Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


Rocstor Encrypted External Hard Drives

Posted by Andrew at 6:12 PM on February 25, 2013

Rocstor LogoRocstor specialise in data storage and secure encryption solutions: that’s encrypted external hard drives to you and me, but it’s an increasingly important market. Andy and Scott talk to Anthony Rink from Rocstor about how their products can keep your data safe.

Rocstor offers a range of external data storage products with real-time encryption built-in as standard. The encrypted drives meet FIPS Level 2, meaning that it’s hardware-encrypted (not software) and that any tampering of the drive to get at the crypto keys is obviously apparent. To suit different circumstances, some models use tokens, others PINs and some use both with ruggedised and waterproof units also available. Depending on features, $250-$300 gets you 1 TB of secure external storage.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and Scott Ertz of F5 Live for the TechPodcast Network.

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Digital Backpack

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 7:52 AM on February 5, 2013

Digital Backpack Digital Backpack is a managed Dropbox for the enterprise. In the era of bring your own device to work, businesses have handled this problem in two ways. The first is where the employee owns the device, but the management locks it down using encryption. The second is where the company relies on an application such as Dropbox or Box.com creating security nightmare for management and the IT department.

Digital Backpack’s solution is to create a managed container with a backend administrator portal. Backpack is a super pack app which is authenticated for each user within a company. Picture a virtual backpack with the companies logo on it and the employee’s name tag. The employee or management can place apps that are needed for each employee to do their jobs in their backpack. There is also a message board where all actual content is stored, including such things as sales materials or proprietary information. The advantage of this system for the business is that they have the key to the backpack, so the information is secure. The advantage to the employees is they can use the rest of their phone as they would normally. The backend is controlled through a Dashboard. The dashboard allows management to connect to the employee and transfer content to them. Management can also see how Backpack is being used, what is working and what is not.

Backpack is currently available on Android and they are working on a version for iOs and Windows. The price is based on the number of users.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network and by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor.

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MVB Disko USB File Transfer

Posted by Andrew at 8:30 PM on February 3, 2013

MVB DiskoThe Disko from MVB solves that irritating problem when you have a USB memory stick, your friend has a USB memory stick, you want to share some files, but there’s no laptop or PC to make the transfer. Andy finds a solution to this problem and gets a demo of the Disko from Daniel.

Plug a USB memory stick into the Disko and you can browse the stick’s filesystem to find the files that you want to pass on. Once found, copy the files into the Disko’s internal memory and then swap the memory sticks before copying the files back out of the internal memory to the next memory stick.

The Disko also has a built-in mp3 player and FM tuner, making it a pretty handy gadget.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News for the Tech Podcast Network.

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Upgrading An Old MacBook To An SSD

Posted by tomwiles at 9:57 PM on December 4, 2012

One of the machines I have is a 6 year old 13” white plastic Intel MacBook. In recent years I’ve used it as a backup machine just in case I needed it. It has a 2 gigahertz Core 2 Duo processor and is maxed out at 2 gigabytes of RAM.

Solid State Drive prices have been dropping lately, so I figured making the swap to a solid state drive and the performance boost it would bring would be worth it. I ended up buying a Crucial 128 gigabyte SSD for around $104 dollars with Amazon Prime picking up the shipping cost.

This evening I made the installation. I started out by installing the new SSD in an external Firewire enclosure and installing OS/X onto it first. After a very smooth, painless installation process, OS/X asked me what I wanted to transfer from the old drive to the new one, and though I left out most of the documents and other clutter, I did tell it to move the applications over, which to my surprise it did a stellar job of copying over to the new SSD drive.

After rebooting into the new drive while it was still connected via Firewire, I copied over a few miscellaneous files I needed and then shut everything down. Next, I swapped the new drive into the MacBook.

The results are nothing short of amazing. The old 7,200 RPM hard drive made the machine seem sluggish and non-responsive. With the SSD in the same machine, things seem to happen almost instantly. The conclusion I take away is that conventional hard drive performance has been a bigger performance bottleneck than we realized.

The days of the conventional spinning hard drive are numbered. The conventional hard drive will one day be going the way of the cathode ray tube monitor and floppy discs.

If you are tempted to shell out big bucks for a new machine just to get a performance boost, if you have an older machine that has otherwise good hardware, consider upgrading to an SSD for an incredible performance boost at a fraction of the price of a new machine.

Buffalo Launches Thunderbolt Portable SSD

Posted by Andrew at 3:13 PM on November 30, 2012

Buffalo LogoFollowing on from GNC’s review of the MiniStation Air earlier this month, Buffalo have a launched the MiniStation Thunderbolt SSD. As you might guess from the name, it’s a portable SSD with a Thunderbolt connection so it’s ideal for connecting up with Apple Macs.

Combining the SSD with Thunderbolt, the MiniStation has a read performance of more than 370 MB/s and a write performance that exceeds 250 MB/s, which is pretty nippy in anyone’s book. And I think those are Bytes and not bits. PC users aren’t left out with a USB 3.0 connection too, though it’s not as fast as the Thunderbolt connections.

MiniStation Thunderbolt SSD

Paul Hudson, Sales Director for Northern Europe at Buffalo, said: “The MiniStation Thunderbolt SSD combines a highly robust and aesthetically pleasing design with exceptionally fast data transfer speed. We have seen how Thunderbolt hard drives have transformed the available speed for read and write to storage devices, but with the additional of SSD in the Buffalo range, the speed stakes are raised again providing astounding performance.

The drive is bus-powered and will be available in two storage sizes, at a recommended price of £229.99 for the 128 GB product and £349.99 for the 256 GB version. There’s a .pdf spec sheet here.

Hopefully GNC will be bringing you a review of the MiniStation Thunderbold SSD in the not-too-distant future.

Buffalo MiniStation Air Review

Posted by Andrew at 5:58 PM on November 25, 2012

Buffalo LogoThe Buffalo MiniStation Air is “wireless streaming storage” for smartphones and tablets that provides 500 GB of extra space. Simply, it’s a 500 GB portable hard drive with wifi and complementary apps for Android and iOS. The idea is that the MiniStation Air connects to your PC or laptop via USB 3 and gets loaded up with stacks of music and video which can then be played via an app when out-and-about. It’s a great idea, but how does it stack up against “the cloud” and other solutions such as Pogoplug? Let’s find out.

Buffalo MiniStation Air Box

The MiniStation Air itself is a small black and grey unit, 130 x 84 x 23 mm. The top is a polished black surface with four pinprick status LEDs embedded in it and the sides and bottom are a silvery-grey with buttons and connectors on two of the sides.

Buffalo MiniStation Air

This is a USB 3.0 device which is immediately apparently from the shape of the connector. (Apologies for using stock photos but my own photos were all rubbish).

Buffalo MiniStation Air USB3

Connecting the MiniStation Air to the PC was simply a case of plugging it in with the device appearing as a removable drive. Copying media files took no time at all thanks to the USB 3 connection. It works with USB 2 as well, things just take a bit longer.

Once the Air is loaded up, it can be disconnected from the PC and then powered up on its own. At this point, the MiniStation Air is broadcasting a wifi signal (802.11n/g/b) and it’s easy to connect to it using the SSID and passkey details provided on the bottom of the Air.

Browsing the MiniStation Air

To get the MiniStation Air to work fully with smartphones and tablets, Buffalo provide an app for both Android and iOS which can be downloaded from the application app store. I was only able to test out the Android version, but once installed, it’s easy to browse the files and folders on the Air.

Music PlayerPlaying music or watching videos is just a case of tapping on the file. Photos and music are handled within the app, but videos are handed over to the default video player on the device. Movies started up within a couple of seconds (if that) and music started almost instantly. The music player is basic and as with many of these devices, doesn’t correctly pick up track tags, so albums are arranged alphabetically rather than in track order.

There isn’t a full “HD” app for the tablets, but there is some differentiation between tablets and smartphones. For example, on a tablet, pictures are previewed alongside the folder but this doesn’t happen on a smartphone, even when rotated to landscape. However, the four expanding arrows in the toolbar at the bottom shows that this isn’t a native tablet app.

Tablet Preview

The Edit part of the app allows files to be up- and downloaded from the MiniStation Air. It’s the usual check-box / select operation affair but for the small numbers of files that are likely to be transferred this way, it’s fine.

The Settings area provides access to the SSID and passkey plus other details such as hostname and workgroup. Nothing particularly unexpected here but the MiniStation Air has one last trick up its sleeve. The Air can be connected to another wifi network, preferably one that has a connection to the Internet. This means that although the smartphone is connected to the Air’s wifi, an onward connection to the Internet is provided for other queries or web surfing while listening to music. It’s pretty slick and very handy. It’s also something Buffalo should make a bit more obvious.

Performance-wise, it says that the Air can support eight simultaneous connections with three HD streams. I tested two HD simultaneous streams and it worked flawlessly. Battery life is claimed to be “up to 4 hours” and I wouldn’t disagree – I saw over three hours with a mix of video and music. The Air is powered and recharged via USB so it’s easy enough to hook it up for extended operation.

Any problems? Not really. A couple of wishes, though. First, a Windows / Mac app to use the MiniStation Air wirelessly would be good. Second, some kind of security on the device would be handy as being portable, it’s going to be awfully easy to lose. Finally, an SSD version with longer battery life but perhaps less storage would be interesting but probably too expensive to be considered.

Overall, the MiniStation Air is a good product that will appeal to those smartphone and tablet users who need more-than-average storage…much more than average. The Air is available now from all good retailers with a street price of £100-£120.

The MiniStation Air app was tested on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone and a Motorola Xoom 2 ME tablet.

Thanks to Buffalo for the loan of the MiniStation Air.

 

D-Link Cloud Storage 2000

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 4:28 PM on October 23, 2012

D-Link Cloud Storage 2000D-Link Cloud Storage 2000 is the newest addition to D-Links’ line of cloud storage options. It offers remote sharing, streaming and management capabilities. You can download, upload and delete files and folders either remotely or locally. It will allow you to access files stored on the ShareCenter from any computer via the mydlink.com portal. At this time this does require that you have Java 6 installed if you are using Chrome on a Mac. You can also access the same files via the free app for iPhone, iPad and Android devices. With the free app you can view photos and stream music and videos from the ShareCenter directly to your mobile devices from anywhere. The D-link Cloud Storage 2000 also has a DLNA capable server which streams music, photo and video to compatible media players including the Boxee Box and PlayStation(r). It has a Photo Center which allows the administrator to create photo albums and view them with a side show. It also has a built in web file server and secure FTP server. With the USB port you can add an USB Drive or printer. It supports, local backup, Apple Time Machine backup, Amazon S3 backup, and PC backup among others. You can schedule it to power off at a certain time and it will automatically notify by email of the Device Status.

The Cloud Storage 2000 replaces D-Links DNS–320 storage device with a faster CPU and a gigabit Ethernet port for high speed data transfers. It can support up to two 3.5 inch SATA hard drives. It supports multiple users streams simultaneously. It is easy to install and is equipped with Raid 1 technology for security. The D-Link Cloud Storage 2000 will be available for $149 both online and in retail outlets in North America.

ioSafe Announces “Disaster-Proof” NAS Device

Posted by Alan at 9:30 AM on September 18, 2012

Having a NAS (network attached storage) device in your home is a smart solution for backup, but it’s far from all you need.  Obviously, in the event of a disaster like fire or flood, not only can your home computers be wiped out, but in-home backup will be gone along with it.  Now ioSafe is looking to solve that problem with a new piece of hardware that is being billed as “disaster-proof”.

The ioSafe N2 is both fire and water-proof storage for the home and small business.  The hardware can store up to 8 terabytes of content, contains a 2 GHz CPU, 512 MB of RAM, gigabit ethernet, USB 3.0, SD memory card slot, provides local and remote access and can be used as a media server and email server.

The product is being brought to market via a crowd-funding site called Indiegogo.  “Interesting point to note: the NAS project is to be funded via crowd-funding site Indiegogo. ioSafe is a small, 20-person company and this will help with the costs of bringing the product to market.”

To find out more, you can head over to ioSafe.  I still recommend a second, cloud-based, storage solution for a fail-safe, but you can certainly rest a bit easier with the ioSafe N2 in your home or office.

Upgrading My NAS…Yawn

Posted by Andrew at 12:33 AM on June 11, 2012

Hard DriveLast weekend, I upgraded my NAS from 2 TB to 4 TB and it was all too easy. The NAS is a Buffalo LinkStation Duo but as the drives are mirrored, I only get half the total 2 TB capacity, i.e. 1 TB. I was getting pretty close to having the full terabyte of data on the unit, so I decided it was time for a storage upgrade. However, the last time I upgraded another model of NAS, it involved much chicanery and re-installing of firmwire via USB, so I proceed with trepidation.

Not so this time. It was mostly lots of waiting interspersed with a few minutes of activity, followed by first time success. Disappointingly little geekery was required.

Step 1. Buy a pair of SATA 2 TB hard-drive. The LinkStation already had Seagate drives installed, so I played it safe and bought some Seagate Barracuda drives. Wait a couple of days for drives to arrive in post…

Step 2. Backup the data from the NAS to an external USB drive. My favourite tool for this is rsync because it simply copies files (no archives or zip files) and you can stop and start the backup as you like. You can even keep using the NAS up until the last minute before running one final rsync to copy the latest changes over. Leave the backup to run overnight…

Step 3. Shutdown the LinkStation via the web interface.

Step 4. Remove hard drives, insert new ones.

Step 5. Power up the Linkstation and log on via the web interface.

Step 6. Format drives in turn. Configure as RAID 1. Wait for best part of a day while array synchronises….

Step 7. Restore data from external USB hard drive. Leave to run overnight….

Step 8. Job done!

It was pleasantly straightforward to upgrade the NAS and a big change from the last occasion I had to swap a disk. For sure it takes a couple of days to do the swap, but the time is spent shuffling data around, not actually working on the unit. Definitely a recommended upgrade.

[Disclosure: this is my personal NAS and not a review unit.]

Dropbox Vs. Google Drive

Posted by JenThorpe at 2:21 AM on April 28, 2012


Google recently released Google Drive. It is the newest cloud storage device. Dropbox is a cloud storage device that has been in use for quite some time. I thought it would be interesting to compare the two.

Price

Dropbox:
* Up to 18 GB is free. You can earn 2 GB + 500 MB per referral.
* Pro 50 Plan costs $9.99/month or $99.00/year. Gives +1 GB per referral, up to +32 GB
* Pro 100 Plan costs $19.99/month or $199.00/year. Gives +GB per referral, up to +32 GB
* Teams plans start at 1 TB. Costs $795/year for the first five users and $125/year for each additional user.

Google Drive:
* Store up to 5GB in Google Drive, 1GB in Picasa, and 10GB in Gmail for free
* There are several monthly plans to choose from. Yearly plans are not yet available.
* Plans include: 25 GB for $2.49/month, 100 GB for $4.99/month, 200 GB for $9.99/month, 400 GB for $19.99/month, 1 TB for $49.99/month, 2 TB for $99.99/month, 4 TB for 199.99/month, 8 TB for $399.99/month, 16 TB for $799.99/month.

Upload Limits

Dropbox:
* Files uploaded to Dropbox via the desktop application have no file size limit
* Files uploaded through the website have a 300 MB cap
* The files you upload to Dropbox must be smaller than your account’s storage limits.

Google Drive:
* An uploaded file or folder can be up to 10GB

Compatibility

Dropbox:
* Can be used with Windows, Mac, or Linux
* Can be used with iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, or Android

Google Drive:
* Can be used with PC and Mac
* Can be used with Android
* Cannot be used with iPhone or iPad at this time (but is coming soon)