If you have been searching for cloud-based online backup solutions, and in particular if you are looking for safe, free online backup services or cloud storage, then your best bet may be to create your very own free online backup solution, creating your own backup and storage solution in your own cloud. (This is particularly true given the recent court decision that says that agencies don’t need a warrant to access your personal data if it is stored in a cloud storage service.) You can even create your own DropBox style folders to share your files with others! You will need to make a small investment up front, but we show you how to do it, and you can do it for under $175 total – less than you would pay many online backup services in just the first year.
The way to do this is using the Seagate (yes, the disk drive people) FreeAgent GoFlex and Pogoplug system, which includes an external hard disk drive in your choice of sizes, and the GoFlex Home Media Net Sharing Device, which is a cradle which you plug into your wifi router, and in which sits the external disk drive, along with the Pogoplug backup software, which comes with it.
With this set up you can back up all computers in your home – and share files between them using the Seagate GoFlex drive as a media-sharing hub – and you can also access the files and media content that are on the drive from any web browser, anywhere (password protected, of course). You can even access them – and stream the music and other media! – from your smartphone or tablet. In so doing, you have created your very own cloud storage, which you control.
If you prefer to not have it based out of your house (if, for example, your reason for wanting online backup and storage is in case of a fire at home), then you can make arrangements with a family member who does not live with you, or a friend or colleague, to hang it off their wifi router at their house or office (be sure to buy them a coffee or dinner every so often to ‘pay’ them for the favor!) Access to your files through the software will still be password protected, but if your friend or colleague is tech savvy, or if you don’t trust them to not look through your files, be aware that they could take your drive and hook it up to their computer and access all of your files, so you will want to password protect the drive itself.
Seagate GoFlex Hard Drive
GoFlex Media Sharing Cradle (with 2 Drives installed)
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The system comes with pre-installed backup software so that you can backup your local computers directly to the drive over your home network (the drive is also a USB drive, so that you can connect it right to your computer for an even faster initial backup). And it is easy and straight-forward to set up, especially if you are using a Windows computer. If you are using a Mac, you just need to know that there is a different set of Mac backup software that is stored on the hard drive, so you need to open Finder, go to the Seagate hard drive (which will show up on your network) and get and install the Mac software.
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Once you have set up your drive at home, you “activate” your GoFlex media sharing device at the PogoPlug website, and this sets up a connection to provide you with access to your files on your GoFlex drive at home from anywhere via the web (and to backup to them if you have your laptop out and about with you). In essence, you create a connection from your GoFlex drive at home to the service at the PogoPlug site, and then you can log into that connection via the PogoPlug site from anywhere in the world, with your browser, or your smartphone or tablet. Activation and use of the PogoPlug system is free (they also have their own cloud service that they sell).
Through the web portal, you can even share folders with others, and thus creating your very own private DropBox system!
PogoPlug Smartphone App
Once it is set up, the system regularly backs up all of your files automatically to your Seagate GoFlex drive, and they magically show up and are available to all computers in your house, and to you wherever you are via a browser or your smartphone or tablet. This includes all of your music, image, and video files, which you can stream via the browser or your smartphone.
Here are links to read more about and order the hard drive and the media sharing cradle; you can also sometimes find them on sale at Target:
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