NAS drives are a dime a dozen nowadays. So in order to stand out, a NAS drive needs to bring a lot more to the plate than just backing up the drives on your network. Fortunately, Buffalo’s latest CloudStor with Pogoplug NAS drive brings together the strength of Buffalo Tech’s great NAS devices with Pogoplug’s excellent software. Pogoplug integration means that users can remotely access and share the files on their CloudStor drive from any web browser or mobile device.
The Cloudstor’s design is pretty plain but it’s also very nice and compact, measuring just 8.1″x 5.1″ x 3.4″. As a matter of fact it’s so compact that it’s actually kind of cute. Either way, it wont take up much space on your desk. Inside, the drive comes with either 1TB or a 2TB hard drive, and there a second empty drive bay inside the system for easily expanding the device into a raid system later on. Adding a hard drive is as easy as snapping off the front face of the device. Alternatively you can also add an external drive via USB.
CloudStor has a set-up process that is described as a 60 second set-up, and for once, this proves to be true. All you have to do is plug the power chord in, and connect the included ethernet cable from the CloudStor to your router. Speaking of the ethernet cable, it’s actually a flat cable wire which is a nice touch. Then you’ll need to head to http://cloudstor.pogoplug.com/activate to activate the device. The whole process really only takes a minute or so and this is indeed the easiest set-up process we’ve experienced with a NAS drive. That said, during the set-up process our drive didn’t activate automatically, so we had to input the unique identifier which is located at the bottom of the device. That was a tad bit annoying since we had already tucked the drive away under our desk, but the set-up process was still overall quick and easy.
The device just works right out of the box without any complicated set-up process, or complicated software getting involved. So you can pretty much do everything you need to with the device by accessing http://cloudstor.pogoplug.com. There is also optional software for Mac and PC that you can use with the system, but a disc with software is not included in the box, so you’ll have to download the software online.
The CloudStor might have the word “Cloud” in its name, but your data isn’t actually being stored in the cloud. Instead, it’s actually being stored on your CloudStor drive at home, but with Pogoplug’s software, your data becomes accessible through the cloud. This is called virtual cloud functionality. And unlike with the web access used for some other competing NAS drives, there are no fees involved for using Pogoplug with CloudStor. CloudStor’s Pogoplug clean interface takes your music files and displays them by artist, album and genre. It also provides previews thumbnails for photos and videos.
CloudStor will even work with multiple CloudStor drives in a single account. So that for example, you could be using one CloudStor drive at home, and another in the office, yet you would use only a single Pogoplug account to access both drives. Plus, a neat Global search feature enables you to search for a specific file across all of your drives.
You can invite others to download files or folders on your CloudStor drive. And they wont even be required to sign up for a CloudStor account! CloudStor is able to create a url for the file that can be emailed to others easily for them to quickly click on and download. The CloudStor interface also lets you create multiple user accounts for which you can allocate storage space to. This can be a great solution for small businesses, or even a family where different family members want to keep their files private. The interface even provides you with options to publish and share your files directly on Twitter, Facebook and MySpace.
Besides for being able to access files remotely, the CloudStor interface also has a built-in media player that lets you stream and watch videos, browse through photos and listen to music.
Users can access files located on their CloudStore from any web browser using Pogoplug’s interface at cloudstor.pogoplug.com, and alternatively there are free Pogoplug mobile apps for the iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry and Android devices that all let you upload and share files, as well as stream music and movies. We’re especially impressed with CloudStor’s ability to stream movies to our laptop, iPad and iPhone while we’re out and about. The app even manages to transcode videos on the fly, so you don’t have to use any video converter software.
But besides for media files, CloudStor also has plenty of work chops. It is able to display PDF, Excel, Word and PowerPoint documents. This applies to not only its web interface, but also a built-in function for its mobile devices too.
Both the optional Mac and PC desktop app makes all of the hard drives connected to the CloudStor show up as local hard drives on your computer. This way you can access, view, and drag an drop files between your CloudStor drives and you computer’s drives. This is similar in concept to how Dropbox’s own software works.
The CloudStor also works of course as a standard drag and drop backup system and it is also Time Machine capable. Unfortunately it doesn’t come with any dedicated backup software for fine-tuned back-up control. Speaking of writing backups onto the drive, when it came to Write speeds for the CloudStor, we experienced an acceptable, but not speedy, average of 25MB/s.
The CloudStor can also stream music, photos and movies straight to your PS3 or Xbox 360 gaming system. You can also opt to connect a printer to the CloudStor using USB. If you do that, you’ll be able to remotely print files on your printer at home. The web interface also features a special Bit Torrent section which lets you have torrents download directly onto your CloudStor. You can then remotely stream any video torrents you may have downloaded – directly off of the CloudStor! And again, you don’t have to worry about incompatible video formats because the CloudStor is able to do video transcoding on the fly.
Another neat feature of the CloudStor is the active copy feature which copies files from one folder to another automatically. If any changes are made to the files and folders which are set to Active Copy, the changes will sync up together.
The Buffalo CloudStor is a compact NAS device that is easy to set-up, and very feature rich. If you’re looking for a NAS drive that will let you access and stream files remotely without much hassle, CloudStor rocks it. Your CloudStor NAS drive can be accessed from anywhere in the world at cloudstore.pogoplug.com. That said, it’s important to understand that this means that your data will accessible from the cloud, but not actually stored in the cloud. Also, you’ll need to take into consideration that the speed of the downloads and files you stream and access from the CloudStor will depend on your home network’s internet connection speed, as well as how fast the internet connection is on the device you are using. That said, our experience using the Pogoplug interface on the CloudStor was generally responsive and fast.
But besides for tight integration with Pogoplug’s software and mobile apps, we love how easy it is to upgrade the CloudStor with a second drive when you eventually run out of storage. We also appreciate that they’ve thrown in extra neat features, like the ability to download and stream torrents from your CloudStor. Our biggest gripes with the CloudStor however is the lack of how-to’s and documentation. The box came with a small set-up guide but no other how-to’s or guides. Also, it would be nice if they had included a more robust software backup solution. That said the CloudStor does make using a NAS device more simple and useful/resourceful than most other NAS drives. The CloudStor is available in 1GB and 2GB capacities and is compatible with Mac OS X, Windows XP, Vista and 7. The 1TB model retails for $139, the 2TB model retails for $239, and the CloudStor Pro model, which features a 2TB capacity along with a powerful 1.6ghz processor retails for $259.
The Good: Easy to set-up, compact design, runs on Pogoplug’s excellent software plus some of Buffalo’s own enhancements, easily expandable to RAID, has plenty of business chops like multiple user accounts, built-in file viewer for pdfs, and Excel docs etc, works with mobile apps across multiple devices, reasonably priced with no monthly or yearly fees involved, provides on the fly Video transcoding for streaming, can share files and post them directly on social networks like Twitter & Facebook
The Bad: Lacks documentation and how-to guides, doesn’t come with a dedicated backup software solution