Pogoplug, from a company called Cloud Engines, is the name of the external USB drive that makes all your files available on the Internet. But now, Cloud Engines is moving into the software space with a new personal cloud product that comes hardware-free. Like the previous service, Pogoplug will let you stream your photo, video and music libraries from any computer connected to the Internet. But in this case, the libraries are stored on your own computer, not an external drive.
There are no storage limits or long upload times, explains the company, differentiating its offering from similar cloud services, like Google Music or Amazon's Cloud Player. Both of those services require you to move your MP3s from your computer's drive to the companies' servers and they're only for music.
With Pogoplug, your computer is the server and more file types are supported.
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There are two levels of service with the new software. For free, you can download the client and stream your media to any other device, including iOS devices (iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch), on your same local network. To make your files available online, however, there's a $29 fee. This allows you to install the software on all your machines, too, which means you can make every single file you own available "in the cloud," whether they're stored on a Windows PC or on your Mac.
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The Web interface offers three new apps for accessing your files: an online jukebox for streaming music, a cinema app for videos or movies and a gallery app for viewing photos, already organized using their own metadata.
While the idea of "cloud drive" isn't all that unique, the company is offering a unique spin on the concept - a cloud drive you own and control, instead of one run by a major corporation like Amazon, Google, Microsoft or Apple.
Of course, another big company had the same idea not too long ago - Opera Software, makers of the Web browser of the same name. With Opera Unite, the organization proclaimed it would "reinvent the Web" by turning any computer into both a client and server. The concept itself, as a standalone entity, didn't take off with users, and the technology is now baked into the Web browser instead. Opera may have just been a bit ahead of the time with the cloud streaming concept, or it could be that people don't want the hassle of managing their own cloud. (Did I leave my computer on? Is my home Wi-Fi down?) Still, for only $29, users with larger collections of media might find the small hassle worth price, as it's far cheaper than using a third-party cloud storage service.