WD My Cloud

For a low-cost entry-level network storage device, the WD My Cloud is very impressive both in performance and features, making it one of the best deals for home users.


8.5
CNET Rating


The WD My Cloud is Western Digital's answer to the Seagate Central, which came out five months ago. The new network-attached storage server was worth the wait, however, offering by far the fastest speed among its peers and a host of useful features, while costing about the same as its Seagate counterpart.

Unlike the underwhelming My Book Live it replaces, the WD My Cloud is among the best in its class and the first from WD that includes an excellent personal cloud function. It also has a USB 3.0 port for storage extension or backing up data.

Design


(Credit: Dong Ngo/CNET)

The My Cloud looks very similar to previous WD home NAS servers, taking the shape of a book standing on edge. This is a single-volume storage device that houses one 3.5-inch hard drive, which, like the WD My Book Live's, is not user-serviceable. The device is very compact, just slightly larger than a standard desktop internal hard drive.

On the front the device has one blue LED status light that stays solid when it's powered up and flashing when there is data activity. On the back are a Gigabit Ethernet port, a USB 3.0 port, and the power connection port. The My Cloud comes with a small power adapter, a network cable, and a Quick Setup guide. You won't need much help with the setup process, however.


(Credit: Screenshot by Dong Ngo/CNET)

The My Cloud is by far the easiest NAS server to set up that I've encountered; you literally just need to connect it to the power, hook its network port to a router (or a switch), and you're done. By default, the server comes with three public share folders called Public, SmartWare, and Time Machine Backup. As the names suggest, the Public folder is for storing public data, and the other two are for backups of Windows and Mac machines, respectively.

If you download the My Cloud mobile app (available for iOS and Android), the app will see the My Cloud and connect to it as long as the mobile device and the My Cloud belong to the same local network. The interesting part is, after this first step, now even when you're out and about, connecting to a different Wi-Fi network or using a cellular connection, the mobile app on your device still maintains access to the My Cloud NAS server via the Internet.

Now, if you want to further customize the NAS server, that's also quite easy to do. In this case you will need to first download the WD My Cloud Setup software from WD2Go.com and install it on a connected computer, whether Windows or Mac.


(Credit: Screenshot by Dong Ngo/CNET)

Performance

The WD My Cloud comes with a handful of desktop software and mobile apps to enhance the user experience. They are all very self-explanatory and useful. Except for the WD SmartWare backup program, which is only available for Windows (since Macs already have Time Machine), the rest of the software is available for both platforms.

The My Cloud mobile app require a lot of the mobile device's storage for streaming buffering, making it the slowest mobile app for this purpose. It doesn't support a lot of digital formats for streaming, either.
(Credit: Screenshot by Dong Ngo/CNET)

WD's My Cloud mobile app is very similar to Seagate's Media mobile app for the Seagate Central. With this app, you can access the public share folders as well as the private share folder of the current user. You can quickly download files from the NAS server to the mobile device or back up files, such as photos and videos, from the mobile device onto the NAS server. You can do more than one of these tasks at the same time, making it an excellent backup server for those who love taking photos and video with their phones.

Unfortunately, unlike the Seagate Media app, which can organize digital content into categories (Documents, Videos, Photos, Music), the My Cloud App only supports browsing by folders and subfolders. This is fine for videos but for music and photos, it's such a pain, especially when there's no built-in search functionality.


(Credit: Screenshot by Dong Ngo/CNET)

As a single-volume NAS server, the My Cloud has no real-time mechanism guarding it against the failure of the internal hard drive. To make up for this, you can easily back up its contents using the Safepoints feature. This creates a restore point for the server by copying its entire contents onto an external hard drive connected to its USB 3.0 port or to another My Cloud unit. When something happens, you can restore the server.

The most impressive thing about the WD My Cloud is its performance. For the first time a single-volume NAS server offers a data rate rivaling that of more advanced, multiple-volume servers. In my testing, over a Gigabit Ethernet connection, the server offered a sustained speed of 67MBps for writing and 87MBps for reading, both being significantly faster than any of its peers.

Conclusion

In the My Cloud, WD has combined data sharing, media streaming, backups, and a powerful personal cloud feature in a single compact box that everybody can use. On top of that, for the first time, home users can really expect from an affordable device the data speeds of a much more expensive NAS server. The device's only shortcoming is its mobile app, which could use some improvement, and I have no doubt that will happen via updates.

Via CNET.com

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