An eye-opening experience that turned me away from Dropbox
MacSources writers share a lot of information back and forth. We like to work collaboratively, but in order to do that, we have to have a shared cloud space because we aren’t all located in one place. We first tried using Dropbox since I was a big supporter of cloud storage. At some point, I started having some issues with the service but still used it because I didn’t have another good option to go with. One thing I was trying to find was something that would be better — something more secure — something like the My Cloud Home from Western Digital.
My Cloud Home storage is one central place to store all your content. The My Cloud Home plugs directly into your WiFi router so that you can easily save, organize, and control all your digital content in one location. The best thing about this type of set-up is that you can access it wirelessly from anywhere. Because it’s your personal drive, there are no monthly fees and set-up is simplified by using your smartphone’s app UI. There are three ways to access your data stored on the My Cloud Home — mobile app, desktop app, or MyCloud.com.
Once your files are stored on your drive, you can stream videos saved there anywhere you have an internet connection. My Cloud Home features the Desktop Sync option by WD. This allows you to keep your favorite folders in continuous sync with your My Cloud Home device. The My Cloud Home device comes with one or two drives installed. The one with dual drives is called the My Cloud Home Duo and it comes equipped with two hard drives. The system is set to Mirror Mode (RAID 1) so that all your data is saved on one drive and automatically duplicated onto the second as a redundant backup.
- Private spaces per user: Invite friend and family to create individual accounts and have their own personal space on the My Cloud drive. (some of the screenshots below are from Robyn’s account as she is a user on my cloud device)
- Third-party applications available: Services like Plex Media Server, Dropbox, Google Drive, and IFTTT are optimized to work with My Cloud Home.
- Auto backup for Mac & PC: My Cloud Home works seamlessly with Windows Backup and Time Machine software
- Password protection: Secure your content by setting a password for your My Cloud Home account along with a passcode and Touch ID for your mobile app.
- Compatible with Windows 7 (64-bit only) or later, Mac OS X v10.10 or later; iOS 9+ and Android 4.4.+
- Router and Internet required for operation
- Capacities available: 2TB – 8TB (Home) or 4TB – 20TB (Home Duo)
- Interface: Gigabit Internet, USB port (Home Duo has 2)
- LED indicator light
- Dimensions: 4.02” x 6.3” x 7.05” (Home Duo), 2.09” x 5.51” x 6.91” (Home)
The My Cloud Home Duo (the model I received for testing) comes in a nicely branded WD box. There is an image of the product on the front of the box with the drive capacity and main features highlighted as icons in the bottom corner. When you open the box up, you will find the main unit covered in plastic and surrounded by styrofoam. There is a smaller box included that contains the power cable, ethernet cable, quick install guide, and support/warranty pamphlet.
The quick start guide instructs you to go to mycloud.com/hello once power and internet at connected to finish the set-up of the drive. You will be instructed to create a My Cloud account and the My Cloud website will find your device. Assuming the My Cloud is automatically detected, you will select the ‘connect’ button that matches your My Cloud device. At this point, the ‘all done’ page should appear on the screen with the option to download the desktop and mobile apps.
The set-up of the My Cloud Home was very simple. I didn’t have any issues with the process, but I did have an issue with how you access files afterward. As I mentioned, you have three ways to review files — mobile, web, or desktop. My main method of choice (even though I did use the others) was through my mobile app on my iPhone. WD makes it easy to use and pleasing to look at (it has a nice UI), but there is a flaw. You cannot add files that aren’t photos or video. This is because of Apple’s regulations surrounding how apps share information. Apple has apps locked down to where they cannot pull from other apps unless an app grants sharing privileges through the share function. As far as the WD drive goes, when you tap on the “+” to add a file, you are given two options — “Upload photos or videos” and “Take a photo”. The upload option connects you with your phone’s camera roll while the take a photo accesses your camera to capture a new image. There is no way inside the My Cloud app that I’ve been able to find to upload a different type of file such as a document because of how Apple requires apps be set-up. I was able to add a file to the My Cloud drive by using the ‘share’ feature of iOS. The My Cloud drive shows up as an option for sharing and you can add files in that manner.
Since the drive is a network drive and not directly connected to my computer, I could not run a Blackmagic Speed Test to check out the read/write speed of the My Cloud Home. I did, however, transfer a file and time its upload with a stopwatch. Then, I calculated the speed of the transfer in terms of MB/s. The file was 2.36GB in size and it took 5:56 to transfer. That averages out to 6.6MB/s, which is quite a bit slower than a connected drive would be.
There was one aspect of the WD My Cloud Home Duo that I found a bit confusing. It had to do with the drive capacity. I explained above how the two drives are by default set at RAID 1, which actually just gives you 2TB for storage with the other 2TB being used for a redundant backup. With that in mind, I think that the capacity of the drive should be noted a bit differently than it is now. If you have the technical knowledge to do it, you can change the drives to be RAID 0, which would give you the full 4TB of space, but it would also defeat the purpose of the redundant backup.
Something else I wasn’t a big fan of was the multiple login issue when you have multiple WD cloud drives. In our home, we have a My Cloud EX2 Ultra, My Cloud Home Duo, My Passport SSD and a My Passport Wireless SSD. That’s a lot of WD devices, but the point is that each of the My Cloud devices had to have their own log in information assigned. I couldn’t use the same account for all the devices and that is a bit of an issue for me. I would much rather have one login and select the device I’m using. I hope that at some point WD will make this a reality.
Even though I had a few hiccups while testing the My Cloud Home Duo, I’m still very happy with it. I love how with the My Cloud Home Duo I have control of my data and I know it’s in a secure location. The file transfer speed was a bit slow for that larger file, but it was a smooth process and using the apps WD set up are a breeze. It’s a great system for sharing files between users and the easy set-up can’t be beat. I can recommend this drive because it’s been a real workhorse for me thus far. The small issues I had with it can be fixed with a simple software update. It’s a solid system that can be used for many purposes.