of your own. That's what Western Digital (WD) is offering with its new line of My Cloud hard drives that provide terabytes of password-protected local
in a Net-connected storage that acts, essentially, as one's private cloud.
A My Cloud personal cloud hard drive, connected to the Net, allows owners to have Net-based access to their own storage without concerns about files residing under someone else's control or having to pay monthly fees, as with public cloud storage services.
Jim Welsh, executive vice president and GM of the company's consumer electronics group, said in a statement that "there's no place like home for the cloud." He added that his company's personal cloud is "the easiest, most secure and most affordable way for customers to control" their files, with "anywhere, anytime" access.
Integration with Public Cloud Services
The MyCloud drive runs on Linux, but is compatible with PCs, Macs, and Android- or iOS-based tablets or smartphones via free desktop and apps. And the drives allow users to share files, stream media and access their content through the Net. Setup is achieved through a Web-based interface, aided by WD that auto-detects the drive's specs. WD SmartWare Pro software is available for setting up auto-backup; Mac users can employ Apple Time Machine software.
The drives feature a Gigabit Ethernet connection and dual-core processor, is available in 2, 3 and 4 terabyte capacities, and utilizes the 128-bit AES encryption algorithm. A compatible USB 3.0 hard drive can also be connected to the My Cloud drive's USB expansion port to add more storage. There's integration with such cloud storage services as Dropbox, SkyDrive and Google Drive, for transferring files.
The 2 TB goes for $149, the 3 TB for $180 and the 4 TB for $250. A WD spokesperson has pointed out to news media that 2 TB of storage on a cloud-based service such as Google Drive or Dropbox will run about $200 annually.
"Leaving Your Drive Open"
The drive can also be used as a digital entertainment storage server, enabling movies or music to be streamed to any DLNA-certified multimedia device. The mobile app for Android and iOS devices provides the ability to access files, look at photos or stream videos, as well as share files such as emails, links or printouts.
Roger Kay, an analyst with industry research firm Endpoint Technologies Associates, told NewsFactor that WD's new line is "one more offering in an already crowded market," and noted that this approach -- a Net-enabled hard drive -- has been attempted by others, such as HP with its Media Server.
Even if setting up such a drive is simple, he pointed out that it raises the risk of "leaving your drive open, in some sense, to the Internet," plus there's the fact that, as physical rather than cloud storage, the user risks the possibility that the office or home where the drive is housed could experience some calamity.