About four years ago, I reviewed the original version of the RAVPower FileHub (model no. RP-WD01). RAVPower recently sent me the latest version to test out (model no. RP-WD009).
There’s frankly an awful lot of overlap between the models, and they do many of the same things in the same ways. But there are a few key upgrades and additions since the original model.
The one I’m most excited about is a new button. Yes, I know that sounds a bit silly on the face of it. But here’s the thing: that button transforms this into an (almost) standalone photo and video backup device on the road and an interesting alternative to some of the others out there.
Overview of the RAVPower FileHub
So what exactly is the RAVPower FileHub? That’s not as easy to answer as it might seem. It doesn’t fit easily into a traditional category.
In broad strokes, the device is trying to solve several problems at once. The kind of issues you’re very likely to come across when traveling with a laptop. Trying to stay connected when you’re out traveling isn’t always easy. And carrying a bunch of different devices for specific jobs ends up with a lot of moving pieces, a lot of extra weight, and more things to go wrong. For all the promise of the cloud, you pretty quickly hit harsh reality when you’re traveling. Dodgy WiFi connections. No power outlets nearby. Nowhere to buy a cable with that specific connector you need.
The FileHub takes a kind of Swiss Army Knife approach. It’s pocket-sized, shaped a bit like a rectangular hockey puck. It’s a power bank, with a 6700 mAh external USB battery. It’s a travel router, acting as a WiFi network hub. It’s a file hub that allows you to share files from USB storage devices via WiFi. It’s a WiFi SD card reader. And, if you add an external USB storage drive into the mix, it’s a highly portable photo backup device.
The WiFi functionality is really to the heart of why this device exists. There are several aspects to it, but the first is that it acts as a WiFi hub or personal router.
But it’s important to be clear what it isn’t. By itself, it doesn’t provide internet access—it acts as a bridge between your WiFi devices and another form of internet access. For instance, you can connect the FileHub to a hotel’s WiFi and then join your phones or computers by WiFi to the FileHub to share the hotel’s connection. That can come in handy when hotels limit the number of devices you can use (or charge by the device). You can also connect the FileHub by WiFi to a mobile hotspot and then connect your devices by WiFi to the FileHub.
The FileHub is also not a mobile hotspot. It doesn’t connect directly to cell networks. You could use it in tandem with a separate mobile hotspot, or use your phone as a hotspot, and then use the FileHub to share that connection among multiple devices. But you need to source the actual internet connection separately.
But being able to share a WiFi or ethernet connection across several devices can come in very handy. That can be useful in situations where you’re being charged per connection or when you’re trying to add a little boost to the signal to other parts of the room or building.
While that doesn’t solve the problem of slow internet connections, it does add convenience and can reduce internet connection costs for those places that still charge by the device. And if you’re getting a good WiFi signal in a different part of a room than where you want to sit–something that I find happens all the time in hotels, in particular– it’s a useful way to send the boosted signal.
And while I’m not a big fan of the File Hub’s user interface through a web browser, which you have to use to get it to log into the WiFi network, it’s functional and stable.
One thing this new version has that the original didn’t is an ethernet port. More than a few hotels offer the choice of a wired connection or a WiFi one, and I’ve often found that the wired connection can be much faster and more reliable than what is too often a flakey WiFi signal. Or, if you run into the less common situation of only having a wired connection available, you can turn that into WiFi.
And if you use the ethernet connection, it can act more like a traditional WiFi router.
NAS Hub / Web File Server
Using that WiFi connection, you can put the FileHub in between your computer or phone and storage devices, basically turning those storage devices into your own little storage cloud.
The FileHub doesn’t hold any data itself, but it acts as a WiFi bridge between your phone or tablet and an external hard drive.
If you want to watch moves or browse photos from your tablet or smartphone without actually storing them on your tablet or smartphone, this can come in very handy because you can plug in a portable hard drive and effectively turn that hard drive into a wifi-enabled hard drive. I’ve found this feature also to be useful, especially for browsing photos. It’s a bit slow doing it over WiFi if you’re using large RAW files, and the web interface is a bit clunky, but it works.
To access most of these features, you’ll need to fire up the FileHub app (search for “rav filehub” on the Apple store or Google Play store; it’s free). You then have to connect your phone to the File Hub’s WiFi network. The SSID doesn’t always show up immediately for me. And it would be even better if it used a combination of Bluetooth and WiFi to make the connection process even smoother, as the newer GoPros do, but the old-school manual WiFi connection process works well enough.
The mobile app works well enough, even if it’s unlikely to win any design awards anytime soon. It gives you the functions and information you need. But it can also be a bit confusing. It’s not immediately clear, for instance, that the file management section access the storage device differently from the more limited Photos, Music, and Videos buttons (the latter is looking for files only in the “Share” folder, while the file management section accesses the whole drive).
External USB Battery
The RAVPower FileHub is also an external battery or portable USB power bank. It has a built-in 6700 mAh battery. You can use it to recharge your phone or tablet or provide external power to your GoPro.
It’s also important to know that the battery is used to power the File Hub’s own features, so if you’re using things like the WiFi functionality, you’ll be drawing down on that same pool of battery juice.
To connect it as a battery, you use a USB cable directly to your device and turn the FileHub on. Simple.
It works. It’s convenient. And while it’s a smaller capacity than I usually take with me, I don’t have any complaints about the battery pack functionality. In short, it’s handy to have, but it’s probably not the reason to buy this device.
SD Card Reader
There’s an SD memory card slot on the side. It’s a full-size SD slot that takes SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards. It has a UHS-I interface, which means you can still use a UHS-II card in it, but you won’t get the transfer speed benefits that UHS-II makes available. RAVPower says that it supports cards up to 256GB. I’ve tried a 400GB card in it and haven’t run into any issues.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a microSD slot–it would be great if it did. But If you need to backup from a microSD card, you can use an adapter cartridge, which is a pretty simple solution. Many microSD cards come with those cartridges included, but you can also buy them separately.
One of my complaints about the RAVPower FileHub original model was that working with the SD card reader and images, in general, was slow. Much of that was because you needed to connect a mobile app to do anything. All of the copying functions were only available through the app.
The new version adds a one-touch backup button.1 Insert your memory card, attach any USB storage device, and press the button.2 Simple. No need to fire up the mobile app to get the copying going.
The SD card icon on the front of the device flashes while it’s backing up and goes solid white when finished. I’d love a little more feedback than that– there’s no way to confirm that the backup was successful without browsing the files on the external USB storage device, for example. Although to be fair, that kind of detailed information is available when you use the mobile app to run the process.
I’ve been using it with a Samsung external SSD. I wasn’t sure the FileHub would have enough power for the SSD drive as well, but it does, even with the FileHub running only on its internal battery power. I’ve also tried it with an older WD Passport HDD, and that worked fine too. You could also use a thumb drive if you prefer.
There’s another way you can use the FileHub: as a wireless card reader. With this method, you insert your memory card into the device and then connect your computer or phone/tablet to the FileHub via WiFi. It’s a pretty slow way to do it, and for full backups from the card, I prefer the speed and reliability of a more direct, wired connection. But if you’re just trying to pull off a couple of photos or video clips to share on social media, it’s a convenient feature to have. Many cameras these days come with their own built-in version of this, too, but if you’re shooting with multiple cameras, it can be simpler to use the one app and interface through the FileHub rather than a different set for each camera.
A minor quibble is that it’s harder than it needs to be to get the memory card in and out. It uses the usual spring-loaded mount, but it sits too flush inside the slot, and I’ve found myself taking a few goes each time to get it to pop out.
Photo Backup. This is different from backing up from the SD card. This backs up the photos in your phone’s photo albums to the storage device you connect to the FileHub. If you wish, you can then delete the pictures from your phone to free up space. The process is run through the mobile app.
Camera. Using the mobile app, you can have your phone’s camera save newly captured photos and videos directly to the USB storage device you’ve connected. I can’t think of many instances where that would be especially useful unless your phone is so short of storage that there’s simply no more room. But the feature is there if you want it.
RAVPower FileHub RP-WD009 Specifications
WiFi: 5 Ghz, 2.4 GHz
Battery Capacity: 6700 mAh / 24.12Wh
Power input: DC 5V / 2A (max)
Power output: DC 5V / 1A
Dimensions: 4.5 x 3.0 x 0.9 inches / 11.3 x 7.7 x 2.3 cm
Weight: 7 ounces / 199 grams
Made in: China
Instruction Manual [PDF]
Overall, I’ve found the RAVPower FileHub to perform well. It solves several problems in one small, highly portable device. But there are still some minor things I’d like to see:
- a USB-C port in place of the micro-USB port
- better SD card backup indicators. Perhaps a green icon when the backup has been completed successfully, for instance, would be a good start.
- the mobile app works and is functional, but there’s room for improvement and clarity
I like to travel light, but I also have a bunch of electronic devices I need for my work. But each piece needs to justify its place in my pack. The FileHub has done that and replaced a couple of other devices in the process.
Where to Find Them
You can find them at Amazon. There are several models available. The latest model, and the one I’ve been using, is the RP-WD009.
- The RP-WD009 isn’t the first model to have the backup button (or One Key Backup, as RAVPower calls it). The previous model, the RP-WD007, also has it. But I hadn’t used the RP-WD007. And the transfer speed has been increased in the new model, now transferring at up to 12-18MBps if using an SD card that can support those speeds. ↩
- There are some limitations on the filesystem of that external drive. It doesn’t support at least some versions of Mac formatting, for example. I’ve had no problem with standard FAT32 and exFAT drives. ↩
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8 thoughts on “The RAVPower FileHub is Like a Digital Swiss Army Knife for Traveling”
I tested copying 95GB of video mp4 files from a 128Gb SDXC card to a Sandisk Extreme 1TB Rugged SSD and it does roughly 1.2GB per minute.
Overall It took 1hour and 10minutes.
I found something very similar – roughly 1 min/1GB, which I translated down to find it was roughly 15MB/second, right in line with the 12-18MB/second speeds advertised. I was using a SanDisk Extreme 128GB microSD with the SD card adapter, transferring to a 5TB WD external hard drive plugged in via traditional USB.
Agreed–that would be a very useful addition indeed. For now, at least, it’s unfortunately not available. I have my fingers crossed that they might consider adding it as an option either in an app update or in the next generation of device.
Good question. Thought I’d try it to be able to provide some concrete numbers. To cut to the chase, it took me right around 15 minutes for 460 RAW files, each around 30 MB. So a transfer rate of roughly 16.5 MB/s.
There are going to be areas that produce variation, especially with the external drive and the memory card. So here’s more detail of what I did and used:
Thanks for the info. Just wondering how long the back up from an SD card to an external SSD would take. From what I’ve read on other sites the transfer rate around 12-18 MB/s. Considering that RAW files are usually somewhere in the range of 25-50+ MB these days, it seems like it would take a relatively long time. My typical SD card can hold roughly 460 images at about 30 MB each. If my math is correct it should take around 20 minutes a card (at 12 MB/s).
Hi, Wolfgang. Good question, and I’m glad you asked it because it prompted me to test that feature more deeply. I can’t find anything in the documentation to shed light on it, but here’s what I’m seeing . . . It’s not an incremental backup. Each backup operation is a full backup and put in a new timestamped folder (for some reason, the dates I’m seeing in the timestamped folder names aren’t accurate, but I assume that’s a device clock error that I haven’t had a chance to troubleshoot). So unfortunately it doesn’t look like incremental is possible with either the one-touch backup button or using the mobile app. It would be great if it did that, though! I have reached out to the folks at RAVPower for confirmation/clarification and will update as necessary.
Hi David, any word back from Ravpower about this? Would be great if it could backup just new images on the card rather than doing a full backup each time you insert the card.
Stupid question, but when I backup an SD Card to my SSD, are the pictures stored within a new folder (eg current date & time) or just onto the SSD? I’m thinking of incremental backups,…
Thanks in advance,