WD’s latest offering in the NAS segment has the makings of a good product, but suffers from a number of avoidable flaws.
Western Digital isn’t new to the storage game, but with the My Cloud, the hardware vendor is looking to offer a seamless method through which users can sync and access their files across devices and platforms. Targeted at the mainstream audience, My Cloud is WD’s take on the private cloud market.
Western Digital is positioning the My Cloud as an all-in-one solution for your media needs. Unlike other NAS units out there, My Cloud is targeted to be incredibly easy to set up and use. To configure My Cloud, all you have to do is connect the NAS to the power outlet, the Ethernet port to your modem and switch it on.
The software side of things is just as straightforward — just download the My Cloud installer from WD’s website, and follow the instructions on-screen to set up the NAS. From powering on the unit for the first time to a finished installation took about 5 minutes. A nice touch is that WD has a dedicated hotline called WD Concierge for any assistance while installing the NAS.
In terms of hardware, My Cloud features a single-bay hard drive (3 TB in this case) and a dual-core Cortex-A9 processor. The NAS works on both Windows and Mac, and comes with DLNA connectivity. There is also a web-based interface that lets you connect to the NAS from a browser.
The 3 TB hard drive is protected by a plastic case, which adds to the design flair of the NAS. At the back, there is a single gigabit Ethernet port and a USB 3.0 port that can be used to extend the storage of the unit. Overall, My Cloud is a well-designed storage unit that comes with a lot of easy to use features.
My Cloud is targeted as an alternative to cloud storage services like Google Drive. While such services charge users a monthly fee for limited storage, WD is marketing My Cloud as a “private cloud,”a location where you can host all your files and access them from any location. Cloud accessibility is one of the main features touted by the NAS, and in reality the feature works as advertised —you can access your My Cloud from anywhere either through WD’s dedicated apps or via the web interface.
The web interface features the dashboard from where you can configure and manage settings of the NAS. Divided into six sections, the dashboard gives you the ability to update firmware, monitor the health of the NAS, check storage, manage users, configure sharing options and change regional settings. While it does offer easy access to most settings that a regular user would need, the web interface does not provide monitoring tools that let you track drive usage over time.
The native clients, which are available for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS, allow you to easily view and play back your files from various platforms. Mac users can configure My Cloud as a Time Machine destination, but the controls do not allow you to set individual limits on share sizes.
As for benchmarks and how fast read/write access is, we were able to manage 71 MB/s read and 63 MB/s writes. However, the read/write bandwidth is drastically reduced when you’re using the NAS in cloud mode (outside your home network). While My Cloud features a lot of storage, it falls short to dedicated cloud-based services when it comes to file access.
Not at Synology’s level
Although My Cloud comes with apps for major platforms, most of the time, we were unable to access the NAS from the client. The Native Mac client was constantly freezing and we had to manually close it, and the Windows client fared no better. There were issues with recognizing synced files, and the lack of a search feature means that if you have an extensive media collection, you will have a tough time finding the desired file, mainly if you’re on a mobile client.
We encountered similar issues when accessing the web-based dashboard. The default URL to access the web interface often redirected to Java’s download page (being entirely Java-based raises its own security issues as well), as did the cloud login service (WD2Go). When we weren’t being redirected, the service timed out and was inaccessible. And this isn’t an isolated event, as it looks like WD ran into issues with the WD2Go service earlier this year, which included week-long outages that prevented users from logging in to their NAS. Considering that a majority of potential buyers will be looking to utilize My Cloud as their primary data cache, WD needs to address these issues as cloud access is one of the major features touted by the hardware vendor.
Western Digital is looking to reach a wider audience with My Cloud, and as such the feature-set that is offered by the NAS are limited from what you get with a vendor like Synology or Asustor. That being said, the 3 TB My Cloud retails for under $200, which is about half of what a two-bay diskless Synology NAS costs. If your main use case is streaming your multimedia collection across various devices across your home network and over the cloud without any hassles, My Cloud is a decent choice.
- Decent value for money
- Easy to use interface
- Cross platform media access
- Security issues from Java-based web interface
- Slow access speeds outside home network
- Barebones native and mobile clients