Talking tech since 2003

Plug is a new and unique kind of file-sharing product.  No, it’s not like the cloud or even Dropbox, in fact, Plug is a device that sits in your home, connected to a router one one side, and to a USB drive on the other.  The device, which launches on KickStarter today, wants to reinvent the way our devices share and store data.

Plug, which has been in the works for over two years and is the brainchild of US/French startup Cloud Guys, is a connected storage device that’s a little bigger than a thumb drive. But unlike a thumb drive, there is no limit on data storage and everything in your computer can be shared seamlessly across all your devices.

Plug

For example, if you want to work on a project that’s on your computer from your iPhone, you can use Dropbox to share that file, or the cloud.  But even with those tools, there are storage limits and you still needs to manually copy, paste and download the needed files to Dropbox or the cloud.  With Plug, the decision about which files to move is made for you, because it’s all automatically there; it turns your hard drive into the common memory for all your devices.

“Computers have different memories, so when you save something on your Mac, you save it the memory of your Mac and you have to move it manually to your Dropbox,” said Severin Marcombes, CEO & co-founder of Cloud Guys.  “What’s different with Plug is that we unified the memory of your devices, so we take all your content, and we make sure it’s always the same no matter which device you’re using.  You don’t have a little folder on your computer where you have to move your files into; it’s like an automatic Dropbox.”

plug-2The Plug adapter is designed to be kept at home, connected to a USB external hard drive drive and the Internet (via ethernet cable).  It relies on external USB hard drives to store the content of all the user’s devices.  Users only need to connect a USB drive to Plug, and Plug unifies the content of their devices. After “plugging” a first drive, a user having a Mac and/or a PC will see the exact same content on both of them.  You can even use a USB hub to expand the storage capacity of your Plug, for every additional drive plugged, his or her devices will become “bigger.”  This means you don’t necessarily have to worry about not having enough storage capacity on your smartphone or tablet.

The biggest benefit of Plug is that it eliminates storage limits completely.  So an iPhone, which has less storage capacity than a laptop, would still contain the exact same files as your laptop, even with its significantly smaller storage size.  Marcombes describes your devices as frames, through which you can see exactly the same content, at all times.

The Plug software works on your desktop/laptop computer, your mobile devices, and even some TVs, making it super easy to access all your files wherever you are.  Plug also allows users to access their files offline, by downloading them locally to the device.  Additionally, Plug keeps a version history of files, so if you accidentally overwrite a file with the wrong information, you can easily restore it back to an older version.

Plug, which claims to be 60x faster and 20x cheaper than the cloud, also houses all your own data, so security concerns about outsiders accessing your files in the cloud are eliminated because everything is private.

“The best thing about it is you can put all your files on it,” Marcombes said.  “If you put all your files on Dropbox, it would cost you hundreds of dollars every year, and you don’t even own your data, so if you stop paying, you lose your files.”

With the average person having about 2TB of data, that could take a long time to transfer.  But arguably, the average person doesn’t need to access everything from other devices, right?  So really, can’t you just move that file you need manually to Dropbox?  But the average person isn’t perfect.

“I have Plug, but I don’t have to think about it,” Marcombes said.  “Whatever I do, if I have to pull up a presentation in my computer, even if I forget to put it in Dropbox, I will have it on my phone, I will have it on my computer at work, so you don’t have to care anymore about which files are important and which files are not.”

So Plug gives you one less thing to worry about, which could challenge the increasingly competitive storage-sharing playing field.  The company is hoping to raise $70,000 on Kickstarter so it can produce the first 100 devices to ship in December.  After that, the clouds are the limit.


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