Kwilt Shoebox Plus – Your Own Personal Cloud Storage Solution [Review]

We recently wrote about the release of the new Kwilt Shoebox Plus – a personal cloud storage solution that skips monthly fees and puts you in direct control of your files and your privacy. It’s not as feature-rich or customizable as a full NAS system, but what the Kwilt Shoebox Plus lacks in customization, it more than makes up in ease of setup and use.

Shoebox Plus Key Features from Kwilt First Look Article

  • 1.4GHz 64-bit quad-core processor
  • Dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11b, a, n, ac wireless LAN
  • 300 Mbps Ethernet Connection
  • 4 x USB 2.0 ports
  • HDMI port
  • 3.5mm audio port
  • Allows for full-resolution photos and videos
  • Access on any mobile platform – iOS and Android apps

Getting Started

I’m not big on unboxing videos, but I regret not making this one. When you first open the box, you’ll notice that the Kwilt Shoebox Plus is packed to convey its simplicity – the Kwilt Shoebox Plus module, Kwilt-branded USB Flash Storage, an ethernet cable, and power adapter. Setting up the physical Shoebox Plus was a matter of making space on my entertainment console and plugging it in. Start to finish set up took about 5 minutes; setting up an account using the Kwilt app wasn’t difficult just that there were a few steps to getting the app to recognize the module.
Once recognized, you’re asked to create a name for the drive (HomeBase in this example) and link it to your account. That’s the tricky part in all of this; I’m using the iOS version of the Kwilt app and was asked if I wanted to backup immediately or if I would handle them independently – nothing else left to set up.

Transferring Files

Upon completing any Shoebox transfer, you have the option to keep or delete the items from your device or cloud storage account. Using the iOS version of the app, I’ve often opted to remove the images from Apple’s iCloud storage and chose to keep the media on the attached drives. It’s a simple process that’s made even simpler by the ability to automate backups.

During my initial tests, I attempted to transfer large amounts of data to the Kwilt Shoebox Plus from both my iCloud account and phone. Those first tests resulted in random failures but were easily fixed by reinstalling the app. Since then, I found myself short on storage while on vacation; with the Shoebox Plus, I was able to quickly offload all my photos and videos leaving me with plenty of space for snapshots and testing a Leica CL. Even with hotel WiFi I found the process to be speedy and easy to do – after all I’m on vacation not trying to troubleshoot cloud storage.

Kwilt Shoebox Plus Plugged
The Shoebox Plus sits neatly on our home entertainment console.

You can easily share your Kwilt Shoebox Plus with friends and family members as well. To give them access, make sure they are connected to the Wi-Fi network to which the Shoebox is connected. Once connected to your home network, they need to run the Kwilt app, go to “Settings > Media Sources”, tap the “+” icon and select “Kwilt Shoebox or compatible router” then tap “Add an existing Kwilt Shoebox”. Your Kwilt Shoebox will pop up, and your guest will be asked to enter the password you created during initial setup. From then on, you are sharing all your Kwilt Shoebox content, and you can both offload your phone/tablet files to it and access them.

Sharing, Viewing, Special Keyboards and Accessing From a Desktop

Shoebox Plus top view
The Kwilt Shoebox Plus has a small footprint, but it would be nice if it matched with the rest of our gear.

It’s one thing to have access to all your files, but if they’re not easy to share or view them, then it doesn’t matter where you keep them. Here’s where Kwilt takes a tied and true approach to cloud storage and takes it to the next level – the Kwilt Shoebox Plus isn’t bound to an app alone, any desktop that’s connected to the same network as the device can access the files as well. As long as the user has been granted access from the app, they can easily access, upload, and view files. It’s one of the easiest ways to create a shared network without incurring a monthly subscription.

Another quirky extra is the addition of a soft-keyboard. You could potentially upload all your favorite GIFs (or vacation photos if you wanted) and share them in your messaging service of choice with a dedicated keyboard. On iOS we found that the implementation was not as clean looking like Apple’s GIF search option, we found that it functioned just as well with the added benefit of being able to use your collection of GIF images (read: NSFW GIFs or those not allowed by Apple).

Who’s This For?

If everything you’ve read so far sounds a lot like the various cloud services that are available for pennies per GB (especially if you have a device that was bundled with free cloud storage) you’re probably thinking why would I buy this? Privacy.

Unlike cloud storage, your data lives on a physical drive that lives in your home. Short of having someone physically steal your hard drive, your data can only be accessed by you. Kwilt has no access to the physical storage that you add to the Shoebox Plus. As an added layer of security, the data on the drives themselves are secured – requiring your sign-up email and password. If lately, you’ve been having trust issues with big companies that stockpile your data, the Kwilt Shoebox Plus is just one way in which you can disconnect while still having access to your memories. While little add-ons like the GIF keyboard may not be a reason to drop your Google Drive subscription, it’s nice to know that you could use your library much in the same way without having to be forced to play by their rules or pay their fees.

While a NAS set up may be the more robust option, the truth is that it’s overkill for the majority of people. Most users are looking for a quick and safe way to keep their mobile devices free of clutter (you knew better than to take all those selfies in Cancun 3 years ago) without having to delete those files permanently; the Kwilt Shoebox Plus is a decent compromise between the two.

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Interested in giving the Kwilt Shoebox Plus a shot? If you purchase one before 9/30/18, you can get one for 25%-off and free shipping. Make sure to let them know that G Style Mag sent you.