Doo Review

Doo 1Most of us have already signed-up at one of the cloud storage companies, or perhaps you don’t even know that you already got some cloud storage available (in case you use Gmail for example, you already have a Google Drive account). You probably know all about this technology and how it enhanced our everyday workflow. As the time passes, top three services are in the battle for getting the most users, and the chances are that you are already using Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft’s SkyDrive. There’s also Apple’s iCloud, which should not be compared to others since it delivers enhanced cloud technology.

I’ve used Dropbox from the day it was released, and I was always happy with it. I use several computers at different places, and this is lifesaving solution. I always have all my documents in the cloud, properly synced and organized into folders, so I can access them easily via computer or my iPhone. But, I also use Google Drive since some of my employers tend to use solely this service, so I juggle between different folders on my desktop. And I assume that a lot of people are in the same situation, especially if you use Windows 8 and Office365, so you probably have SkyDrive account as well.

Doo 2

I’ve been waiting all this time for an application which could unify all these cloud storages, so I can browse all my files from one place. And this is where Doo comes to an action.

Doo connects most popular cloud services, as well as your local documents folder, and stores all these files on its own server. It automatically syncs all these services, and keeps all your files synced at any given moment. What more, you can select which folder within your cloud storage you’d like to sync.

Doo is a nicely designed application, and features attractively looking interface. Still, you will need some time to learn your way around, since it isn’t very intuitive. For example, my problem was that Doo simply pulls all my files, and I have to search for the right one over and over again, since it doesn’t show from what cloud it came from. On the other hand, there are some surprisingly interesting features. There’s a beautifully designed smart search, and timeline which allows you to easily browse your files.

Doo 3

Besides using Doo for Mac, you can also download native Windows 8 application, and mobile versions are coming soon. Once you sign-up, you will receive 1GB (or 2,000 documents) of free storage, but you can upgrade to a very affordable premium storage. Premium packages are still not available, since they are still in development, but should be available soon.

Sure, Doo has its downsides. On my computer, it crashed quite often which really annoyed me. This seems to be the problem with many users as well. I also had some problems with the initial setup, specifically with Dropbox connection.

Doo surely promises a lot, and it could be a lifesaving application, but it still feels like beta version. It would be interesting to follow the further development, since I really believe that Doo was released a bit early and that some improvements over its performance and interface will mean a lot.

Plain Cloud Review

Plain Cloud 2By now, you probably know all about Apple’s iCloud. Since most Apple users tend to stay within Apple’s ecosystem of hardware and software, iCloud is usually present on their iOS devices as well as on Macs. As you probably know, this cloud service keeps certain information in sync, making it possible to start working on a project on your Mac, and finish it on your iPad, for example. Besides this workflow, iCloud also pulls application data, iTunes purchases, creates backups, and much more. On the other hand, it is still somewhat closed for an end user, so you can’t upload files and use it like other cloud storages.

In order to gain a better insight into what iCloud stores and to be able to pull certain information from it, you can use your Mac. You will need to go to System Preferences for iCloud, and then turn on Documents and Settings Syncing. This will make iCloud store all its content locally. Now you will need to navigate to ~/Library/Mobile Documents/, which could be a bit tricky. You will need to insert this path into search bar, or you can use Go to Folder, but in the end this will lead you to iCloud folder. This is where you can find all iCloud data, divided into oddly named folders, so explore around and you will find that file you’re looking for.

Plain Cloud 1

In order to eliminate this complicated process, you can use one interesting application, named Plain Cloud. This application automatically access iCloud folder and shows you easy to understand list of applications. It doesn’t feature any eye catching design of interface, but it does its job. You will see a window with a list of all iCloud-enabled applications which could be found on your Mac, but right next to an application’s name you will see if there are any stored content. Simply click on the app’s name and you will be taken to its iCloud folder.

Once you get to iCloud folder, you can do any kind of operations that you would normally do within Mac OS X. This means that you can move it to your desktop, edit it, and then move it back to iCloud. You won’t be able to move files between different applications, which is as expected since iCloud is limited in this way. You also won’t be able to see any iOS-only specific files, which iCloud doesn’t download to your Mac. These folders will be empty.

Plain Cloud is a simple (and free) application which simply creates easy to use shortcut, in order to access iCloud. It doesn’t offer any advanced features, but you would hardly expect this, since iCloud is quite closed in general. If you’re in need for such application, I would recommend Plain Cloud, since it’s easy to set-up and use.

 

Dropbox Review

Dropbox

DropboxDropbox provides users a way to create a folder on each of their computers, which Dropbox can then synchronize so that it displays as being the same folder. It contains the same files, regardless of which computer the said folder is being accessed from.  It silently syncs over the internet and you may use it on as many computers as you would like and just the same, Dropbox does all the syncing without you having to worry about it.  It works well on Windows, Mac, and Linux systems. It also works just as seamlessly on mobile devices such as iOS, Blackberry and Android.

DropboxDropbox only synchronizes files saved in a single dedicated folder.  In case you prefer to consolidate folders scattered across your system without having to transfer them into your dedicated Dropbox folder, this application may not be your cup of tea.  Despite that, its effortless operation should make it most worthy of your consideration for your backup and file sharing needs.

Cost

Dropbox is being offered at different price points.  To start off, there is the basic package which provides users with 2GB of storage for free.  You then get to earn additional free space by virtue of referrals to the tune of 500MB per person, up to a maximum of 18GB. You can also add to this by linking your Twitter account in case you have one.

If this will not suffice, paid plans known as Dropbox Pro are available through the following options:

  • $9.99 per month for 100GB ( or $99 per year )
  • $19.99 per month for 200GB ( or $199 per year )
  • $49.99 per month for 500GB ( or $499 per year )

Lastly, listed below is a package known as Dropbox Teams, a plan best suited for small businesses:

  • $795 per year, offering 1TB of storage for five users, plus an additional 200GB priced at $125 for each additional user.

In addition, this type of account provides users administrative tools, phone support, and access to unlimited version history.

Installation

After downloading and installing the Dropbox client, you will then have the option to either sign into your existing account or create a new one.  A new folder called “Dropbox” will then be created by the program on your computer.  You can then specify where you would like to have it installed or simply accept the default location given, which you can always change afterwards.  Dropbox will then appear as a shortcut on your Mac’s top menu bar where clicking it allows you to customize it’s settings according to your preference from changing the folder’s location to adjusting your download and upload rate.

Since Dropbox uses cloud storage to save synchronized files, this translates to the same files also being made available on any computer that has an internet connection or where you have also installed Dropbox.  Copies of older versions of your files are preserved in My Dropbox. Thus, you will always have the latest copy of the said files on your computers apart from still being able to access older versions or files you have already deleted or moved by virtue of your internet connection.  Dropbox also provides the ability to upload and download only the parts of files that change during revisions.  After making a few changes to a 200MB file I had, I discovered that Dropbox only needed to transfer 4 to 5MB of data in order to update the file which translates to modest savings on bandwidth.

DropboxFile and Collaborative Sharing

Aside from the features mentioned above, Dropbox provides collaborative sharing with others, read-only sharing, and image uploads.  A mobile app is also available for download albeit with limited options. It is worth mentioning here some of the ways on how you can share files with others. From a subfolder called Photos, one may select to send a link to a Public Gallery that anyone can access to view photos you have copied into it.

You may also opt for invitation-only shared access to folders that you have created in My Dropbox, rather than just for individual files.  Simply right click any folder you would like to share, and the application will lead you to Dropbox’s website where you can input the email addresses of people who you would like to grant access.  Your friends will now have the ability to add, edit, and delete files in the folder.  They will need a Dropbox account but as long as they are satisfied with accessing the folder online, they do not need to install the client.  If in case they decide to install it, the shared folder will consequently be downloaded to their My Dropbox folder.

Another way to share files is by giving out it’s direct link.  Right clicking on a file yields out an option called Get link, which in turn opens your Dropbox file in a web browser along with its own URL.  You can then provide that URL to anyone even if they do not have a Dropbox account.  By doing this, you get to keep the files right where you want them on your Mac and still make them accessible to anyone.

Collaborative sharing allows any folder to be shared with any other user ( if they do not have an account, they can sign up for the basic package for free ).  A shared folder is then synced among all users accessing it, unless they remove themselves or gets kicked out by the owner.

MacReview.com Verdict:

Dropbox is very well executed, cloud based, and offers automatic file synchronization for working on files saved in a single virtual folder.

Pogoplug Review

Pogoplug

PogoplugDuring the recent years, we’ve seen rapid expansion of cloud storage services. Most of these are free for a basic users and they tend to offer just enough free cloud storage for an average home user. You can always buy premium packages with increased storage and sometimes increased bandwidth. Apple has introduced its iCloud service, which has proven quite helpful and successful. Microsoft has also tried to give their own cloud solution with the implementation of SkyDrive in recently published Windows 8.

Even though these cloud storage services can be a good way to share your files with friends and colleagues, there are also some other innovative solutions which might be even better option. One of these is a small device called Pogoplug.

Pogoplug is a device that is actually a sharing server, this might sound complicated at first. The best thing is that everyone can set up Pogoplug in just a matter of minutes. This device looks like an external hard drive, which needs to be connected to router via an Ethernet cable. You’ll need an actual external hard drive, even though you can purchase Pogoplug with its own storage. Note that you’ll need a storage formatted as NTFS, FAT32, Mac OS Extended Journaled and non-Journaled drive.

Pogoplug

The next step is to visit Pogoplug’s official web site where you’ll need to set up an account. You’ll be using Web interface (which is compatible with Safari, IE, Firefox and Chore) to access files and folders on the Pogoplug device. In order to share an item or a whole folder, all you need to do is to select the files and click on the Share button. You’ll be directed to a page which will require you to invite people, which means you’ll need to enter e-mails to share files with someone. Invited people will receive an email with a link leading to a Pogoplug website, directing them to your directory. They don’t need to be a Pogoplug users to view those files.

Pogoplug

You should know that the speed of the Pogoplug depends on your internet connection, especially your upload speeds. On the other hand, this means that you can get the most out of this device if you don’t have any download/upload bandwidth limits, since large files will surely take over your monthly bandwidth if you have a limited plan. If that’s the case, our advice is to use one of the available cloud storage services, which Pogoplug also offers (without buying the actual device).

As you can imagine, this device can be utilized in a number of situations. For example, businesses can use it to quickly transfer files between multiple computers and to keep files up-to-date. Also, if you’re traveling, you can use any computer to access your Pogoplug account to get important files. The possibilities are really endless.

Finally, a few words about the pricing options. Currently, there are three available packages. Family package costs $29 per year, Family+ is $49 per year and Family+ Pro costs $99 per year. The main difference between those is the number of users (3, 5 and 7) and offsite archival storage (100GB, 300GB and 1TB).