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Skip the Dropbox middleman with your own Western Digital personal cloud storage

When your files are uploaded and stored in the cloud, you’re most likely using a service such as Dropbox or Google Drive. If the thought of your important or private personal files sitting on an unknown server is somewhat scary, Western Digital has come up with something that aims to alleviate that “fear.” Called My Cloud, WD describes this external networkable hard drive as a personal cloud solution “for users to organize, centralize, and secure the digital content from all of their computers and mobile devices and access those files from any device, from anywhere in the world.” It addresses access, security, control, and ownership, four areas where WD says are unmet needs for the consumer when it comes to cloud storage.

For many users, this concept isn’t new. Network-attached storage drives, or NAS, already exist, which allow you to remotely access files on an external hard drive that’s attached to your network from anywhere there’s an Internet connection (WD already sells a line of NAS drives called My Book). Traditionally, NAS drives can be tricky to set up and use, but My Cloud makes that process a bit easier – it’s pre-setup and ready to go out of the box. Plus, by naming the product in reference to something people are becoming more familiar with, it takes the intimidation out of having to do anything “networking” related. WD says that because you’d be creating a direct peer-to-peer connection with the drive, it’s faster than going through a datacenter as you would with the likes of Dropbox.

Recognizing that an increasing number of people are creating files on their mobile devices – namely photos and videos (WD cites photos as being the type of file that’s most shared online)– one of the highlight features is the companion WD My Cloud app for iOS and Android. From your smartphone or tablet, you can access all the files on a My Cloud drive through the app or push content from your device to the drive for storage (you can also share files to services like Dropbox directly from the app, if you wish to continue using an online storage service alongside the My Cloud). You can also share files from the My Cloud drive with others either via e-mail or a link. Plus, all files on the My Cloud are secured with 128-bit encryption.

At home, users can use the My Cloud drive as a backup device. From a PC or Mac, settings are made through a Web-based dashboard that’s far easier to use than early NAS models. The device itself has a dual-core processor with Gigabit Ethernet for faster access, both locally and remotely. There’s no fan, so it’s quiet. The drive also acts as a DLNA and iTunes server, so you can access the media content through devices that support those. A USB 3.0 port allows for expansion, but you can also plug in a digital camera and transfer photos and videos.

Available in 2, 3, and 4TB capacities, the drives are priced at $150, $180, and $250 respectively. The 2 and 3TB models are available now, as is the mobile app, while the 4TB drive will arrive in November. WD says future versions will include two- and four-drive variants.

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