REVIEW File Transporter Sync

Discussion in 'Storage & Backup' started by Dimtar, May 7, 2015.

  1. Dimtar

    Dimtar Member

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    *I am not related to any of the companies below, just a home user that wants to share his thoughts*

    Hi everyone. I have been following the company Connected Data and their product the File Transporter since they ran a Kickstarter. The product and the idea behind it interested me.

    For those that don't know the File Transporter is an attempt to make it possible to run your own Dropbox etc. from your home/office. You buy a File Transporter and connect a hard drive via USB (in the case of the File Transporter Sync) or install a laptop drive in the unit (in the case of the File Transporter). From here you get a Transporter folder on each device, Windows, OSX or iOS/Android. This folder works like Dropbox. It supports versioning of files, recovering deleted items and sharing folder/s with friends. All of this is done without a "cloud" but you need to use your own hard drive and internet connection to host the unit.

    The File Transporters also have a feature called the Transporter Library where the data is kept on the Transporter only. It’s ideal for files that may not need to be synced to all devices but still be available.

    Purchasing a unit is pretty simple. Up until September 2014 you could only import these from the US but now 3 sellers in Australia offer the full unit and the Sync:

    - http://www.kayellaustralia.com.au/
    - https://www.macfixit.com.au/
    - http://www.nexus.com.au/

    I purchased mine from Kayell, but the experience was less than stellar. They charged me $33 for postage via Australia Post, rather than a courier, so it was slow and expensive. It was also hard to tell where my order was up to due to their ordering software. In the defense of Kayell, I don't think they are geared to handle small one product purchases like that. If I get another unit it'll be likely to be from Macfixit. The units come with Australian warranty/power adapters.

    The setup for these units is pretty darn easy. The contents of the box are minimal; the unit, a power cable, ethernet cable and a small setup guide. I connected mine to ethernet, power and a USB3 portable drive and the unit started formatting the hard drive on power up (which took about an hour). From here I set up an account, claimed the File Transporter as my own through the online control panel and answered a few setup questions. The website started the download for the Windows sync software and I installed that.
    This was all pretty boring but I think that’s a good thing, I think anyone could set one of these up in an hour or two at home.

    Since this isn't Dropbox/Onedrive etc. there is no redundancy off in a data centre somewhere. One of the selling points of getting a File Transporter is that you can setup another elsewhere such as your office or a friend’s home.
    Once you've claimed this unit the File Transporters will remain in sync by themselves across the internet. For more redundancy you can then add more units in other physical locations. The units are aware of each other over a LAN, so a new unit can be synced locally before being shipped elsewhere.

    The software is free for all devices and mostly does the job it’s designed for. I tested sharing some folders with myself and a friend and this worked without any hiccups. I deleted some files and restored them as well, along with checking if the versioning system worked. All of the features the software offers work and the iOS app works fine along with being able to back up your camera roll which is handy. I wasn't able to check the Android app but hopefully I will soon.

    The only real issue with the software to me is polish. Installing the Windows app requires a restart; also any updates require running an installer again and another restart which is not user friendly. The OSX app doesn't require a restart and is generally easier to update. You can do selective sync like Dropbox etc. but you cannot select the root files (files not organised into folders) and there is no fast way to select/unselect all folders. Recovering a deleted file takes too long and selective sync can only be done after the installation is complete, not during.

    The unit works well, it is mostly limited by the USB interface for speed but in saying that most of my data is small files and that’s always going to take longer. I am lucky to have an NBN connection but I feel after initial syncing this system is no slower than Dropbox. I have 4 machines connected to the unit and when changes are made they are handled swiftly. The software, even during syncing, didn't seem to tax my systems at all so that’s as good as Dropbox (its real competitor in a way is not a resource hog either).

    One of the selling points of this system is keeping your files off the cloud and this works. If you share files with someone they will need to install the sync software or a browser plugin on that device. This could be cumbersome for some but is part of keeping your files off the cloud and private. There is an option to have the unit send files to a server so the person receiving your files doesn't need to install any plugins, but this is optional and will be a nice touch for some. Other than this, the unit is responsible for keeping things secure so there is no management needed. In some cases you will need to port forward.

    There are certainly things I would love to see happen:

    • -The software auto update like Dropbox where there is no installer and it’s just automated.
    • -Selective sync during the install steps on a new machine so you don't have to sync anything you don't want, saving time and bandwidth.
    • -The ability to give a friend access to your File Transporter if you place one at their home. Currently the only way is to give them a shared folder which is limiting.

    Good
    • - One off cost
    • - Performs well and does what it says on the tin
    • - Private data off the cloud

    Bad
    • - Software is behind Dropbox in polish
    • - No incentive for a friend to keep one at their house for redundancy
    • - Zero multi user support


    Verdict:
    It does what it says on the tin. The software needs some polish but it’s good for home use. I will be picking up a second unit soon.

    Pictures:
    http://imgur.com/a/jgGi5
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2015
  2. Davo1111

    Davo1111 Member

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    cheers for the review

    I like the idea, but sounds like it needs some work to bring it up to scratch.

    2 USBs would be good too, and on the fly encryption.
     
  3. BurningFeetMan

    BurningFeetMan Member

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    How would this unit perform under small office conditions? For example; an office in Sydney with 5 users, another in Perth with 3 users, and say one final office in Tazzy with one user.

    Can it be used in such a layout?
     
  4. renagade

    renagade Member

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    Is this similar to BitSync but with Hardware?
     
  5. OP
    OP
    Dimtar

    Dimtar Member

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    I think 2 USBs would increase the price/complexity for home users. All traffic to my knowledge is encrypted but at rest its not.

    Yes and no, if you were to buy this exact unit then no. The home unit cannot support multiple users, so it would be like all of you sharing one Dropbox account or one person has the account and shares folders with the others.

    The business File Transporters allow multiple users, units such as these:
    http://www.droboworks.com.au/Transporter-Series.asp
    They cost more and TBs of space but will do what you ask. From what I have seen around the internet they work well.

    In most ways yes.
     
  6. davros123

    davros123 Member

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    I'd just install owncloud for free on your server or on a rasberry Pi but as an appliance?


    I do like the syncing to each device. that's cool.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2015
  7. OP
    OP
    Dimtar

    Dimtar Member

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    Thats certainly an option and may even work better for some people but for me personally I grabbed one in the hopes of a set and forget device and for that its worked well.
     

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