WD My Cloud Home Review
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The WD My Cloud Home is an external hard drive which can be used as a personal cloud server for all your files. It plugs directly into your home Wi-Fi system, and so long as it’s switched on and connected, you can access it from around the world.
We’ve been testing the 8TB Single Drive version, but there are a range of sizes available from 2TB up to 16TB, either as a single drive or as a dual drive.
At the time of writing, the 8TB Single Drive WD My Cloud Home retails for around £310.
Ease of Use
Setting up the WD My Cloud Home is very simple. When you open the box, you’ll find an instruction leaflet in the box to walk you through the process.
In the box, you’ll find the device, a power cable and an ethernet cable. You need to plug the ethernet cable into your router, and attach it to the WD My Cloud before you start - therefore, you need to make sure there’s space near your router in which to keep the My Cloud. The 8TB version we’ve been using is about the same size as the router itself.
Next you need to plug the power socket into the device and then into the wall - again you need to make sure you have a spare power outlet near your router. Once you’ve completed this simple set up, you can use your computer to set up the device by going to mycloud.com/hello in your web browser.
From this browser you can set up your account, and it will look for your device. In order to set it up you need to enter a code which is found in the box, and once found you’ll be given the option to download the desktop app, as well as instructions on how to download the mobile app.
Once setup, the device is extremely easy to use, with extra options depending on what you want to do with it. You can use it very simply as another drive that you can access from your computer, simply dragging and dropping your content just as you would a drive that is physically attached - the difference being that you don’t even need to be in the same room, city or country as the device to do so (assuming that you’ve left it plugged in and connected at home).
Alternatively, you can access the device via the different apps available. The desktop is very simple to use, and basically provides an interface through which you can access your files in the same way as you access them via your computer.
The mobile app is also very easy to use, and allows you to access your files from your phone (or tablet). You can also use the mobile app to automatically back up your phone, which is a great way to ensure that your mobile phone photos are always kept safe.
Interestingly, at the back of the WD My Cloud Drive Home is a USB port, which you can plug in any existing hard drives and USB sticks to backup. You can’t however do this via the desktop app, instead you have to use the mobile app to do this. When you plug in an existing drive to the device, you’ll get a notification on the mobile app which will ask you if you want to back it up to the WD My Cloud.
Although you can plug a USB drive into the back of the My Cloud device, enabling you copy content from it, there seems to be no way to copy content to the attached USB - at least not directly or automatically. It’s therefore worth using the My Cloud drive as a backup of an existing drive, or as something you use for access remotely, rather than your only drive.
You can also sync content from any online cloud-based services that you use, such as Google Drive or DropBox. To do this, you need to sign in to your WD My Cloud drive from the web app, click Services and configure the cloud services you already use - again it’s a very simple process.
If you’re uploading your content to the drive via the web, then it depends entirely on how fast your internet connection is. If you’re uploading via your home network (i.e. your computer and the drive is connected to the same router) it will also be relatively slow, depending on a number of things, including the speed of your router. Therefore, if you have a large drive which you need to back up, it’s worth plugging it in via USB - perhaps then updating it via your web connection with individual files once the initial setup has taken place. I was able to backup roughly 1TB of files in around 8 hours using this method.
To look at other examples, it took roughly 16 minutes to upload a 1GB video file from a remote location, and roughly the same to upload a folder containing 1GB of files (JPEG and raw files) over a standard home broadband connection with 7Mb/s upload speeds. This is much slower than if you were to copy your files to an attached hard drive, of course, but that’s the trade off you make for having a remote drive.
As well as using the drive to store all your photographs, it also works with Apple’s Time Machine Backup Facility, or the Microsoft Windows Backup, meaning you can back up your entire computer, too.
A very useful function is the ability to share the contents of your drive with whoever you need to send it to. You can do this via the web app or the mobile app. For example, on the web app it’s achieved by right clicking on a folder, and clicking the share option. A link will be generated - anybody you give this to will be able to view the specific folder you send them - this could be very useful when sharing files with family and friends, or, when sharing a photoshoot with a client for example. You can delete the share link whenever you like, if you want to stop the other person from having access to the files for whatever reason.
Another thing you can do is to invite another person to become a user of the My Cloud drive, which is useful for families or co-workers who might want to share the same drive. This process can only be done through the MyDrive mobile app. Once they have been invited, they’ll be asked to create their own MyCloud account, meaning they can use your device as their own personal cloud server too - they won’t be able to access your files, and vice versa, unless links are shared between users. As the owner of the device, you’ll be able to remove other users via the mobile app - but other users can’t remove you.
A full and comprehensive guide to how to use the device and all of its various functions is available through the WDC website.
One important thing to note is that the WD My Cloud Drive is quite noisy - it emits a low hum which is audible even over ambient room noise. You certainly wouldn’t want to have the drive in a bedroom or anywhere where silence is preferable.