PogoPlug Biz Review: File Sharing and Remote Access

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PogoPlub Biz; remote access; file sharing

Specs and Setup

The $299 PogoPlug Biz is a small device that looks almost identical to the standard PogoPlug (the only physical difference is a base/front bezel of businesslike black rather than bright magenta). The front of the PogoPlug Biz sports a single USB 2.0 port, and there are three more in back along with a Gigabit Ethernet port.

If you prefer wireless access and are willing to sacrifice one of the USB ports, you can spend an extra $29 on an optional dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11n adapter. (Our evaluation unit didn’t include one.)

The idea behind the PogoPlug Biz is to connect external storage devices — either hard drives or flash drives — to the device (it has no internal storage of its own) so you can remotely access their contents from any Internet-connected browser. PogoPlug Biz supports storage devices formatted with FAT32, NTFS, HFS+, or EXT-2/3, which represent all the file systems used by today’s Windows Mac, and Linux PCs. It also works with all the major browsers — IE, Firefox, Chrome and Safari.

Getting the PogoPlug set up and connected to the Internet is extremely easy. It’s a simple matter of physically connecting power, network cables, and one or more storage devices. Then you visit My.PogoPlug.com to create an account and run a short activation wizard.

The wizard automatically detects the PogoPlug Biz on your network — through NAT and without the need to tinker with firewall settings. An LED on the front of the PogoPlug Biz tells you at a glance whether the unit is correctly configured and has an Internet link.

While you access PogoPlug Biz-connected storage via CloudEngine-maintained servers at My.PogoPlug.com, the site’s merely a portal. That means your files remain on the PogoPlug Biz; they’re not replicated to any online storage, and there aren’t any subscription fees required for access.

Remote File Access and File Sharing

Upon logging into the PogoPlug Biz, you’re presented with a library view that encompasses all the devices connected to it. One way to access files and folders is by selecting and then browsing a specific storage device — like you’d typically do on a PC — but the PogoPlug Biz includes preset links that can make finding a particular category of files easier irrespective of their location.

For example, Photos and Movies links show photo or video folders across all attached storage devices, while Today, Last week or Last month links filter all but the most recent additions.

The PogoPlug Biz automatically generates thumbnail views for photos and video and can display photo slideshows. You can also view non-graphics files like documents or spreadsheets from within the browser. Mousing over a video thumbnail will play the first few seconds of the clip (sans audio), and you can configure the PogoPlug Biz to automatically transcode all video so that it can be streamed as well as downloaded.

This process can be extremely slow — transcoding a large number of videos, or even relatively small number of lengthy and/or high-resolution videos, can take a day (or several) and, while it’s taking place, the PogoPlug’s responsiveness can become somewhat sluggish.

To share a file or folder (or an entire drive, for that matter), you click a link beneath the thumbnail and provide a recipient’s email address to send an invitation with an access link. Sharing options include the capability to share an item publicly, require an access password (so that links can’t be passed around to unauthorized people), receive updates about changes to shared folders via email or RSS feed, or share via Twitter and Facebook.

Of particular interest to small business looking to control content will be the PogoPlug Biz’s Web View Only option, which allows others to view shared files in a browser but not download them.

The PogoPlug Biz doesn’t have a formal backup feature per se, but it does provide an Active Copy option that lets you replicate and sync folders between two different attached storage devices or remotely between two PogoPlug Biz units.

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