The Ergohacks Verdict
We’re all accumulating more videos, photos, and every type of file and hard drives and storage space on phones and laptops isn’t keeping up. We need to offload but ideally, have them available whenever we need them. You can choose a cloud provider like Dropbox or iCloud but it takes the control away from you and there are ongoing costs that mount up particularly if there are a lot of you. A traditional NAS experience could work but it’s a technical solution that needs a certain amount of setup and maintenance. The Promise Apollo Cloud 2 Duo promises to be a drop in and simple answer. Is it?
Setup was pretty straightforward. I just plugged it into my network and downloaded the app onto my PC. It checked it had the right Duo, asked what sort of RAID you wanted, then requested a directory to sync to, and gets you to sign in (or open) a Promise account. From there it prompts you to install its apps on your phone and you’re off and running. It’s the simplest NAS setup I’ve ever seen and provided good hand holding tips if you needed them. It appeared on my Windows workgroup and my Macs Finder automatically for file and photograph sharing and has been working seamlessly ever since. The Duo has two hard drives inside it and each is 4 terabytes. While you can choose to use them with no redundancy it’s designed for them to be in RAID 1 with identical data stored on both drives so for most people, this is a 4TB solution.
The marketing around the Duo is very much focused on Apple’s ecosystem but as we’re a bi-OS office and house I was very glad to find that the PC and Android apps were both available, feature full and well designed. They’re obviously Apple-inspired but that doesn’t detract from their functionality. It’s also designed to be a multiuser system – once the administrator account is setup you can add in up to 40 users and they can all get their own storage and upload space or you can share it between multiple users. If you’ve 40 users which is only likely in an office that’s 100 gigs a person which is very generous for file storage.
Picture and personal video management one of the Duo’s specialities. There are iOS and Android apps which can auto upload all your images and videos and let you browse whats already there. Photos can be sorted by timeline, GPS location data, facial recognition, manually into albums or favourites and all of these are on the mobile apps and accessible via the PC and Mac. Once you’ve got the photos in there they can be shared out either individually or in albums and can be open for anyone with the link or with an added password.
The Duo’s other big speciality is back up. If you’re a Mac user it can function as a Time Machine target and while the Windows solutions aren’t quite as seamless I was able to map it as a network drive and then use the built in Windows backup utilities to maintain a backup over the network. To back up the Duo itself there’s several types of external backup available – Apollo Mirror and USB. Mirror lets you sync two Duo’s to be identical. The idea is that you put one on your local network and one in another physical location – perhaps a different office or a friend or family member’s house. Any change you make on your master unit gets mirrored to the other unit giving you backup in another physical location. USB is straightforward – you can plug in an external drive and transfer files directly to it or you can use it a backup point in its own right.
Physically the Duo is a small rounded black and white plastic cube. It’s got a single ring LED on the front and its power, ethernet connection and a USB 3.0 connection on the back. It’s attractive but not so personality filled that it’ll stand out unnecessarily. The chances are that after you’ve got it plugged in and running that you’ll never need to touch it again so an ability to fade into the background is a big plus. It’s not quite silent but slight whirring it does produce is quiet and in any normal room is easily lost in the background hum.
Promise sells the Apollo Cloud 2 Duo on its simplicity. Plug it in and spend five minutes following the wizard, install the apps on all your phones and you’re off. If you’re looking to use it for your family at home it is that simple and effective. If you’re looking to use it in a small office there’s a little more complexity but that’s inevitable to get the extra usage out of it. There is a slight downside – you pay for that design and that ease of use both with higher costs than some of the competitors and simplicity to setup and use means less flexibility in some ways. If you want a drop-in solution that is cross platform and set and forget its an excellent choice. Highly recommended.
Price: ± £ 489 – 510
Included: Apollo Cloud 2 Duo, AC adaptor, Ethernet cable, Quick Start Guide, Serial number card
Product dimensions: 12.3 x 21.3 x 13.7 cm
Capacity: 2 x 4TB in RAID 1 or RAID 0
Item Weight: 2.3kg
Processor: Marvell 1 GHz Dual-Core,
Memory: 1 GB DDR3
Power: 36W, 100 ~240 V AC adaptor 50-60 Hz
Release date: August 2017
Connection: 1x Gigabit Ethernet
Expandability: 1 x USB 3.0
Warranty：2 year limited warranty
As a device that lives on your network, the Duo will work best on a gigabit ethernet connection but will work on a slower connection. It’s mains powered and it’s internal fans exhaust air through its top and hence it needs a little vertical space above it. It’s not totally silent but is easily the quietest plugged in thing in my office.
About Promise Technology
Promise Technology is a Taiwanese company that focuses on RAID controllers, RAID subsystems and NAS enclosures. They’re focused on the datacentre and high-end professional user market with the Apollo line of NAS’s being their lowest tier entry aimed at small and home businesses.
We based our Ergohacks Verdict on 3 weeks of testing and experimenting during October 2017. This product is still in regular use today. It was kindly loaned by Promise Technology 2017. This article was first published on 30 October 2017