WD My Cloud is Western Digital’s companion app to its new My Cloud NAS, a device for sharing and streaming data. With the WD My Cloud app, users can access data stored on My Cloud from anywhere they may be via iOS, Android, or Windows Phone mobile devices. I tested the Android version. While My Cloud is an excellent device on its own (save for a few minor annoyances, such as no USB printer support) the app is a must-have addition for remotely accessing and managing My Cloud. It’s easy to set up and use, provides almost full management over data remotely from a mobile device, and is free.
The app is available from WD’s Learning Center site, or from each mobile operating systems’ respective app store.
Download and install was a breeze on my Motorola Droid Razr M running Android’s Jelly Bean. The app opens with two options onscreen: Connect Now and Demo Drive. The latter, as the name indicates, provides a demo of how the app works and the various views you have of data stored on a Western Digital networking device. By the way, WD My Cloud app not only allows remotely accessing the My Cloud NAS, but WD’s My Net N900 and My Book Live devices.
Clicking “Connect Now” presents the option of choosing a device from my local network, from the Web via the WDMyCloud.com service, or from Google Drive. You can also manually connect a device.
Users who already have a WDMyCloud.com account can log in and access their My Cloud device or any WD device registered with the service. If you don’t have an account, you can go into the management interface of the My Cloud NAS and generate an activation code. This is the route I chose. I entered the code into the appropriate field within the app and once I did, I saw an image of the My Cloud NAS. Tapping on this image opened a listing of all my folders residing on the My Cloud NAS I have set up in the testing lab.
I was impressed by how much data management I could perform with the app. I tapped open a folder and then tapped a menu icon in the upper right. The menu exposed several choices including upload a file, create a new folder (or sub-folder), and “Add,” which, when tapped, let me take a photo or video with my mobile device on the spot, and then place the file in the folder I opened in the app. Files in folders are represented by icons based on file type. Images have tiny thumbnails as their icons. Videos are represented by a video camera icon, and docs have papers as icons—these icons make it easy to quickly see the file type.
I did notice there is no in-app editing or file viewers; you must have the appropriate software installed on your mobile device.
You can select individual or multiple files in a folder. When a file is selected, another menu pops up on the bottom of the screen allowing you to download the file; email to someone; and cut, copy, delete, or rename it.
There is another menu for the app’s settings. One setting controls auto-syncing, that is, how often the app checks the My Cloud device for changes. Auto-sync can be set to always-on, or to happen only when the mobile device is connected via Wi-Fi.
Other app settings include controlling the app’s cache size, warning when data plan limits are approaching, upgrading firmware, unlinking the mobile device from the My Cloud service, and setting a passcode.
You will want to pay particular attention to the passcode feature. One aspect I found disturbing about this app is that you can double-tap the app open and immediately get into the My Cloud data. There is no authentication prompt, by default. So once someone is in your mobile device they could potentially get into your data. While not a great security measure, other cloud syncing services such as Dropbox and SugarSync also work the same way: You can set a passcode but can’t configure the app to require authentication every time you fire up the app. Western Digital is trying to make the access as easy as possible but as I found with the My Cloud NAS and now the app, security is a bit lax because users aren’t even advised in the interface or setup process to set password protection to get into the management interface of the NAS or into the app although the option to do so is available in both.
At the bottom of the app’s screen in the home view, are three icons. One is of a cloud, which when tapped, takes you to the main folder listing view from whichever screen you are on in the app; another is labeled “Downloads” and will show a list of all files you’ve downloaded from the My Cloud NAS to the mobile device; the third display an activity log.
Must-Have for Mobile My Cloud
I noticed a big discrepancy between the tasks you can do with data when you access your My Cloud NAS through the WDMyCloud.com service on a desktop and when you access it from the My Cloud app. From a desktop, you are merely shown a list of folders on the My Cloud, but then you have to use the desktop’s file manager to do anything with the data.
The app is a lot more flexible because you can do much more inside the app. You can quickly share files, add folders, and really manage your My Cloud device. I asked Western Digital why accessing My Cloud remotely from a desktop is so limited. A spokesman said that I was actually using the browser version of the remote My Cloud interface which only mounts the My Cloud’s drive locally so users can interact with the device as they would any other drive in their system. Western Digital also offers a desktop app which functions in much the same way as the mobile app.
However, you do want the robust management in the mobile app since you have a file manager in a desktop operating system already. The WD My Cloud app delivers that level of data management and access. It’s a must-have software addition for users of the My Cloud NAS especially as we comfortably nestle into the post-PC era and need our mobile devices to interact well with our home networking devices. While I would like to see more emphasis on guiding users in setting up security, the app has a well-designed interface and a great feature set. WD My Cloud is a four-and-half out of five-star Editors’ Choice Android app for networking utilities.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc