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Here, there, everywhere: 3 personal cloud storage systems

Brian Nadel | May 29, 2013
When you use a public Cloud storage service, you essentially give up control of the data so here's an alternative.

According to company representatives, WD is transitioning to a CD-free installation for the My Book Live, but the hardware I looked at required installing software from a disc. After plugging the drive in and running the software it took about 10 minutes for the drive to be ready.

The My Book Live works with PCs and Macs but has no Linux software. The device does include SmartWare for backing up a PC, but not a Mac; you can use the drive to store back-ups from Time Machine and Windows Backup. There's a helpful diagnostic test routine for your network connection, which is great for quickly troubleshooting a connection problem.

It is the only one of the three installation routines that installs a task tray icon. The icon shows how much disk space remains, whether the drive is overheating and if there are software updates to install.

The WD Dashboard software links with the drive and lets you create a password, set up email alerts and control when the drive goes into power-saving sleep mode. I was able to change its name, go between static and auto-IP addressing and map the drive.

Getting remote access to your files requires first obtaining a 12-digit access code that's generated in the Dashboard program, but you only need to enter it once on each device. The code must be used to set up a machine within three days or it expires.

The drive uses its remote-access software, WD 2go, to give you access to your folders and files via a browser; it also gives you the option of opening your files in Windows Explorer.

You can access your data via a mobile device using the mobile version of WD 2go, which is available for iOS, Android BlackBerry and Windows Phone devices. None of the other drives covered here have as wide a variety of remote access apps.

The WD 2go app is a general-purpose tool that provides a list of files that are available, but no preview of what they look like. When I tried it on my iPad I was able to open image, Word, PDF and MP4 video files. And it lets you tap into files stored on DropBox and SkyDrive online storage accounts.

There's also WD Photos, a mobile app that lets you see your pictures in folder, album or thumbnail formats. You can also search based on when an image was shot or by name, and view photos as a slideshow with a small variety of transitions.

Having two apps — WD Photos and WD 2go — is a bit redundant, but the added flexibility of having the dedicated WD Photos app is nice for quickly finding and showing images to friends, family or co-workers.


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