Dropbox vs. Western Digital My Cloud

Clark Crisp

Dropbox vs. Western Digital My Cloud

Every power user has hopped on the cloud storage bandwagon because it’s awesome having all your files synced to any Internet-connected machine, but there are two problems. First, we have some privacy concerns; second, it’s ridiculously expensive. WD’s new My Cloud addresses both of these issues by being dirt cheap (by comparison) and by storing all your data on a “personal cloud,” also known as a NAS drive. It’s time for a clash of the clouds!

Dropbox vs Western Digital My Cloud

ROUND 1: Cost

Dropbox first entices you with 2GB of free storage for signing up. For each friend you convert to Dropbox, you earn an additional 500MB, with a maximum capacity set at 18GB of free storage. If this still does not satisfy your appetite for storage, Dropbox offers 100, 200, and 500GB options with a linear cost progression; for each dollar you pay, you get one gigabyte of storage (yearly). My Cloud blows this model out of the water by starting at $150 for a 2TB drive, so My Cloud offers 13 times the storage capacity per dollar. The My Cloud also lets you add an external USB 3.0 hard drive for even more storage, pushing the dollar-to-gigabyte ratio even further in its favor. My Cloud will also soon offer a 4TB drive, making it by far the least expensive “cloud” backup option available. In this category, the My Cloud wins by a landslide.

Winner: My Cloud

WD My Cloud is part of the new "personal cloud" movement, i.e, NAS drives that you can easily connect to from anywhere.

ROUND 2: Ease of Use

Western Digital makes it easy for even the most novice networker to set up and configure his or her own slice of the cloud. You can easily connect to the My Cloud from any computer on the Internet, and uploading and retrieving files is also straightforward. Granting users access and permissions is also streamlined and simple, making it the slickest NAS we’ve ever tested. It also includes mobile apps, as well.

Kudos to My Cloud, but there’s good reason why Dropbox has over 175 million users: It’s arguably the slickest cloud storage solution available. Configuring Dropbox is painless and uploading files is as easy as dragging-and-dropping into a folder. As soon as you sync files, Dropbox notifies you of any changes to shared files, and sharing is as easy as right-clicking a file and copying the share link. It’s a tough call, but we give the win to Dropbox since it provides more info to the end user.

Winner: Dropbox

ROUND 3: Security

My Cloud consists of a single hard disk inside the device, so it does not offer any type of redundancy. WD is planning on adding multi-bay devices with RAID support in the future, but for now it addresses this issue with a feature called Safepoints, which are basically images of the device you can save to a different volume in case of failure. You can save one anytime, and also configure the interval at which future Safepoints are created. Dropbox, on the other hand, is even more secure. It sports Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and 256-AES encryption for data transfers and storage. Files are stored in Dropbox servers all over the world, too, so it’s as redundant as a data center. There is even an option for two-step verification, which the My Cloud does not offer. With features like these, it’s hard for anyone to wrestle this crown away from Dropbox.

Dropbox was the first company to make file sharing easy (in our opinion), but paying $1 per gigabyte hurts.

Winner: Dropbox

ROUND 4: Performance

Since these are both network-attached products, their performance is somewhat dependent on the speed of your network. When copying files to My Cloud we measured impressive 79MB/s read and 62MB/s write speeds. We were able to stream music and movies to remote devices with no issues, but when uploading a file remotely, we experienced speeds no greater than 100KB/s. Dropbox syncs and stores files to your boot drive, but files are sent to Dropbox’s servers before syncing to your local storage, so it’s at a disadvantage here. What’s more, Dropbox automatically throttles itself to 75 percent of the maximum network bandwidth for uploads. On the other hand, we do appreciate that Dropbox allocates even less bandwidth for syncing, so large file transfers don’t choke our Internet connection. But ultimately, Dropbox can’t compete with local storage when it comes to speed, so this one goes to My Cloud.

Winner: My Cloud

ROUND 5: Features

When logging into the My Cloud desktop app, you are greeted with an easy-to-navigate interface. WD makes it easy to create user accounts, grant share access, and establish Safepoints in the event the drive fails. There are also options to reset the device, back up your iTunes and Dropbox folders, perform system diagnostics, and more. In general, WD’s My Cloud offers a comprehensive set of tools for configuring and administering a NAS unit that anyone can use. Dropbox offers selective and LAN syncs, screenshot sharing, bandwidth allocation, options to connect to proxies, and supports a variety of mobile platforms such as iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry. Both services offer desktop and mobile clients along with the ability to share folders with multiple people, but My Cloud is more full-featured. Plus, we like its backup features and diagnostic tools as well, which are just not part of the Dropbox experience.

Winner: My Cloud

And the Winner Is…

We all love and use Dropbox daily, but as a storage solution for a few hundred gigs or more of data, Western Digital’s My Cloud is the victor. Along with its abundant NAS features and configurability, it takes the win by being extremely easy to use, just like Dropbox, but also more affordable and expandable. For a few gigs of files, Dropbox still reigns supreme, but for larger amounts of data, My Cloud is the better option.

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