am sure they are busy answering plenty of requests and e-mail after CES.  I plan to order a Pogoplug.  Stop back in March for my hands on review.

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