Hands On: Morro CacheDrive

Hands On: Morro CacheDrive
Image: MorroData

Dealing with network latency, particularly with large files is a significant issue. And while cloud services can help, we are often constrained by upload capacity from our ISPs. The Morro Data CacheDrive, created by Paul Tien – the guy who created ReadyNAS which was eventually acquired by Netgear, aims to solve that with a device that sits on your network and provides fast access to files by caching files so they are made available quickly and easily.

The CacheDrive’s aim is to make access to cloud data faster for teams within and across networks. It caches data to make it accessible faster than traditional cloud sync and folder sharing. The cached data folder appears as a drive you can map on a Windows system or an easily mountable folder on *nix or macOS.

The set up involves entering a bunch of information including email address, physical address, and credit card details as it is not a free service. Once that’s done and you click a verification email link, you create a password for your MorroData account and you go to a configuration system.

The CacheDrive can work with cloud storage providers such as OneDrive and DropBox. I connected both services to the CacheDrive I was sent to review. Interestingly, when I connected to DropBox, the CacheDrive only wanted to access to files and folders. This makes sense given what the device does.

But with OneDrive, it asked for a lot of permissions to other account information.

Connecting to the cloud services adds a folder to your filesync services (I just took the default “Morro Data” but you can rename it). That folder, as well as data you copy directly to the CacheDrive is then stored in Morro Data’s cloud-based cache.

All data stored on the internal 1TB hard drive is encrypted with AES-256 and data in flight between the CacheDrive and Morro Data’s cloud is encrypted via SSL. This is all powered by an Intel Dual Core 2.16GHz processor.

Curiously, there are VGA, USB, HDMI, optical ports but they’re just for debug mode, not used in operation. So, what we really have is a small-form factor computer running some custom software connected to a cloud service.

Connecting to the CacheDrive can be simplified using the downloadable Connect client. I tested the Mac version and it wasn’t a signed application which may be an issue for many who will only run apps signed by registered developers.

By caching files locally and then replicating them to other CacheDrives, MorroData makes heavily-used files in your business quickly accessible. If you are a multi-site business, particularly one where network performance between sites is an issue, then you can install a CacheDrive at each site and the data between them will be synchronised securely over the internet.

The CacheDrive does simplify the job of synchronising files across different people distributed over a large area.

The MorroData CacheDrive does come at a cost. There’s a monthly charge of US$39 per month for a single user that does not require a CacheDrive device.

The device, which is recommended for larger offices of 20 users or more, costs US$500.