Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How To Turn Local Storage Into A Personal Online Drive With HomePipe

online drive
When it comes to storage “in the cloud”, I have to admit that I never really jumped onto the bandwagon. Maybe it’ll be another one of those technologies, like each evolution of Windows, that I just take longer to adopt than most other people. Or maybe it’ll flop – who knows.

The one thing I don’t really like about a cloud storage solution, like Dropbox, is the fact that the architecture includes the online storage of your files. Yes, it can sync up with your laptops, desktops and mobile devices, but what if you really aren’t comfortable having those files stored somewhere other than your local PC?

For people that are a little bit wary about such a setup, I have an alternative for you. Instead of syncing your files with the online storage space that you’ve purchased and have to pay for, what if you could simply turn your local storage – like a USB stick, a directory on your computer, or a portable hard drive – into a storage unit in the “cloud”?

Turning Your Local Drive Into An Online Drive

What you’ll basically be doing is assigning part of your drive (or your entire USB memory card, if you like) to serve up files and media via the Internet. The perfect service for this is an application Kaly covered briefly called HomePipe. In this article, I’d like to cover the application in a lot more detail, and show you how you can configure your own cloud storage network with this software. You’ll never have to buy another gigabyte of online storage again.

online drive

The beauty of this program is that you can install agents anywhere and everywhere you like. If you own a Linux computer, a Mac and a Windows desktop – you can install an agent on each of them and create an entire network of online storage – sharing out a directory from each device. When you install the agent, you’ll see that HopePipe will block your computer from “sleeping” so that it can continuously serve up the files to your new online drive in the “cloud”.

free online hard drive

You’ll see that the free version of the software allows for 10 “uses”. A use is basically a connection session. So, for free you can hook up to your cloud and use it for as long as you like – so long as you do not disconnect or go idle from the connection for longer than 30 minutes. If you do, you’ll have used up a single connection. For occasional users, this solution is a perfect way to access all of your systems from anywhere there’s an Internet connection. If you need to use it more often, there’s also a plan for under $25 a year, unlimited – which is nearly free!

When you click on “configure shared folders“, you’ll have a chance to configure which folders on your local PC you want to share out to your personal online drive in the cloud.

free online hard drive

Once you’ve created the “hosted” drive with the local agents, you can access those drives anywhere on the web. Just log in at HomePipe and you’ll have instant access to all of your “online” storage. The beauty here is that you don’t have to pay extra for additional online drive space. Your drive space is only limited by the actual drive space of your local drive. Of course, the drawback is that you’ll need to leave these systems running all the time if you want to access them on the Internet. For people like me that leave their systems running all the time anyway, this isn’t a concern.

As you can see on the right side of the screen, you can easily upload and download files to and from your virtual online drive, and you can even instantly upload any of the photos you have directly to your Facebook account. Uploading files from your local machine to your “online” virtual storage drive is as simple as browsing to the local files and uploading them. This is one of the easiest ways to transfer files to any of your computers right over the Internet – no FTP or complicated remote logins required.

Clicking on “Settings“, at the top of your dashboard, you can see how many times you’ve accessed your online drive, and how many sessions you have left for the month.

Don’t forget, you also have access to the mobile HomePipe app as well – for either iPhone or Android phones. This app gives you access to your virtual online drive right from your mobile device. When you open HomePipe on your mobile phone, you’ll see all of the drives that you’ve added to your virtual cloud, as well as the local storage of your phone.

Exploring your virtual online drive (which is essentially exploring your remote drive), is as easy as using Explorer. Remember, all of this takes place right over the Internet. When you upload a file to the online drive, you’re basically uploading it to your remote system.

online drive

I love this setup, because it combines the concept of “cloud computing” with the safety and security of keeping those files stored on your own machines – not some server located who-knows-where. Only people with the password to your HomePipe account will have access to your files – no one else.

So give HomePipe a shot and try different setups, like hosting a portable USB drive to your new cloud network, or mounting your Android SD card and sharing that out to the cloud. You can be as creative as you want when you build your cloud network – it’s completely up to you!

Do you prefer this setup over traditional cloud computing? What do you like or dislike about it? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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