I purchased a Seagate Central 2T NAS 5 months ago, for a low cost home media center solution. It worked reasonably well considering the low ~US130 cost although, I had ongoing issues with firmware updates, occasional drive performance, etc. Unfortunately, it failed last week and while I was looking for alternatives, I learnt that I was not the only one having problems with that device so I simply lost trust in Seagate forever.
I returned the drive, and the store offered me the WD MyCloud 2T as a replacement alternative without extra cost what I happily accepted.
WD MyCloud 2T NAS Review
This is my personal opinion and experience compared to Seagate Central, not necessarily an official “review” of the hardware and its provided features.
The enclosure is very solid, fairly compact and feels good. I find the upright design a bit impractical as well as unstable compared to the Seagate Central and I have to admit, I am not a big fan of the white housing and the blue LED in front but it’s just personal preference. Comparing to Seagate Central, the device feels actually a lot cooler, it’s more like hand warm rather than hot.
- 1 x Gbit interface
- 1 x USB 3.0 port
- Dual Core processor
- DLNA 1.5 and UPnP Certified
- iTunes support
- TimeMachine support
- Mobile apps
- Remote access
The WebUI is very nice, clean and both easy to read and drive. The front page is well organised, dashboard alike but not “too busy” and easy to understand even for an average user but still giving you the option for detailed information, should you need it.
Shares can have individual access settings or set public (accessible without password) as well as set to be excluded from media serving. (does NOT include exclusion from media scan unfortunately)
You can set up email notifications and their importance. It’s not so much of a monitoring but certainly helps to keep you up to date about the events occurring on the drive including predictive failure, reboots, etc.
Not so much of a feature, but it was great to see (after Seagate Central) that I have the ability to backup my configuration. Unfortunately, it only backs up the basics like network settings but it does not save some of the personal preferences such as “Cloud Access” settings, etc.
One of the biggest surprise (positive) for me was the fact that this device allows SSH access as well as FTP access. Furthermore, the access is root which may not be good for some but advanced users can really leverage this functionality especially when disaster strikes.
Basically, you can set up another device and create a snapshot or mirror of your data at any given point of time. Considering the sizes available, I am not sure how feasible this is or how long it takes to copy 2T-4T over the cable even on Gbit network.
Having the ability to clone one drive to another is not a bad idea and if you are looking for safety and value, it is cheaper to get 2 of these than one MyCloud EX with 2 disks. Although that would give you encryption support as well as continuos operation even when one of the drive fails (assuming RAID1 setup).
DLNA 1.5 and Twonky:
Both my Samsung BluRay player and TV can stream seamlessly from the device. Just finished updating the firmware and was delighted to see a fairly recent Twonky release 7.2.8 (this time of writing) included in the image.
Under the hood:
It’s running Debian Linux 7, data volumes feature EXT4 filesystem on dual core ARM platform.
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I never liked this idea, never meant to use it but you can access your content over the internet after registering your user on wdmycloud.com. I was wondering about why it is and how my content is made available, whether it’s encrypted, etc. After logging in via SSH, I discovered a process running on the device:
root 1585 2.0 1.5 6464 3712 ? SN 07:48 0:00 openvpn /usr/local/orion/openvpnclient/client.ovpn
When you disable “Cloud Access” under “Settings -> General”, this process disappears so generally, I was happy to see that personal content is served encrypted over the Internet. However, I see some serious privacy issues around using OpenVPN for this feature.
How it is configured:
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In nutshell: when you enable “Cloud Access”, you start a VPN client which “connects” to one of those “orion” WD endpoints you see configured as “remote” and build a point-to-point encrypted tunnel with it. This brings up a new virtual “tun” interface on your device with a specific class A private IP address, in my case:
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This basically exposes your ENTIRE device to the “other” end you established the VPN tunnel with. The system is a cut-down version of Linux, it does not have firewall filtering or other security software built into it. Considering that FTP and SSH running on your device, anybody from the other end of the tunnel has the ability to log into your device and do whatever they want, including browsing your content.
While I understand that it is a cost effective way of protecting your own content from 3rd parties, it does not protect you from the vendor itself so if you want to get access to your content while away, you will have to trust WD some ways.
Bad news for OSX users, even listing a decent directory with few hundred files takes a long time. I could not be bothered too much about it, OSX Mavericks now defaults to SMB so Apple clearly signaled that it’s moving away from its in-house developed protocol.
Using the device over SMB (cifs) is fine, although I have not upgraded to OSX Mavericks yet so my experience is based on OSX Mountain Lion 10.8.5.
Thumbnails and the mysterious .wdmc directories:
If you log into the device via SSH or browse it with AFP, you will see mysterious
.wdmc folders all over the place with lots of tiny image files in them. They are thumbnails
of your media files so every folder that has media (image, video) in it will have one of these.
SMB (samba) hides these so you won’t see these normally but the issue with this service is that they are created regardless you want them or not. I am an amateur photographer, have thousands of images and these are not only take space from the device, but also expensive to create and manage. When you upload new content such as image, the device will display “Content Scan” “Building”, that means it’s scanning and polluting your drive with these and depending on the volume, it can take a long long time and your drive performance will be degraded.
I was under the impression, that if I turn media serving off for my “photo share" it would be ignored. I actually like these thumbnails for my video share” what I browse over DLNA but I don’t want it for everything.
So until WD kindly gives us the WebUI option to turn this off, you can do this (advanced users only):
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That will just disable the service, it will not remove the directories and this most likely to be required again after firmware updates.