Have you ever stopped to realise just how good many of us have it in this digital age? Instant text messages, the sharing of videos and photographs, video calling and more. What do all of these things have in common? I’ll give you a hint: if it didn’t exist, you wouldn’t be reading this article right now…
Those of you who answered “communication with other human beings”, feel free to go to your room and hang your head in shame. Obviously, I’m speaking about the internet, the world’s go-to resource for research, gaming, anonymous abuse and all of those other things that make our civilization so great (OK, maybe not so much the “anonymous abuse” bit).
Alright, to prevent myself from wandering even further off-track, lets kick things off with one solid fact: online data storage is undoubtedly the most convenient form of digital storage, hands down. In terms of security though, what would happen if one of those online storage providers suddenly disappeared, or was facing server problems that prevented you from accessing your precious files? Thankfully, Western Digital have the answer to this question with their My Cloud Mirror personal cloud storage device.
Unlike other online storage services such as iCloud or OneDrive, the WD My Cloud Mirror allows you to set up a physical hard drive on your own home network, thus allowing network access to it from any compatible device on your home network, as well as remote access from anywhere in the world. And the best part? You know that whatever you upload will be safe and sound, waiting for you at home in a physical device.
The word “mirror” in the title refers to the fact that the My Cloud Mirror arrives already setup in Mirror Mode using RAID 1, meaning that the 4TB storage is split into 2 x 2TB drives, thus providing a double-backup of your precious, precious data. Users who aren’t as concerned with this ultimate form of data protection can instead opt to switch the device to RAID 0 or spanning mode to utilise the full 4TB hard drive capacity. And if that isn’t enough, the WD My Cloud Mirror also comes equipped with two USB 3.0 ports that can be connected to even more external storage, effectively making you the king or queen of digital data keeping!
In terms of setting up the My Cloud Mirror, my experience was mostly painless, thanks to a very simple and easy-to-follow quick installation guide. Physical setup was a piece of pie: plug the power adapter into the power socket (I know, right?) and the Ethernet cable directly into your modem. Once the light turns blue on your device, BAM! That takes care of getting your hands dirty. Next step: installing the software, which was a straight forward matter of heading to the appropriate web address, downloading the software that corresponds to my system, and following the prompts.
Once this process was done, the hard drive was fully established on my network and ready to use. This portion of the procedure was incredibly easy, but what I found to be somewhat more mentally taxing was adding new devices whilst away from home. While at the house, I could generate a unique code from one of my connected systems, punch that code into my Sony Xperia Z1 or iPad, and then they too would now be added to my personal cloud network. But when away from the house, it took me forever to figure out how to remotely log in from a new device via a user name and password that I had previously established during the setup process. Eventually I found where it was that I needed to log in to (www.wd2go.com), which I only found through a Google search. If this website was mentioned during the installation process I would have had a much easier time overall.
However, with all of the installation done and dusted, there was finally nothing left to do but start enjoying the WD My Cloud Mirror. Using the aforementioned software, uploading files via computer is super easy. Open the program, navigate to the desired folder, and drag and drop whatever you want to be copied over. It really couldn’t be simpler. Uploading files from Android or iOS devices is also just as straightforward. Open the app, choose “Upload”, select the desired file (in the case of my Sony Xperia Z1, I could manually search through its entire storage contents) and away you go.
When it comes to accessing files that are already on your My Cloud Mirror hard drive, the experience works great overall, but there are a couple of odd quirks in the design. On PC or Mac, all of your files must be opened directly from within the app (unlike Dropbox for example, which provides you with a folder on you computer’s storage where the files are copied too once they have finished downloading). I found this to be both good and bad. On the one hand, when you are editing a text based document, you know that hitting “Save” will update the source file on your My Cloud Mirror. However, if you wanted to make a copy of that file to access later when you are offline, you must save an extra copy from within your document program itself (which in my case is OpenOffice), as there are no options within the WD My Cloud software that allow you to copy files from your device and paste them to a physical location on your computer. Obviously this also applies to smart phones and tablets too.
An aspect of the WD My Cloud Mirror that I felt worked really well was the way that it allowed much quicker access to files that you have previously opened. Regardless of what system I was using to access my files (computer, tablet or smart phone), I discovered that after I opened the file for the very first time (which obviously required it to be downloaded for use on my device), re-visiting that same file resulted in it being opened almost instantly, as the My Cloud software had obviously stored it in some sort of temporary cache (that despite my best efforts, I could not find manually). For portable devices this is a great idea, as it eliminates the need for fiddly file allocation or the limitations of iOS in terms of not being able to store digital data, whilst still allowing me rapid access to my important files. Incredibly convenient indeed.
Movies and music, while again are opened and viewed from within the My Cloud app, are streamed directly via the internet. While I personally really like the idea of streaming content directly without having to rob my phone of its precious storage space, I do sometimes have need for being able to keep the physical copies of my favorite shows on my phone for when I am in one of those frightening, desolate places where the internet doesn’t exist, which the My Cloud software unfortunately doesn’t cater for.
With all of the pros and cons being discussed, here is my answer to the question that you are most likely asking: “Should I, like, buy one of these, uh, cloud thingies, or not?” The answer I would give completely depends on what type of technology user you are. If you don’t really do much video streaming or anything else to do with cloud storage, then there really isn’t enough here to warrant you purchasing this item. But for those of you who are regularly uploading and downloading content back and forth from iCloud, Dropbox and so on, or who really love the convenience of streaming media content no matter where you are, then the WD My Cloud Mirror comes highly recommended by yours truly. Hell, the purchase price is worth it alone for the amount of “remote” storage you will be provided with, particularly if you are currently paying monthly subscriptions for your current cloud storage services.
Personally, while I feel that the software that came with this device could benefit from a couple of additional features, and despite the lack of direct USB interfacing with my PC, overall I found the WD My Cloud Mirror to be an essential addition to my home network. All of my important files are just a few short clicks away, and I never have to worry about leaving an important document at home ever again (not to mention the fact that it’s going to be a looooong time before I fill up my 2TB of storage – take that Dropbox). I am now the the king of my own personal cloud kingdom, and who wouldn’t want that?
Hail to the king, baby.
ComicsOnline gives the WD My Cloud Mirror 4 out of 5 electronic devices living together in perfect harmony.