Cloud storage sure does sound great, doesn't it? It's in the cloud! It's all your data, up there in the sky somewhere, available to you wherever you are, whenever you want it. Wow!
In practice, cloud storage rarely works this way, because most of the time, your data is living inside someone else's cloud. Whether it's Dropbox or Google or Amazon or someplace in Siberia, you have to upload your data into that cloud, trust that the cloud will keep your data safe, and then further trust that whenever you want to get your data out, you'll be able to do so efficiently. While there are a lot of conceptual upsides, it's not the most convenient system to use, and on top of all that, it's also freakin' expensive if you're storing more than just a few gigs of data.
The ideal storage solution is a compromise between something local that's fast and under your control, and something that you can seamlessly access from anywhere. Western Digital is taking a crack at this niche with their new My Cloud, a series of external hard drives that cloudify your local storage.
At first glance, these drives are the same sort of network attached storage (NAS) that have been around for a while now: they come in 2TB to 4TB capacities, and you plug them into your router with an Ethernet cable. Data transfer is fast with a dual-core processor inside the drive itself, and a fanless design keeps noise to a minimum. There's also a USB 3.0 port on the back of each one, and you can attach other drives to boost your storage space.
WD's software is why you'd want to buy one of these new My Cloud drives over a dumber, more traditional network storage system. Basically, the My Cloud drives allow you to easily access, store, and organize all of your media on all of your devices in one place. Music and movies and pictures that you might have spread out across multiple computers and tablets and cellphones can all be stored on a My Cloud drive, and you can get at all of it just like it's stored locally.
Wherever you are (whether on your personal network at home or on a cell connection in Madagascar), My Cloud apps will give you remote access to all of your stuff without breaking a sweat. It's just like one of those cloud data services you already use, except that your data stays private and secure and under your control at all times. The My Cloud software also offers all kinds of other features, like direct connection and transfers between all the popular cloud services (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.), total network backups, and more.
In addition to accessing your data on devices you own, you can also give anyone else access. I hate to keep using Dropbox as an example, but it's the same sort of thing: you can just designate a folder on the hard drive as shared, My Cloud sends out invitations, and other users can open up the folder through a web interface.
Here's an example of something that you can do with My Cloud: let's say you want to share some pictures with your parents, and you want the pictures to just show up as part of a screen saver on their home computer, because they're your parents and you like sharing your life with them. On your local My Cloud drive, you can designate a folder as "pics for parents SFW," and copy some of your favorites into that folder. Share that folder with your parents through the My Cloud web interface, and all they have to do is use WD's simple software to mount your My Cloud drive on their home computer, and they'll have access to just that SFW pics folder (but no others) to hook up to their screen saver. Then, whenever you add more pics to the folder, your parents will immediately have access to them. Slick.
Personally, I'm even more interested in where this My Cloud thing is headed within the next year or two, because of this:
Oh yes, that very much looks like a RAID, and I value my data so highly that I only store data that I care about on redundant drives. Seriously. And I'd absolutely love to see all of this My Cloud accessibility built into an external drive that protects against drive failure. And if it could use the My Cloud tech to back itself up remotely to another drive somewhere very far away to protect against theft or wayward nukes, then I might actually be able to get some sleep at night.
Western Digital's My Cloud drives are available now for not a heck of a lot more than you'd pay for a regular drive of the same size: you'll pay $150 for 2TB, $180 for 3TB and $250 USD for 4TB.
Via Western Digital