Connected Data Transporter review

Designed by the team that created Drobo, the Transporter is a storage device for sharing files in the same way you might do with a service like Dropbox. But unlike Dropbox, the files don't reside on the company's server, but instead, on a hard drive within the device.

Cloud-based services limit your storage capacity unless you subscribe, and due to legal requirements, your files are potentially susceptible to probing by numerous third parties.

With the Transporter, everything is kept on either internal storage, or a connected USB 2.0 hard drive (if you opt for the cheaper disk-less Transporter Sync).

The company makes clear it has no access to your files at all, and keeps limited information about them (although it does state that it logs device IDs, OS versions, IP addresses and so on, which is a common procedure these days).

Connected Data Transporter

You can use the Transporter to synchronise files and folders between the device and your own computers, and to share files with others. Sharing is either done with other Transporter users, for which they will need an account too; or you can create a download link that allows anyone to receive a file.
 
The recipient must install the Transporter Downloader software. Files transferred from the Transporter are protected with AES-256 encryption, and this software decrypts them when they arrive.

Connected Data Transporter: build and design

The hardware aspect of the Transporter is fairly simple. Once a drive in inserted into the unit and it's powered on, the lower section glows to indicate the device status. Connect an ethernet cable, visit a web page, and you'll be asked to create an account and download the setup software. You can install any 2.5in SATA hard drive you like, which will be automatically formatted.

The USB 2.0 port can only be used for storage on the Transporter Sync variant. On the larger model we tested with its own internal storage, it's used to connect a wireless dongle. Although the Transporter apparently works with a variety of dongles, Connected Data specifically recommends the TP-Link TL-WIN832N.

The main setup software is available for Windows and OS X. Like Dropbox, it creates a folder in the OS X Finder or Windows Explorer, and copies of any files put in there are retained locally, then synchronised with another copy kept on the device. Other computers connected to the Transporter will download the files to their own hard drive.

While it's running in the background, the software keeps you updated with a list of recently synchronised files, and gives quick access to preferences and the management website. If you wish, you can select your Documents, Music, or Movies folders, and keep them synchronised via Transporter as well, which can be really useful for collaborative work.

You can also move files to the Transporter Library folder, which keeps copies only on the device, not locally – preferable if you're connecting a tablet or laptop with limited local storage.

It takes some time to get used to this system of syncing and sharing, but when it's all set up, it works fairly well. The wizards and setup procedure are carefully planned, and explain concepts neatly, such as the difference between the Transporter folder and library. Another nice touch is how the system automatically emails you to tell you the Transporter is offline if it becomes disconnected for a while.

Connected Data Transporter: network performance- next section