Western Digital's 'My Cloud' drive transforms your PC into a personal Dropbox

With its new "My Cloud" connected hard drive, Western Digital wants to help you bring the power of the cloud home. As its name suggests, My Cloud lets you access your files from anywhere you can find an Internet connection. But unlike Dropbox or SkyDrive—where your data exists on servers at some unspecified location—My Cloud sits in your home or office.

Beyond merely storing files, My Cloud also acts as a digital entertainment hub capable of streaming content to any DLNA-certified device. You can also use My Cloud to back-up PCs using WD’s built-in back-up solution for Windows, WD SmartWare. For Mac users, My Cloud is compatible with Apple’s Time Machine utility.

When you need remote access to files stored on My Cloud, WD provides apps for Android and iOS for easy access. The apps also come with integration for Dropbox, Google Drive, and SkyDrive to transfer files between a My Cloud device and popular cloud storage services, and you can use the apps to upload mobile files (read: photos and videos) directly to your My Cloud drive.

My Cloud comes in 2, 3, and 4 terabyte configurations priced at $150, $180, and $250 respectively. The 2TB and 3TB versions are available now, with the 4TB model coming in November. If you want to add more storage or just want My Cloud to scrounge through files you've stored on another external hard drive, My Cloud features a USB 3.0 expansion port—though it’s not clear if My Cloud will work with non-WD external drives. My Cloud stands 6.7 inches tall and is 1.90 inches wide, with a depth of 5.50 inches.

If the features of My Cloud sound familiar, that’s because Western Digital already offers similar features with its My Book Live NAS devices. But WD told our friends at Computerworld that My Cloud will offer a much easier set-up process than its predecessor.

If My Cloud is relatively easy to use then it could become a popular alternative to commercial solutions, especially for privacy-conscious users wary of storing all their data on a third-party server. My Cloud uses 128-bit AES encryption algorithms to protect your files in transit.

Buying a My Cloud device also means that you have to rely on your own data hygiene practices to make sure your data is properly backed up just in case the My Cloud drive fails. An offsite copy of your files is also advisable.

Nevertheless, with a healthy amount of storage, My Cloud could be an acceptable solution for anyone that wants all their files available online but stored in a location under their control.

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