My initial testing was simple writing and reading of files to and from the device over AFP without using WD2GO.com. The unit showed up in Finder, so I mounted it directly from there.
My results produced nothing unexpected for a single-drive NAS. The drive inside is a WD red drive, specifically designed for NAS usage. WD red drives feature higher reliability, longer warranties, and lower operating temperatures so cooling devices don’t have to work so hard.
Then I tried WD2GO.com and the MyCloud system started to show some areas of opportunity for improvement.
While setting up device initially was a breeze, using WD2GO.com requires Java, so OSX Chrome users are SOL. When trying to load it, it couldn’t detect Java and sent me without prompt to Java.com to download it. However, as known to some, “Chrome does not support Java 7 on Mac OS X. Java 7 runs only on 64-bit browsers and Chrome is a 32-bit browser.” I’ve not had to use Java in the nearly two years I’ve had my laptop, so it’s a bit of a bummer to have to install it to use WD2GO.com, which just redirects to an interface on the WD MyCloud if you’re inside your own network. I switched to Firefox temporarily. It’s also a good thing that I know that Firefox disables Java out of the box, or I’d be awfully frustrated when I just installed Java and I’m redirected to the Java download page again. WD needs to improve the information experience here, by either finding a way to remove the need for Java or providing instructions for end-users.
At this point in the setup process, a non-savvy user would be on the phone with WD Support, or, worse, their family member who is “good with computers.”
And, once it’s up, it’s just a glorified link that opens the share folder in Finder! This is not very useful when at home, but I guess it’s a decent, unified way to access the device from anywhere.
So, to test the core proposition of the software, I tried it while tethered. I’m directed to https://wdmycloud.device#####.wd2go.com, which is of course an untrusted connection. I think WD needs to improve this experience, as well, by telling the user what to do at this screen. Fortunately, the user would only have to do it once.
When I get to the same page where I can mount a shared folder, I’m presented with an error that I can’t workaround.
I thought it was because I have to use a proxy while tethered (working around cellular provider restrictions), but when I tried from a more reliable WiFi network at a house, it gave me the same error. I was dead in the water.
So, to the fat client I went. I downloaded it from WD’s web site. Installation worked, but launching the app didn’t go so well. I have no text in the app.
Digging around in the app package a bit, I see that it’s an Adobe Air app. I try to run it, but it still doesn’t work. Looks like this app needs some love to make it ready for a OS X version that has been out for six months and was installed on more than ⅓ of Macs three months ago.
Looks like this OS X user is dead in the water for remote access to the MyCloud …from my Mac.
There is an Android app that seems to run fine on my Nexus 5. I was able to connect to the device, enable auto-sync of local files, upload and download some pictures, and correctly trigger a warning when attempting to playback a large movie. Some reviewers on the app in the Play Store cited slowness and crashing for their poor rating, but I didn’t experience that in the 20 minutes or so I actively played with the app. I really liked the unification of the app; I could sign into not only the WD MyCloud, but also the various other cloud services (Dropbox, SkyDrive/OneDrive, etc.) and seemingly transfer data between them (however, your mobile device is the intermediary, so watch out for usage).
I would have liked for the app to feel more native. It feels a little clunky. It may be a well-skinned Phonegap app, or a native app that doesn’t follow all of the guidelines for interaction that Google recommends.
Colin Dean has been a writer for ThinkComputers since 2006.
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