My Hub from Carphone Warehouse: Music-streaming backup service tested
My Hub, a new service from the Carphone Warehouse, makes it easier to backup your precious bytes to the cloud and lets you stream your own music anywhere
The service has features to sync music, phone contacts and photos between your computer, your phone and My Hub's servers. Activating the sync for photos and contacts is as simple as installing an app and logging in, and you get 2GB of storage free. Music is a tad more complicated, and involves a fee, but more on that later.
When you sign up, you'll be asked to put in details of your phone, such as the make, manufacturer and number. You'll then be taken to your My Hub homepage, which is rather like staring at a supermarket on hallucinogenics:
You'll be directed to install the My Hub software once you're signed up. It's used to regularly backup your files.
You can go through settings to select files to be backed up based on type, by selecting specific folders or by simply backing up the lot. The default setting on the program runs backup when idle (the software checks every 60 seconds to see if your computer is on but not being used before commencing back-up).
Alternatively, you can choose specific times and days for the process to run on a weekly basis. Once setup is complete, the software runs an initial backup, which can take a while if you're saving a large number of files.
The installation is simple, configuration is easy and running a backup really is just pressing one huge, orange button.
The My Hub site allows you to store up to 2GB completely free, with upgrades to 10GB for £4.99 per year or unlimited space for £29.99 per year, and allows you to access the files from any computer. A free iPhone app, available for download in the iTunes app store, also allows you to sync contacts and photos from your phone to your My Hub storage.
Recovering a file in the software is simple process too, allowing you to search through the stored files, and even giving you a preview of the file in the case of images and video, Just move your file over to a list of files to resurrect and hit 'recover'.
If you schedule regular backups, the software will, from then on, run in the background and you need never take heed of it again unless you have a hard-drive disaster.
In the Windows Explorer box, you'll notice files have small dots next to them. Green dots indicate that a file is backed up to your My Hub account, and yellow indicates it's yet to be uploaded. If you need to recover a file when you're away from your computer, simply find the file in-browser by logging in and select 'Save As'.
This software is ideal to be used as a one-click cloud backup solution or as a cloud storage manager to access work files. In the latter case, however, it may have difficulty competing with popular cloud services such as Dropbox and is probably best suited to remain a tool for backing up drives.
But don't think that this is just some generic cloud storage service, oh crumbs no. The software is geared towards music backups (even having a feature to import and store your entire iTunes libary in the cloud), which allows you access to your music on any computer.
Plus, thanks to another handy, free smart phone application (albeit for a subscription charge to the tune of £30 per year) you can add your mobile phone, the one you registered with the site when you signed up, and stream your entire uploaded music library on the move. The music-streaming and contact-syncing features are available for iPhone (iTunes link), Android and BlackBerry phones.
When you activate the 'Music Anywhere' function, you'll be sent an activation code via SMS, enter that into the app (a link to install the app is included in the text message) and you're done -- that's all the setup you need. After that, you can use the app to access any music that you've uploaded to the MyHub storage through the backup tools on your computer, just as with the in-browser music streaming. Music takes no more than a second or two to buffer and begin playing, on a Wi-Fi or 3G connection, and the sound quality is precisely the same as you'd get from the original file.
Thanks to exceedingly simple to use software and mobile apps that use familiar interfaces, such as you would see on an iPod, the My Hub service from The Carphone Warehouse is extremely useful. The Music Anywhere streaming is one major feature that's going to get people's attention -- it's like a middle ground between an MP3 player carrying your tunes locally and Spotify's ability to stream a catalogue of songs in the cloud -- you get the music you own, but on the move without any need to carry the files on your device.
What's more, the price for the streaming service (£30 per year) is a quarter of what you'll pay for Spotify's phone equivalent. Sure you don't get the wide catalogue of music but -- given most people prefer to purchase and own their music -- you still get your own playlist.
You can sign up to My Hub at my-hub.co.uk.