The Pogoplug Biz file-sharing appliance brokers a connection between Internet users and an on-premise USB storage source to ease multimedia file distribution for smaller organizations that have minimal IT staff.
The $299 appliance provides the physical connection to user data stored on a USB storage device. Pogoplug measures approximately 2.5 by 7 by 8 inches. It also supplies a no-cost online service that hosts outside user logon to facilitate file sharing. Pogoplug Biz started shipping on Aug. 31.
When I fist put it into use, I was able to share photographs and movies with my lab colleagues in a matter of minutes. While the interface to do all this is basically simple, there are an annoying number of "do you want to create an account" screens that pestered my colleagues. Users are free to decline the account screen, but there was no way for me to prevent Pogoplug from asking users to create the account.
For small organizations that move multimedia-intensive files such as photos, CAD drawings or videos, Pogoplus makes it possible to easily share these files without uploading. According to my tests, the physical device is basically a USB hub with a network port. I added files to a USB storage device, plugged the device into the Pogoplug appliance, then sent a sharing invitation via my Pogoplug account to various recipients.
Security is a basic and straightforward affair for Pogoplug. Files are always stored on user-supplied media; Pogoplug only facilitates access and sharing-neither the device nor the service stores any user data files. Once the USB device is disconnected from Pogoplug the files are no longer available. I was able to control access to my shared files by inviting and rescinding user invitations. It was relatively easy to use the interface to keep track of which files were shared with specific users.
The device comes with a no-cost online service that facilitates remote access and file sharing capabilities via a Web-based interface. I logged on to my.pogoplug.com and the service identified my Pogoplug device and associated storage. I walked through a couple of the online videos that demonstrated how to specify which files to share and how to invite people to download or view my shared files. There is no central management interface; each Pogoplug is individually configured and there is no need for load balancing or other advanced file-sharing features.
I was able to share, stream, upload and download files to and from the USB drive connected to my Pogoplug Biz. The device is compatible with Mac, Windows and Linux systems; a Pogoplug client is available for each operating system to facilitate file sharing. I was able to make photos view-only, thus placing them off limits for downloading but still making them available for users to see. This is a handy feature for professional photographers and others who need to show creative content to clients but need to prevent copying.
There is a Pogoplug app for Blackberry, iPad, iPhone, and Android smartphone devices. I was able to access files from a Samsung Vibrant running on the T-Mobile network and an iPhone 4 running on AT&T. The apps were a streamlined version of the desktop Pogoplug apps for Mac, Windows and Linux. The nice thing about using Pogoplug with a mobile handset is that I was able to stream music and video to the mobile device.