The importance of backup is sort of like the importance of security: you don’t realise how much you need it until something bad happens. But if you don’t want to get to that point, it’s time to think about a permanent and future-friendly backup solution in your home.
There are many ways you can do this.
For instance, you could grab a portable drive and remember to backup every week or so. You could even link your computer with one of those online cloud storage solutions, having it backup critical files in the background.
Or you could try to make the hard drive more like something that sits in your home like a stick of furniture, with it being used in the background, but otherwise blending into the wallpaper.
If you’ve decided on this idea, you can start to imagine how the backups might make your life a little easier. As a point, many hard drive solutions are single drive, which means you back up to one drive, but, again, if you’re a little afraid of something bad happening — and the worst can happen to any drive — it might be time to look at mirroring.
“Mirroring” is exactly what it sounds like. When you look into a mirror, you get an identical reflection of yourself, and when a hard drive is mirrored, you get an exact duplicate copy on a secondary drive.
So when we talk about mirroring, we’re saying two hard drives in the one box keeping your data extra secure, because if one drive fails, you still have a second with the same information on it.
In September, the company formerly known as Western Digital and now known merely by the letters “WD” will be trying to get more people to understand the relevance of this drive system by expanding its WD MyCloud system with a new version of the MyCloud Mirror that was launched last year.
The new drives aren’t just two drives in a box, though they’re certainly that too, with the new box almost twice as fast as the previous generation, running on a dual-core processor this year instead of last year’s single core, with 512MB RAM to increase file transfer speed and app support.
“App support?” I hear you asking. “Why would a hard drive need app support?”
It’s that area which WD seems intent on making the hard drive more like an appliance that blends into your home, because while the network attached hard drive is great for backing up your computers and then sitting idly by in the background blending into the decor, having the ability to make the drive do more is something WD seems keen to do.
Later this year, the company will roll out a new operating system for its existing My Cloud drives and the latest My Cloud Mirror, with this one — My Cloud OS 3 — bringing with it better memory and transfer performance, a slick new look, and most importantly support for apps.
Right now, WD wouldn’t be nailed down on a massive range of apps it expects for its drives, except to say that three collaborations would be happening, and that it would also be opening up its environment for other developers to make apps for.
You will find the multimedia service of Plex running on the drive, which is something WD setup a while ago, as did Seagate for its own network drives, but WD is also bringing support for something called “Milestone” which will enable anyone with one of the 3000 supported home security cameras to capture images and video of their dwelling and store them locally on the hard drive.
WD also hints that the makers of Photoshop and Premiere — Adobe — will also be joining the WD My Cloud app soon, but wouldn’t say what.
Three big app partnerships are here, however, and with an open developer environment and attitude, there is even more that can come out of it.
Outside of the apps, WD will also make its My Cloud-based drives handle iPhones better, with the latest generation of the iOS app able to backup the photos and videos stored on an iPhone’s camera roll, with this happening wirelessly in your home.
WD Sync will also allow multiple computers to synchronise data across the network, while Android owners can also backup their files using the Android edition of the My Cloud app. There will even be support for Chromebook owners, for the few files they have.
Beyond these important additions, WD’s My Cloud hopes to be a potential replacement for cloud storage solutions like Dropbox, taking advantage of your home internet connection and letting you access files from outside home or work using the drive at home.
In Australia, our limited broadband access might make a dent on this, with the barely one megabit upload stream for ADSL2 subscribers pretty much leaving this to images and documents, but as the NBN starts to roll out, we might see the speeds at home become useful enough for streaming music or videos you have lying around on your home network.
“We know our personal cloud customers place the highest value on their personal content and enjoy the peace of mind from backing up PCs, smart phones and tablets to and centralising content on their My Cloud systems,” said WD’s Jim Welsh.
“They tell us they are confident in the privacy, control and anywhere access we provide them with the My Cloud OS. Now, with My Cloud OS 3, we’ve made users’ management of their digital lives easier than ever before.”
As for pricing, if you already own a WD My Cloud device, the upgrade to OS 3 will be coming later in the year and will be free, so outside of the extra hard drive and changes to the system spec, you get the same sort of app support and features for backup.
But if you feel the mirrored hard drive could be ideal for you, you’ll find WD’s 2015 My Cloud Mirror in stores at the end of September for $600 for the 4TB edition, $750 for the 6TB edition, and $900 for the 8TB edition.