Thursday, March 24, 2011

Product Review-the Pogo Plug

The Pogo Plug

The Pogo Plug is a very simple device that is easy to use and inexpensive to run.  It is a device and a service all in one that helps you create a personal cloud.  “Cloud” is a common buzz word these days in technology.  Put simply, “the cloud” is online storage.  Instead of keeping your files on your computer (desktop, laptop, netbook, tablet, mobile device) they are kept in “the cloud.”  This gives you access to your files on any device from anywhere.  The Pogo Plug from Cloud Engines (based in San Francisco, California, U.S.A.) provides this for you.  There are several models each of which provides the same basic cloud service.  Purchase the Pogo Plug model that suits your needs, set it up and start computing in the cloud.  No monthly fees, no service charges, nothing except for the one time purchase of the device.  This was one of the biggest selling points for me.  Yes I have a Pogo Plug and I love it.  It isn’t perfect of course, nothing is, but it does what I need it to and more.

Services

The Pogo Plug provides three main services:  remote access to files, file sharing, and live streaming.  There are a few more services but these are the three main reasons to get a Pogo Plug.

Once set up, the Pogo Plug gives you access to your files through an internet connection.  The Pogo Plug needs to be hooked in to your internet access from home (or small business, church, little league, etc.)  Once installed users can gain access either through an internet browser or through one of Pogo plug’s free downloadable applications.  There are two types of applications; for the desktop and for a mobile device.  You name the operating system and they have an application that applies.  It can be installed on Windows (XP, Vista, and 7 in either 32 or 63 bit), Linux and MAC OS.  They also have it available on mobile devices for iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile and WebOS.  Like I said, you name it they make it.  The people at Pogo Plug want you to be able to access your files.



File access

This is the Pogo Plug’s main feature.  It is very simple.  Install your Pogo Plug and add a USB drive to it.  Everything on that drive is shared.  It is shared to whomever you give the username and password to.  Download the software to your computer to access the files as a regular drive.  You can’t assign a drive letter to it, but it seems to typically use the letter P (on windows anyway.)  If you have more than one drive installed on your Pogo Plug you can have the Pogo Plug use one drive letter or have it assign a drive letter to each storage device.  It’s up to you.  Access is a little slow but remember, it’s all happening through the internet.  Your computer has to through it to send/pull files then the Pogo Plug has to do the same, so don’t get in a hurry.  You don’t have to use the downloaded software to access your files.  You can go through a browser to download files to your computer.

File Sharing

File sharing is a nice feature from the Pogo Plug.  You can’t share files unless you go through the web browser on the computer.  Browse to your file, select it, then click the Share This button.  Enter in the email address of the person you want to share it with.  A link to the file is sent to them and they will be able to download it.  You can provide access to single files or to folders.  This is a great way to collaborate with others if you are working on a project together.

Live Streaming

Like music?  Have a big collection?  You can stream your music through your computer or mobile device.  You can also stream pictures or videos.

Other Services

These services are the icing on the cake, for me anyway.  The Pogo Plug has the ability to view PDF and Office files.  It can’t edit them but it can view them.  It also has Social Media integration.  You can upload files from your Pogo Plug to Facebook, Twitter, My Space, etc.  Two of the biggest bonus features are Remote Printing and Active Copy.  Hook up a printer to your Pogo Plug and you can print any files in your Pogo Plug to your printer from anywhere!  If you receive a file via email, save it to your Pogo Plug and print it even from your mobile device.  The Active Copy is the feature that sold me on the Pogo Plug.  It will automatically back up your Pogo Plug files to where ever you tell it to.  You tell it which folders to back up and where to back them up to.  If you are running the Pogo Plug software on your computer it will copy any folder from your computer to the Pogo Plug.  I set up each of my family members computers to copy their My Documents Folders to a folder on my Pogo Plug.  Since I set up two external hard drives on the Pogo Plug we use one for active files and the other as a backup.  It’s a real-time backup that is nothing more than a copy of the files.  Having recently lost files to a hard drive failure this was a win win for me.

Installation

The Pogo Plug is simple to install.  Plug it in to your router/modem and activate it through their website.  Plug in a USB hard drive or thumb drive (up to four devices) and you are good to go.  You can also install a USB connected printer to it as well.  It does not install to your computer at all.  That means you don’t have to have your computer on to run it, just the Pogo Plug itself and any drives you have installed to it.

Cost

What does all of this cost?  Once you purchase your Pogo Plug it’s all yours.  None of the services cost anything.  The only additional cost will be to purchase external drives and your internet service.  There are three types of Pogo Plugs, each with a different cost and each providing slightly different services.  There is the Pogo Plug (regular), Pro and Biz.  The Pogo Plug is $99 (U.S.D.), the Pro is $99 and the Biz is $299.  The regular and Pro Pogo Plugs are identical except the Pro has a built in Wifi Adapter.  The Biz has the ability to add multiple users, customizations, custom email addresses, usage statistics and Web Only sharing.  If you are a business and need these features then the extra price is worth it.

Conclusion

The Pogo Plug is a great device for remote file access and sharing.  It is inexpensive and easy to use.  It has a few drawbacks, like speed and lack of drive letter assignment, but its active copy, remote printing, and file sharing tools may be enough for you to offset these drawbacks.  I would recommend this device to anyone needing a simple and inexpensive means to accessing your files.  Especially for home office use or for small groups that need to share files.
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