When I first heard of Connected Data’s Transporter it was still in its’ infancy fund raising on Kick Starter. Promising all the benefits of a cloud storage service but without the tradeoffs of monthly service fees or privacy concerns. Even though it sounded extremely compelling I wasn’t totally convinced on how well it worked just yet. Now, roughly a year later they released a lower cost version in the form of the Transporter Sync. Similar to the Transporter but minus the all-in-one obelisk styled design with a builtin hard drive. This version also presented a much more reasonable price point for me to get my hands dirty with.
Out the box every Transporter includes a network cable, AC power cord and a set of instructions to help get you started on the road to having your own private cloud. Since the Sync is a BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Drive) party I decided to pair it with a 500GB 2.5″ hard drive in an external enclosure for my test runs. Connecting the Transporter Sync to the external hard drive, Wi-Fi router and plugging in the power cord is all the physical labor required. Once plugged into power the translucent ring called the “status ring” began flashing alternating hues of blue and green indicating it was on and formatting the drive. While waiting for it to finish I downloaded and installed the client software to my Mac and iPhone. Then I created a free online account with Connected Data to manage the Transporter remotely. When the drive was formatted I knew by the ring turning a steady blue. So, at this point I was able to “claim” my Transporter on Connected Data’s website and get down to business. All said and done it took about 10 minutes from start to finish.
On your computer the Transporter appears and functions as a standard folder. It resides in the home folder rather than appearing as a separate drive or device. So, if you want to use it as the default location to save all your documents from say Pages on a Mac or Word on a Windows computer simply treat it as any other folder. Nothing different or special needs to be done for it to work.
Along with the standard folder functionality there are some notable features baked in that makes it different from online cloud services. Connected Data has divided up its functionality into 3 key features called Special Folders, Selective Sync and the Transporter Library. Enabling the Special Folders feature is done through the Transporter Desktop software. Here you can select which of the standard folders (Desktop, Documents, Pictures, Movies, Music) on any Windows or Mac computer will automatically sync with the Transporter. Once enabled you just go about your business as usual; no files or folders to move interrupting your workflow.
Also found in the preferences pane is the Selective Sync feature. This allows you to choose which of the folders you have created or moved to the Transporter will or will not sync to your computer. Although, it is similar to the Special Folders feature it serves a completely different function. Folders only appear as a sync option here as they are added to the Transporter. So for example my Calibre Library doesn’t need to reside on my computer so I’ve been currently keeping it only on the Transporter by not checking it off to sync. Having this added granular control to manage hard drive space makes having a computer with a smaller hard drive (such as laptops with SSDs) less of a concern.
The third key feature is the default folder within the Transporter named Transporter Library. This folder and anything saved to it resides only on the Transporter itself. No syncing of files is involved here at all, therefore, nothing is duplicated onto your computer’s hard drive at any time. This folder is good for files that you may not have room for on your computer, don’t often make changes to or simply aren’t all that important. Should you change your mind about any file or folder within it simply move it to any folder you wish that resides out of the Transporter Library folder. [DONE]
Another way to access your files on the Transporter is through the Transporter mobile application. Using this app allows you to do a few basic things such as saving to, downloading from or even deleting files on the Transporter itself. Smartphone shutter bugs can also enable the auto-upload feature so they’ll always have space on their mobile device.
While I’ve pointed out some of the key features, I haven’t listed every feature. For example, the status ring isn’t the only way the Transporter communicates to the user. What happens when you’re out on the road? When the external hard drive began running low on space the Transporter sent me an email stating so while I was at work. This allowed me to delete some files to alleviate the situation by using the smartphone application. Another thing to keep in mind is the file syncing issue you can get with some online storage services because they limit the file sizes depending on the account type. You no longer have to worry about that here. File size is only limited to the amount of available storage you have on your Transporter. Which leads me into another issue. Upgrading. Most people will subscribe to the cheapest online storage plan they can get which for many equals free. But what do you do when free is no longer an option or your business is just 1 or 2 employees over the cheapest plan with no work around. Purchasing a Transporter seems like a more reasonable solution. Even after just a month of ownership you can allow more users without incurring additional costs. My last real concern is privacy. We live in an age where you can copy any important or highly sensitive document to your computer in case of an emergency. Businesses who operate as they should don’t store their sensitive data on another company’s server. So why should you. Backup is not the copy you keep at home it’s the copy you have elsewhere. So if you use a Transporter not only is it somewhere else but you know where that somewhere else is.
After using one for the past 2 months I see there’s a lot to like about the Transporter. Easy setup, easy of use, data redundancy, local backup, off-site backup if you use two, a one time equipment cost and complete data privacy. Some may not like it because it lacks some of the deep integration found in Dropbox for example but hopefully it will get that as more software developers use the Transporter API. And, although, it’s easy to use one must also remember that this is a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) solution. Any troubleshooting and or solution you find you must do yourself. Two months is not long enough for me to say it’s bulletproof but I haven’t run into any issues yet which is something I’m keeping my eyes open for. In my opinion small businesses especially startups and people who don’t mind a little DIY should really look into this. It’s simple since you don’t have to worry about getting a NAS up and running properly or configuring the correct RAID for your needs. The Transporter does all of this in one device so you can spend time using it rather than maintaining it. And at the end of the day isn’t that all we really want. Check out the Transporter for yourself.