Seen @ Macworld/iWorld 2013: The Connected Data Transporter

Sections: Conferences, External and Portable Storage Devices, Features, Hands On / First Looks, Macintosh/Apple Hardware, Macworld, Peripherals

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Seen @ Macworld is Appletell’s column highlighting our experiences at the recent Macworld/iWorld Expo. Appletell stopped by several booths that featured interesting products; some were longtime pillars of Macworld with updates to established products, many were new companies showing innovative and exciting product for the first time, and a few featured accessories, apps, and products we didn’t even know we needed before we hit the Moscone West show floor. Here we feature buzz from the show floor and details of our conversations with the makers, inventors, and companies whose products were on display. Be sure to check out our coverage of other exhibitors from Macworld/iWorld 2013.

Cloud storage can be scary, but the Transporter is designed to make sharing, storage, and remote access simple. Launched as a Kickstarter project late last year, the Connected Data Transporter more than doubled its funding goal and is now widely available for purchase. The Transporter is a device, rather than a service, so you stay in control of the hardware and the data it stores: important files, family photos, or whatever. Best of all, because you own the hardware, there are no recurring fees or storage limits!

The Premise

The Transporter provides online storage that is, in the company’s words, “off-cloud.” Rather than storing your files on servers managed by a company like Dropbox or SugarSync, the Transporter provides online access to a hard drive you own, connected to your own internet connection. This lets you exert absolute control over the files you store, share, and make available online, and it removes the overhead of monthly fees or storage space limitations. You can access files from any computer anywhere in the world, whether you’re at home on your local network or in a hotel on the other side of the country. Access is available from any device with a web browser, and mobile apps are in the works for popular smartphone and tablet platforms.

Designed to use a 2.5″ laptop hard drive (no SSD support is included, sadly), the Transporter is capable of accommodating up to 2TB of storage—there are indeed laptop-sized hard drives in capacities of 1, 1.5, and 2 TB, though many laptops are too thin to accept these drives. You can order a Transporter with a built-in 1TB drive for $300 and 2TB for $400, or you can buy a bring-your-own Transporter with no drive (you provide a 2.5″ hard drive) for $200.

The Advantages of Private

The Transporter is designed to let you keep things private, so you can selectively share only what you want with just the right people. Using what are called Connected Folders, the Transporter lets you create links to a folder that other users can access, whether they have a Transporter or not. Sharing photos, movies, or files is as simple as dropping them in a Connected Folder and then adding the users you want to have access. Unlimited Connected Folders can be created with unique permissions, so you can host photo collections for different groups without shotgunning your photos out to your entire social network. And because the amount of storage is only limited by the size of your hard drive, there are no file size limitations or fees for extra storage.

Not only does the Transporter place an emphasis on privacy, but it also helps you to maintain security. Connected Folders can be synced to other Transporter devices, allowing other users to maintain a copy of your data (or letting you make files available to remote offices). These sync transfers are encrypted, and access to the files on a Transporter device using Connected Data’s website are also encrypted, so your documents do not traverse any network links unencrypted.  For those concerned with keeping backups, the Transporter also offers the ability to perform backup and recovery using Connected Folders, which are automatically synced between all the devices you have access to. For personal backups, there’s even an option to have your backup folder hidden and encrypted on the remote device, so you can safely use a Transporter belonging to a friend or family member without allowing them to browse your private data.

Full details on where to buy and how you manage the Transporter are available on Connected Data’s website, and be sure to check out the full set of how-to videos detailing usage. Although the $200 starting price tag seems a bit steep, remember that a single year of 1TB DropBox storage will cost you $100. At that rate, the Transporter pays for itself in just two years, and ends up being vastly cheaper in the long run.

Be sure to check out our coverage of other exhibitors from Macworld / iWorld 2013.

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