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Western Digital My Cloud update adds phone backup, shared albums with friends

Mark Hachman | Sept. 1, 2015
My Cloud OS 3 adds syncing and sharing features you'd normally associate with Google or Dropbox.

Western Digital has taken cloud-enabled backup features provided by other services, including syncing folders and backing up photos from a smartphone, and added them to a new software update that will be available to its My Cloud devices.

The storage company also updated its My Cloud Mirror backup devices, making them faster.

WD announced the new software, known as My Cloud OS 3, at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin. The software will be available for download on Sept. 21, while the new My Cloud Mirror devices, ranging from 4TB to 8TB, can be pre-ordered now for shipment on Sept. 30.

Why this matters: As cloud storage becomes more pervasive—including the automatic backup of photos from cell phones—the demand for local storage decreases. After all, anything backed up online should be available anytime, right? WD wants you to change that way of thinking, giving you local control of files that normally would be floating off somewhere in the cloud.

Software adds new features

According to Scott Vouri, vice president of consumer marketing for WD, the company has sold 1.6 million My Cloud storage devices, which began as WD’s MyBook external storage and evolved to take on more and more NAS capability over time. The updated My Cloud Mirror drives, for example, include a pair of USB 3.0 ports as well as a gigabit ethernet connection. The new Cloud OS 3 takes that NAS capability even further by treating the drives as a storage solution for wide-area networks.

“It’s because of the focus on software and ease of use, and the feedback that users have given us—that’s why we’re doubling down on our investment on My Cloud,” Vouri said. “How can we make this even more useful to users on a daily basis?”

Vouri said WD surveys its customers to solicit new feature ideas. The number-one feature request was data syncing, he said. The three new things in My Cloud OS 3 are data syncing, shared albums, and a new Web management interface, Vouri said.

With the new Cloud OS 3, users now have the option either to sync or back up data by manually selecting a series of shared folders. A MyCloud app for iOS and Android will also allow users to load synced files on their phones.

On a desktop with a spacious, multi-terabyte hard drive, the difference between backing up and syncing files is largely academic. Everything in a synced folder is immediately available to a user, while a backed-up file simply stores a copy in another location. (The OS will save the previous four revisions of a document, Vouri added.) A phone, however, may simply not have the room to sync hundreds of gigabytes of data, and for that reason the My Cloud app turns off syncing by default.


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