Build a personal storage cloud

Build a personal storage cloud

Summary: Like to have your favorite 100 GB of data accessible to you on the web? You can, with something called Pogoplug. While it has some rough edges, it is a handy addition to the road warriors toolkit.


Like to have your favorite 100 GB of data accessible on the web? You can, with something called Pogoplug. While it has some rough edges, it is a handy addition to the road warriors toolkit.

Cloud storage is shaking up enterprise IT. But small-office home-office (SOHO) types don't have the bureaucracy or the staff for online services.

Keep it together My problem: synchronizing current projects between my desktop and notebook is a pain. Sure, remote desktop access software can get me on my desktop, but the 400 W beast sucks up power and I like to turn it off when I'm gone.

I could use Crashplan or Backblaze backups to access data, but I don't back up everything I might need online. Dropbox is an excellent service, but uploading 100 GB over America's Third World broadband - thanks, telcos! - is something I don't have time for.

So I was ready for something different.

The Plugster The Pogoplug is about the size of a fat paperback book. It has a status light on the front along with 1 USB port and 3 more USB ports, an ethernet port and power on the back.

Setup is simple: connect the included ethernet cable between the Pogoplug and your router. Plug a USB drive and one of the USB ports. Download software and register your device at

After you've installed the software - Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Android, Blackberry, Palm and iOS are supported - point your browser at Sign in and you can see whatever is on the Pogoplug.

They include manual synchronization software. Click a button and the folders you've selected are synchronized with the Pogoplug storage. I hope they'll automate that in the future, along with saying when the last sync occurred.

You can also create a public link to selected files. Not a substitute for large file sharing sites unless you have fast uplinks, but handy nonetheless.

The browser-based file interface is clunky looking. But it does the job.

Massive online storage You can plug 4 2 TB drives into a Pogoplug. That's 8 TB of online cloud storage for the cost of the disks - and USB disks are the cheapest external storage you can buy - plus the cost of the Pogoplug.

Even cheaper: use old USB drives. I tried several and they all worked. It even supports Mac HFS+ formatted drives.

The Storage Bits take Many SOHO storage devices are are pared down professional products. They bother you with RAID levels, LUNs, volume management. The Pogoplug is a welcome exception.

Yes, you can use excellent services like Dropbox to keep data online. Their software is easy and works as advertised.

My problem is I don't want to think about which files to upload. I just want key folders available.

Now when I'm rushing out the door I just tell Pogoplug to synchronize the folders and when that's done I can turn off my desktop machine. Peace of mind when I'm on the road.

Comments welcome, of course. I bought the Pogoplug on sale for $45 with my own money.

Topics: Hardware, Software, Storage

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  • RE: Build a personal storage cloud

    Seems lucrative, but I prefer the power of Windows Home Server myself. Power consumption is a concern of mine, but I plan to reconcile that by running WHS in a virtual machine on a beefy Media Center PC.
    • RE: Build a personal storage cloud

      @cunninghamd@... Virtual machines don't reduce your power consumption if you're running a single VM on a single system. Especially a "beefy" system.
      Robin Harris
      • RE: Build a personal storage cloud

        @Robin Harris I think the point was he/she altready has a media center PC and is using it as one, and will just spin up WHS inside the MCPC as a way of dual-using one "tower" setup, instead of purchasing another "tower" (2x power usage) just for WHS.

        Related to your post, i like the idea of externally-accessible storage, but I personally opted for a NAS device a little over a year ago for the explicit purpose of utilizing RAID1 (mirrored) storage for redundancy. I also have my data uploading to an "unlimited storage" webhost I use for hosting my mail/web domains.
  • where was it on sale for 45?

    Just wondering: where was it on sale for 45?
    • RE: Build a personal storage cloud

      @vlad-tch On about 10 days ago. But for $30 you can get Seagate's version from TigerDirect. Look for the Seagate STDSA10G-RK FreeAgent Dockstar.
      Robin Harris
  • RE: Build a personal storage cloud

    Use PogoPlug at your own risk. You stand to lose not only your data, but your hard drive as well. Many people have fallen for PogoPlug's hype and learned the hard way.
    I'm suprised how little research was done for fhis blog.
    • RE: Build a personal storage cloud

      @soncory---do you or anyone else have any knowledge of the Seagate STDSA10G-RK FreeAgent Dockstar's performance in relation to PogoPlug's?
    • RE: Build a personal storage cloud

      @soncory I agree. I bought it from NCIX based on this hype here and now they won't take it back. I've just replied to their refusal:

      I understand that you are the retailer and would like the original box for me to return the Pogo. That's what retailers always want. You say that all you could do is replace it. But that is of no value because I do believe the unit I have works as well as ALL Pogo units, which is to say:
      1. Very poorly, and,
      2. Not as advertised.

      So can you please explain how the law works in Canada? You sell something that does not work according to the claims of an American manufacturer. Does NCIX have NO RESPONSIBILITY for this? Surely the absence of the original shipping material does not absolve your firm of responsibility for selling something that does not work as claimed?

      My major objection is contained in the claim also on your site "It's just like using a drive that is directly connected to your computer." That claim is untrue. The drives connected directly to my computer are very fast. I can transfer about 1 mb of data per second. My informal tests suggests that the Pogo operates at about 1/50th of this speed. Therefore it is NOT "just like using a drive that is directly connected to (my) computer."

      So is NCIX willing to take responsibility for this misleading claim, or should I escalate the issue?

      Thad McIlroy
      Thad McIlroy, The Future of Publishing
  • RE: Build a personal storage cloud

    I have been wrestling with a Pogoplug for the past 2 months and have concluded that it does not accomplish what it should. Specifically, they don't support pointing your iTunes library at the web-based Pogoplug storage. All kinds of corruption occurred when I did this. Also, the Android app crashed my wife's phone. The iPad app they have didn't display any of my data. The virtualized local drive feature they offer doesn't work; that drive magically appears and disappears at random on your computer, requiring complete re-boot of all systems. If you're on the road you're S-O-L until you can go home and re-boot the pogoplug device. The only feature I have found valuable is the active-copy; I set up policies to automatically mirror certain folders on different disks when they're plugged in to the pogoplug. So in this way I use a main drive attached to my computer via USB and once a week or so I plug it, along with a backup drive, into the pogoplug and let the device automatically sync the two. In short, don't expect to use pogoplug to access pictures, videos, or music over the web as they advertise. The document syncing feature depends on your use of the cloud drive virtualized as a local drive and since this is flaky at best I wouldn't depend on it. Then again at $45 it's worth a 50/50 shot.
    • RE: Build a personal storage cloud

      @SternerStuff I keep a copy of my iTunes library on my notebook. I haven't seen the other problems, but this isn't a long-term review. If I do I'll do an update.
      Robin Harris
  • Meh

    Since accessing your data uses mostly your broadband's upload speed (from the perspective of the outgoing data), and since that is often 1/5th to 1/10th the rated speed of the line, it's going to be s-l-o-w. Why have GB's of super-slow-to-access data? Doesn't sound useful in the real world for any but small files.
    • RE: Build a personal storage cloud

      @rberman Yes S-L-O-W is the big problem. V-E-R-Y V-E-R-Y S---L---O---W.......
      Thad McIlroy, The Future of Publishing
  • sshfs over the internet

    thin, secure, no third parties knowing any of my stuff... even have my own dynamic URL thanks to DynDNS.

    I can even fire up the server back at the office to be a proxy, 'frinstance if I really-really-really-really need to check email at the internet cafe or Mickey D's.

    But this device looks like a great tool for some of the SOHOs I deal with. One box gives you this feature... people love to hear that. Nobody's smiling after I explain how my systems are set up, sounds too complex, few have had need to go with a full blown internet server solution.

    Great market niche, hat's off to the pogoplug folks.
  • RE: Build a personal storage cloud

    Another mature OpenSource type of alternative is Amahi Server. Very similar features, plus a lot of additional add-ons as well. Price is right - FREE Check it out at
    • RE: Build a personal storage cloud

      @jfarrar42 Thanks for the link. I'll check it out.

      Turns out that with the Pogoplug, according to Network World, "You can use SSH to establish a console session on the Pogoplug and then install lots of interesting open source software. The OpenPogo site provides all you need to know about adding a Web server, PHP, MySQL, PHPMyAdmin, Samba, a Secure FTP server, a BitTorrent client, Django, Ruby on Rails with RubyGems, Cron ? a cornucopia of open source coolness." Not Pogoplug's target demographic, but some ZDnet readers may want to explore.
      Robin Harris
  • RE: Build a personal storage cloud

    Robin, are you trying to invent a new name for NAS or a network drive? Calling it "cloud" would make sense only if you are authoring am article for a "teenager today" newpaper.
    • RE: Build a personal storage cloud

      Pogoplug looks a lot like Dropbox, which most would agree is a form of cloud or online storage. Enterprises are debating public vs private clouds. This is the individual's analog.
      Robin Harris
    • RE: Build a personal storage cloud

      @pupkin_z - great point. Cloud to me implies virtualization, management tools, metered usage billing, lots of other stuff. This is kind of a NAS that I'm guessing you put a hole in your firewall for & you can access remotely, has some file server software and the ability to add some other features.
  • RE: Build a personal storage cloud

    I think my DynDNs and an old Mac has you beat.
    SyncToy from Windoze, cron from Linux, Chronosync from Mac. HTTP, FTP and SSH from anywhere - all standard in OS X. Set it to turn on and off when you choose and reboot after power failure. You can run a huge SATA drive on old IDE Macs with a PCI adapter.
  • RE: Build a personal storage cloud

    Thats pretty awesome @ Robin Harris ,This is a really good issue , I have tried most of the scenario's presented here ,with the same assumption .Like is a third party looking @ my files or i don't have the time to set up a mutt machine . I think cloudy "laughs" is a good name .As a personal preference i do agree with your way of data access with Pogoplug.