Pogoplug NAS Device Review
In order to test the functionality of the Pogoplug, we placed it on a Gigabit-Ethernet network and accessed it from a variety of Windows and Mac desktops and laptops. We connected to it via both wired and wireless connections, as well as remotely over the Internet.
To test the device's performance, we conducted a number of data-transfer tests to and from the device over our network using an HP Pavilion Elite m9550f desktop (2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300, 8GB PC2-6400 DDR2 SDRAM, 1TB NTFS 7200RPM SATA hard drive, ATI Radeon HD 4850 512MB, Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit) via a Gigabit-Ethernet connection. We conducted large-file write and read tests where we copied a 1.7GB ISO file between the Pogoplug and the m9550f. We also conducted small-files write and read tests where we copied a 267MB folder made up of 70 JPGs ranging in size from 2.27MB to 4.38MB between the Pogoplug and the m9550f. We conducted these tests by dragging-and-dropping the folders and files in Windows, with the Pogoplug connected as a mapped drive.
We compared the performance of the Pogoplug against that of a number of NAS devices we've looked at recently, including the WD My Work World Edition, Maxtor Central Axis Business Edition, Linksys by Cisco Media Hub, and the HP MediaSmart Server LX195. We also repeated all of our tests on an older 500GB Maxtor Shared Storage NAS device--copying files between the Maxtor Shared Storage device and the m9550f. Additionally, we ran our tests on an external hard drive connected directly to a USB 2.0 port on the m9550f; the drive we used was a 320GB Western Digital Caviar Blue drive (7200RPM SATA-II, 16MB cache) placed into an external enclosure and formatted using the NTFS file system.
We also included performance numbers from the Addonics NAS Adapter, which is a similar product to the Pogoplug in that it is also a small box that allows you to turn a USB drive into a NAS device. Because of problems we ran into during testing, we never posted a full product review of the Addonics NAS Adapter, but you can a find a detailed blog post here about what the Addonics NAS adapter does well and where it falters.
During our testing, CloudEngines released a firmware update for the Pogoplug, which--among other things--was supposed to increase the performance of transfer speeds with NTFS-formatted drives. We tested the device with both versions of the firmware (188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206), and we saw more than a doubling in the performance of writing a large file to the device. With the older firmware, it took the Pogoplug 333 seconds to write a 1.7GB file to the Pogoplug, while it took only 156 seconds with the newer firmware. Oddly, the device's performance with reading a large file actually degraded with the firmware update--the amount of time it took to read the 1.7GB file was 97 seconds with the older firmware, but took 235 seconds with the newer firmware. With the firmware update, the Pogoplug's large-file transfer rates on our tests equate to about 11.2MB/Sec (93.9Mb/Sec) for writing and 7.4MB/Sec (62.3Mb/Sec) for reading.
The Pogoplug's original 97-second large-file read time with the older firmware might be an indication of the Pogoplug's full performance potential--as this time is even better than a number of the recent NAS devices we've looked at. However, its slower read performance with the new firmware and even its adjusted write performance show rather unimpressive performance. The product is still being tweaked with more firmware updates, so it will be interesting to see what kind of additional performance its developers can squeeze out of it.
We ran into a problem with our small-files performance test where our test results were wildly inconstant. Eventually, with the help of CloudEngines, we figured out that as our small-files workload is made up of JPG image files and the Pogoplog automatically creates thumbnails for uploaded images on the fly, the Pogoplug was likely devoting some of its resources to making thumbnails and therefore diverting some CPU cycles away from the file transfers. Unfortunately, we couldn't alter our test methodology at this point, as all of the comparison data was already generated from testing done during previous product reviews. We did our best to pause between test runs to give the device enough time to index uploaded images before we clobbered it with more images from subsequent test runs, but the upshot here is that our small-files transfer test is more of a measure of the Pogoplug's performance of transferring JPG image files than small files in general.
We experienced a minor improvement in performance with the small-files read and write performance when we upgraded the Pogoplug's firmware; but this performance was still lackluster when compared to the majority of NAS devices we've run this same test on. We decided to put together an ad-hoc test to measure the Pogoplug's small-files performance when it was transferring files that weren't images. This quickly-thrown-together workload consisted of a 266MB folder of 78 MP3 files that ranged in size from 1.98MB to 4.35MB. It is important to keep in mind that you can't directly compare the results from this ad-hoc test to any other results presented here, but we did see the promise of some potential speedy performance--the Pogoplug performed this set of small-files write in 23 seconds, and read the files in 16 seconds. The ad-hoc test results work out to be roughly 11.7MB/Sec (98.0Mb/Sec) for writing small files, and 16.8MB/Sec (140.5Mb/Sec) for reading small files. Once again, we get a glimpse at the potential of the Pogoplug's performance.