Top critical review
3.0 out of 5 starsTreacherous Reliability - WATCH OUT!
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on March 3, 2022
Pre script -- If all you want this thing for is to store and access files, it's fine. Skip this review. But, if you want to TRY to use it as a media server, I think you better read this. I think it's a fair review, but it's detailed to explain (most of) what I've encountered. It isn't pretty. But, I think you might want to pay out for something better. Here's why. . .
March 3, 2022
Let me start by saying first that, in principle, I really like this device. It's beautifully designed and relatively easy to setup and use. And if the WD world was perfect, then this would be a five-star review without question. However, as you might have noted with the title of this review, the whole point of having a home NAS is so that you can have a trusted, reliable backup and access of your files. That's where this thing begins to break down in my opinion. I am at present in Spain, visiting my son for a month. Into the second week, the access to my MyCloud Home failed. I could provide you with excruciating specific details, but I'll spare you. Instead of a deep dive, we'll just do a short dip. Deal?
The built-in software requires you to create an account on the WD network. Anything that you access from your NAS goes from the device, out to the Internet, through your account via their database and network, and back from them to you over whatever device you are using to access your files--be it your computer, phone, etc. Since owning this NAS from January, 2021, I have suffered from two significant failures due to this system and method of access.
First, if you are creating hyperlinks to share access to a file (pretty much like you would for Dropbox for example), you have to click on the file in the WD interface and copy a 'share link' that they generate to your clipboard. Then, you can paste that hyperlink into an email for example. Or, as I use it, on a digital online bulletin board to which I give family and friends access. But, Western Digital's link generating system was down for many hours once and it took me forever to troubleshoot that the problem was with their servers and not really with my NAS hardware. This chat support rep I was working with didn't even know what was going on and their automated server monitoring system that you can see online didn't flag the problem, but should have. Finally, the chat person had me hold for a long time, came back, and told me that it was, indeed, their servers that were failing to generate the links. This happened several months ago, never to be repeated. But, it underscores the inherent problem with relying on the WD network for utilitarian functions that should just be between you and your device, if you get what I mean. So, there's that.
Anyway, back to the matter in Spain. I did some research on Google and found out that this is a common enough problem that folks have posted it on forums. You can't access your own NAS files through their network. You can't log onto your own device. And, then when you give the secret code that's on the bottom of the box (It's a 9-digit Alpha code that the WD login dialogue asks you for to find your NAS, like "QXF-5RR-GBS"), the login system comes back and tells you that you need to 'ask the owner to send an invitation to your email.' That's bonkers because I'M the owner!
They tell you that the box can drop the first registered account in favor of one of the other accounts. (That's a bug they never warned me about prior to purchasing the device. Now YOU are warned!) The big problem in my case is that I was the ONLY account that was created without any secondary accounts associated with the NAS for it to fall back onto; and now they've acted like I'm simply S.O.L. with all my data. So, as soon as I get home, I'm going to try and figure out how to access the data like you would on just a hard drive and offload it to another drive. I'm hoping that works. But, treachery is defined as "betrayal of trust; deceptive action or nature." Pretty much describes this MyCloud Home NAS situation. My advice is that if you DO decide to purchase one of these (which I totally understand if you do), MAKE SURE that you create one or more secondary accounts so that if it drops the owner account, it will default down to one of the others and you can still access your stuff. That's going to be my plan moving forward if I can actually recover from this.
So, that's about the size of it. But my greatest disappointment is with the WD support. Their availability and follow up are pretty good. I mean, they stayed with me on chat for a long time while I obtained the S/N and other numbers remotely from back home over the phone with my wife in Florida, and they waited patiently while rebooting, etc. But in the end, they really offered no hope as the technical issue seemed to finally fall outside the gamut of their mindless support script. I was expecting a follow up contact email with the solution once I provided the debug files, but it's been weeks now and my email is dead silent. So, there it is folks.
Once I return home and get my hands on this box, I'll follow up this review with an update. (Maybe it's not as bad as I think it is.) But right now, I'm watching Catalonian TV and unable to access any of my own entertainment from home--right when I need it most. Disappointed!! Well, at least I have Amazon Prime Video, right?
UPDATE (As promised):
March 27, 2022
Ok. Here's the lowdown. . . Once home, I kept trying to log onto the device through my WD account. Nope. It was exactly as it was from Spain. So, I got on YouTube and watched every relevant video until I understood what was under the hood. The problem with those videos is that there are four clips they warn you about that's holding the two halves together (once you remove the four screws under the two rubber feet), but they don't show you EXACTLY where to find them. There are four white guide studs that LOOK like they could be the clips, but they are only guides. None of the videos were explicit about the locations of the clips or what they looked like and how to depress them, and I ended up breaking them all. Once the first one snapped, it doesn't matter because now the warrantee is voided. (That's all the clips are for anyway. If you want the warrantee to be in force, just don't do what I did--I mean, take it apart.)
I followed the other videos on tearing down the device. It's not hard, but a tad bit tedious. Figure on just taking your time. After finally extracting the 4TB WD Red hard drive, I placed it into the Sabrent USB 3.0 SATA Hard Drive Flat Docking Station that I got from Amazon and plugged it into my Windows 10 machine. But, you aren't home yet. You have to download a ten-day trial software (Linux File System for Windows by Paragon) that allows you to read files from a hard drive that's formatted in Linux, which is what this My Cloud device reads and writes in. You must be very careful not to write to the hard drive; only read the files! They are a pain to find and there are no file extensions. They encode the names with scrambled letters and numbers and decode them within the device. You can go by the file sizes to determine which are videos, but picture files are another matter. I renamed each file with the .mp4 extension on my target drive and then watched the beginning of each one to figure out what movie it was. Then I renamed the file to that movie. There's no other way that I could find on the Internets as to how to determine your movie files.
Once retrieved, you can put your My Cloud Home back together. Fire it up. Factory reset it. And now, create a new login to it with your WD profile. I back loaded all the movie files onto the device as if it was a brand new one (which it kind of is). Now, it's possible to catalog all your movies again (as if this wasn't enough of a pain already). The way I did it before was to generate a hyperlink for each movie file and then add that to an online bulletin board, listing genres and 'cards' under the genre columns that pertain to the type of film it is, then listing each and every movie and setting the text for the movie title with each respective hyperlink. Then. . . I discovered what PLEX is and that changed my life.
The problem with using PLEX with the WD My Cloud Home is that it can't organize your movies nicely. All you get is one library. ONE. It's not the fault of PLEX. It's the WD My Cloud Home app. It sucks. Be that as it may, at present, I'm back up and running after all that. And, I have a fall-back profile registered on the device just in case it somehow loses my login again! (Lesson Learned). But, I'm also backing everything up onto an external 5TB Seagate I got from the big box store.
In the future, I plan on making my own NAS. I'm actually thinking that I could use the My Cloud as a "slave" NAS to the new "master" NAS that I am planning to make. You can use an old computer and load it with free software called TruNAS. Follow the YouTubes on this. But, I'm done with EVER buying a WD NAS again. Too much work for too little benefit. You can't even access your files from it within your OWN HOME NETWORK, without the Internet. It's just lame.