Thank you to Connected Data and Drobo, maker of the Transporter, for sponsoring iPhone J.D. this month. The Transporter is one of the most valuable technology tools in my law practice, and that is saying something because I surround myself with gadgets. Simply connect a Transporter to your home or office network and you get a folder on your computer in which you can add sub-folders and documents. The Transporter folder is synced across computers, so if you add a draft of a brief to the Transporter folder on your PC at work, you can access that brief at home in the Transporter folder on your Mac. Similarly, on your iPhone and iPad, you can use the free Transporter app to access any of those files. If you use Dropbox, this type of service probably sounds familiar, but Transporter is different because you own and have custody of your Transporter so all of your documents remains private. You don't need to worry about your documents being on the cloud and in the possession of a third party that hasn't signed a confidentiality agreement with you. If you store lots of files, a Transporter is also cheaper than Dropbox because you just pay once for the hardware and can select just about any capacity drive that you want, such as a 500GB Transporter for $199. (That same amount of space on Dropbox would cost you $499, and that is a recurring charge that you have to pay Dropbox every year.) If you want to put a large document, such as a big video file, on your Transporter but not have it take up space in the Transporter folder on your computers, the Transporter has a special Transporter Library folder where you can store items that are not synced to your computer but are still accessible from your computers, iPhones and iPads.
Connected Data has also provided developers with the tools to integrate Transporter access directly within their apps. One recent example is the PDFpen app for iPad (which I reviewed in 2012). But for apps that don't have built-in Transporter support, you can simply use the Transporter app to select a document and then send it to another app. Indeed, when you have Internet access, your Transporter gives your iPad and iPhone access to terabytes of files, for more than you could ever store on the iPad or iPhone. And once you access a file from the app, the app remains downloaded so that you can access it again later, even if you don't have an Internet connection. (Just swipe to delete a file if you don't want it, and the app asks whether you want to delete just the downloaded version or also delete it from your Transporter.)
As I mentioned a few months ago, a recent update to the Transporter app lets you tell the app to automatically upload pictures that you take with your iPhone and/or iPad to your computer. It does so using location-based services, so for example, you can tell your iPhone to upload your photos when you are in your house, and when the app senses that it is at your home on your Wi-Fi network, the uploads occur in the background. (Or you can manually tell the app to upload photos right now from wherever you are located.) The next time you sit down at your computer, your pictures are already there waiting for you in the "Camera Uploads" folder of the Transporter. I use this feature all the time to get the best of both worlds with my iPhone and iPad. What I mean by that is that the iPhone is far better than the iPad for taking pictures, but when I want to view those pictures I'd rather do so on the larger screen of the iPad. I take pictures with my iPhone, then the pictures are uploaded to the Camera Uploads folder on my Transporter, and then I can see and download those photos on my iPad. A recent update to the app adds small thumbnail images next to each file name so that even if you have dozens or hundreds of pictures, you can quickly figure out which picture that you want.
When you buy a Transporter, you have lots of options. You can spend $199 to $349 to get a Transporter with a built-in drive of up to 2TB. Or you can spend just $99 for the Transporter Sync and add your own USB drive of whatever capacity you want. They both work the exact same way, so it is just a question of whether you want the simplicity and elegance of a single device that looks like a cone, or you want the flexibility of a device where you can add any drive that you want but then you have two items on your desk, the Transporter Sync plus the drive.
As a part of its sponsorship of iPhone J.D., the company provided me with free Transporter back in early 2013 when I first tried it out. But knowing how useful it is, I would buy one now immediately if I didn't already have it. This is one of those rare pieces of technology that I use just about every single day, just like my iPhone and my iPad. In fact, you can buy two Transporters, keep them in different locations (such as your home and your office), and tell them to automatically sync to each other so that even if disaster strikes at one location and one Transporter is somehow damaged, you'll still have a complete backup. Having said that, even if you just own one Transporter, you always have a backup of all of your files on the Transporter folder of your computer(s) — except for those files that you put in the Transporter Library, which means you are explicitly telling the Transporter to only store the file there.
To get more information on Transporter and Transporter Sync, click here to access the Legal Solutions page of the Transporter website.