Unleash Your Family Photos

Disclosure – Western Digital sent Blog of Dad the WD My Cloud Home Duo for the purpose of review. Plex gave Blog of Dad complimentary access to the Plex Pass. The thoughts expressed in this post are entirely my own, based on my experiences with the device and software. For more information, please visit my Disclosure Statement.

 

I take a lot of photos – most parents do.

 

Photos with my mobile, Emma’s mobile, a point-and-shoot or the DSLR. Then there are the photos taken by family and friends. Then there is the video…

 

My point is that in this day-and-age we capture unprecedented numbers of moments in our family’s lives. This is, of course, all thanks to the advent of digital cameras. We no longer have to worry about the costs of film, or development. We can just click away all day, every day.

 

There is an irony to this. The irony is that we capture more, but we do less with the photos and videos we capture. For most of us, they languish on a the mobile phone or on a computer hard drive. In the good ol’ days, you did things with photos. You put them in albums and showed them to friends and family. These days, not so much.

 

So how do we overcome this paradox? How do we take advantage of the multitude of memories that we diligently collect, but fail to appreciate? Print a thousand photobooks? Probably not.

 

How about a digital solution? How about a solution that enables the elegant and coherent display of photos and videos on that huge television in the living room, or on your mobile when out with friends and family?

 

Plex and the WD My Cloud Home Duo

The solution is an excellent home storage device, combined with a top-quality media streamer. The solution is Plex on the WD My Cloud Home Duo.

I have written about the My Cloud Home Duo before, when I introduced it as a compelling option for storing invaluable data from your computer’s hard drive. Needless to say it has been performing faultless backups of my data ever since. But the WD My Cloud Home Duo is so much more than a storage solution – it is also a very handy media server.

The philosophy behind the My Cloud Home Duo is simplicity – it is designed for every day, not-particularly-technologically-gifted people to use with minimum fuss. To that end, the WD My Cloud Home Duo comes with the Plex Media Server already installed.

All you have to do is activate it, set up a Plex account, and install the Plex app on whatever device you plan to use. I have installed Plex on my PC, my mobile phone, a tablet and my Sony Blu-ray player.

 

Plex

 

Setting Up the Plex Server

Remember when I said that the WD My Cloud Home Duo was designed to be simple to use? I wasn’t kidding.

Activating the Plex app on the My Cloud Home Duo leads to the automatic creation of a Plex folder. That Plex folder is prepopulated with five subfolders: Shared Home Movies, Shared Movies, Shared Music, Shared Photos, and Shared TV Shows.

Populating your Plex server is then just a simple matter of dragging and dropping media into the appropriate folders. I have family photos, home videos and my own music all conveniently stored in this way.

 

Using the Plex Server

Once you have organised and transferred your data, accessing it is a breeze. You can use any device on which you can download the Plex app. From there it is simply a matter of selecting the content and pressing play.

By having all of my media in one convenient and easily accessed location, it becomes a lot more usable. Before I use this Plex and WD My Cloud Home Duo solution, I was often frustrated by not being able to access the files that I was after. Too many times I would tell a friend that I had a great photo to show them, only to realise that I had taken it with the compact camera and that it wasn’t on my phone. Now, it doesn’t matter what device I have used. If it is in the Plex folder, I can access it.

Plex also works brilliantly for showing your media on the big screen tv. By using inbuilt smart functions, or by casting to a device, Plex enables instant access to photos and videos. I often like to run a slideshow on the television during events like birthday parties, and Plex makes this easy. It is also a great way to show off holiday snaps and movies.

 

WD My Cloud Home Duo
The WD My Cloud Home Duo comes with Plex pre-installed.

 

The Plex Pass

To fully utilise this excellent setup, I recommend the Plex Pass. You can choose a monthly, yearly or lifetime subscription. This unlocks the full power of Plex as a media server and streamer. It enables Premium Music (lyrics, auto playlists, cover art and other features), Premium Photos (with auto-tagging and Places to easily sort and discover memories), multiple users, Plex Pass Perks, Early Access, live tv and Plex DVR (with compatible digital tuner). Plex provided me with a complimentary Lifetime subscription and I think that is the best way to go. Although, if you really want to try before you buy, a $6.49 Monthly subscription is a great choice too.

 

More Than Just My Media

While my photos and videos are pretty great (if I do say so myself…), Plex Pass offers access to a whole lot more – podcasts, news, Web Shows (beta) and apps such as Crackle provide access to a whole world of content.

These features open up a whole load of possibility and make the Plex Pass setup even more worthwhile.

 

Plex Pass

 

Final Thoughts

The WD My Cloud Home Duo has become an integral part of my data storage and backup solution over the past couple of months. It is a product that I am extremely grateful to have sitting in home. The My Cloud Home has taken the effort out of securing my precious family photos and videos.

With the integration of Plex, and the Plex Pass, the WD My Cloud Home Duo has reached a whole new level of useful. Finally I can easily access my precious memories from any screen in the house, and that means that they now serve a purpose. My photos and videos no longer languish, buried and forgotten in the depths of my PC’s convoluted filing system. They are not spread across devices and impossible to find – they are right there, readily accessible by opening the Plex app.

This setup has given my photos and videos life. It has integrated them into my home, as photo albums did in the past. But this modern solution caters for the thousands of photos that my family produces, in a much more useable way.

Is it worthwhile? Absolutely.

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