REVIEW: Pogoplug Network USB Storage Adapter


pogoplug connected to router

The Pogoplug has been out for a few months now and recently added some new social sharing features, so I decided to see if I could get my hands on one to keep and review. One thing I noticed, though, is that many of the past Pogoplug reviewers just talked about how to attach the Pogoplug to a home network, adding a USB drive, and some of the features the web interface allowed you to do. While all that’s well and good, I never got a true sense on how well the Pogoplug actually did its job.

pogoplug package contentspogoplug ports

Ok, so now that I’ve had the Pogoplug for two weeks and used it to share pics and video of my niece’s birthday with family members, I can tell you what my experience with the device has been like. Overall, it’s been positive, but I experienced a few hang-ups that I’m happy to tell you have been resolved by the developers at Pogoplug (I’ll save the details for later).

Setup – Grade: A
Setup of the device was super easy (and easier than what I was expecting). Essentially, all you need to do is plug the Pogoplug to a power outlet, attach the device via Ethernet to your router, wait for the lights to turn green, attach a USB drive, and then go to your computer and navigate to http://my.pogoplug.com. Once at the website, you click “next” through most all of the 6 steps which will then auto-detect your Pogoplug on the network and ask you to provide and email and password to login.

[VIDEO]
Cali @ Geekbrief.tv does an excellent job here showing the setup process

Product Design – Grade: A
I really like the wall wart form factor for a low power, network device like this. Plus, the ability to swap the plug so you can add a power cord is very much appreciated. Users will also like the fact that the Pogoplug is silent and runs fairly cool. Tip: writing files to the network attached USB drive will happen more quickly when the drive is formatted as Ext3, NTFS, or HFS+ (FAT32 or FAT16 formatted drives write speeds are really slow).

Web Interface – Grade: B+/A-
As you’ll see in the video walkthough I made, the interface is intelligentially designed with lots to like — especially when it comes to sharing content with guests and friends. The only fault I’d say at the moment, though the developers at Pogoplug are continuously refining the app, is that users aren’t able to rotate images to their proper position. Also, and no fault to Pogoplug, is that you have to make sure your video and music content is in a format compatible with its built-in Adobe Flash player — i.e. H.264 MPEG-4 video, MP3, AAC encoded music files.

[VIDEO]
Watch in HD

Hardware Extendability – Grade: A
While Pogoplug is designed currently to perform one duty, the Pogoplug’s functionality can be extended via Optware packages — which will not interfere with Pogoplug’s native app — to offer additional server duties like UPnP, BitTorrent, SAMBA after customizing it with OpenPogo (not affiliated with CloudEngines / Pogoplug). FYI, Pogoplug provides a 1.2Ghz ARM processor with 256MB of RAM, runs the Busybox Linux distribution, and has 450MB of free space on its internal 512MB NAND flash memory to install packages.

So would I recommend this product?
Yes. I think the Pogoplug has been designed well and serves its intended audience. And, if you’re a hacker who’s comfortable with Linux, you’ll have plenty more to love about it. Check out some of the how-to articles at Pogoplugged.com (a Pogoplug partner website). Oh, yeah… I almost forgot to mention. Pogoplug does not charge an annual subscription fee to use the service (unlike other products on the market) and it plays nice with Drobo as well (which I also have).

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[Mostly Resolved] Non-typical annoying issues I experienced out of the box:
Out of the box I experienced issues with folder / image timestamps (Pogoplug created new folders dated May 31, 1926 — this is due to the ntpd daemon not firing up when the Pogoplug was first setup), lack of support for symbolic links when doing Rsync backups, found file duplicates after renaming, noticed orphan files remained listed after deletion. GOOD NEWS: The last two issues have been resolved by the team through updates to the software after I reported the bugs and the timestamp issue is something that I was told is being worked on, but doesn’t typically happen to users in a majority of the cases. As for symbolic links… I was told they’re not supported even though the Pogoplug filesystem uses them. It may be something they’ll turn on in the future.

Fixes:
Database – If you experience the same issues I did with the database not refreshing and listing files and folders you’ve deleted on your drive, you can eject the USB drive and delete the hidden .cedata folder via your PC. Then when you plug it back into Pogoplug a new .cedata folder will be created. Like I previously stated, though, this should not be an issue any more and should only be done as a last resort.

Timestamp – There’s two ways to fix this. However, I’ll show you the ideal way to nudge your Pogoplug to sync with the NTP servers to set the date / time on the hardware.

1. SSH to Pogoplug and login with username: root | password: ceadmin

2. Get the ntpd daemon started (will sync with the NTP servers listed in /etc/ntp.conf after a few minutes)

/usr/sbin/ntpd

3. Check that date / time is correct by typing (will be set to UTC)

date

4. Once the date / time is correct, you’ll need to set the hardware clock

/sbin/hwclock -w

5. Check that that hwclock matches date

/sbin/hwclock




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Filed in: Digital Media Servers, Featured, Home Networking Gear, Reviews


  • RoohBear

    I've had a PogoPlug for about a month now. It's been running solid the entire time, but I wouldn't say it runs cool… it runs silent. There's no fan inside, but it's always very warm.

    A couple problems I noticed:
    If you leave a computer connected to it for several days, you'll need to hit the Reload menu command or you'll see no files at all.

    If you send an invite to someone to read/write a shared folder, and they forget their password, there's no way for them to get their password emailed to them so they can change it. You have to remove them then send another invite

    There doesn't seem to be enough power coming out of the USB port to power my hub and a 2.5″ external hard drive. I can probably hook up several powered USB external hard drives, but a portable drive that gets its power from the USB port will only work if I plug it in directly. If I use a hub, with just the portable drive, it doesn't get enough power.

  • http://www.ehomeupgrade.com Alexander Grundner

    Thanks for adding to the review.

    I had to walk over and touch the Pogoplug to see how warm it was. Mine is barely breaking into the warm territory (more like tepid) after being on for two weeks straight.

    As for having to do a refresh after a few days, I'll keep an eye out. So far it's been alright.

    In regards to the hub, I'm most likely going to buy a powered USB hub in the future for more flexibility.

  • RoohBear

    I've had a PogoPlug for about a month now. It's been running solid the entire time, but I wouldn't say it runs cool… it runs silent. There's no fan inside, but it's always very warm.

    A couple problems I noticed:
    If you leave a computer connected to it for several days, you'll need to hit the Reload menu command or you'll see no files at all.

    If you send an invite to someone to read/write a shared folder, and they forget their password, there's no way for them to get their password emailed to them so they can change it. You have to remove them then send another invite

    There doesn't seem to be enough power coming out of the USB port to power my hub and a 2.5″ external hard drive. I can probably hook up several powered USB external hard drives, but a portable drive that gets its power from the USB port will only work if I plug it in directly. If I use a hub, with just the portable drive, it doesn't get enough power.

  • http://www.ehomeupgrade.com Alexander Grundner

    Thanks for adding to the review.

    I had to walk over and touch the Pogoplug to see how warm it was. Mine is barely breaking into the warm territory (more like tepid) after being on for two weeks straight.

    As for having to do a refresh after a few days, I'll keep an eye out. So far it's been alright.

    In regards to the hub, I'm most likely going to buy a powered USB hub in the future for more flexibility.