The WD My Cloud is Western Digital’s response to the Seagate Central, which arrived five months ago. The brand new network-attached storage server was worth the wait, however, offering by far the speediest speed among its peers and a bunch of useful features, while costing a comparable as its Seagate counterpart.

Unlike the underwhelming My Book Live it replaces, the WD My Cloud is one of the best in its class and the first from WD which includes a fantastic personal cloud function. In addition, it includes a USB 3.0 port for storage extension or burning data.

If you’re buying a fast, easy-to-use NAS server for your house, at the suggested cost of just $150 for 2TB ($180 for 3TB, and $250 for 4TB), the WD My Cloud is an outstanding choice among single-volume network storage devices. For more NAS server options, including people that have multiple volumes, have a look at this list.

The WD My Cloud is a concise, powerful NAS server for home users. Dong Ngo/CNET
Compact and familiar design
The My Cloud looks nearly the same as previous WD home NAS servers, taking the condition of a book sitting on edge. That is a single-volume storage device that houses one 3.5-inch hard disk drive, which, just like the WD My Book Live’s, isn’t user-serviceable. The device is quite compact, just slightly bigger than a typical desktop internal hard disk drive.

On the front these devices has one blue LED status light that stays solid if it is powered up and flashing when there is data activity. On the trunk certainly are a Gigabit Ethernet port, a USB 3.0 port, and the energy connection port. The My Cloud includes a tiny power adapter, a network cable, and an instant Setup guide. You will not need much help with the setup process, however.

The My Cloud’s Dashboard Web interface is quite well-organized and really should be simple to find out even for a novice user. Screenshot by Dong Ngo/CNET
Setup is a breeze
The My Cloud is by far easy and simple NAS server to create that I’ve encountered; you literally simply need to hook up it to the energy, hook its network port to a router (or a switch), and you’re done.

By default, the server includes three public share folders called Public, SmartWare, and Time Machine Backup. As the names suggest, the general public folder is for storing public data, and the other two are for backups of Windows and Mac machines, respectively.

As soon as these devices is plugged in, most of these public folders can be found to all linked devices in the house network. From a Windows computer, you can browse for these share folders and copy data (such as for example digital content) over. Macs will immediately start to see the My Cloud as an available destination for Time Machine backup and the My Cloud may also appear on Finder. All DLNA-enabled network media player devices, including the WD TV, may also immediately find this content placed on the My Cloud for streaming purposes.

And that’s not absolutely all: if you download the My Cloud mobile iphone app (designed for iOS and Android), the software will dsicover the My Cloud and hook up to it provided that the mobile device and the My Cloud participate in the same local network. The interesting part is, following this first step, now even though you’re on trips, connecting to a new Wi-Fi network or by using a cellular connection, the mobile software on your own device still maintains usage of the My Cloud NAS server via the web. (More on this iphone app below.) In other word, there is no extra setup or log-in had a need to make the application use the server remotely.

So if you utilize the My Cloud on your own or share it with an organization of individuals without the need for data privacy among themselves, there’s really nothing to establishing the My Cloud, apart from plugging it in and downloading the mobile app. Now, if you wish to help expand customize the NAS server, that’s also quite simple to do. In cases like this you need to first download the WD My Cloud Setup software from WD2Go.com and set it up on a linked computer, whether Windows or Mac.

The My Cloud includes some desktop software and mobile apps. Screenshot by Dong Ngo/CNET
Advanced, yet not overwhelming personal cloud features
The WD My Cloud has a couple of desktop software and mobile programs to improve the user experience. All of them are very self-explanatory and useful. Aside from the WD SmartWare backup program, which is merely designed for Windows (since Macs curently have Time Machine), all of those other software is designed for both platforms. In this review I’ll talk no more than 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 could have admin privileges and you will make make use of it to get on create more accounts. Once each account is established there will be a fresh private share folder named following the account holder. This private share folder is merely open to that user and nobody else. From then on, the software will generate desktop shortcuts to the server’s public share and because of its Dashboard Web interface. This interface provides usage of each of the server’s settings and features.

The interface is well-organized, with six track of top for Home, Users, Shares, Cloud Access, Safepoints, and Settings that take you to more customizations.

The most interesting tab is Cloud Access, that allows you to join up for a WDMyCloud.com online account for each and every user account of the NAS server, and create an access code for the mobile device app. They are both powerful features.

The web account with WDMyCloud.com basically allows a VPN-like connection online for computer users. For instance, when you’re traveling abroad, even in another country, then from a computer linked to the web you can point the browser to WDMyCloud.com and sign in with the WDMyCloud account, and with a click you can easily create a network drive associated with a share folder on the My Cloud NAS server in the home. This implies you can just drag and drop files between your computer and the server as if the two were on a single local network. That is similar to VPN access though there is no VPN connection. (Remember that the speed of data moving between your remote computer and the NAS server is determined by the speed of the web at both computer’ and the server end.) Also you can quickly disconnect the mapped network drive when you wish to disconnect the remote computer from the server.

The access code for cellular devices will be useful if, for instance, you want your friend who lives in a different city in order to share data with you via the My Cloud. Just create a user take into account see your face on the NAS server, create an access code, and present the information to her or him. Your friend then can download the My Cloud mobile app, run it, and enter the code. Now they might utilize the My Cloud without ever needing to be anywhere near to the server, physically.

In all, that is by far easy and simple system I’ve seen for remote access among all of the NAS servers I’ve reviewed. It had been actually much much easier to do than explain.

The My Cloud mobile iphone app require a large amount of the mobile device’s storage for streaming buffering, so that it is the slowest mobile iphone app for this purpose. It generally does not support a whole lot of digital formats for streaming, either. Screenshot by Dong Ngo/CNET
Excellent iphone app for mobile backup, but limited for streaming
WD’s My Cloud mobile software is quite similar to Seagate’s Media mobile software for the Seagate Central. With this app, you can access the general public share folders plus the private share folder of the existing user. You can easily download files from the NAS server to the mobile device or back up files, such as for example photographs and videos, from the mobile device onto the NAS server. That can be done more than one of the tasks as well, which makes it an outstanding backup server for many who love taking photographs and video with their phones.

Unfortunately, unlike the Seagate Media app, that may organize digital content into categories (Documents, Videos, Photos, Music), the My Cloud App only supports browsing by folders and subfolders. That is fine for videos but also for music and photos, it’s such a pain, specially when there is no built-in search functionality. In addition, while you can certainly dig deeper into subfolders, there is no “back button” strategy to use back to the prior degree of folder browsing, so that it is quite awkward for viewing content.

The support for media streaming can be extremely limited: you can basically play back only the types of content natively supported by the mobile device. And only music really can be streamed; other content has to be first buffered (temporarily downloaded) onto the mobile device before it really is played back. For instance, if you wish to view a image that resides on the My Cloud NAS server using an iPad, the mobile iphone app would first buffer the complete photography onto the mobile device before displaying it. This makes viewing even a tiny picture take quite somewhat of time and helps it be nearly impossible to stream video over a cellular connection.

That said, although application is quite responsive and simple to use, for the present time it works best in an effort to back up content from a mobile device to the My Cloud NAS server, instead of the other way around. Remember that I tested the My Cloud and its own applications ahead of their launch, and things could be better in the ultimate version of something.