Setting up my own private cloud

August 27, 2009 | By | Comments (0)

Sideimage_plug_1.0 A couple of days ago a company I’ve been working with was trying to send me some very large pdf files (30-40 pages with lots of graphics), that, due to their size, kept being bounced back to the sender. After a few attempts the coordinator at the company asked if I had an ftp site or other place where she could upload the files.

Just as I prepared to say no, I remembered the new tool I had been testing for the last month – Pogoplug.  

Pogoplug is a small tool which, when connected to an external hard drive and router, turns that hard drive into a networked server that is accessible through the internet. In short, it creates your own private cloud (click here for Erin’s post about computing in the cloud).

From the comfort of my office, I was able to access the hard drive at my house, set up a new folder and give permission to the coordinator to upload her files (while protecting everything else on the server). Later that day she, a person who I imagine deals with a lot of large files and the problems associated with them, wrote “Two new documents have been uploaded into Pogoplug. What a cute little, right to the point site – I love it above all the others!” 

I will admit at this time that, when I was first sent the Pogoplug (upon my request), I didn’t really know what I was going to do with it. I understood how it worked (in theory) and I appreciated how easy it was to set up (it took me more time to figure out where our router was than to actually plug it in). But I wasn’t sure why I would need it. (In the spirit of full disclosure, it was actually my husband who wanted me to test out the PogoPlug).  

It’s not like I had a lack of places to store files – I have access to servers in my office for storing large files, and I have a couple of Maxtor hard drives kicking around the house for backup purposes. I can upload files to my MobileMe account, Google docs or Basecamp, depending what they are or why I need to access them. I've also never had an issue with sharing photos through services like Facebook and Flickr. But I do understand that I'm not necessarily the norm, so I decided to give the Pogoplug a try.

We had attached a hard drive with 1.5 terabytes of available storage, so there was plenty of room for files. First, I moved all the music that had been stored/trapped on a smaller drive so it could be accessed by other computers. Then, I started storing the multiple princess coloring pages I regularly download from the internet on the drive, so I could print out new pages for my daughter without searching. Finally, I started setting up a section of the hard drive where Erin and I could store for Manic Mommies purposes (artwork, sponsorship agreements, etc.)

Did I mention this was all done from the comfort of my couch? This is only a big deal because normally I couldn't get anything on one of our hard drives without sitting in our uber-cluttered home office.

There was one important thing I can't do with the PogoPlug – wirelessly back up my Apple laptop using Time Machine. In truth, this was really the only thing I was particularly hopeful about. I could purchase Time Capsule, a device designed to backup my laptop automatically and wirelessly. But I had this big ole' hard drive and was looking forward to not spending more money for more hardware. According to PogoPlug, they are working on Time Machine capability and hope to roll it out shortly (no time frame was given).

Even with this one issue, I have to admit, the PogoPlug is one handy gadget. And, at just $99, is an inexpensive way to repurpose hard drives you may already have hanging around the house to create a private space on the internet for document storage and photo sharing.

My husband and I liked the PogoPlug so much that I had to buy a new one to return to the company (he didn't want to unplug the one we had and disrupt the system). He's also recommended his boss pick up a PogoPlug so that employees can easily access the company hard drive over the internet.

What do you think? How could you use your own personal cloud?