MEGATech Reviews: WD My Cloud Home Duo Personal Cloud Storage
If you want the convenience and ownership of a personal cloud, but cannot be bothered with the complexities of a more technical NAS setup, it doesn't get much more elegant than this.
Pros
  • Attractive, modern design
  • Seamless operation and backup
  • RAID 1 drive mirroring by default
Cons
  • Lack of disk utility for pro controls
  • Cannot sync individual files
  • Price may be a concern for some
8.5Overall Score

We all have a lot of data these days. We're snapping plenty of pictures and shooting lots of videos, not to mention all the other content we have stored across our various devices. As a result, we need a powerful yet simple way to manage all this content and the WD My Cloud Home Duo aims to be that solution. It's network-attached storage for the masses in a package that's both secure and easily accessible.

An Even Better Personal Cloud

The newer WD My Cloud Home and the dual drive My Cloud Home Duo effectively replace the original WD My Cloud that we reviewed back in the fall of 2013. The industrial design is quite different, taking on a very distinct two-tone approach: glossy white on the top half and a diamond-patterned silver on the bottom that gives off an almost metallic aesthetic.

With both the single and dual drive variants of the My Cloud Home, you can choose from a range of capacities and you effectively get a network-attached storage (NAS) solution that is easily accessible both across your home network and while you're away. The big value proposition here is that you own the device and you never have to pay any monthly fees. You are in control.

For comparison, the standard 1TB plan from Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive will set you back about $100 a year. If you want to step it up to the 10TB plan, you can expect to pony up about $100 a month. That's the closest equivalent to the 16TB dual drive My Cloud Home Duo featured in this review; under a RAID 1 configuration, you have access to 8TB of space, mirrored across the two drives for redundancy. The 16TB My Cloud Home Duo might sound expensive about $700, but it effectively pays for itself in just a few months (for the right user).

Ports and Plugs and Things

The connection options here are relatively minimalist and straightforward. In addition to the power port to go along with the brick of a power supply, there is the Gigabit Ethernet networking port for connecting to your router or switch. I have it hooked up to one of the nodes from my Linksys Velop setup. Remember that this is network-attached storage, so it's not meant to connect directly to your computer.

Above the Ethernet port, you'll find one USB 3.0 port on the single drive My Cloud Home and two USB ports on the dual drive My Cloud Home Duo. This way, you can plug in a flash drive or external storage device of your choosing for importing data directly. Of course, you'll still need to access the interface on either your computer or mobile device to perform the transfer.

Setting Up the WD My Cloud Home Duo

Unless you are already more technically inclined, configuring a more conventional NAS solution can be an exercise in confusion and frustration. This is not a conventional NAS solution, in that sense, because it is very much geared toward the everyday consumer. To that end, the setup process is largely accomplished by way of a simple web browser-based interface.

After connecting the My Cloud Home Duo to power and to your network, you simply access the Internet on your device of choice (easiest on an actual computer, of course) and go to mycloud.com/hello. If you don't already have a My Cloud account, you'll need to create one. The website will then automatically seek out the device on your network. Once it's detected, you confirm that it's found the right one and click the "Connect" button. Enter the security code found on the barcode on the bottom of the unit (and in the quick install guide) and you're "all done."

Sort of.

That gets you set up for the web-based interface. It's from there that you can change the name of the device if you'd like, check on the available space, see the firmware version, and so on. By default, the My Cloud Home Duo will be configured in RAID 1. You have the option of switching to JBOD for maximum capacity, but you lose the safety and security of redundant mirroring.

The web interface supports simple dragging and dropping of files. In this way, it works very similarly to how various cloud storage providers work when you use them through a web browser. You can make folders, create users (each with their own private folders), move files around, enable services, check activity history and so forth.

But really, you'll want to use the desktop or mobile software (or both) to get the most out of this product.

A Seamless Background Process?

For me, the biggest reason why I would want a device like this is not for primary storage. That's not the point. You can certainly use it as a media server of sorts (it supports Plex) for showing videos on your living room television. But for me, it's about gaining the peace of mind of having a seamless backup of my most important data. For that, WD offers what it appropriately calls Desktop Sync.

In order for that to work, you need to install the WD Discovery tool on your computer. This is the same software that you'd use with all sorts of external (and network, in this case) storage from the company. I had some initial issues with WD Discovery, as it "hung" during the setup process. It took some tinkering and a CCleaner wipe, but I eventually got it working. From what I can gather, my challenges were isolated, and WD Discovery should work as normal for most users.

Once it is installed, you simply log into your My Cloud account from within WD Discovery and it should detect the My Cloud Home (or My Cloud Home Duo) as connected to your account. Once that's connected, it's simply a matter of right-clicking on any folder on your computer and choosing to "Sync to My Cloud." That's it. Folders that are successfully synced will show the checkmark symbol; folders that are still syncing will show a "sync" icon. Simple.

On the one hand, it's convenient that you can do all of this outside of a dedicated WD program and just from your usual movement around Windows Explorer. It's meant to be mostly seamless and invisible. On the other hand, you cannot sync individual files (you need to sync a whole folder) and there's no specific indication of progress. When I asked it to sync a photo library, I had no idea how far along it really was and how much longer it might take.

Cloud Access on the Go

As has become the norm these past few years, the My Cloud Home also comes with a mobile app for Android and iOS devices. And just like the cloud-based services you might already be using, you can choose to automatically back up your photos and videos from your smartphone or tablet to your My Cloud Home too. It's just as easy as how you'd do it with Google Photos or Dropbox.

Through the app, you can also access all the files that you have stored on your My Cloud Home. There are separate tabs for photos and for videos, if you prefer, but you can also dig through the files the old fashioned way too. The app also grants access to activity logs and so forth.

MEGATechie Cloud-Based Revolution or MEGATechie Duo-Edged Sword?

It may have once been the case that a NAS was only for the geekiest and nerdiest among us. The user interfaces were not at all aesthetically pleasing and the devices themselves looked intimidating, unrefined and highly technical for the average consumer. Those days are long since gone and the WD My Cloud Home Duo really illustrates that.

You get the same kind of elegance and convenience of a cloud storage provider, but in a package that you fully own and control yourself. There are no monthly fees and, at least with the Duo, you get RAID 1 mirroring for redundancy too. When it comes to backups, redundancy is a must! While I wish I had more control and monitoring -- like getting a list of what folders have yet to sync or the current data transfer progress -- I also understand that customers who want more granular control are likely looking for more complex solutions anyhow.

The 16TB dual drive model as reviewed here retails for $699.99 and consists of two 8TB drives. The smallest dual drive model has a total capacity of 4TB (two 2TB drives) and that sells for about $300. The single drive variant is simply called the WD My Cloud Home (without the Duo) and pricing on that ranges from about $150 for the 2TB model up to $320 for the 8TB version. Long story long, there's quite a range here.



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