Exploring cloud backup with Pogoplug

This past year I’ve been working to wean myself off of 3rd cloud storage in favor of cloud storage I actually own. There’s something good about having physical access to the places where my data is kept.

Still, I have been in the market for cloud-based backup service which is not free. Gobs and gobs of free data from the likes of Google sounds wonderful, but in the end I give up too much control over my data to feel comfortable. While I have an off-site backup of my data via a Time Machine drive in the ABCNJ office, and this serves as a decent off-site backup, I’m not in the office every day to keep my backups constantly up to date. Also, the only backup solutions my family has are “in house,” if something went “kablooey” here, their data would be gone. For our kids this isn’t much of an issue, as a lot of their work is done through their school Google accounts, but for my wife this would be catastrophic. Especially now that she’s back teaching full-time.

In years past I used Carbonite as my off-site cloud backup, but dropped it with the release of OS X Lion as I found it bogged down my system too much. I’ve pondered Crashplan but, as I’ve always had an off-site backup, I never bothered to pull the trigger. That’s been selfish of me, given the amount of work my wife currently has on her machine 1.

This week, we decided to change that. Cultofmac offered a deal on cloud backup via Pogoplug, for mobile and traditional devices, which ran $50 for three years. I quickly texted my wife, “We should do this.” She wasn’t sure, as the idea of cloud backup isn’t a priority for her 2, but she does understand the value of having an accessible backup in case of failure. Neither of us were sure about the quality of Pogoplug’s service, so we opted to get a one year subscription for both of us at $19.99 a piece. It’s normally $50 a year, so in the end we won’t save as much as if we’d jumped on the three year subscription from the get-go, but still a significant savings 3.

Pogoplug iOS UI
The Pogoplug has a bit of a dated look, but is nicely laid out and quite powerful.

Thus far, I’ve been impressed. The OS X app 4 runs smoothly and wonderfully in the background. It also allows me to add custom folders to my backup, so my external drive with my Lightroom library is able to be uploaded to the service. Even my wife’s older Macbook doesn’t show any signs of slow-down with the app running in the background, though I am noting that it’s uploading data at a slower rate than my Retina MacBook Pro. The interface for setting up backups is wonderfully simple.

The iOS app runs nicely on both my iPhone and iPad, and can even be password protected. The look user interface isn’t anything to write home about, as the icons are very colorful and “desktop-ish,” giving it a somewhat dated feel. That isn’t to say the application isn’t powerful or usable – it is well organized and quite flexible. About the only feature I’d like to see added is the ablity to manually set how much data the app is allowed to cache on my mobile device. I can see it ballooning it’s storage on to my mobile devices and I can’t find a way to manually clear the cache or limit its scope.

Imported photos automatically have their metadata scanned to be included into a timeline. Not sure how I feel about that.

Pogoplug will catalog photos and videos according to date and month. I’m not sure I like that it doesn’t keep my structure intact for my photos and videos, but it’s something I’m willing to live with. Users can create galleries within Pogoplug which can also be shared with others via unique link. This would be helpful for cataloging photos or videos taken with mobile devices for sharing if a user will be away from their computer for some time. It’s not as simple or powerful as Apple Photos, but it works. As I’m not using Apple Photos, this would be a nice way for me to share galleries of my quick phone snapshots with family and friends. I like that. I should note, however, Pogoplug does not see RAW files as photos, not even Digital Negatives. That’s a bit of a bummer, but not unexpected.

The music player is simple, but very well thought-out. Users can even create custom play lists.

The Pogoplug app also has a built-in music and video player, which can even be played through an external device via AirPlay. As my iTunes library is already on another cloud-accessible device I have yet to make great use of this, but for the few songs it discovered on my drive it works well. At first I thought video files wouldn’t benefit from Pogoplug’s AirPlay feature, but these also are able to be played to external devices. I’d also like to see Chromecast support sometime in the future.

The service also has a web-interface, much like Dropbox, which gives users access to files on any web-connected computer 5. This web-ui has many of the same features as the mobile app. It is very responsive, and is set up in similar fashion to it’s App counterpart.

I won’t be using some of Pogoplug’s features, as my photo uploads are being handled through Lightroom and my music is already stored in the cloud 6. My wife, on the other hand, will certainly love exploring these features once I get all her data uploaded to the service. Thus far, I am impressed. It’s worth checking out.

  1. I’ve never claimed to be a wonderful husband. I’m trying (take the meaning of that as you will). 
  2. I’ll just “fix it.” 
  3. I didn’t know this when we purchased our subscriptions, but Pogoplug allows members to add family members for a significant discount. Next year I’ll cancel my wife’s account, and add her to mine on the discounted rate. 
  4. Pogoplug has Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android apps. 
  5. If it is trusted, mind you. I wouldn’t recommend logging into a random computer and start typing in passwords for anything, much less a site where your data is being backed up. 
  6. And, I don’t listen to much music anyway. It’s not a draw for me. 

One thought

Comments are closed.