Tag Archives: backup

WiFi storage for your smartphone on the go

For Christmas I had requested a new gadget for myself – the Ravpower RP-WD01 Wifi disk. As the resident gadget geek I figured I better review this device so that other people can benefit from the awesomeness of it!!!

What prompted me to want a WiFi disk in the first place?
I use my iPhone as my camera while I am travelling – it is always with me, usually in my hand, takes decent photos and videos, and is easy to use. The problem I ran into was running out of storage space and having to delete photos or videos so that the next day I had room again. I don’t like to carry a laptop unless I am working – so an iTunes backup wasn’t possible. My plan had been to just connect to the hotel WiFi and upload the files to Dropbox. Nice idea if the WiFi signal had been stronger than 0.00000002 kb/s on a good day!

When I got my new iPhone 5S I was impressed with the AirDrop functionality to share files, contacts, photos with other iPhone users around me. I wondered if there was an external drive that could do the same thing for files? A search of the web didn’t find me an AirDrop drive, but I did come across the Ravpower WiFi drive.

What is a Wifi drive?
This device creates its own WiFi network when you turn it on – then you connect your device to this network and open an app to move files between the device and the drive – or just open the drive files on your device.

So at the end of each day on my travel adventures I can simply turn on this drive, connect to the WiFi and drag all my photos and video from the phone to the drive!

And its really fast – I was able to move from my iPhone to the drive, on average 100 photos and/or movies in about 2 mins. Beat that crappy hotel WiFi – probably have taken me 2 mins just to log into the Dropbox site!

Its not just a drive though
No, this little beauty is a multipurpose gadget for under $50. The actual device doesn’t have any on-board storage – you use SD cards (or micro-SD cards with an SD adapter) or attach an external USB drive. This gives you flexibility in how you organize your storage – back up everything to a hard drive and store just music or photos on different SD cards.

 NAS File Server
Up to 5 devices can connect to the WiFi and view/share photos, music and videos. You can even have 2 people watching different movies at the same time – great for travelling families!

WiFi Hotspot
Connect the drive to your local WiFi network and it can become a hotspot for other devices. Share files and access the internet at the same time.

Backup Battery Charger
The drive charges via a micro USB post – cable is included in the package. It is a 3000 mAh charger so you can keep your smartphone taking pictures for a wee bit longer.

Transfer files between devices and laptop
This one was not so much of a big deal to me – there are windows and Mac apps that can be used to access the drive via WiFi so that files can be copied over. My point of having the device was to make carrying a laptop not necessary – or I could copy my photos into iTunes.

I did use this to copy my entire iTunes music library onto an SD card so that I can access all my music on the road without having to stream via cellular service unless I want to.

Does this work with Android and Apple?
It certainly does – there is an iOS app to use with it and an Android version too.

What about a PC or Mac?
Yes again, instructions and software can be found on the Ravpower download page.

How much does it cost?
Currently the drive can be picked up on Amazon for $45 – Prime members will get free shipping with that too. The apps are free.

Technology Tool – File Storage/Backup

I thought I would share with you a few tools I have found that make file storage and backup easier. There are 2 options available: physical backup or cloud storage. Within the cloud storage option there are services that will sync files in specific folders across all devices or backup files to the cloud which can also be access remotely.

Physical Backup
This means using an external hard drive to backup your files or entire PC. Many come with software that will do automatic backups for you as long as the device is connected. Drives are cheap now and you can pick up a 750GB drive for about $100. As prices are dropping all the time you can even get 1TB
drives for not much more. Look for devices that are self powered rather than needing an external power hookup – makes them more portable. As drives increase in size there is some concern about whether you should put all your eggs in one basket with a single large drive or diversify with a couple of smaller drives.

The main issue with these are remembering to make the backups – even if you remember to always keep it connected, and if you do keep it connected it won’t help if there is a fire or other disaster at your location. Another problem is that you don’t have any remote access – you have to carry the device with you.

Cloud Backup
A really useful and cost effective option to keeping your important files, music, video backed up is using a service by Carbonite. For a whopping $55 a year you get unlimited online storage in a really safe service. Initially all your files will be backed up and this could take a while even on a DSL connection, but once this is completed the software runs in the background and just uploads new or changed files.

The great advantage to this kind of service is that you can access your files from any web connection – PC, iPhone, smartphone, etc. Restoring your files, it’s all about this really, is simple too with an easy interface that walks you through the process. Your files are kept secure through the use of double encryption transfers.

The individual user service only enables a single computer to be backed up. The Pro version that can be used by companies is priced based on gigabyte storage per month, but you can have unlimited devices setup to backup. Pricing is reasonable with up to 99GB for $50 a month.

Cloud File Syncing
There are a couple of nice services that let you sync files to the cloud and across all your mobile devices.
Dropbox is my favorite giving you 2GB free storage. What’s great about this service is that it installs on your computer and mounts like a new folder in your My Documents area. This way you can just drag and drop files into it like any other folder on your PC. There is an iPhone/iPad and android apps for your mobile devices. You can also access your files via the Dropbox website from any Internet connection. You can work on your files files while offline and changes will sync when you get an Internet connection back.

After you have modified or added files the service syncs to the web and updates all devices when they connect to the Internet. The service also keeps older versions of files for 30 days in case you want to revert to an earlier version. Additionally, deleted files are also kept for a while for those who
like the delete button too much.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be a commercial version of this available, but additional storage space is reasonably priced: $9.99 a month for 50GB storage. Syncing is fast because only the changes to a file are updated, not the entire file – well, unless it is a new file!

For team projects you can share folders/files and invite people to access those files. I really wish I could find some team collaboration software that would allow multiple people to collaborate on a document and show what changes each person makes! When sharing the files an email is sent to the person and they have to either have an account or create a Dropbox account. There is another option though where you can put files in your Public folder and then share a link with anyone. You can use this to create photo galleries to share with people. The file is accessible to anyone with the link, so to unshare a
file you would need to remove it from the Public folder.

Box.net is a similar service, but you only get 1GB free storage and doesn’t give you file syncing unless you have a business account. This service does seem more directed to commercial applications giving the file syncing, document versioning and password sharing options. A Business account is $15 a month for 3+ users, 15GB per user and 2GB max file limit. Interesting to note, the free account only gives a user a max file upload size of 25MB. There is also an Enterprise option that gives unlimited storage and finally includes the file encryption security. I wouldn’t really recommend this service for personal usage for documents because it will not be using encryption for transfers – use it to backup your music or photos.

I decided to use Carbonite to backup my work PC and then use Dropbox to keep all my other files on other computers backed up. As you can specify the folders Carbonite backs up, I have it backup my Dropbox folder too – double security!  Carbonite by default does not backup your applications or Windows settings files, although you can manually specify them. Instead, I used my portable hard drive to make a full backup of my entire drive which will cover the applications too and then Carbonite will take care of keeping my other files up to date in the background.