The WD My Cloud is Western Digital's answer to the Seagate Central, which came out five months ago. The new network-attached storage server was worth the wait, however, offering by far the fastest speed among its peers and a host of useful features, while costing about the same as its Seagate counterpart.
Unlike the underwhelming My Book Live it replaces, the WD My Cloud is among the best in its class and the first from WD that includes an excellent personal cloud function. It also has a USB 3.0 port for storage extension or backing up data.
If you're looking for a fast, easy-to-use NAS server for your home, at the suggested cost of just $150 for 2TB ($180 for 3TB, and $250 for 4TB), the WD My Cloud is an excellent choice among single-volume network storage devices. For more NAS server options, including those with multiple volumes, check out this list.
Compact and familiar design
The My Cloud looks very similar to previous WD home NAS servers, taking the shape of a book standing on edge. This is a single-volume storage device that houses one 3.5-inch hard drive, which, like the WD My Book Live's, is not user-serviceable. The device is very compact, just slightly larger than a standard desktop internal hard drive.
On the front the device has one blue LED status light that stays solid when it's powered up and flashing when there is data activity. On the back are a Gigabit Ethernet port, a USB 3.0 port, and the power connection port. The My Cloud comes with a small power adapter, a network cable, and a Quick Setup guide. You won't need much help with the setup process, however.
Setup is a breeze
The My Cloud is by far the easiest NAS server to set up that I've encountered; you literally just need to connect it to the power, hook its network port to a router (or a switch), and you're done.
By default, the server comes with three public share folders called Public, SmartWare, and Time Machine Backup. As the names suggest, the Public folder is for storing public data, and the other two are for backups of Windows and Mac machines, respectively.
As soon as the device is plugged in, all of these public folders are available to all connected devices in the home network. From a Windows computer, you can browse for these share folders and copy data (such as digital content) over. Macs will immediately see the My Cloud as an available destination for Time Machine backup and the My Cloud will also appear on Finder. All DLNA-enabled network media player devices, such as the WD TV, will also immediately find the content stored on the My Cloud for streaming purposes.
And that's not all: if you download the My Cloud mobile app (available for iOS and Android), the app will see the My Cloud and connect to it as long as the mobile device and the My Cloud belong to the same local network. The interesting part is, after this first step, now even when you're out and about, connecting to a different Wi-Fi network or using a cellular connection, the mobile app on your device still maintains access to the My Cloud NAS server via the Internet. (More on this app below.) In other word, there's no extra setup or log-in needed to make the app work with the server remotely.
So if you use the My Cloud by yourself or share it with a group of people with no need for data privacy among themselves, there's really nothing to setting up the My Cloud, other than plugging it in and downloading the mobile app. Now, if you want to further customize the NAS server, that's also quite easy to do. In this case you will need to first download the WD My Cloud Setup software from WD2Go.com and install it on a connected computer, whether Windows or Mac.
Advanced, yet not overwhelming personal cloud features
The WD My Cloud comes with a handful of desktop software and mobile apps to enhance the user experience. They are all very self-explanatory and useful. Except for the WD SmartWare backup program, which is only available for Windows (since Macs already have Time Machine), the rest of the software is available for both platforms. In this review I will talk only about the Setup desktop software and the My Cloud mobile app.
When I tried it, the Setup software quickly found the My Cloud and asked me to create the first user account. This account will have admin privileges and you can use it to log in to create more accounts. Once each account is created there will be a new private share folder named after the account holder. This private share folder is only available to that user and nobody else. After that, the software will create desktop shortcuts to the server's public share and for its Dashboard Web interface. This interface provides access to all of the server's settings and features.
The interface is well-organized, with six tabs on top for Home, Users, Shares, Cloud Access, Safepoints, and Settings that take you to more customizations.