Western Digital My Cloud Personal Cloud Storage
Today we take a look at Western Digital’s My Cloud Personal Cloud Storage, an external hard drive system that connects to your home network and can be access from the internet via a PC, smartphone, or tablet just like a cloud base service. The WD My Cloud is a personal private cloud at its core and is basically a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device designed to have tons of functionality and extremely an easy to use GUI.
Western Digital ships the WD My Cloud in three different capacities: 2TB, 3TB, and 4TB. Starting at $141.30 for the 2TB, $170.65 for the 3TB, and $208.00 for the 4TB model, each device will give you plenty of room to stash all of your files wither it be documents, photos, or videos. You can also pull files that you’ve stored onto public cloud storage such as Dropbox onto My Cloud. Today we'll be talking a look at the WD My Cloud 2TB that is sold under part number WDBCTL0020HWT-NESN.
Most of you are familiar with what a NAS device can do but Western Digital is forcing the market to change the way consumers look at external drives. Western Digital wants consumers to have access to their files from anywhere with minimal fuss. In the past consumers would forced to make an artificial choice when they were considering external hard drives: Get the largest hard drive that you can afford with minimal features, or pay a premium for a feature rich NAS device that drains your wallet.
Western Digital is clearly trying to give the consumer a better choice: An inexpensive, single-bay NAS with features for a new generation of users who are on the go and who want access to data from a multitude of devices. Unlike cloud-only services, the WD My Cloud devices have massive storage options: 2TB – 4TB with the ability to expand that via its USB 3.0 port. Also, there are no limitations to what kind of data you can store on your personal NAS/Cloud where some services charge a premium for images or video. Lastly, you can give access to whomever you want unlike many online data services that have strict policies against data sharing. Western Digital wants to give you options and not limit you in the use of your storage.
Western Digital’s My Cloud keeps its design simple with a compact design. If you have seen the WD My Book line of hard drives, the My Cloud line looks very similar just in a different color. The casing around the hard drive is a simple white plastic case with silver edges and accents. This slim design takes the shape of a book and operates upright next to any router due to the fact it needs to be hardwired into the router via Ethernet cable.
WD My Cloud Featured Specifications:
- Port RJ-45
- 1 x 10/100/1000M
- Port USB
- 1 x USB3.0
- Port RJ-45
- Hard Drive Performance:
- Included HDD Capacity: 2TB
- 100-240V, 47-63Hz
- Back up files from all your computers
- Upload, access and save photos and videos from your mobile devices
- Stream to your DLNA/UPnP-certified connected TVs, media players and gaming consoles
- Free up space on your mobile device
- High-performance media streaming
- Blazing-fast file transfers
- Expandable storage
- Centralize your music collection and play it on any computer with iTunes
- Easy to set up, easy to find on your network
- System Requirements:
- Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista or Windows XP (SP3) operating systems
- Mac OS X Mountain Lion, Lion, or Snow Leopard operating systems
- DLNA/UPnP devices for streaming
- Internet connection
- Supported Browsers
- Internet Explorer 8.0 or higher
- Safari 5.0 or higher
- Firefox 12 or higher
- Google Chrome 14.0 and later on supported Windows and Mac OS platforms
- Dimensions / Weight:
- 6.7"(H) x 5.5"(L) x 1.9"(W)
- 2.12 lbs.
WD My Cloud: In the Box / Setup
Out of the box, we see that the WD My Cloud is only slightly larger than a standard internal hard drive. A blue LED for power is the only light in the front that stays solid when it’s powered up and flashing when there is data activity. The rear panel has a gigabit Ethernet port, power connection port, and a USB 3.0 port which only supports connecting USB drives, not printers. The My Cloud comes with a small power adapter, a network cable, and a quick setup guide. Everything that we need to get up and running is contained here.
Connection was as simple as can be: Connect the WD My Cloud to our Netgear R6300 router and plug it into the wall. The My Cloud goes through a self-test that is indicated by the flashing LED light on the front and is ready for use in under 30 seconds.
After connecting the drive, we opened up our browser and navigated to http://wd.com/setup/wdmycloud and were presented with this screen:
This is a pretty slick landing page where you can get a small tutorial of what a NAS is as well as how to use the cloud storage device. There is a link for direct Western Digital support as well. Overall, it is a really complete page that has a wealth of user manual-type information.
Continuing our setup, we chose to download and install the setup software. As experienced users, we normally just manually configure our network devices, but in this case we were not really sure what kind of configuration needed to be done so we just went followed what any typical user would do when installing the device.
After making sure the network was online and able to reach the internet, the WD setup software detected and displayed the drive’s serial number and assigned IP address.
The next screen is where we signed up for the Western Digital Personal Cloud Service. To access our files from outside our home network, all we did was provide an e-mail address. It was so simple that I was a little worried of how useful and effective this service would be. (More on that later).
The My Cloud software gave us the option of adding more users as well. This is perfect for those of us with families or just want to have others with the rights to secured access to the NAS.
And with those few keystrokes, we are finished and ready to start loading up the drive with our content. Before we do that though, let’s take a look at some of the user interface that is at the heart of the My Cloud personal NAS.
The My Cloud NAS GUI is pretty simple to understand with large informative graphics that you can click on to obtain NAS information and settings. The GUI is broken up into 6 different submenus: Home; Users; Shares; Cloud Access; Safepoints; and Settings.
The WD’s My Cloud desktop interface will have six tabs on top for Home, Users, Shares, Cloud Access, Safepoints, and Settings that will take the user to more customizations. Out of all the tabs the Cloud Access is the most interesting one. This tab allows the user to sign up for WDMyCloud.com online account for each user account of the NAS server and also to create an access code for mobile device app. This tab basically allows a VPN like connection over the internet for computer users. Say you’re traveling away from home or you need something from your My Cloud you find a computer and connected to your WDMyCloud.com account and with a click you can create a network drive linked to a share folder on the My Cloud NAS server at your home. This means you can drag and drop files between the computer and the server as though the two were on the same local network. Basically a VPN access though there is no VPN connection. With the mobile app users can 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. Another feature that works well is the Safepoints tab this creates a restore point for the server by copying its entire contents onto an external hard drive connected via the USB 3.0 port or to another My Cloud unit.
Western Digital shipped our 2TB My Cloud device with firmware version v03.01.03-127, but looking at the home screen we saw that there was a later version available. With the touch of a button, we initiated the firmware update
The update process took about 5 minutes for us to complete (download, install, and reboot of the MY Cloud device). To be honest, we didn’t see an overt change in the GUI nor in the NAS performance, but we feel pretty strongly about keeping your device’s firmware up to date. ‘
Staying in the Home menu we were able to easily add and/or create folders we wanted to share.
From here we went back to Windows and mapped the network drive to the folder we wanted access to. Of course, your workflow maybe slightly different and you want to use the WD utility. For us, mapping the network drive is ideal and very simple. With this, we are able to drop and drag files easily to the My Cloud device.
Now that the WD My Cloud NAS is all setup and ready to use, let’s take a look at some speed tests to evaluate the performance
WD My Cloud: Performance Benchmarks
To check the performance of the WD My Cloud 2TB NAS we ran CrystalDiskMark 3.0.3 x64 with the default settings. This is a quick and easy storage drive benchmark utility that shows the peak sequential and random read/write speeds. We paired the WD NAS with our test PC that included: Intel i7-4930K CPU, 16GB Corsair Vengeance RAM, NVIDIA GTX 770 all running on a Gigabyte X79-UD3 motherboard.
When we ran CrystalDiskMark using 1000MB packet sizes we saw speeds around 44 MB/s and 22 MB/s for Read and Write tests respectfully. This is slightly slower than the speeds measured for the WD My Cloud EX4 that we evaluated a month or so ago.
We see from this next Crystal Disk Mark test, that the My Cloud NAS performance picks up when using smaller data. Read performance jumps up to 56 MB/s while Write performance goes to 64 MB/s. These performance numbers are something you might want to pay attention to especially if you regularly work with smaller file sizes.
Instead of just relying on synthetic benchmarks, we also used Teracopy and copied approximately 4 Gigs in a folder made up of raw pictures, and HD movies. When copying the pictures from our desktop via our Gigabyte LAN (powered by our Netgear R6300 Gigabyte router) to the My Cloud 2TB NAS. Speeds measured when copying data from our desktop to the NAS were measured at 41 MB/s. The speeds we measured by doing a file transfer were consistent of those of the artificial benchmarks above.
We then copied these files from off of the WD My Cloud NAS back to the PC to get a real-world Write Speed for the My Cloud. For this test, the copy time took 1:50 to copy exactly 4.09 GB of data – or 38 MB/s.
These speeds aren’t going to set any records, but they are solid for users who are looking to expand their data storage options at an economical price. Again when we compare these measured speeds to the WD My Cloud EX4 NAS, the $149 2TB NAS looks pretty good!
WD My Cloud 2TB NAS: Final Thoughts & Conclusions
The WD My Cloud NAS turned out to be pretty versatile. The My Cloud has both desktop software and mobile apps to enhance the user experience whether you are on your mobile device or accessing the hard drive from a local computer on your home network. The software and various Aps are self-explanatory and useful. We were able to remotely connect to the NAS from outside our network via an iPhone, Android device, and PC. As you can see, the layout of the mobile application is just as simple and straightforward as the main GUI from the NAS.
The WD My Cloud is not without issues, however: The WD SmartWare backup program is only available for Windows but the rest of the features are available for both Windows and Macs. If you are an iOS user, the My Cloud NAS is fully compatible with Time Machine so that you can back up your Mac automatically and wirelessly.
Working with the WD My Cloud 2TB NAS has been a real pleasure. As a person who has a large collection of music, video and pictures, I dedicated the 2TB on this NAS for my latest images from my camera. Each one of my files average 20+ MB per file and I was really starting to feel the lack of workspace ion my PC. With the WD My Cloud, for around $179, I’m able to have a dedicated workspace for my images.
Western Digital (and others) do make a number of alternative products, such as the $114.00 WD My Passport Ultra 2TB Portable USB 3.0 hard drive, or the $99.00 WD My Book 2TB USB 3.0 hard drive, but neither one of these is network-ready. They do market the devices as being a great backup solution and even include a variety of backup software.
Even with the premium in price, we think you will get a better bang for your dollar with one of the three My Cloud NAS devices. For about $50 you can now access (or give others access) to 2-4TB of data with ease. We know that you could probably use DropBox or Google Drive to share, but most services are space limited coming nowhere near the 2TB mark that you can have access to.
Right now you can even get the drive for $141.30! To top things off, Western Digital ships the My Cloud 2TB NAS with a very good 2-year warranty on My Cloud drives purchased in the US, Canada, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, India, and Asia!
Legit Bottom Line: If you are looking for a relatively inexpensive NAS solution that gives you remote access to your files, then the conversation has to start at the Western Digital My Cloud 2TB NAS.