Transporter Revisited – Part 2 – Testing and Final Thoughts

Disclaimer: I recently received a second Transporter (Individual) unit from Connected Data in Australia to review how synchronisation worked between individual units on a LAN and WAN, amongst other things. I provided my own hard drive for the second unit. Big thanks to Philippe from Connected Data in Australia for reaching out to me in the first place and Josh from Kayell for organising the unit to be sent my way.

I recently wrote about adding a second Transporter to my home network. This post covers the results of some of the scenarios I wanted to look at from a functionality perspective. The scenarios I worked through included:

  • Photo data sync between laptop / Transporter over a LAN and WAN;
  • Video data sync between Transporters over a LAN;
  • Sharing video files to a non-Transporter user; and
  • Accessing files using the mobile app on iOS.


Photo data sync

Photos were pretty easy to move around. For my test data I used a 450MB folder of photos of sneakers. I copied it to the Transporter and noticed within a minute that the Transporter client on my Mac was picking up the changes.


Once the folder was on the Transporter and syncing with my devices I then had a copy of the photos in a number of locations. Pretty simple stuff.


Video data sync

Let’s be clear – copying large files to the Transporter, even over a LAN connection, can be slow. There’s a lot getting in the way of this being a speedy operation, including the fact that the Transporter itself just isn’t a blazingly fast unit. So don’t waste your money putting in a flash drive, or think that this is going to be the right tool in a video rendering workflow – because I don’t think it is.

However, if you keep things simple, and count on stuff taking a little while, you can certainly do a bit with this unit. I copied about 40GB of files directly to the Transporter. It took close to an hour to complete, but I expected it would. While that was happening, a few other things happened. Firstly, the other Transporter on my LAN got the message that there was stuff on the Transporter that should be synchronised. Cool.



Secondly, I could then decide to share the files on a limited basis, either via the Transporter application, or via SMB if I really wanted to. You can read the Transporter FAQ on SMB here.


Note that even when you turn on SMB on the unit, you won’t see the files until you share the folder in question.



Once you’ve done that, you’ll see the files via SMB.



Sharing video files

So now I have about 40GB of video files on my Transporters. What if I want to share those with someone who doesn’t have a Transporter? It’s pretty simple. I can right-click on the file I want to share, create a link, and then send links to people I want to share the files with. Note, however, that links are generated on a per-file basis. You’re better off just inviting  people to access the shared folder.


Another cool thing you can do is control which Transporters will store the files you’re sharing.


I tested playback of the video over both Wifi and LAN connection. The video files were standard definition MPEG files in PAL (720 x 576) format running at about 4Mbps. They played back well with some choppiness. Still, as far as a simple way to distribute a bunch of files, this is one of the easiest ways I’ve found to do it, particularly when it comes to sharing with people outside the network.


Accessing data over mobile

The Transporter mobile app is a snap to use, and works well on both the phone and iPad. I only tested the iOS version, so I can’t tell you how the other flavours behave.


You can do cool things like setting it to automatically upload photos. I can see that this is going to be a handy feature when I’m travelling and don’t necessarily have my Crashplan-protected laptop with me.



Final Thoughts

I gushed about Transporter when I first came across it at SFD7, and after testing the use of multiple units, I’m still a fan. For the most part, it does what it says on the box, and it’s a snap to setup. The key thing for me is the mobile access and ability to securely share files with the outside world in a controlled fashion. I like that there’s a nod to SMB in there, and the ability to create read-only shares as required. I also like that my daughters (both of whom use their iPads heavily for school work) can easily access files at home and at school without bloody e-mailing to me them all the time. I’m giving it two thumbs up – it does what I need it to do. Obviously your mileage might vary.



Transporter Revisited – Part 1 – Introduction

Disclaimer: I recently received a second Transporter (Individual) unit from Connected Data in Australia to review how synchronisation worked between individual units on a LAN and WAN, amongst other things. I provided my own hard drive for the second unit. Big thanks to Philippe from Connected Data in Australia for reaching out to me in the first place and Josh from Kayell for organising the unit to be sent my way.

Firstly, if you’d like some background on Connected Data, check out my Storage Field Day 7 post here.

Secondly, the Transporter User Guide is the best resource to get started with the Transporter. Most operations with the Transporter are pretty simple, although the user guide provides some useful background on how and why things work the way they do.

My second Transporter arrived without a hard drive, so I went and bought a 1TB 2.5″ WD Blue drive [WD10JPVX] to use with it. I chose this model because it was the same as the one in my first unit, it was reasonably priced, and I’d had some good experiences with WD drives recently. The drive you choose is up to you, although going with an SSD will not improve the performance of the unit. You can find a list of the drive requirements here. Connected Data have also developed a useful video entitled “Transporter Hard Drive Installation Video”.

Once you’ve got your drive in, you’ll want to add the Transporter to your account. If you need assistance with this, the Quick Start Guide is a pretty handy place to start in my opinion.

Once you’re all setup, you can get to the interesting bit – sharing data between Transporters and other users. The first thing to understand is whether you want to store files only on your Transporter, or whether you want the files to sync to the machines you’ve installed the client on as well. The differences between the Transporter folder and Library are covered fairly comprehensively here. Broadly speaking, if I had some photos I wanted to keep a copy of on my Transporter, I’d probably copy them to the Transporter folder and have them synchronise with my laptop and any other Transporters in my control. If I wanted to copy GBs of video, for example, I’d probably store that in the Transporter Library. This would keep the files only on the Transporters, not my laptop as well. Note that the mobile application only downloads files as they’re accessed, it doesn’t automatically download files.

Note also I’m not super interested in performance from a synchronisation perspective, as I’m hamstrung from a WAN perspective with a pretty awful ADSL connection at my house. What I did want to cover, however, was a few of the different ways files could be accessed and move around using these units. These are the scenarios I looked at testing:

  • Photo data sync between laptop / Transporter over a LAN and WAN;
  • Video data sync between Transporters over a LAN;
  • Sharing video files to a non-Transporter user; and
  • Accessing files using the mobile app on iOS.

It’s not super scientific, but I was looking at scenarios that I thought would be useful to me as a consumer. Note, also, that for the large data tests, I had the Transporter units and laptop sitting on the same gigabit LAN. In the next post I’ll be running through the results of the testing.

Storage Field Day 7 – Day 2 – Connected Data

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 7.  My flights, accommodation and other expenses were paid for by Tech Field Day. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

For each of the presentations I attended at SFD7, there are a few things I want to include in the post. Firstly, you can see video footage of the Connected Data presentation here. You can also download my raw notes from the presentation here. Finally, here’s a link to the Connected Data website that covers some of what they presented. Apologies in advance for the number of times Dropbox is mentioned in this post, but it did tend to dominate the discussion on the day.


Data Robotics (Drobo) and Connected Data share some interesting history. You can read Chris’s piece at The Register to get an idea of the timeline, if not necessarily the full story, behind the two companies. Geoff Barrall (@GeoffBarrall) is a really nice guy with a bunch of experience in the storage industry. Here’s a picture of him presenting the company overview.


Here’s the world according to Connected Data:

  • 97% of the people using cloud services don’t pay for them;
  • The economics are getting worse, not better; and
  • It’s a “Race to the bottom”.

In addition to this, customers and enterprises alike have a number of privacy and security concerns when it comes to storing data with cloud storage providers. I can speak from firsthand experience that this is a real issue for a lot of people, regardless of whether we think data sovereignty concerns are legitimate or not.

On the flipside of this, it seems most storage revenue is still in the hardware, with the market growing by 10% annually and pure cloud services having little impact on this number.

So what’s happening in the world of file sharing? According to Geoff, “Dropbox reinvented everything”. As for then and now …


  • One file system for everybody;
  • Small files could be sent by e-mail, but large ones no;
  • It often required access by VPN; and
  • IT involvement was required to restore files.

Dropbox helped:

  • Everybody organises their own files in a way that makes sense to them;
  • Links make sending files to other people simple;
  • Files are made available everywhere through syncing;
  • Files are available on mobile devices; and
  • Everybody can access older version of files and restore what they need when they need.

But here’s the “CIO Dilemma”:

  • Users want the Dropbox experience, but companies don’t necessarily want the issues that go with that;
  • 43% of enterprise employees are using Dropbox; and
  • 70% of enterprises are extremely interested in running cloud storage from their own data centre.


The Product

So what is Transporter and how does it solve the problem?

  • Private cloud file storage you buy and own like a NAS;
  • Works just like Dropbox;
  • Connected Data have 12,000 systems in active daily use;
  • Dramatically less expensive than public cloud storage;
  • Much higher capacity and performance than public cloud storage; and
  • 100% private.

It offers a number of the same benefits of public cloud storage, including:

  • Public API;
  • Synchronise important files like you would with Dropbox;
  • Laptops can synchronise from any location;
  • Create and access files in the cloud from mobile devices; and
  • Access to TBs of files over the internet.

They are also working on an Active Directory connector. The sooner they get that, the better.

There are two streams of Transporter available: Business and Individual. Here’s a press kit shot of one of the Business models.


The Business models offer:

  • Dropbox simplicity with native finder and explorer integration, while eliminating the need for VPNs;
  • Full IT Control, allowing you to choose the location and redundancy of data, with all files encrypted (AES-256) in transit; and
  • A Proven solution, with over 17PB deployed across 27,000 users.


Is this NAS 2.0? Connected Data think it is. I’m not entirely sure that it ticks all the boxes yet. But I’m also not sure that I know what all of those boxes should be. You can read more about the File Transporter for Business here, and download the datasheet here.


There is also a range of products designed for Individual use.


You can read more about them here, and the datasheet is here.


Ease of Setup

I put together a brief article documenting the Transporter Desktop application installation with the sole purpose of highlighting how simple and quick it is to get up and running with the File Transporter (for Individuals). You can find it here. It took me all of 3 minutes to setup, including the time it took to download the application to my laptop.


Thoughts and Further Reading

I’m a fan of the product, at least for individuals. I’ve found it to be awfully simple to setup and start using, and I’m thinking of getting some more to sprinkle around the place.

I’m still not entirely convinced by the business product, but that’s really more because I haven’t had any stick time with the appliance. I think that, given the right sort of business application, it could be a vastly simpler way of sharing data within the enterprise, particularly for unstructured data use for mobile users. But it’s a fairly particular way of doing things, and not everyone is going to be comfortable with users just having at it and sharing files as they see fit. Probably because we, as IT folk, still embrace the idea that we actually have some control over what goes on in the business. And really, I think it’s a good thing that some of that thinking is being challenged. And I think it’s a good thing that IT is getting some opportunity, through this product, to regain some level of understanding of what’s going on, if not getting all of the control back.

I also recommend you read Keith’s excellent background blog post on Connected Data here.