Seagate FreeAgent DockStar
Dock this? Well, I say dock that, and that, and that... which is actually a pretty good description of what Seagate's FreeAgent DockStar does. It allows you to dock one of the company's FreeAgent Go hard drives, or any other USB hard drive for that matter, to the Internet. Yup, the Internet. Did you think I was going to say a PC? Nothing special in that.
If you're familiar with PogoPlug you're familiar with DockStar, which is a reworked, expanded, and rebranded version of the former. Like PogoPlug, DockStar allows you to create an Internet-connected Network Attached Storage drive out of any drive you connect to it. The DockStar is $100 for the device and the first year of the PogoPlug service. The service is subsequently $30 a year
To use it, simply plug in the AC adapter, attach the DockStar to your network via the supplied Ethernet cable, browse to Seagate.com/activatemydockstar and follow the prompts. If you thought I was kidding about the PogoPlug reference, consider that its software has a button that actually says Activate Pogoplug. The major difference is that you may attach up to four USB drives of any type to the DockStar's three full-sized USB, and one mini-male USB ports (for the FreeAgent Go). PogoPlug only handled a single drive.
Once you've created your account by providing the usual info, you'll be able to access and share all the files on any of the drives that are attached to the Dockstar via the same Web site you sign up at. The Web interface is easy to use and intuitive and experience in general (other than the wait for files to upload) is pretty cool. DockStar obviates the need for a PC or NAS box dedicated to FTP or HTTP file sharing. On the other hand, if you already have a PC or NAS box tasked for that, you can skip DockStar.
PogoPlug is a great product. DockStar is better -- and handy for quickly sharing data with less techie users. For example, while I've posted recovered data from hard drives on my NAS box's FTP site many times, sharing them via DockStar is much easier on the downloaders. There's no user name or password to remember and no FTP client to deal with. All they get is an e-mail with a link to a Web page from which they can download the files. Simple, neat, sweet.