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Western Digital My Cloud: Your Personal Cloud Storage?

Joseph Gildred
By Joseph Gildred
— Last Updated: 2020-05-11T07:49:56+00:00

We tend to focus on remote consumer cloud storage services like Dropbox and its many alternatives here at Look on, though, and you’ll find many affordable devices sold that can be used to build your own personal cloud storage network at home (look at our best DIY cloud storage tools article). Among the top choices for the DIY technophile: Western Digital My Cloud.

Available with multiple storage capacities, WD’s flagship personal cloud storage unit is built to be both family-friendly and powerful, rivaling the capabilities of pricier NAS devices while selling simplicity. Installed in your home, My Cloud serves as a user-controlled cloud file host that can be accessed over the internet via computer and mobile app, even if you’re on the road.

Coming up, we’ll run down WD My Cloud’s features in full, including file sync and sharing, and give you some options for backing up My Cloud remotely since accidents do happen.

For a broader look at the subject of cloud storage at home, as well as a more detailed discussion of the merits of remote versus local storage, give our personal cloud storage primer a read. If you decide personal cloud storage isn’t for you, after all, our best cloud storage guide runs down the top remote options.

Western Digital My Cloud History

While My Cloud was first launched in 2013, Western Digital has been in the personal cloud storage market for some time, and a market leader in hard-drive technology since the PC market took off in the 1980s (read, history of the hard drive).

The My Cloud line, in fact, is really just a rebranding of WD My Book, coming with improved looks and a revamped interface for Windows and MacOS in addition to a new name.

Although WD My Cloud looks and works simpler than traditional network-attached storage (NAS) devices, technically, there’s not really a difference. A NAS device is simply a networked appliance containing one or more hard drives that can be used for file serving.

The idea behind using NAS to set up a personal cloud storage network at home, whether My Cloud line or another brand (Synology Diskstation, QNAP TS, Netgear ReadyNAS, etc), is to create a local means of storing and accessing store documents, photos, music, videos and other files.

While you can store these files on the remote cloud storage solutions, and while some of those are great for activity like media streaming (see, for example, our best cloud cloud storage for Kodi guide), there are some advantages to owning your own cloud storage device. The three biggest are privacy, security and speed.

With My Cloud, you don’t have to worry about Google’s marketing department scanning your photos in order to build targeting marketing campaigns (find out more about that in our Google Drive review). You also don’t have to worry about having your music and videos being scanned for copyright infringement (bad, torrenters! bad!).

Additionally, having a cloud storage device on your home WiFi network means faster uploads and downloads since your files don’t have to travel through the long, deep dark of cyberspace.

Then again, there are issues, too, with choosing My Cloud and ditching remote cloud storage. For one, many My Cloud models use single drives. Unlike remote servers or NAS devices with two or more bays, there’s no option for data redundancy (usually courtesy of a RAID configuration) with single-drive solutions. That means if your drive fails, you lose your data.

Even with a multi-drive My Cloud device, there are data loss risks, like fire or flood damage, or theft. The simple solution to the problem is to backup your My Cloud to an online backup service, preferably one that offers private encryption. We’ll touch more on that toward the end of this article.

Western Digital My Cloud Home

There are several different line models now available for the WD My Cloud brand. For home use, the most popular is the My Cloud Home line, which comes in both single (My Cloud Home) and dual drive (My Cloud Home Duo) variants. Both come in multiple capacities.

Of course, My Cloud Home Duo is bigger but neither device is larger than the traditional NAS unit. In fact, it’s compact form factor makes My Cloud a more ideal addition to, say, your home media setup, saving room for a giant subwoofer, though we wouldn’t recommend setting your My Cloud Device on top of it (read how long will my hard drive last).

My Cloud Home devices can be purchased with as little as 2TB and as many as 20TB of storage. The below table shows some of the approximate costs you can expect to pay by buying directly from Western Digital.

Model:Capacity:Approximate Cost:
Single Drive2TB$160
Single Drive4TB$200
Single Drive6TB$260
Single Drive8TB$320
Dual Drive4TB$310
Dual Drive8TB$400
Dual Drive12TB$550
Dual Drive16TB$700
Dual Drive20TB$900

You can check out for My Cloud, as well, although most models aren’t available there. The WD website provides both additional online and local options for purchasing, too.

My Cloud Pro and My Cloud Expert Series

For the insatiable nerd in search of something more worthy of bragging about to their online friends, or for those who need a business solution, Western Digital makes two more advanced variants of My Cloud: My Cloud Pro and My Cloud Expert.

Model:Capacity:Bays:Approximate Cost:
My Cloud Pro PR21000-20TB2Over $400
My Cloud Pro PR41000-40TB4Over $500
My Cloud Expert EX2 Ultra0-20TB2Over $160
My Cloud Expert EX41000-32TB4Over $350

Both two and four-bay versions are available. The cost will depend on the size of the hard drives you purchase, which can be removed and replaced should one break or you want to upgrade.

These models are ideal for those with large movie and music collections, too. Have a look at our best personal cloud storage for media guide for other options.

Western Digital My Cloud Capabilities

After bringing My Cloud online at home by connecting it to your WiFi network or plugging it directly into your router, you can then download apps for your computers, tablets and smartphones to connect to it. Supported operating systems include Windows, MacOS, Android and iOS.

Using these apps, you can load files from your computers onto My Cloud, whether to sync content between your devices, clear up hard drive space or backup your devices.

Western Digital My Cloud Sync and File Storage

File synchronization lets you access the same file content from different devices. It’s a common feature of most cloud storage solutions that will let you edit a file on one device and see those edits reflected in near real-time on another.

Useful for collaboration, file sync can also be used to access your music and video libraries from your laptop, tablet or phone, even when on the road.

The downside to sync, whether with My Cloud or another cloud storage service, is that in order for it to work it has to store copies of your files both on your computer hard drive and in the cloud. That means it doesn’t do much to save hard drive space, which is something many people have in mind when adopting cloud storage for file hosting.

However, with WD My Cloud, you can also simply elect to store files in the cloud and not on your computer or phone. In that case, you’ll still be able to access them so long as your computer or phone is connected to the internet and your My Cloud device is online.

Backing up to Western Digital My Cloud

WD My Cloud can also be used to backup your computer hard drive by installing the WD Smartware program, a backup client.

The goal of backup is to make sure a copy of your computer’s file system is faithfully replicated on your My Cloud device. That way, should your computer hard drive fail or your computer is otherwise damaged or stolen, you won’t lose your files, too.

The Android and iOS apps for WD My Cloud have the added benefit of being able to automatically backup your photos and videos. That makes the device a good substitute for the picks we made in our best online backup for mobile guide, all of which are remote backup options.

Regardless of how or from where you upload your files, you don’t need to install a desktop client to access them. You can get at them nearly as easily by logging into the WD My Cloud web interface.

The web interface also provides a dashboard to analyze your cloud storage space, including breaking down storage by file type.

Western Digital My Cloud File Sharing

In addition to storing files, you can use My Cloud to share files with others. To do so, log into the web interface, find the content you want to share, right-click and select “share.”

You’ll be able to generate a link pointing to that content that can be distributed to those to whom you wish to grant access. You can share the link manually or email it, plus grant others permission to edit files.

Backup Your Western Digital My Cloud Device to the Cloud

As mentioned earlier, while setting up a personal cloud storage solution can be more convenient than using remote storage, it can be dangerous as well. That’s especially true if that device only has one drive, but problems can also arise when using multiple drives.

To protect against data loss, you may want to consider backing your My Cloud device up to the cloud. Several of the best online backup solutions support NAS backup, including CloudBerry Backup and Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office.

For a full look at the top options for backing up WD My Cloud, give our best online backup for NAS guide a look.

Final Thoughts

While this has been a quick overview of Western Digital My Cloud and we certainly didn’t cover every aspect or get in-depth into setup, we hopefully gave you an understanding of what the device is and what it can do.

As self-styled geeks ourselves, we like our gadgets as much as our Game of Thrones, so we think we’re on solid ground in saying that a personal cloud storage network is right up there with the Mother of Dragons (or John Snow, if you prefer) in terms of drool factor.

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That said, we don’t recommend ditching your consumer cloud storage service just yet. Tools like Google Drive have a host of collaboration capabilities that make the service, privacy concerns and all, worth using. Plus, there are plenty of secure cloud storage solutions out there, led by and pCloud that you can trust with your data.

Feel free to give us your own thoughts on WD My Cloud and let us know what else you’d like to know about it in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading.

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