Want to create your own Dropbox-like storage? WD's budget network attached storage device makes it easy.
Not everyone wants a chunky NAS with a vast range of features that network admins love. Some simply want fast networked storage, Dropbox-like sync capabilities and solid media-handling features, preferably in a box that's easy on the eye and with an interface that justifies the adjective “intuitive”. If that’s your wishlist, the second-generation My Cloud Mirror is hard to beat.
For a start, the design owes more to Western Digital’s external hard disks than enterprise storage, and it comes populated with dual 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, 6TB or 8TB WD Red drives for a total capacity ranging from 4TB to 16TB. If you do need to replace drives, they're easily accessible through a flap at the top of the unit.
It’s quite noisy when starting up but very quiet in general operation, while power consumption never crept above a peak 18W in our tests, mostly hovering at 12W to 15W. Connectivity is basic, with just two USB 3 ports on the rear plus the single Gigabit Ethernet, but for many home and small-office users, that's enough.
It’s those users who will best appreciate how easy the new My Cloud Mirror is to set up. The web-based routine discovers it on your network, creates an account and sets up the drives. There’s a focus on web access and synchronisation that leaves you feeling you're turning on your own personal cloud. This straightforward user interface makes managing this device a cinch, whether you're adding users, creating new shared folders or setting up backups through WD’s SmartWare Pro app or Apple’s Time Machine. It’s the same story with streaming audio or video via DLNA and iTunes – you don't get advanced features such as real-time transcoding but the basics are in place and work.
While the My Cloud Mirror isn’t the only NAS to offer cloud storage capabilities, it and the Netgear RN214 are the only ones that approach Dropbox or OneDrive’s features and ease of use. Download the WD Sync app and any files you save or update in your My Cloud folder are synced almost instantly on the NAS, complete with a Dropbox-like status applet to keep you up to date on progress.
Meanwhile, the My Cloud web portal gives instant, easy access to your files and folders through a browser, even if it lacks the sort of document preview, media streaming, slideshow and sharing features you'd get from OneDrive or Dropbox. If you need mobile access, the iOS and Android My Cloud apps let you access and download files, and will also automatically upload photos – much like the true cloud storage apps.
The downside of most consumer-level NAS units is performance. We didn’t have high hopes for the My Cloud in this regard, but surprisingly, it wasn’t slow at all when copying large 4K video files. The limitations were more apparent when processing our 10.7GB of small files, but it certainly wasn’t the slowest we’ve seen.
Perhaps its biggest selling point, though, is value. The My Cloud Mirror costs just $499 with two 2TB drives, $729 with two 4TB drives, ranging up to $1,229 with two 8TB drives – though bear in mind you have to half that capacity (to 2TB, 4TB and 8TB respectively) if you want mirror the two drives for redundancy.
If you’re an ambitious user looking for a Swiss-Army-knife of a NAS that can function as a web server, email server, IP camera security centre and 4K video transcoding powerhouse, the My Cloud Mirror is not the NAS you're looking for. However, you want a simple, ready-made solution for backup, file-sharing and personal, cloud-like storage, look no further. The WD My Cloud Mirror 2 gives you all you need with the minimum of hassle and expense.