Do you store work files on Dropbox?so that you can still access them when you are not at the office? Do you use various cloud storage services so that you can share personal files, images, and videos with friends and family? For end-users and businesses worried about security and privacy on these third-party services, Transporter from Connected Data may be the exact private offline yet online storage they are looking for. Part network-attached-storage and part cloud storage, Transporter offers users remote access to data stored on its drives.
Users on the same network as the Transporter can take advantage of Gigabit Ethernet speeds to access the files. If the Transporter is on a remote network, then the user is restricted to that network's upload and download speeds, but that isn't any different from what you would have with a cloud service. The Transporter is better than a NAS, though, because you can access the Transporter files from anywhere in the world, so long as you have an Internet connection.
However, the key feature for the Transporter isn't its remote access functionality, but the fact that it can communicate with other Transporters. The Transporter maps to a drive on your computer that you can directly navigate to. The desktop management software, Connected Desktop, lets you switch between Transporters and different files. When you want to share your files, you send an invitation asking the recipient to register an account.
What It Looks Like
The Transporter is a stylish, not-quite-obelisk-shaped black box, measuring about 3.9 inches x 3.9 inches x 5.52 inches. The case ?looks more like a fancy paperweight or conversation piece for the coffee table than a network-attached-storage device. Weighing less than 2 pounds, the Transporter is very easy to move around.?
A Gigabit Ethernet port and a USB port are built into the base of the unit, and a colored light indicates the Transporter's status. Reddish yellow indicates a problem, such as low disk space or no Internet connection, greenish-blue is normal operation, and flashing blue means it is transferring data.?
Users can buy the Transporter with a 1TB hard drive ($299), with a 2TB hard drive ($399), or without any hard drive at all ($199). The Transporter can take almost any 2.5-inch SATA hard disk drive, including SATA II, SATA-300, SATA 3Gb/s, SATA III, SATA-600, and SATA 6Gb/s drives, as long as it is 160 GB or larger. Users can decide exactly how much storage capacity they need and swap out for larger drives as necessary.
Unlike many of the popular NAS products on the market, the Transporter has only one drive bay, so there is no way to aggregate storage capacity together in a RAID configuration. In this case, the Transporter is more like an external hard drive that happens to be on the network than a true NAS.
However, unlike an external drive, the Transporter can back up its data on another Transporter and restrict who has access to the files. Transporter can store and transfer videos, pictures, documents, and spreadsheets to other Transporters, other computers (with the Connected Desktop management software installed), and iOS devices.
Connected Data sent me two Transporters, each one with 1 TB hard drive inside. I plugged the Transporter (from now on to be referred to as the "lab unit") into one of PC Mag'stest networks and created an account on the Transporter Website. Once I registered for an account, I was able to "claim" the Transporter based on the device's serial number. This associated the Transporter with my account.
I set up the second Transporter (the "remote unit") on a different network. At this point, I logged back into my account and claimed the second Transporter as well. I could see both Transporters via Connected Desktop. If a friend had yet another Transporter and granted me access on some of the files on that unit, I would have seen that Transporter listed as well.
As part of the setup process, I installed the Connect Desktop software on my test computer. This is the actual software that allows me to browse the files stored on any of the Transporters I have access to. The software works on Mac OS X 10.7.x and 10.8.x, Windows 7 SP1 for both 32-bit and 64-bit versions, and Windows 8 for both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. While there is an app for iOS versions 5.1.x ?and higher, an Android app is not yet available.
When I want to transfer files or share with other people, I send an invitation through the interface to the user's email address. That person registers for an account, installs the software, and that's it.
Transporting the Data
The people you want to share your files with also use Connected Desktop to access the data, even if they aren't on your network.?Next: Accessing the Data on the Transporter