The WD My Cloud Home Duo is worth considering for both the best external hard drives for Mac and the best external hard drives full stop, but it works a bit differently to standard external hard drives – it plugs straight into your router for a direct internet connection.
That means file transfers to and from your devices are handled over Wi-Fi, but it also means you can get at your data at any time from anywhere. You don't have to leave a particular desktop or laptop computer on for your files and folders to be accessible.
In this comprehensive WD My Cloud Home Duo review, we'll guide you through everything you need to know about the Western Digital device – from how easy it is to set up and configure, to what you can expect from this drive in terms of features and performance.
WD My Cloud Home Duo review: design and setup
The WD My Cloud Home Duo is a sleek white and silver plastic box that will match nicely with most desk decors: we don't think you'll be disappointed with the aesthetics, which are sleek and polished. You can pick up the device with one or two drive bays for hard disks, and if you go for the bigger two-bay option – which is the one we're reviewing here – then you're looking at overall dimensions of 160 mm x 100 mm x 180 mm (that's 6.3 inches x 3.9 inches x 7.1 inches).
On the front there's a subtle Western Digital logo and a subtle white LED, while around the back there's a tastefully designed airflow vent, two USB ports for attaching flash drives and portable drives, an Ethernet port and a power supply port. This is a device that needs it's own power supply, and you need to plug it directly into a spare Ethernet port on your router – bear that in mind when you're deciding where to place it. You get a power cable and adapter, and a short Ethernet cable included in the box.
In terms of setup, you simply need to power up the box, create a free My Cloud account, and then connect to your drive through your web browser. All file operations are handled through this browser interface – or through the official desktop or mobile apps – but everything is simple to follow and navigate around. Even if you've never used a network drive before, you're not going to have any problems with this.
Connecting up external drives to the unit and managing the various settings on the WD My Cloud Home Duo are all equally straightforward, and we didn't come across any issues in terms of setup or operation. If you ever need to replace the drive(s) inside the unit, to upgrade the storage or to replace faulty disks that's not hard to do either: the top of the unit flips off and you can then pull out and slot in drives from the top. Most users won't need to go through this process though.
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WD My Cloud Home Duo review: specs and performance
You can pick up the WD My Cloud Home Duo with a number of storage configurations, across both the one-bay and tow-bay models. In terms of the two-bay unit that we had for testing, you can buy it with 4TB, 6TB, 8TB, 12TB, 16TB and 20TB of storage on board, with the price going up accordingly. This is obviously for people who need a serious volume of data to be available across their network, and if you don't need quite so much, this might not be the drive for you.
Transfer times to and from this drive are going to depend on your home network setup, and even how far away your computer is from the router, but we were shifting around 5GB files in a little under four minutes. It's not as fast as an external drive connected directly to your computer, which is no surprise, but you do get the added benefit of being able to get at your files from any device on your network.
And that file access system is hard to fault, even if more advanced users are likely to want a more advanced hardware and software package (Western Digital does make more sophisticated network drives, if you need them). Whether you need to get at your files from the office, or you want to share a particular folder with someone else, everything is fast and simple to do. You can even set up multiple family members on the same WD My Cloud Home Duo, so everyone has their own bit of private storage space.
In a lot of ways you can think about the WD My Cloud Home Duo as a more private replacement for services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud and OneDrive. Rather than sending your files off to the web, you keep them inside your home – an approach that has its advantages (more privacy) and disadvantages (you'll still need a backup of your files somewhere else). As far as our testing went, we couldn't really fault the drive in terms of file transfers and management.
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WD My Cloud Home Duo review: price and verdict
If you need a simple network storage solution for the home, then this WD My Cloud Home Duo is definitely one of the best options out there. It's particularly suitable for people who are just getting started with networked storage, or who don't want to mess around with all the settings and options you get with a fully fledged NAS drive. It's really easy to set up, and you can be transferring files within minutes.
Access speeds are perfectly respectable, though an external drive connected directly to your computer via USB will of course be faster. It's worth weighing up exactly what you want from a storage solution before making a purchase – an external hard drive that connects directly is a quick and simple option, but then you can't get at the files and folders that it's storing from other devices (such as your phone) very easily.
Price is another consideration to take into account. Check the widgets embedded on this page for the latest WD My Cloud Home Duo prices, but at the time of writing you can pick up the two-bay 4TB model for somewhere in the region of £270 / $270. Even though you get a lot of storage space for your money, these drives are on the expensive side, because of all the extra networking technology on board (and the fact you've got two hard drives slotted inside the two-bay model).
Taking everything into account, we're impressed with what the WD My Cloud Home Duo has to offer: as long as you don't need advanced file sharing and networking options, or the fastest possible file transfer speeds, this is an external hard drive solution that's going to serve you well. It's compact, well designed, easy to use and quiet in operation, and gives you a whole load of storage space you can get at from anywhere.
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