Have you heard about WD My Cloud 3TB Personal Cloud Storage? Are you interested in using this service but are confused about what it exactly is? Even if you do know about it, and are looking out for more details about the service, then this is the post for you!
Cloud storage has always been the first choice of people who fall short of storage due to limited storage options on their laptops or smartphones. Cloud storage serves as a common storage option with multiple accesses for a single document for various users under a single organization. The trend of having a personalized storage has gained boost these days with the traditional NAS and Cloud storage services like SkyDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox etc. making their appearance everywhere.
SkyDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox and others are some of the top-notch online cloud storage services available today. They serve their best in providing data on the go on almost every device available today. However, the storage capacity provided by them is limited, and if you want to store more you will have to spend few bucks every year to get some more storage.
How about having your personalized Cloud storage with no yearly subscription and greater storage flexibility according to your desideratum. My Cloud is a complete amalgamation of enhanced storage, faster speed and highly secure external hard drives. This comes in 2TB, 3TB and 4TB capacity and features NAS (Network Attached Storage) and DLNA support. In fact, it performs faster than most NAS drives and can be accessed using tablets or smartphone apps and PC’s. So it seems that WD My Cloud is a perfect pick for personalized common storage seekers.
Let’s have an in-depth look at this cloud demon. With the help of this review, you will be able to understand the purpose of this service and the reason why many consumers prefer to use the same. Are you planning to do the same? If yes, then we are here to help you choose and decide.
Specifications (WD My Cloud 3TB Personal Cloud Storage)
- Capacity: 3TB
- Interface: Gigabit Ethernet
- Ports: Ethernet x 1, USB 3.0 x 1, Power supply
- OS Support: Windows XP (SP3) / Vista / 7 / 8, Mac OS X Mountain Lion / Snow Leopard
- Processor: Dual-core
- Included Software: WD My Cloud, WD My Cloud Dashboard, WD SmartWare Pro
- Weight: 997 grams
- Dimensions: 170.6 x 49 x 139.3 mm
- Warranty: 2-years limited
Out of the box
On unboxing you will get the personal cloud storage drive, Ethernet cable, AC adapter and quick install guides. The personal cloud storage drive is your NAS server and that itself is everything. The Ethernet cable provided in the box needs to be connected with the cloud storage drive and router (or a switch).
The AC adapter powers the cloud storage drive and these are the only physical setup one needs to do when connecting the cloud drive. The My Cloud drive is 170.6 x 49 x 139.3 mm in dimensions. It is lighter as compared to most of the NAS drives and weights only 997g (that is half the weight of most NAS drives).
It looks almost identical to WD My Book lineup, and retains the same glossy finish and subtle rounded corners of WD My Book. One will not be able to distinguish between them without a carefully looking at it.
At the front, there is an indicator that glows when it is powered on. At the back, there are some ports for the connections – they are, USB 3.0, Ethernet and DC in port. The Ethernet port is required to hook the NAS drive with a router, the DC in port is to power the drive and the USB 3.0 port is to connect an external hard disk drive for backup purpose or initiate direct downloads from cameras. It doesn’t support printer or network connectivity.
Setting up and making NAS devices work is always a painful thing to do. Fortunately, WD has taken care of all the complicated processes involved in setting up the device on its side and leaving us with a graphical interface that is easy and pretty much user-friendly to work upon.
Physical connections are very easy to carry out. All you need to do is provide power to the WD My Cloud drive by connecting it to a power outlet. Then, use the Ethernet cable and connect it between the network port (10/100/1000 Ethernet) on the drive and your router (or a switch). That’s it! You’re done with the setup. Now it’s time for the installation.
Most of the device configuration part is already done in the background; all you have to do is to guide the setup. You can use the browser method or use My Cloud software on your Mac, PC or a tablet and the setup is performed for you.
Using My Cloud software
To begin with the setup all you need to have is the My Cloud software. You can download the .exe or .dmg installation file for free from WD website. Once you have the software installed on your PC or Mac, run it and follow the setup wizard.
The setup wizard will guide you through number of steps where you will have to enter your name and email address to create an account with WD. After creating an account, you can offer a password to your My Cloud device so that there is some privacy to your personal cloud content.
Another way to set up the device is by using the browser method. You don’t have to download any software from the WD website here. All you have to do is use your browser and follow the steps.
Since browser handles the installation there is no need to compulsory use a computer. A mobile or tablet that is connected to the same Wi-Fi network can do it as well. In your browser type ‘http://wdmycloud’ and it will redirect you to the installation wizard. The browser installation has a graphical user interface that is similar to the WD My Cloud software.
If you are initiating the setup through Safari on a Mac device, type ‘http://wdmycloud.local’. This URL also redirects you to the same installation wizard screen. That’s it! These are the steps required to set up the NAS device. With this you are now ready to start using your personal cloud storage device.
1. WD My Cloud Dashboard
WD provides a dashboard that act as a control panel for My Cloud drive. The dashboard consists of six tabs; they are – Home, Users, Shares, Cloud Access, Safepoints and Settings.
By default the Home tab is active which gives you an overview of the drive. It consists of the available capacity, the number of devices that are set up with My Cloud, number of shares, status of the system and the device firmware.
The Users tab lets you add the number of users that can access content from the drive. The person who is requesting to get access to the contents on your cloud drive must have his own WDMyCloud.com login credentials. Under the Users tab, click on the ‘Add user’ button; give the first and the last name, email address and that person’s access code. Once this is provided, the particular person can have access to the files on the cloud drive.
The Shares tab keeps the information about the number of shares this cloud device has. By default it comes with ‘four’ shares. They are, Public, one for your specific PC, SmartWare and Time Machine Backup.
If you want to share contents with every user of the drive, you can add them to the Public folder. The SmartWare share is enabled only if you have SmartWare Backup software installed on your Windows PC. This software lets you take the backup of your Windows machine periodically on the cloud drive.
Mac OS X machines already have such backup functionality integrated into the operating system. It’s called as ‘Time Machine Backup’. The fourth share on your cloud drive is a space reserved for Time Machine Backup. Along with adding or managing shares, the Shares tab also allows you to change the level of access for each share and refrain a particular user from accessing particular folder. Cloud Access tab lets you manage remote access for every user you want on your cloud.
WD My Cloud is a very reliable cloud storage solution, as it stands robust even in any disastrous situations. The Safepoints tab lets you control the mode of behavior of your cloud in such situations.
WD My Cloud lets you protect your stuff even if it fails at any time. Safepoints is a snapshot of the data on your drive at a specific time. If your cloud device fails, you can restore the contents from the safe point.
The safe point is a USB drive that is connected to the USB port provided on the My Cloud drive or it can be a compatible storage device on your network. You have to assign your My Cloud drive to use this storage device for creating safe points. All your configurations and settings from a recently created safepoint are recovered to your My Cloud drive with a single button ‘Start Recovery’ under the Safepoints tab.
Settings tab offers control for changing the basic settings of the device. It can be changing device’s name, allowing/disallowing remote access, changing network settings, or even upgrading the firmware of the device.
2. My Cloud Software
My Cloud software that you download from the WD website contributes greatly in managing the files and folders stored in the drive. This software comes with a drag-n-drop interface that makes storage and management of files easy.
You might be wondering why do you need software to manage files when you can easily map the drive? Yes, you can map the drive, but then this area becomes read-only. You can read the data from your cloud drive but not write or store anything on it.
Also mapping depends on your router’s IP address, so, if you change the network you will have to remap the drive. This can be annoying at times, so we recommend using My Cloud software from WD. Even if My Cloud software provides you with read/write feature, the software bounds everything. It has its own simple interface, and files and folders stored in the drive are a part of it.
The interface is divided in to parts; on the left you will see a list of ‘Shares’ and folders within it and right side will feature the files in that particular share. This is typically a Windows Explorer styled interface. Although it is easy to manage files with this interface, it irks to find that there is no support for right-clicks. Clumsy menu icons placed beside each file replaces the right-click function.
This software lacks support for streaming from the cloud. The files stored in the drive are downloaded first and then they are available for viewing. Even in the case of media, My Cloud software asks you to download the media first and then you can stream it. This is one of the major drawbacks I have found in the desktop software.
We have a 3TB variant of WD My Cloud drive connected to the latest D-Link DIR-868L router. It was fun trying out and testing the features on each and every gadget lying around here.
Installation was neat and easy. We hooked the My Book drive with our D-Link DIR-868L router and downloaded the My Cloud software on our MacBook Air (2013). It has the same Wi-Fi 802.11ac support like the router.
Firstly, I downloaded the My Cloud software from WD’s website. We decided to try with software-based installation and then check out the browser installation method.
After trying both methods, we were pleased by the way WD set up the NAS storage. Both methods are equally good, but if you ask us for our personal recommendation, we will surely recommend you that you use the software-based installation.
We added some text documents, mp3’s and mp4 videos in the drive and decided to test these files across multiple devices that included, a MacBook Air, a Dell Inspiron laptop, an iPhone 5 and a HTC One (all connected to the same Wi-Fi network).
Luckily we had all these devices lying around so we could manage to test My Cloud’s features and performance on different platforms.
MacBook Air was the server computer as we used it to set up and store files in the drive. Mapping of the drive on the Dell Inspiron laptop was easy, and it served the best until there was a need to store some files to the drive from the client Windows laptop.
Installing WD My Cloud software was necessary to store files. I didn’t like the user interface, but that was the only option to use it. File handling experience was really smooth until I tried the hefty-sized mp4 file. The software doesn’t stream directly from the cloud. We had to download the file first and then play it.
The features offered in the mobile app on both platforms are exactly the same. It acts as an excellent mobile backup solution. It can quickly download files from the drive and or backup photos and videos onto the drive. Adding a cherry on the cake, both these tasks can be done at a time.
We were impressed with the functionality of the mobile app on both platforms. However, streaming from the drive was not a satisfactory experience. Unlike the desktop software, mobile app supported direct streaming from the drive, but with some limitations.
Mobile app was running under the platform’s ecosystem and that’s why it allowed playback for only those file formats or codecs supported by the operating system. Streaming videos on Android was a good experience, but iOS was full of restrictions.
Luckily there was no need to download the video first. The mobile app could stream it directly. However, there was some buffering required. I would rather not consider the buffering as an issue as it is much more acceptable than downloading complete video first.
The mobile apps lacked some basic features necessary to use it. There was no organization of files within the app. Also there was no built-in search functionality. And, the biggest of all, there was no back button to go back to the previous folder.
We can round it off by saying that the mobile app is only a good backup solution. WD needs to look at these issues and make it better considering the practical approach.
We decided to test My Cloud drive on different networks by leaving it connected and running on the home network, and performing the data backup operations from other network.
As the NAS server was not connected to the same network My Cloud software on the computer was useless. To access files stored on the drive we had to go to ‘WDMyCloud.com’ and login with our My Cloud credentials.
And with few steps the files stored on the NAS server at home were accessible. It was also possible to upload files to the drive with a simple drag-n-drop method.
Since the NAS server is located at a remote location, Internet acts as a medium to connect you with the server. The time required to download and upload contents will not be the same as you get it on your local network. It depends on the Internet bandwidth at NAS server location and at your location as well.
We tried accessing the cloud drive on the mobile app from a remote location and to our surprise it worked well. On registering an account with ‘WDMyCloud.com’ I was provided with an access code. I ran the mobile app, followed the steps and entered the access code when it was asked for. That’s it! I was already accessing the contents on my smartphone.
We were surprised to have such a jaw-dropping feature on My Cloud drive. With it, now we can have access to all my files without being physically present near the drive.
In the dashboard, we met with DLNA option and decided to give a try on it. I searched on the Samsung DLNA ready LED TV and astonishingly the TV discovered WD My Cloud drive as one of the input. And, then we can access music, photos, and videos stored on the drive.
Finally, it was time to test the Safepoints feature. A USB 3.0 port is provided on WD My Cloud drive for this purpose. It is recommended connecting an external hard disk drive with an equal capacity to this port. After making the connections, we guided the My Cloud drive (from dashboard) to use this USB drive as a safe point.
Henceforth, My Cloud drive will be using this drive to recover files if anything goes wrong. Nothing went wrong until we wrote this review, but we are trusting WD over this feature.
WD My Cloud is a performance powerhouse. Along with the cool features, it also provides incredible performance. The transfer speed offered for data read/write operations is extraordinarily fast.
In our case we used the latest Wi-Fi 802.11ac capable router and computer. The cloud drive was connected to the router with the cable provided in the box.
With this setup running we tested the performance on a Gigabit Ethernet connection. The transfer speed provided with this setup was 90MBps for reading data from the drive and 70MBps for writing data on the drive.
The transfer speed provided on wireless 802.11ac devices was comparatively low. This drive is capable of handling file transfers at much higher speed. The performance is straight way bottlenecked if you use a wireless transfer mode.
Now that being said, if you want to explore the full potential of this drive connect with a wired medium.
Winding up the review, I will say this is best NAS solution that I have ever seen. Everything from the setup to the performance is top-notch. Anyone who wants to have his personal cloud storage server at home should definitely go with WD My Cloud drive.
Anyone without much knowledge of networking can set up his own cloud server with WD My Cloud drive. It offers excellent remote access that will let you access your files anywhere on the go.
There are few setbacks that include – the media support on mobile devices, not so friendly mobile app and the restricted use of My Cloud software on computers.
If all these drawbacks don’t bother you, then you are all free to get your WD My Cloud drive that costs just $136 for 2TB, $170 for 3TB and $220 for 4TB.
We expect WD to go through these issues and provide full-fledged mobile app and give Explorer/Finder view to manage uploading and downloading in upcoming releases.