The USB Drive Reinvented-
that’s the bold claim of iTwin, a USB dongle for Mac and PC which
allows remote connection of two computers without the need for the usual
network headaches. Plug one iTwin into your first computer at home, the
second into the remote computer, share files and folders. Remote file
sharing for the masses? Sounds too good to be true? Let’s find out.
Swap €99/$99 for your iTwin courtesy ofAmazonor the company’sonline
store, and it’ll land on your doormat in a matter of days. As seen
increasingly nowadays, iTwin’s packaging designers have spent far too
much time in the Apple store, as the product’s branding (and indeed
name) leans a little too heavily in the direction of Cupertino – black
and white? Check? Heavy use ofMyriad Pro?Check. For a product that only recently announced support for OS X, then the brand design inspiration is a little cheeky.
up the pack, and you’ll find a Getting Started guide and the iTwin
itself. At first glance, it looks like someone has glued two USB drives
together at the bottom. Indeed, that’s almost exactly what has happened –
except for glue, read a proprietary connector that looks a little like a
fat SATA connector. iTwin is in fact a pair of USB dongles that connect
snugly during initial configuration, and then pull apart easily for
remote use. One side stays connected to your local computer, the other
connects to your mobile computer. That’s the principle.
versions of the device shipped exclusively with Windows software,
although since September, both Mac and PC users have been supported with
a plug and play experience. Connect the iTwin to your computer, and the
device’s software will install with minimal input required from the
user. Our review unit arrived without the Mac software, however. If
required, Mac users can download the OS X installerfrom the company’s website and
install manually, if required. It’s a little clunky, with a two stage
process required to install the software, plus an automatic download to
ensure you’re running the latest version, but donate a few minutes and
the device should install without incident.
Once installed, the iTwin may need to be disconnected and re-connected to restart the device, after which it can be configured.
be asked to set a name for your iTwin Pair, and importantly, a code
with which you can disable the connection – handy if you lose one of the
iTwin connectors when out and about. Registering the device with your
email address will ensure the kill code is sent to you.
configured, you’ll be presented a folder named iTwin Local Files, into
which you place any file or folder that you wish to share remotely.
one half of the iTwin, and connect it to your remote computer. It will
automatically connect to your local computer and (after a short pause)
present those files stored in the iTwin Local Files on your computer at
home. No need for domain name setups, DNS configuration, port forwarding
– it simply just works.
Any file you place into your respective iTwin folder whilst out on the road will then by synced back to your home computer.
access speeds from that home computer are going to vary based on your
internet connection speed at home, and of course, your remote network
speed. Testing the connection over a (reasonably decent) 3G remote
connection and a half meg uplink at home was not a great experience, in
truth. That’s probably not the iTwin’s fault, but rather a product of
the UK’s lousy Internet backbone (especially out in the villages).From
plugging in the iTwin, it took about a minute for the file listing to be
displayed, and about 50 seconds for a 6 Meg file to be transferred and
opened. So, if you have a poor Internet connection (particularly the
upload speed) then a cloud storage service likeDropboxmay be a better option.
remote Wi-Fi however (for example, in a coffee shop or hotel guest
network), iTwin works a treat – files were available within 5-10 seconds
of plugging in and that same 6 Meg file was available in just 10
seconds. No quibbles on performance here.
aside, let’s be clear, the amazing this about iTwin is that it works
without effort. It’s perfect for your non-geek friends and family who
are looking for a remote file access solution – a couple of clicks to
set up, then simply plug and play. For the security conscious, all data
shared between the iTwin dongles is protected with 256-bit AES
encryption, and where possible, compressed before transfer to optimise
speeds. Each time the two halves of the iTwin are plugged into a
computer, they create a shared random 256-bit AES key, which resides
only on the two halves of the paired iTwin, and not on their host
computers. Before allowing any data to be transferred, both halves of
the iTwin are authenticated by iTwin’s own servers
those seeking a convenient, robust and fabulously easy remote access
experience with a home computer, iTwin certainly fits the bill. Okay,
there’s a cost for the device which needed be spent by the tech savvy,
and performance varies depending on your home broadband speeds, but if
you’ve never heard of the words “port forward” and you need a way to
share and access files from home when you’re out and about, then you
should definitely take a look.