Have you ever been at a friend’s house and wish you remembered to bring a USB drive with you, not just any USB drive but that single USB drive that you use for everything? I could go over a lot of different situations where a CTERA cloud plug would be useful but instead of doing that I’m just going to dive in to telling you what it can do and how well it does it. The CloudPlug is a hub that you plug in to your router and turns any ESATA or USB drive in to a network drive that you can access from anywhere.
First setup of the portal is very easy, you plug it in to your router and open the network folder on your computer where you will see the CTERA CloudPlug. When you double click on that it will open your browser of choice to the local admin page for your unit and ask you to create a username and password, this is where you will directly control the device. From this control page you will be able to choose what you want to backup online, create users so you can map the drive to other computers around your house and access many other options.
The purchase of this unit comes with a free 1 month 10GB backup service to wet your whistle. An easy setup will appear but I think the admin UI is extremely easy to navigate so I am going to stick with that for review purposes. There is a navigation panel on the left and there you will find the cloud backup tab. This tab gives you many options on how you want your backup to occur. You can choose what folders to backup, what types of files to backup, what times for the backup to run and even what speed to backup at. This comes in very handy if you have a slow ISP connection. I have a 5Mbit/sec connection and it came as a shock to me that upload to backup had no effect on my surfing speed. For testing purposes I throttled the upload speed to 1Mbit/sec and it maintained that speed through my spot checks pretty consistently. The upload will take a long time to run though, at top speed I was reaching about 3.5Mbit/sec and on average and that was uploading a little over 1GB/hour so if you have a 50GB subscription it will take a couple days for your initial upload.
The network hard drive setup is as easy on this device as I have ever seen. You simply create the user name and passwords for each computer you are going to map to the drive and map the drive like normal on your computer. I only tested this on windows OS because I don’t have an apple but the CloudPlug supports windows file sharing, apple file sharing, FTP server and RSynk server connections. The network drive feature is very useful and works great, the only issue I have with it is very minor and probably because I have been spoiled in the past with network drives having media servers built in. That would be great for those gamers out there with the 360 and the PS3 working with media servers.
The CTERA portal gives you access to your CloudPlug via their website along with your data that has been backed-up. You have the option to turn off remote administration and remote file access for those of you that are super secretive but if it’s that serious I would imagine you wouldn’t want to backup to the cloud anyways. To access the backup data you need a passphrase that you can choose yourself or have made by the company. There are ups and downs to each choice. If the company chooses it and you forget it you can have it replaced. If you make it yourself you are the only person that has it but if you forget it you will lose access to your backup data and have to re-upload your backup data.
The remote admin works exactly like it does at your house from anywhere with internet. You also have the option to access your files remotely from the USB or ESATA drive itself but you will also be restricted by your internet connection where the cloud plug is connected. The remote access also gives you the choice to upload which was a pleasant surprise. All in all the choices, features and options that come with this tiny box is more than expected, CTERA really have covered all the bases with the CloudPlug and it shows because CTERA Networks was named a top 100 company pioneering cloud computing and SaaS by AlwaysON. This review will be updated as soon as I get pricing information, so check back soon.
— UPDATE —
I have received pricing information on this wonderful piece of equipment, the company doesn’t sell them directly but you can find them through third parties for just under 200 dollars. The online backup pricing is as follows
- 10GB ($9.95 Monthly)
- 25GB ($19.95 Monthly)
- 50GB ($29.95 Monthly)
- 100GB ($49.95 Monthly)
- 200GB ($99.95 Monthly)
The question I know is burning in the back of your mind, is the online remote access dependent on your backup subscription? Sadly the answer is yes, I was hoping otherwise. So would I recommend you buy this product?
Home consumers -
If you are in the market for online backup then I would say yes, it may be a large expense to start with for this hardware but I think in the long run it will make itself very useful and you don’t have to clutter your pc with more software. If you aren’t looking for online backup then I wouldn’t recommend it. A couple changes like a media server and free remote access and I would be telling everyone to get it.
Business owners -
You are who this is marketed for and with good reason. This product is for you! It just makes things easy and you have the security of knowing you have the information you want backed up. Go and get this now because it doesn’t get much simpler than this.
Final Score: [Rating:4/5]