Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital

Introduction and Packaging

Introduction:

Late last year, Western Digital launched their My Cloud series, first with a single-drive My Cloud, and immediately followed up with a beefier small-office product, the 4-drive My Cloud EX4. Then earlier this year, they filled My Cloud gap (so to speak), with a 2-drive variant of the EX4 - the My Cloud EX2. As the EX2 was more of a business type of NAS, it commanded a bit of a price premium as compared to competing 2-bay NAS devices. The logical solution is was for WD to expand the standard My Cloud lineup upward by adding a 2-bay device to their existing consumer line.

DSC01552.JPG

The My Cloud Mirror is very similar to the My Cloud EX2. You get the bulk of the same features as compared with the EX2, but with some of the more workstation / enterprise features removed. Here's a couple of slides to help explain those differences:

EX2vsMirror-1.png

EX2vsMirror-2.png

Packaging:

DSC01550.JPG

Packaging is simple, with only a power adapter, ethernet cable, and quick start guide needed.

Read on for more on Western Digital's new My Cloud Mirror!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Thecus

Introduction

The N2310 is a budget dual-bay NAS from Thecus and an interesting product beyond the low cost for this category, boasting a number of features that help set it apart.

N2310_MAIN.png

Apart from the primary role of a network attached storage (NAS) device - you know, storage - there are some interesting things a piece of hardware like the N2310 can do. This inexpensive NAS is actually a server, too, so beyond storing up to 8TB of data it’s powerful enough to replace a dedicated PC for certain tasks - the kind of tasks that some of us leave a PC running 24/7 to accomplish.

In this review we’ll take a look at some of the functionality that helps set the N2310 apart, as well as the kind of real-world performance you might expect to see.

It’s All About the Gigabytes

There are more reasons now than ever before for large storage options. Even though SSD’s are at their lowest prices ever most of us still need to supplement a fast boot drive with some traditional spinning disks. Just think about what accumulates in an average year on your PC… photos, music, videos, program backups and images, you name it. All those GB’s have to go somewhere, and there are obviously internal and external hard drives to share the load. However, regardless of the local storage option you might chose, it’s not always so convenient to actually access this stuff again. Clearly, the easier it is to access your files, the better - and not just from one device. So, having centralized storage is a great idea, right?

Between computers, tablets, and of course our phones, there are generally quite a few connected devices in the average technology-inclined home. And while every device mentioned can connect to the internet - and cloud storage has become very popular - there's still something to be said for local content management. Beyond the convenience of sharing sometimes massive amounts of data easily at home, another benefit of always-on storage is backup. Ideally, every computer in the home would be backed up locally as well as the cloud, and a great way to take care of the local side of backup is with a NAS. Setting one up is very easy these days, with a growing number of affordable options from various vendors.

Thecus makes an interesting case for a budget NAS with the N2310. For a comparison, Allyn recently looked at Western Digital’s My Cloud EX2 network drive, and this is a highly polished all-in-one solution is now selling for about $199 (without drives). The Thecus N2310 is less expensive at $149, and both offer two 3.5” drive bays. (The My Cloud is also offered pre-populated with drives providing up to 8TB of storage.) These “diskless” enclosures present a good opportunity to save some money up front, and whether you choose to run on two drives you happened to have around the house or office, or if you want to go out and grab a couple of Western Digital 4TB Red drives, they can accommodate your situation.

Let’s take a look at the Thecus N2310.

Continue reading our review of the Thecus N2310 SOHO NAS Server!!

Microsoft OneDrive for Business Gets Upgrades

Subject: General Tech | April 28, 2014 - 06:40 PM |
Tagged: subscription, skydrive, onedrive, microsoft, cloud storage

Today, Microsoft has announced changes to their OneDrive for Business storage solution. A regular, free OneDrive account comes with 7 GB of storage. For $5 per user, per month, Microsoft added a 25 GB option. That 25 GB option is now a tiny bit larger: 1 TB. It will also be included in several Office subscriptions. The official announcement claims Office 365 ProPlus (formerly requiring a $1.50 per user per month upgrade) but that is, apparently, an incomplete list.

microsoft-onedrive-logo.jpg

According to Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet, any Office 365 plan which includes OneDrive for Business will be upgraded to 1 TB. I expect that Office 365 Pro Plus was mentioned in the press release because, as far as I can tell, it did not have OneDrive for Business, minus the aforementioned upgrade, until now. The rest of the options already had OneDrive for Business, just a much larger one now. I have compiled the relevant information in a table, below.

 
Price
(Per User Per Month)
Maximum Users
Editing from
Mobile Apps
OneDrive for Business (Standalone)
$5
($2.50/user until September)
Unlimited (?) N/A
Office 365 ProPlus $12
1 (?)
(5 PCs or Macs)
Yes
(5 extra devices)
Office 365 Small Business $5 25 No
Office 365 Small Business Premium $12.50 25 Yes
Office 365 Midsize Business $15 300 Yes
Office 365 Enterprise E1 $8 Unlimited No
Office 365 Enterprise E3 $20 Unlimited Yes
Office 365 Enterprise E4 $22 Unlimited Yes

I must say that OneDrive is looking to have all of the features of Dropbox, at least the ones that I use, with significantly higher storage. While the 7 GB, free plan would probably be sufficient for my uses, a whole terabyte for a few dollars per month is definitely tempting if I had a reason to fill it. Not too long ago, I was paying $100 USD per year to Dropbox for 100 GB.

Note: The $5-per-user-per-month fee is the price after September. Until then, it is 50% off.

While not all of Microsoft's websites have been updated yet, the upgrade seems to take effect today. Check out OneDrive for Business, or one of the applicable Office plans, to see whether a terabyte of cloud storage is worth it for your needs.

Source: Microsoft
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital

Introduction and Packaging

Introduction:

Last October, Western Digital launched the My Cloud. This device was essentially a network connected version of their My Book line of external hard drives, but with Internet connectivity and apps that could reach back to the My Cloud even when you were away from home. One month later, WD launched the My Cloud EX4, a much beefier version which supported redundant arrays of 4 hard disks, redundant network and power, and a load of other features. There was a rather large gap in features between these two devices, as the only RAID option was more of a small business one. Today Western Digital closed that gap:

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The My Cloud EX2 is essentially a My Cloud, but with dual drive bays, and a few additional features. Check out this projected trend below:

WD EX4-market shift.png

You can see there was a definite void in the 2-drive range that needed filling. With those two drives, you get a few options for redundancy or capacity+speed:

EX2 family.png

All standard RAID options for a 2-bay appliance are met here, though the vast majority of users should opt for the default RAID-1 mirrored set.

 

Packaging:

DSC00102.JPG

Packaging is simple here with only a power adapter, ethernet cable, and quick start guide needed.

Read on for more on Western Digital's new My Cloud EX2!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital

Introduction and Features

Introduction:

Today Western Digital launched an important addition to their Personal Cloud Storage NAS family - the My Cloud EX4:

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The My Cloud EX4 is Western Digital's answer to the increased demand for larger personal storage devices. When folks look for places to consolidate all of their bulk files, media, system backups, etc, they tend to extend past what is possible with a single hard drive. Here is Western Digital's projection on where personal storage is headed:

WD EX4-market shift.png

Where the My Cloud was a single drive solution, the My Cloud EX4 extends that capability to span up to four 3.5" drives. When it comes to devices that span across several drives, the number 4 is a bit of a sweet spot, as it enables several RAID configurations:

WD EX4-RAID options.png

Everything but online capacity expansion (where the user can swap drives one at a time to a larger capacitiy) is suppoted. While WD has stated that feature will be available in a future update, I find it a bit risky to intentionally and repeatedly fail an array by pulling drives and forcing rebuilds. It just makes more sense to back up the data and re-create a fresh array with the new larger drives installed.

Ok, so we've got the groundwork down with a 4-bay NAS device. What remains to be seen is how Western Digital has implemented the feature set. There is a lot to get through here, so let's get to it.

Read on for more on Western Digital's new My Cloud EX4!

Western Digital launches My Cloud storage device

Subject: Storage | October 2, 2013 - 10:42 PM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, My Cloud, cloud storage, cloud

Imagine a device of a similar form factor to the Western Digital My Book, but instead of USB or Thunderbolt connectivity, you had a Gigabit Ethernet connection and a dual core CPU capable of handling large throughputs to your home network. Toss in some back end software and a handfull of remote access apps for various mobile devices, and you have what Western Digital calls the My Cloud:

WD My Cloud.jpg

The concept behind this is to have something similar to DropBox, with some differences. We will be diving further into the My Cloud shortly and will publish a full write-up for your viewing pleasure, but for now it seems to cover every base except for having your shared data available on mobile devices when those devices are offline (with the exception of cached copies, of course).

Full press blast afer the break:

Insync Releases 1.0 RC for Linux

Subject: General Tech | May 29, 2013 - 03:19 PM |
Tagged: insync, google drive, cloud storage, linux

Insyc has released a new release candidate for its Google Drive companion software that adds a few new features and bug fixes to the Linux client.

According to Insync, the 1.0 RC implements an improved syncing core build from scratch. It also allows users to selectively sync files and folders between local storage and their Google Drive cloud storage. It is no longer all or nothing, and you can choose to only store what you need locally rather than the entire document archive now. The release candidate software also allows customized account folders that can be renamed and moved to other locations on the drive. Symlink support, headless installs, and a CLI (command line interface) client are also included in the Insync 1.0 RC.

Insync has also made changes to the management user interface to make configuring the syncing options easier. Finally, Insync has also coded in a notification function that will notify users of changes to files on Google Drive which will be handy for collaborative documents and spreadsheets.

Insync has put together Debian packages for OSes like Ubuntu (Nautilus) and Mint (Cinnamon, MATE, Xfce desktop environments). Additionally, support for KDE and RPM packages is “coming soon.” You can grab the new beta 1.0 RC client here.

Source: Insync

Insync Extending Support for 0.9.x Versions As it Improves The Upgrade Process To Its New 1.0 Client

Subject: General Tech | April 25, 2013 - 10:00 AM |
Tagged: insync, google drive, file sync, cloud storage

Insync -- a service that extends the functionality of Google Drive and (among other things) allows users to sync Google Drive files (and documents) with their local computer for offline access -- has announced that it is extending support for version 0.9.x clients due to users expressing concerns over upgrade issues. The company released a new version 1.0 desktop client last month that added a number of new features, and the older clients were scheduled for end-of-life support.

Insync.jpg

Unfortunately, in order to upgrade to the new Insync 1.0, users needed to re-download all of their files stored on Google Drive. In an email to users, Insync sympathized with users' concerns over needing to re-download all files (especially those with extensive libraries of files and/or low data caps) of their files simply to upgrade the client-side application.

Insync has announced that it is working on a solution that will allow users to upgrade to the new (and improved) client without needing to re-download files from Google Drive, which is currently necessary to bring the client in sync with the cloud storage service. There is no ETA on the new client, but the company is reportedly hard at work on fixing the issue.

In the meantime, users can continue using their current desktop clients without worrying about file sync and tech support ending.

Source: Insync

BitTorrent Releases First Public Alpha of Its Sync P2P Storage Service

Subject: General Tech | April 24, 2013 - 05:17 PM |
Tagged: torrent, sync, p2p, folder sync, file sync, cloud storage, bittorrent

BitTorrent took the wraps off of its Sync application yesterday. The new Sync service uses the BitTorrent P2P protocol to sync encrypted files across all of your devices. It is a service that I have been wanting to see for a long time now, in fact, which was why I was ecstatic when I found out about the BitTorrent Labs program. I managed to get into the private alpha a couple of weeks ago, and have been testing it ever since. Being in an alpha state, it is still a bit rough around the edges but it shows promise and while I encourage everyone to read the full review for more details, I think it is something I can at least recommend that you should try out!

BitTorrent Sync_Diagram.jpg

BitTorrent Sync creates a folder in your home/user folder called SyncApp, and any files or folders that you place in that folder are synced across your devices. Additionally, you can choose existing folders to sync outside of the default SyncApp folder, which is really nice.

The encryption is a bit complicated, but you are given a secret code (decryption key) when you choose to sync a folder, and you need to enter this code on any devices you want to sync. One cool feature of this setup is that you can also generate secret codes that allow temporary and/or permanent read-only access. The master code will allow read and write access, and temporary codes can also be given write access, which would be good to share files for a limited time when collaborating on a project. Even better, the Sync application will allow you to use a custom (base64 encoded) key that is longer than 40 characters if you feel the default keys are not long/secure enough.

BitTorrent Sync.jpg

The BitTorrent Sync app for Windows--The SyncApp folder is the folder it syncs by default.

The application will sync over WAN or LAN, with a preferrence towards syncing with computers on the same local network. Changes and file syncs are initiated almost instantly, though the actual transfer speed will depend on your network connections.

It is a free app that allows you to sync as many files and folders as you want securely, and it's worh a look in my opinion. Combined with a VPS that allows P2P applications (Backupsy is one that will make an exception for Sync users), you can create your own Dropbox-like sync solution without those pesky file size limits. (Though, currently, you would be missing out on Dropbox's versioning functionality. I hope to see that remedied in future releases.)

You can find more information as well as download links for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux versions of Sync on the BitTorrent Labs website.

Yes, you may be able to tell from this post that I'm excited about Sync--I am. I'm glad someone that can actually code (as in, not me) has finally put together a program that I've been wanting for a long time, and that it generally works well from what I've been able to test so far. It's just my opinion though, if you do try it out let me know what you think of Sync!

Amazon Adds New Apps With File Sync Feature To Cloud Drive

Subject: General Tech | April 2, 2013 - 06:41 AM |
Tagged: file sync, cloud storage, cloud drive, amazon

Amazon has announced two new Java-based applications for Windows and Mac PCs that will sync files between multiple computers and the company's Cloud Drive online storage service.

amazon cloud drive_web interface.jpg

Amazon Cloud Drive is a companion service that was spun off of its Cloud Player music locker service. Users get 5GB for free, with additional tiers of storage available for purchase. (Any music from Amazon side-loaded to Cloud Drive and Cloud Player before July 31st does not count towards your storage quota). Until now, Cloud Drive has been merely a web storage locker, but with the new desktop apps Amazon is adding file syncing capabilities that will keep your files updated across multiple PCs. The desktop apps will create a folder which will then contain a locally-stored copy of your Amazon Cloud Drive files. If you choose to install the desktop app onto a second PC, it will also sync with Cloud Drive and store a copy of the files locally. The most recently modified version will sync to all the other computers' local store and the cloud drive. There is no word on versioning support, so note that this should not be a replacement for a true file backup. With that said, the multiple-PC file sync is a welcome addition that makes Cloud Drive much more useful than ever before.

The new desktop apps will run on Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8, and on Mac OS X 10.6, 10.7, and 10.8.

When Amazon was asked about mobile apps and file sync, the company told Ars Technica that it had "nothing specific to share." That could mean that Cloud Drive will bring file synchronization to iOS, Android, and WP8, or it could be a literal statement. It is difficult to say, but I think if Amazon wants its Cloud Drive storage service to be taken seriously the company will need to enter the mobile space (as it has done with Cloud Player).

Read more about cloud storage at PC Perspective, including a review of Google Drive and a look at the new SkyDrive.

Source: Amazon