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Cloud Engines, maker of the Pogoplug set-top appliance that turns external hard drives into private cloud servers, announced today that it has raised $15 million from Softbank Capital and Morgan Stanley.

The Pogoplug (pictured left) connects to any external hard drive to the Internet and allows its owners to access the hard drive from anywhere in the world. It basically turns the hard drives you have sitting around into private cloud servers.

Users access their information via the web by going to a personalized site on to upload or download files. The information can be accessed from any computer, iPhone, iPad or mobile device running on Google’s Android operating system.

“We coined the term personal cloud,” said Cloud Engines CEO Daniel Putterman. “People are buying hard drives at such an alarming rate and collecting them in their houses — this is a way of taking the investment you’ve already made and making it useful.”

Pogoplug users can give other people, like friends and family, limited access to the files. It’s an actual retail product — available in stores like Best Buy — that costs $99. The idea is to provide users with a way to set up a cloud storage service without having to pay a monthly fee to sites like Dropbox.

Not stopping at just a Pogoplug device, Cloud Engines wants to stick their product in just about everything else — including routers and television set-top boxes, Putterman said. The device is pretty low power and is about as reliable as online cloud storage services. It’s mostly geared toward the average consumer, so it doesn’t directly compete with some of the cloud storage giants like Salesforce’s service.

The company has around 30 employees and was founded in 2007. The first Pogoplug product actually appeared at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2009. The San Francisco, Calif.-based company raised $6.25 million from its first round of fundraising from Foundry Group and an additional round of equity.


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