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.
If you are a parent, I’m betting you’ve taken a couple of photos of your children. Maybe even a video…
A quick scan of my hard drive returned 34,567 RAW photos, 87,202 jpg files and 501 MP4s. That’s A LOT of precious memories that are stored in one place. Sure, I’ve printed a photo album or two, but they are mainly of overseas holidays rather than the day-to-day experience of family. If I were to lose the data from my hard drive, that would be a HUGE loss.
Back it Up
I do back up my data. Every now and then I drag an external hard drive out, dust it off and plug it in to my computer. To be honest, this is a cumbersome and not-always-entirely-successful task. I plug the hard drive in, set it to backup and hope for the best. Often, something seems to go wrong. I guess there is a lot of room for error when backing up a 3TB hard drive that is more than half full. As a result, I am never really confident that I have all of my photos and videos secured on the backup drive.
This concerns me, because I have had a close call before. A little while ago I wrote about the time that I thought I had lost everything for good.
I decided there had to be a better way.
WD My Cloud Home Duo
The Western Digital My Cloud Home Duo is a better way. A much, much better way. It is a supremely simple network attached storage device that can take all of the hard work out of backing up data to a second location. Simply plug the My Cloud Home Duo into your router, install the My Cloud app on your phone or the WD Discovery app on your computer, set up a profile, and away you go!
Once set up, two new locations appear on your computer. They have two different purposes – one is like a personal dropbox/file access folder. It works in a similar way to other cloud storage locations, in that you can drop files into it then access them from anywhere. The difference is that, instead of having the files saved on a remote server owned by a third party, they are saved on your own personal device.
The other location appears as a network drive. I had a little trouble getting it to appear initially. There are some handy trouble-shooting guides on the WD website, but ultimately physically plugging my computer into the network (rather than using Wi-Fi) appeared to do the trick. To me, this location is extremely important, because it is the location for saving backups. This location is only accessible from on your home network.
Backing Up to the My Cloud Home Duo
As I mentioned above, I have had a lot of trouble successfully running the default Windows backup program in the past. It just never seems to complete the process. What I usually end up doing is dragging and dropping the files I think are most important, then crossing my fingers for the rest.
This is not ideal.
I think my problems come from having such huge amounts of data to transfer – it just seems to be too much for the whole process to handle. At some point the computer goes to sleep and everything stops. Or, files just stop transferring, for reasons that I can’t fathom.
With the WD My Cloud Home Duo, that backup process has become a lot easier. After my initial hiccups with getting the network drive to appear, backing up has been smooth sailing. I simply set up my parameters for backing up (you can select folders or whole drives) and let the WD My Cloud Home Duo do its thing. Slowly, but surely, the backup folder filled with my precious files – mainly my irreplaceable family photos and videos.
The most brilliant thing is that it doesn’t matter if my computer goes to sleep, or even if I turn it off. The process of saving the files just simply resumes when I turn the computer back on. No intervention is required from me. This is exactly the kind of simple and reliable, set-and-forget solution that I need.
I watched over the period of a couple of days as my files appeared on the WD My Cloud Home Duo. I was amazed that it just seemed to happen – I was sure that the moment my computer was turned off, everything would stop and I would have to fiddle about to get it started again. After all, that is my past experience with backup solutions. But, to my surprise, I could run the computer for an hour while I worked (… okay, faffed about on Twitter) and the files would copy in the background. Whenever I turned the computer back on, the WD My Cloud Home Duo simply picked up from wherever it was up to and continued the process.
Now that all my data is backed up, the WD My Cloud Home Duo will continue to backup new files and changes to old files, as they happen. Every time I dump an SD card’s worth of photos onto my computer drive, I can assume with some certainty that they will automatically be copied to the My Cloud Home Duo. In fact, I just checked to see if the photos that I took on the weekend were on the My Cloud Duo. Sure enough, they were all there safe and sound!
As far as I’m concerned, this is a pretty great backup solution. It’s not foolproof (an offsite backup is also recommended to mitigate the possibility of theft, fire etc.), but it is an easy and effective way of ensuring that all of your valuable files are stored in more than one location.
Hard drive failure is a reality of life – mechanical drives have finite lives. Western Digital are leaders in reliability and quality, they are a brand that I have trusted many times in the past (in fact the 3TB hard drive in my personal computer is a WD). Even so, for peace of mind I couldn’t go past the 8TB Duo setup.
The Duo version of the WD My Cloud Home contains two hard drives. They can be configured in a couple of different ways, but I chose to use them in WD Mirror Mode (you may also hear this referred to as RAID 1). Mirror Mode creates an exact copy of your data to each disk in the WD My Cloud Home Duo. While this halves the overall usable space of the device, it greatly enhances data protection. If one drive fails, the other still contains all of the valuable data.
You can then just replace the drive that has failed with another WD Red drive.
For me, this is a fantastic feature. It is worth spending the little extra money on buying a large-capacity setup and using it in mirror mode, for the extra peace of mind that it delivers. WD Mirror Mode means that my photos and videos are stored on three physical hard drives, greatly reducing the possibility of losing them.
It isn’t just my desktop computer that backs up to the WD My Cloud Home Duo. Through the mobile app, my phone automatically uploads photos and video to the My Cloud Home whenever it re-joins my home network. You can back up a whole range of devices to the WD My Cloud Home Duo – Mac users will be thrilled to learn that it works with Time Machine.
If you want to set the WD My Cloud Home Duo up for multiple users, each person receives their own private folder.
More than Just Backups
The Western Digital My Cloud Home Duo is an enticing option as an easy-to-use backup solution for parents with little time or interest in mucking about with technical nitty-gritties. It is simple to set up, and once it’s up and running it does its job automatically. But, backups are not necessarily the Home Duo’s only purpose.
With a little help from the brilliant Plex, the WD My Cloud Home Duo can become a pretty great media server. In fact, the My Cloud Home comes with Plex built in to it and ready to activate. I will write about this in more detail in another post, but I find it pretty exiting how this combination has enhanced my ability to access and view my memories. After all, it’s one thing to have them safely stored, but another to be able to easily access and enjoy them!
The WD My Cloud Home Duo isn’t a traditional NAS. Whenever I come across criticism of this device in reviews and forums it seems to come back to one thing – that people purchased it expecting it to function the same way as other NAS devices do. It just doesn’t. The My Cloud Home Duo is not the ideal device for the tech-savvy IT expert who likes to be able to access the back-end and tweak things.
The WD My Cloud Home Duo is a dead-simple device for people who want to plug a drive into their network and set up a backup solution that doesn’t require much ongoing thought. It is for parents and other people who want to easily save their precious data to a second location without any hassle. And it is for people who want an easy Plex media server solution, so that they can access their precious moments in better ways.
Western Digital is a brand that I have come to trust over many years of use. Their drives have not failed me yet, so I feel very confident in trusting the My Cloud Home to safely store my precious data. The Duo setup in WD Mirror Mode just adds to that sense of security – I feel safe in the knowledge that if one drive does ever fail, the problem can easily be fixed, without the stress and expense (and sometimes impossibility) of trying to recover that data.