Currently, I keep a majority of my data backed up on a 1TB external hard drive, and most of my work data is backed up to Google Drive, for easy access. In my efforts to find the perfect online backup solution, today I am reviewing Pogoplug.

Google Drive is primarily a file syncing tool –- once you delete a file from one computer it will be removed from all other machines connected to your account, and although external hard drives are used for continuous backup, who has the time for it?

In case you are facing the same dilemma, it’s time to find a perfect online backup solution; maybe Pogoplug could be the answer?

Things to Consider Before Buying an Online Backup Solution

Instead of just initiating a one-time backup, online services can continuously run in the background, making sure every new file or modification is backed up. With online backup services, data is securely secured up in a remote data center, so even if the hard drive fails, data can still be accessed.

And lest we forget, online backups eliminate the need to carry around a hard disk everywhere. Now, before getting an online backup solution, please list down the following requirements:

  • How much data do you want to backup?
  • Do you need strong encryption?
  • Would you want mobile access?
  • Do you also want file syncing?
  • How much are you willing to spend?

With most cloud backups, there is a give and take between the price, and the features they provide. For instance, CrashPlan offers unlimited cloud backup for $ 59.99 per year, on the other hand, IDrive offers 1TB syncing and backup space for $52 per year.

Who is Pogoplug for?

Pogoplug is for home users who want to use one app to backup their desktop and smartphones. It’s best for users who do not want many complex features, all they require is a simple backup solution.

And Pogoplug completely delivers on that claim. But it’s not suitable for business users, mainly because there is no local encryption, the data is only backed up in transit using 256-bit SSL.

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths:

  • Unlimited online backup space
  • Files sharing through links which can be disabled at will
  • Mobile apps have just as many features as the web app
  • Easy uploading due to incremental backup

Weaknesses:

  • No encryption available (only SSL encryption is present)
  • Desktop app is limited to only basic options.
  • No desktop support for Linux
  • Upload speeds are throttled after 1TB has been backed up
  • No file versioning and deleted files cannot be restored

 

About Pogoplug

Pogoplug was founded in March 2007 by Ted Putterman (CEO), and Gregory Smith (CFO). Up until now, the company has received $33.2 million in funding.

Apart from their backup solution, they also provide a cloud-syncing software, and Pogoplug Series 4, which plugs into a router and lets users host their private cloud storage.

Plans & Pricing

When I opened the website to signup and downloaded their desktop software, I noticed an orange button which said ‘Get Pogoplug for free,’ so I assumed that they probably give a few Gigabytes for free.

Well, I was wrong.There is no free plan at all, just a 15-day-trial, and I could only see the paid plans after I had signed up for the service. Pogoplug only provides two types of pricing plans – monthly and yearly. Each of them comes with unlimited cloud storage.

Rating – 75%

Features

What stood out for me was the desktop app’s simplicity, and its easy-to-understand interface. There aren’t too many confusing options complicating the user experience. On the flipside, the simplicity of the desktop app could prove to be frustrating for some.

Another feature I liked was the web app’s sharing option; files can be shared directly through links or via email, there is also an option to disable links, in case records don’t need to be shared anymore. This could be pretty useful when files only need to be shared for a given period.

Ratings – 60%

Speed & Performance

Before discussing the speed tests, let’s talk about an issue that I stumbled upon while researching Pogoplug. According to a Time article, Pogoplug throttles upload speeds after the first 1TB of total backed up data. Users had been consistently reporting low rates and contacting support for an explanation.

The CEO finally sent out a mail confessing that they were, in fact, throttling upload speeds. The worst part is, neither their FAQs nor the Terms and Conditions of the company stated anything about it. Even if I never read the ToS of any website, I would want to have these terms stated more clearly and upfront. Despite this fact, the speed tests for Pogoplug were mostly good.

My internet speed when testing was:

Download3.7 mbps  Upload0.5 mbps

 

Test 1

Test 2

Upload Max:

0.44mbps

0.39mbps

Download Max:

3.9mbps

3.69mbps

Average

   

Total Upload time :

5 mins

18s

5 min

4s

Total Download time: :

25s

36s

 

Ratings – 50% (For throttling )

Online Backup

Getting Pogoplug’s software is incredibly easy; there’s a Download tab at the bottom of the page, which will take you to the website’s main download center. Sadly, Pogoplug only supports the Windows and Mac platforms, and there’s no Linux love anywhere at all.

As soon as I signed into the desktop app, I saw a big ‘Start’ button, which honestly got me a little confused. Was I supposed to initiate the backup process immediately? Isn’t there an option to select what specifically I want to backup first?

And then, I saw the ‘Show details’ option written in small font. Left to its own devices, Pogoplug directly starts backing up the Documents, Pictures, Music and Video folders. But users can select a specific folder or file to backup, by using the ‘Add more’ option.

The destination folder can be the main folder or any other one created inside the main folder. Though, I wish there was an option to create a new folder like Google Drive, right at the time of uploading.

Speaking of which, uploading data was a smooth affair, and I was able to see backed up data on the web app, almost instantly. During the process, I saw which files were being uploaded, but not how fast they were going.

I added a new file to one of the uploaded folders to see how much time it would take for Pogoplug to recognize the change and start uploading, and it started uploading the new data almost instantly.

I also made changes to the file, to see how quickly it would initiate an incremental backup, and it started backing up the changes as soon as I hit save. Now, let’s discuss a few negative issues I noticed:

  • There is no settings tab on the desktop app; the iOS and Android apps have a configuration tab, but it’s nowhere in the desktop version.
  • There was no backup scheduling available either, the backup process needs to be started and stopped manually by the user.
  • There is no way to filter files according to their file type, date, size or anything similar.
  • There is also no file versioning onboard, nor can Pogoplug retrieve deleted files from its servers.

Security

Pogoplug uses 256-bit SSL encryption, which means files are only encrypted when in transit. There is no encryption available for the user’s side, but Pogoplug recommends encrypting files before they are uploaded.

My question is, why should a separate software first encrypt my data and then upload it to Pogoplug, when backup services like CrashPlan and Carbonite charge almost the same for unlimited storage, and also encrypt data with a user-defined key.

File Restoration

File restoration can be done through;

  • Desktop app
  • Web app

The desktop app has a separate Restore tab. Folders or individual files can be restored, by right-clicking on them and selecting restore, or by picking multiple files and choosing the Restore option on top.

The web app also gives the option to download files and folders, but with this option, all the folders are downloaded as Zip files, whereas the desktop app downloads them directly in their original folder structure.

Rating – 80%

File Syncing and Sharing

Pogoplug is a simple backup service, but does provide a separate Cloud Sync tool, for file syncing; however file sharing is available on the web and mobile apps.

As I stated above, files can be shared through links, and these links can be emailed directly to recipients.

And yes, the disable link feature is a great add-on, since you can stop sharing files at anytime. But, I would have liked if users could be invited using an email address instead of just a public link.

When viewing photos, there’s an option to share them via links to Facebook, Twitter and Google +. Sharing the actual pictures on social media (instead of just their links) would have been better.

Mobile Access

Apps are available for both iOS and Android, yet sadly, there’s no support for Windows phones. I decided to test the apps against each other and see if there was a difference.

Both apps ask to upload the camera roll right away when you sign in, and their interfaces are very similar.

The first difference I noticed was a ‘Team Folders’ file on the Android app. I did not find this folder in the iOS, web or desktop apps. I searched for the problem on the Pogoplug Knowledgebase and discovered that ‘Team Folders’ is used for Pogoplug’s Cloud Sync app.

So, maybe it was just a bug since Pogoplug uses the same app for cloud backup and sync, and the only way to distinguish it is the user’s login credentials.

Files can be viewed, shared with different apps and an all pictures slideshow can also be displayed. Both the apps have the option to create and restore a snapshot, initiate phone transfers, and the Android app has an option to backup messages on the phone.

Overall, I was pretty impressed with the mobile apps, thanks to their natural interfaces and rich features.

Rating – 90%

Web Access

Since the desktop app is so limited, I had to check the web app to see what it has in store. The web app can stream uploaded videos and show a slideshow of all pictures, but I could not view my documents on it, which was just disappointing.

(I could see reports on the mobile apps).

To view a document, it has to be downloaded first. Clicking the side arrow on files and folders presented several options:

  • Download
  • Copy/Move
  • Delete
  • Get Link
  • Send Link

The disable link option only comes after a link has been generated for that file or a folder, which can also be done by going to Settings and selecting ‘Manage Links’.

There is an email attachment option in the Settings menu, which when activated, lets users upload files by emailing them as attachments to a predefined Pogoplug email address.

Rating – 85%

Support

According to the support page, customers can contact staff by either raising a ticket or contacting them on Facebook or Twitter for a real-time solution.

Well, the Twitter profile hasn’t been updated since April 2015, and when I clicked on their Facebook page, it didn’t exist.

So, I raised a ticket through Zendesk support to check their response time, which turned out to be nine hours, and I think that was pretty decent.

Rating – 90%

In Summary…

Overall, I found Pogoplug pretty average. I like the web interface and mobile apps, but the desktop app lacks essential features such as backup scheduling and local encryption. It does provide unlimited storage for the same price as: CrashPlanCarbonite and Backblaze

But since Pogoplug throttles upload speeds after the first 1TB, there is no reason for me to choose this service over more established and reputable backup services. Though, I would revisit Pogoplug if they decide to add more functions to the desktop app.

Do you have opinions or experiences to share about Pogoplug? Feel free to leave them below in the comments section.

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