Seagate FreeAgent DockStar NAS Device Review

File Sharing

There are a number of ways that you can share files with other users. No matter how you choose to share files, however, the one thing you will need to do is select the folder you want to share and then choose either the Share action button or select "Turn on sharing for folder '[folder name]'" in the Sharing window. You can share entire drives or folders, but you cannot share individual files.


 The varied Pogoplug Sharing options.

In the Sharing window, you add the e-mail addresses of those users you want to share a drive or folder with, add an optional message, and then click the Invite button. Those users will receive an e-mail alerting them that you have shared a folder with them, with a link that takes them directly to the Pogoplug Web interface that displays the folder's contents. The recipient does not need to be a DockStar owner or even have a Pogoplug account in order to view these files. The user has the option of creating a free Pogoplug account, after which this shared folder will appear in the "Files shared with me" section of the Web interface. If the recipient sets up a free Pogoplug account, then the user could also download and install the Pogoplug application on their computer and access the shared folder as a locally-mapped drive. If a recipient sets up a free Pogoplug account, then s/he can also install the Pogoplug iPhone app and access these files from the iPhones as well.


 Because of a bug, The Pogoplug
iPhone app doesn't show
shared files.

However, it was while we were testing the iPhone app as an invited recipient (a non-DockStar owner) that we discovered a bug with the iPhone app. The "Files shared with me" link shows the disks and folders that are shared with you, but if you select any of these disks or folders, all you see on the next screen is the message "Load more files... Showing 25 of many"; but it doesn't actually list any files. We next used the iPhone app as a DockStar owner and tried the "Files I share" link and ran into the same problem. A little digging online discovered that we weren't the only ones with this problem. We queried Seagate about this and found out that this is actually a known bug, and one that affects Pogoplug users as well, not just DockStar users:

"This does appear to be a bug with the PogoPlug iPhone app. This bug is actively being worked on and a fix should be available in the near future... this capability will be updated on the PogoPlug iPhone App shortly."

After you have sent out an e-mail invitation, that user's email address appears in the Sharing window under the "People this drive is shared with" section. For each user who you share a folder with, you can set their access as "View/Download" (which is the default setting) or "Full access." If you grant a user "Full access," that user must setup a free Pogoplug account in order to upload, rename, or delete files. You can also choose the "Let people know when this folder changes" option, which will send an e-mail out to any user you invited, whenever the contents of the folder changes. Note that users who you share folders with are not allowed to then share those folders with other users--only the original owner of a folder can share it with additional users.


 Viewing a folder of photos as an invited guest.

Another way you can share a drive or folder is to select the "Enable Public Viewing" option. This option creates a publically-available URL that takes you to a simplified version of the Pogoplug Web interface for that folder. As no invitation is needed to access this URL, anyone who knows this URL or stumbles across it will have view and download access to the entire contents of the folder. You can also publish an RSS feed for the shared folder--which could be an easy way to view photos on an Internet-enabled digital photo frame.


 Sharing a folder with your Facebook friends.

The last way you can share the content of drives or folders is via social networking. The Sharing window allows you to also send updates to Twitter, Facebook, or MySpace (assuming, of course, that you have accounts on these sites). If you choose one of these options for a folder, then that folder is automatically enabled for pubic viewing and an update appears on your profile page on the respective social networking site(s), stating that the shared folder is available for viewing, with a link to the Public Viewing version of the Pogoplug site for that folder. Some users might use this as way to share photos with their family and friends.

If you do choose to use the DockStar to share content with other users, a few caveats needs to be mentioned. First and foremost is that you need to be careful what you share. You obviously don't want give other users access to highly personal or embarrassing information; so make sure you know what is on the drives, folders, and subfolders that you open up for sharing. Also, it would be ill advised to share content that you don't own the rights to, such as commercial music or movies.

The other thing you need to be mindful of is that when you share content via the DockStar, whenever a user connects to a shared folder, that user is utilizing your upstream bandwidth. If you have lots of users accessing your DockStar who are downloading content and streaming media, and your ISP limits how much bandwidth you can use (for instance, Comcast's 250GB per month limit is an aggregate of your downstream and upstream bandwidth), you could potentially chew through your ISP's monthly allotment pretty quickly. Also, if you generate lots of traffic coming into your DockStar, your ISP might flag you as a business customer and demand that you switch to a commercial account. So share wisely.

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