Hardware storage solutions such as a NAS or RAID can be too complex for the average user to set up and maintain. We're also constantly bombarded by cloud services from just about every major tech company, too, which makes the entire premise of file management even more convoluted. Geoff Barrall — of Drobo fame — and his team at Connected Data think they've got a solution that makes storage easier, more secure, and more affordable for everyone: the Transporter ($199 and up).
The Transporter was a Kickstarter project that managed to raise over $260,000 and is described as an "online, but off-line cloud storage solution for privately sharing, accessing and protecting all of your valuable files."
The device itself is little more than an enclosure that houses a hard drive (up to 3TB), ethernet port, USB port and Wi-Fi. Unlike services such as Dropbox or Google Drive, files aren't uploaded into the cloud; they remain on the Transporter and are shared directly to other authorized Transporters, anywhere in the world, peer-to-peer style. Best of all, there are no recurring monthly or annual fees because your data is never stored anywhere except on your Transporter.
Barrall told us that he wanted to create a storage solution that would not only disrupt existing cloud technologies and physical storage solutions by price, but also make it easy enough for even a non-tech-savvy person to understand.
From what we saw, the Transporter succeeds at being almost dummy-proof thanks to a fast and simple setup and an easy-to-understand desktop app and Web-based manager. To set up a Transporter, all you have to do is plug it into a router through ethernet (or use the built-in Wi-Fi) and wait for the status light to turn blue. Then it's just a matter of logging into the Web-based manager or using the desktop app to get an overview.
Sharing files is also hassle-free and fast; you drag a file from your computer into your Transporter folder and it's immediately duplicated to its hard drive and pushed out to any Transporter that has access to it. Again, unlike Dropbox, there's no wait-time to upload it into the cloud and then log into the Dropbox website to generate a sharing link, which goes to another person's email; everything is done within one centralized Web manager.
If you're still wondering how the Transporter's seamless solution works, take a look at this video demo:
But what about file redundancies? Not to worry, the Transporter has a built-in system to filter out duplicates and it automatically shares newer versions of files to all connected Transporters.
While small businesses will find the Transporter a bargain, Barall says he wants to see the devices flourish in people's homes. As much as we would like to see that too, it won't be a battle won overnight. Barall has his work cut out for him to convince the layman that a file storage system doesn't have to be complicated. Also, to really take advantage of the Transporter, you'd need a second person in the mix that you'd want to share files with.
The Transporter is available starting today without a hard drive for $199, with a 1TB hard drive for $299 and with a 2TB hard drive for $399.