The WD My Cloud 3 TB is a network hard disk drive, also know as NAS (Network Attached Storage). It must be connected to your router through a Gigabit Ethernet port, and it supports the installation of a second drive through a USB 3.0 port that is available. Some of its highlights include media streaming, remote internet access, DLNA, and more. Let’s test it and see how it performs.
In the early ages of local networks, if you needed a storage unit (usually a hard disk drive) to be accessible by all computers in the network, you have to set up one of them as a file server. However, some time ago, NAS (Network Attached Storage) units became popular, since they do the role of a file server, without the necessity to mantain a PC always turned on. As nowadays most homes have several devices capable of accessing files (not only PCs, but also tablets, smartphones, video game consoles, smart TVs, and a myriad of similar devices such as Apple TV and Chromecast), having such a device is becoming a very good option – if not essential – even for home users.
NAS boxes targeted to professional use support two or more internal hard disk drives, with RAID support. Being a product for home or small office use, the My Cloud 3 TB supports only one internal unit.
The My Cloud is available in 2 TB, 3 TB, 4 TB, and 6 TB capacity; we tested the 3 TB model. The box of the product is shown in Figure 1.
Figure 2 unveils the WD My Cloud 3 TB unit. It resembles as a book, with only a status LED in the front. The top has some ventilation openings.
Figure 3 reveals the accessories that come in the box: manuals, power adapter, and an Ethernet cable.
Let’s take a closer look at the product.
[nextpage title=”A Closer Look”]
At the rear of the My Cloud 3 TB, there is one Gigabit Ethernet port and one USB 3.0 port, which allows you to install a second drive to be shared by the device. There is also the power connector and an opening for installing an anti-theft device from Kensington.
At the bottom of the My Cloud, there are only ventilation openings. The product has four small silicon feet.
In the next page, we will take a look inside the WD My Cloud.
[nextpage title=”Inside the My Cloud 3 TB”]
The white cover of the WD My Cloud 3 TB can be removed by sliding it forward, which is not a very simple task, as there are some hooks that keep it tight in place. Figure 6 shows the product without its cover.
Inside, there is a 3.5” SATA hard disk with an embbeded control board, as shown in Figure 7.
The hard disk drive inside the My Cloud 3 TB is a WD30EFRX from WD itself. It is part of the “WD Red” series, targeted to NAS applications (designed to work 24/7 continuously). It has SATA-600 interface and 64 MiB of cache. Its rotational speed is not informed by the manufacturer, which only tells it uses the “IntelliPower” technology, which is said to tune the rpm to balance power consumption, transfer speed, and latency. We can guess it is not a 7,200 rpm drive; probably something around 5,400 rpm.
The control board uses a Mindspeed Comcerto 2000 (M86261G-12) CPU, which has two Cortex-A9 ARM cores, running at 650 MHz.
[nextpage title=”Using the My Cloud 3 TB”]
Setting up the My Cloud is as easy as it can be. Simply connect it to your router or switch and plug in its power adapter. Then, download and install on your PC its software in order to access more functions. The software is very intuitive and, after a few simple settings, the drive is available on your network.
You can, additionally, configure more users, shared folders, or security options. On Windows, the shared folders appear as simple network drives, that can even be mapped as local drives.
To make it accessible from outside your local network, through the Internet, you just need to create an account at the WDMYCloud website; after logging in, you will be able to access your files stored at home from anywhere in the world. It also works with tablets and smartphones, through an app.
Another great funcionality of the My Cloud is the expandability. You just need to plug an external hard drive or USB drive to the USB 3.0 port at the rear of the device, and this drive starts to be shared on your network by the My Cloud.
Opening the WDMyCloud icon on Windows Explorer opens the page shown in Figure 10 on your browser, where you can also menage the device, setting users and shared folders, updating firmware, configuring automatic backups, etcetera.
The My Cloud can also be set to work as a DLNA and iTunes media streaming server.
[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]
We tested the WD My Cloud 3 TB using CrystalDiskMark program. We ran the performance tests of the drive under two configurations: first, we connected the My Cloud to a TP-Link TL-WDR3600 router with Gigabit Ethernet ports, connecting our computer also to a Gigabit Ethernet port of the same router. Then, we connected the MY Cloud to a TP-Link TL-RW841N router, which has Fast Ethernet (100 Mbps) ports, and connected our computer to the router using a 150 Mbps Wi-Fi interface.
We also tested the performance of an External Hard Disk Drive, the WD My Passport Ultra 2 TB, connected to the My Cloud under the same conditions of the first test (using only cabled Gigabit Ethernet connections). Finally, just for comparison, we tested the My Passport Ultra 2 TB connected directly to a USB 3.0 port of our computer.
Keep in mind, however, that we present all those results together to have an idea how fast is the access at each situation, but the My Passport Ultra is no competitor to the My Cloud, since they are different products with different purposes.
- Processor: Core i7-5960X
- Motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty X99M Killer
- Memory: 16 GB G.Skill Ripjaws (DDR4-2400/PC4-19200), configured at 2,400 MHz
- Boot drive: SSD M.2 Kingston SM2280S3 120 GiB
- Video card: Gigabyte GeForce GX 750
- Video resolution: 1920×1080
- Video monitor: Phillips 236VL
- Power supply: Corsair CX750
- Case: NZXT Phantom 530
Operating System Configuration
- Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit SP1
We adopted a 3% error margin in our tests, meaning performance differences of less than 3% can’t be considered meaningful. Therefore, when the performance difference between two products is less than 3%, we consider them to have similar performance.
CrystalDiskMark is a disk drive benchmarking program that measures the write and read speed in different block sizes. We compared the results in sequential read and write, and in 512 kiB block size read and write. We configured it for five repetitions of each test of 1 GB of random data.
The graph below shows the sequential read speed for each drive, in MiB/s.
The next graph shows the write speed of sequential data, in MiB/s.
The following graph presents the read speed in 512 kB blocks, in MiB/s.
The following graph presents the write speed in 512 kB blocks, in MiB/s.
The following graph presents the read speed in 4 kB blocks, in MiB/s.
The following graph presents the write speed in 4 kB blocks, in MiB/s.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
The main specifications for the WD My Cloud 3 TB network drive include:
- Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.9 x 6.7 inches (139.3 x 49 x 170.6 mm) (L x W x H)
- Weight: 2.12 lb (960 g)
- Rotational speed: not informed
- Interface: Gigabit Ethernet
- More Information: https://www.wdc.com/
- Average Price in the U.S.*: USD 170.00
* Researched at Amazon.com on the day we published this review.
The WD My Cloud 3 TB is an excellent option if you are looking for an affordable, feature-rich NAS for home or small office use.
It is simple to install and configure, which is an excellent characteristic for this kind of product. It can be accessed from outside your local network through the internet, and can be used as a media streaming server for multimedia devices in hour house, which is also excellent. And its price is fair, considering it is even cheaper than an external hard disk drive of the same capacity.
The performance is good for a network drive, if used under optimal settings, i.e., with cabled network with Gigabit Ethernet router and Gigabit Ethernet interface on your PC. Our tests also showed that, if you use an entry-level Wi-Fi connection instead, the performance degrades dramatically.
We can also conclude that a USB 3.0 external hard disk drive is still a better choice if you only intend to acess the storage by a single computer, as a backup unit, for example; USB 3.0 drives are faster.
It could also have come with Wi-Fi capability, but we understand that this would dramatically increase its final price.