Western Digital My Book Live Duo 4 TB Personal Cloud Storage Drive by Western Digital reviewed here for Amazon is an Excellent Network attached data storage product. It is very simple to use and consumes very little power ideally suited for home media streaming environments and also doubles as a "Personal Cloud" Storage drive to access your photos and files over the internet.
For your background information, I am an "Enterprise Systems Engineer" by profession and work for a global IT company and I have worked with many NAS and SAN products over the years and fully understand the limitations and expectations from customers who use these product lines. It is a nice offering from WD to combine "Personal Cloud" with a NAS product and honestly I am truly impressed by this My Book Live Duo.
Here are some PROs and CONs first for some quick overview before we get to the nitty gritty details.
[+] Personal Cloud Storage + NAS all-in-one device - Love it!
[+] Plenty fast enough to play Hi-Def Video files over Gigabit Wired or Wireless-N networks
[+] Super Efficient Power usage - Perfect for home environments!
[+] Extremely Silent operation - No FAN design
[+] Capability to have Data Redundancy mode (RAID 1) - Peace of mind!
[+] High Quality Hardware - Pleasing nice looking "My Book Live" series design.
[+] View photos and file with free apps for your iOS and or Android tablets
[+] Connect up-to 7 USB HDD devices using a powered USB Hub for additional shares!.
[-] No power off button - This is a minor issue (You can still power off using the GUI)
[-] Setting up remote mobile or Personal cloud Access is "multi-step" activation process which can be time consuming and tricky for some - Thankfully you need to do it only once!.
Before I talk in great detail about the software portions this product let me tell you that WD Live Duo is fully functional with 4TB RAID 0 SPAN right out of the box without using any software. For experienced users you can completely ignore the included software and get the basic functions as NAS device working without using the software CD (My Book Live Discovery Software + SmartWare etc;) that is provided with the product.
If you know how to browse your network and discover the IP address of WD Live Duo you can map network drives and start using the "public" share to store and access you data as guest user without setting up users and additional NAS shares etc;
The "public" folder also contains the needed software and you can install all the applications like SmartWare and other packages for windows and Mac to the attached PC's.
For others who are not technically inclined, thankfully the include CD "setup" process guides you thru' the full process of setting up your WD Live Duo on your home network.
The included "SmartWare" software provides features like backing up your PCs connected to your home network. Software works well and the user interface is simple to use. If you really want to use it to backup your PC files it does work. FYI - It does take considerable amount of time to do a full PC backup. But thankfully, you can customize the time and select the need directories and let it backup when your PC is idle.
Personal Cloud feature:
This is new buzz word now-a-days that everyone wants to have it in their product. Let me explain what this is and what it can do for you. A "personal cloud" is your "own data" like photos and or that video file of your vacation that you secure at your own location and on your WD Live DUO hard disks and completely under your control. Unlike public clouds which are being offered by multitude of hosted services companies these days, a "personal cloud" feature allows you to keep all your data in one safe place inside your home. Other things you can do are sharing of these files with your family members, streaming these media files remotely, and ability to access your content via Internet from anywhere. Bottom-line: No monthly fees. No "unknown" strange location where your personal data resides. That is "Personal Cloud".
WD's "2go" web access software app provides fee-free remote access from My Book Live Duo personal cloud storage. You need to register your device with your name and email, Instructions will be sent by WD via email how to activate it. Once you log in, WD "2go" software mounts My Book Live Duo to your computer like a local drive and your remote folders from your "personal cloud" are available on your Mac or PC.
The speed at which you can access your files fully depends on how fast internet connection (Upload speeds are important here) you have at home as well as how fast Internet connectivity (Download speeds are important here) you have at the remote location where you attempted to mount your personal cloud.
For most small document transfers, uploading downloading few photos and files it is just perfect. Just do not expect to stream that Hi-definition Blu-Ray Rip remotely :-)
In order to maximize performance you need to disable the services that you do not want to use. For example: I do not want this to be my "Itunes" Server so I disabled it. I also did not use the Media Streaming (DLNA) features so that the box is not busy with those additional tasks.
Most of my PC's and Media streaming devices on my home network are capable of mounting SAMBA NAS shares. So there was no real need for WD Live Duo to stream via DLNA.
If you want you can pair this up with Western Digital WD TV Live Streaming Media Player
and you will be very happy with the results. WD TV Live Streaming Media Player is excellent when it comes to playback of multitude of media files and this Western Digital My Book Live Duo 4 TB Personal Cloud Storage Drive
is an excellent storage device.
Do not expect to change RAID 0 (SPAN) to RAID 1 (Mirror) instantaneously, the rebuild process takes a very long time (But you can still access the files while the rebuilt takes place in the background with some performance hit)
This Product is awesome! - 4 ˝ stars!
FYI- There were some batches of WD Live Duo wherein WD did not populate the correct files in the software directory and users got "Runtime" errors when attempting to install the software. Please see my comments section how to resolve that issue.
Thanks for reading my review and please feel free to comment if you have any questions.