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The performance you get when going through the external site will be mostly limited by your Internet connection, but how will the device perform locally? Since this device isn't a standard NAS like many others we test, we didn't put it through the full NAS test suite.

Instead we ran a standard Vista SP1 file copy test that copies a directory containing slightly more than 4 GB of files of various sizes. The test was done with an Iomega UltraMax Pro USB drive configured in RAID 0. Figure 11 shows the result of the test.

Pogoplug Performance

Figure 11: Pogoplug Performance

These numbers are pretty poor as far as NAS performance goes and shockingly low compared to other products using the same CPU. As a comparison, a Seagate Dockstar which uses the same PogoPlug hardware platform, yielded 22.54 MB/s read and 22.86 write, which is about the limit of USB-based NASes. On the other hand, the CTERA Cloudplug, which sports an eSATA as well as USB port was able to produce 24 MB/s writes and 40 MB/s reads connected to a FAT32 formatted eSATA drive.

A key difference is that the Dockstar supports CIFS natively instead of the custom protocol that the PPV2 uses. I also noticed that under both OS X and Linux that the drivers for the Pogoplug were based on a FUSE (Filesystem in USErspace) architecture.

Under The Covers

Figure 12 shows the main board of the Pogoplug.

Main Board
Click to enlarge image

Figure 12: Pogoplug 2 Main Board

In this picture you can see that the CPU is a Marvell 88F6281 Kirkwood running at 1.2 GHz. The gigabit Ethernet is provided by a Marvell 88E1116-R and the USB support is provided by a Genesys GL850G USB2.0 hub controller. The box also has 512 MB of RAM and 128 MB of flash.

Software-wise, the box is running a version 2.6.22 Linux kernel. I can tell that, because the Pogoplug comes with SSH support, so you can log in and poke around at will. One curious aspect to the SSH support is that the root password (ceadmin) is well documented on the PogoPlug web site and it's not exactly straightforward to change it to something that's not plastered all over the Internet.

For the record, here's how I changed it after logging in as root. First remount the flash partition in a read/write mode:

bash-3.2# mount -o remount -rw /
Next use the passwd command to change the password:
bash-3.2# passwd
# passwd
Changing password for root
New password: XXXXXX
Retype password: XXXXXX
Password for root changed by root
Now, put the partition back in read-only mode:
bash-3.2# mount -o remount -ro /

After changing the password, the box is secure on the local network. Poking around a bit reveals the use of VPN drivers and configuration for connecting back to the PogoPlug web site. I also noticed the standard embedded busybox utility, dropbear for SSH support and ffmpeg being used for video transcoding. Not present were many standard server utilities such as HTTP and FTP servers, CIFS service, etc.

If you're interested in expanding the PPV2 beyond what the stock Pogoplug provides, check out the OpenPogo web site for custom firmwares. Up until this point, the focus has been on the version 1 box. But there's at least one report of someone successfully installing the custom firmware on the version II box.

Closing Thoughts

As advertised by PogoPlug, it really was trivial to get this box online. And once it was up, it was a piece of cake to share files from my local drive to anyone on the Internet. The Social Media settings worked well, and it was fun to watch a movie being streamed to my G1 from my homebound server.

On the downside, performance of the PPV2 was downright awful and the box was light on features that you typically find on a home NAS. And cost? The PPV2 checks in at $129 (available direct from PogoPlug's website and only a few other retailers), which is about $30 more than the previously mentioned, and similarly-spec'd DockStar. But after the first year, the DockStar has a $30 / year fee for service at the PogoPlug web site, whereas the PPV2 has no ongoing service subscription fee.

When you compare this device to more traditional NAS devices, you'll have to make your own tradeoffs. Nothing I tested has been as easy to set up for Internet-wide sharing. But as mentioned, this deice is light on features that you expect in NAS devices such as FTP serving, user-account creation, logging, iTunes and UPnP / DLNA media serving and, most importantly, performance! But if you're looking for a networked storage solution that you can just just turn on and easily and securely access over the Internet, give the PogoPlug V2 a try!

This article originally appeared on SmallNetBuilder.

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