On the Observed Tech Episode 119 the other day I told you about my move from Windows Server Essentials 2012 back to Windows Home Server 2011.

Before making that switch I was looking at possible options to replace the entire home server setup with a simpler solution.  While many have switched over to using a Windows 8 machine as a file server and place to store File History backups I am actually considering replacing the entire machine with something else.

My first step in that search is the Western Digital MyCloud device.

Described as your own Personal Cloud which follows you around, the Western Digital MyCloud device plugs into your local home network via a gigabit Ethernet port on the back of the device.

Once you add power the device will bring itself online with default shares and settings and will grab an IP address from your routers DHCP pool. After a short period of time it is online and ready to access without any further actions on your part.

The device has a nice web based interface that does not require any login credentials when accessed on your private home network and it allows you to customize the device.

wdmycloudwebpage

From this webpage you can take care of multiple items with the device:

  • Add users
  • Create shares
  • Update firmware
  • See drive status
  • See drive capacity
  • Set up Safepoint backups
  • Set up remote connections from web browsers and mobile device apps

Here are my observations, in no particular order, as I set the device up and started using it and the software tools.

  • I did use the WD MyCloud software to initially set up the device but once that was done I uninstalled it. I was not thrilled that it installs Apple’s Bonjour Print service and the Bonjour update program.  That setup can also be done through the devices web based interface.
  • Getting the drive online and running is very easy. Plug it into the network via a network cable and then plug in the power. Once it is up and running you will have a Public folder which contains shared music, pictures and video directories.  Directories for Time Machine backups, any users you added during setup and a WD SmartWare backups directory are all created during that setup process. Additional directories/shares must be created through the devices web interface or the WD MyCloud software.
  • After setting things up I tried the remote access via a web browser. It uses a JAVA plugin and I was immediately prevented from running it as a vulnerability was indicated. So much for remote personal cloud access.
  • There is a Windows Phone WD 2go app that gives you remote access on your Windows Phone device and it works well. It uses a code that can be generated under the Cloud Access tab on the devices web interface for each user. This app gives you access to the files on the MyCloud device and also the ability to upload files from your phone. I did notice that when I selected images from my Camera Roll to upload to the device it renamed them to WD_X.jpg with X being an incremented number. I am not sure why that is necessary but it is a handy feature to get images to the storage unit.
  • You can map folders on the MyCloud as network drives but only at the highest level. Sub-directories can not be added as mapped drives unfortunately.
  • Shares on the MyCloud can not be added to Windows Libraries even as mapped drives. WHS 2011 allows you to add directories from its file storage to your Windows Libraries which is a nice option to have to make file access easier.
  • The MyCloud comes with a USB port on the back of the device that allows you to add an additional USB 3.0 hard drive to provide more storage space or as a MyCloud backup device. You can not use the USB port to add a USB printer to your network. However, that USB port can be used to connect a digital camera with USB 3.0 support to automatically add your images to the device.
  • I created a directory on the MyCloud called FileHistory and am using that from each PC in our house to do File History backups. It was easy to add that directory in the File History UI on Windows 8.1 and get it running.

I have more exploring to do with this device including testing its DLNA support to other devices on my home network and setting up one of my computers to use the backup software for daily backups like WHS 2011 does.

Have you had any experience with the WD MyCloud or found unique ways to put it to use on your home network?

Share your experiences in the comments below for all of us to learn from.

WD MyCloud screenshots:

wdmycloudadduserpagewdmycloudaddcloudaccess
wdmycloudaddsharepagewdmyclouduserspage
wdmycloudnewfirmwarepagewdmyclouddiagnosispage
wdmycloudcapacityusagescreenwdmycloudcontentscanstatus