Remember when you used to have a DVD collection? A CD collection? Music and video that was kept somewhere other than on your hard drives? With more and more of our media collections becoming digital, figuring out the ideal way to store your data is crucial – and sometimes, the hard drive on your desktop PC isn’t quite right for the job.
One option is an external NAS – that is, network accessible storage device – like this one, the WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra. This is an external RAID hard drive. This model has two 2TB WD Red hard drives, but there are other sizes available – even one without any drives so that you can bring your own. Both hard drives work together to keep your data safe – they’re identical copies of each other, so if one suffers some sort of failure, the other one will still have all your stuff.
Of course, what you do with that storage is up to you. I immediately threw my music collection on there, and it took just a few moments to set up the new location in iTunes before I was happily listening to my favourite songs and relishing in all my new hard drive space. The NAS is set up as just another network drive, which required minimal effort and was very easy to set up.
Even more impressive though was the way the WD My Cloud handles videos. With the new hardware set up properly on my home network, it’s recognised by my smart TV as a DLNA device – that is, as a media player, not as a network drive. This means that watching videos is a dream. I can use my TV remote control to navigate through menus and lists, select the one I want, and fast-forward and rewind while watching. It might not sound like much, but it’s a neat, elegant solution.
The WD My Cloud Ultra is also a good fit for PC gamers, adding a little redundancy – and flexibility – to your gaming rig. The acess speed on the Ultra will, obviously, depend on the speed of your network, so it’ll be notably slower than an SSD, but it’s still plenty quick enough to play most games. This means that if you have a hefty gaming library, you don’t need to invest in a super-sized SSD (with the super-sized price tag that goes with it). Instead, install your operating system and essential files locally, and pop all your games and media on the WD MyCloud Ultra. Mount it as a network drive – or, if you’re up to it, as a local hard drive using iSCSI and you’re good to go!
This also has the added bonus of being accessible from other PCs on your network, so you don’t need to lug your PC from room to room just to play games.
Another thing that I quite liked actually combines the video element with the gaming side of things. Recording gameplay footage is easy using software like nVidia Shadowplay, and it was easy to set things up so the videos went straight onto the MyCloud. Then, once I’d played for a while, I was able to go load those videos on the TV and check out some Overwatch on the big screen… absolutely stunning.
But using the MyCloud device only as an external hard drive is missing half the point of the device. WD has created a bunch of apps that can change the way you interact with the hardware. There are simple ways to organise your backups – automatically finding and saving certain types of files, for instance, or nabbing your camera roll – and ways to set up your NAS device like a Google Drive or Dropbox account that can be used to keep your files synced across multiple computers.
There’s even smartphone apps so you can see what’s on your drive while you’re on the go.
This sort of device really is what you make it – it can be something as simple as an additional chunk of storage space, an automatic backup solution, or the backbone of your complete home media library. The best thing? The WD Mycloud Ultra EX2 can be all of these things at once – and it looks pretty stylish sitting on your desk, too.