WD MyCloud Server and the MyCloud iPad App UPDATE:12/5/2013

My school has a 3TB “General Share” server that houses all our teachers' “My Documents”. The files can be accessed from any computer connected to the network, but not from the iPads. This has been one of our major roadblocks with iPad implementation in our school. Teachers don't want to use the iPad if they can't painlessly access their computer's documents!

We have tried many different solutions. We tried convincing our teachers to install personal Dropbox accounts, but many of our less tech-savvy had trouble keeping the account synced up. We added Google Apps integration into our website and management systems (giving all the teachers 15GB of Google Drive space), but we've hit the same roadblocks as with Dropbox.

Just last week, however, we stumbled on a promising new option: the WD MyCloud server (3TB = $179) with its free corresponding iPad app.

Let's look at the hardware first. The server is a tiny little box that comes with several TB of storage. The photo above shows our white MyCloud server connected through our other internet systems. The back of the machine has a power port, an ethernet port for connecting to the network, and a USB 3.0 port for expansion.

Once installed, the server shows up as a location on your network. We are currently messing around with it to try to find the best and easiest way to make it accessible to all the teachers. Our goal is to have it replace our previous server so that all teachers automatically save their documents to it. They will then be able to use the app to easily load any files via their iPad without having to have a personal log-in or account (although you can set those up too if you want). They will even be able to access their school documents from home via the iPad, which is something many of them cannot do currently. Their computer and their iPad will both have access to the files all the time.

The app itself is worth having even if your school doesn't have the server. It is basically identical to the official iPad Dropbox app, except you can connect it to Dropbox, Skydrive, Google Drive, and the MyCloud server all at once (but only one account for each sevice at a time; no doubling up with two Dropbox accounts or anything). This lets you easily navigate between all your cloud storage, move files between them, and load stuff from anywhere without having to jump between multiple apps. It is super convenient.

The infographic on the right shows the features of the app.

The app is also pretty good at streaming video files. If you rip videos off the internet using Amerigo or via Discovery Streaming and save them to your school server, the app can do a pretty good job of streaming the videos quickly and mirroring them via AirServer or AppleTV (assuming your bandwidth is good).

One thing the app doesn't do is automatically upload/backup your iPad photos to the MyCloud like the official Dropbox app does. There are two solutions: you can add photos manually using the MyCloud app or use the free companion WD Photos app for a streamlined uploading process.

We hope this will help ease some of our older teachers into the concept of cloud storage and increase their iPad usage in the classroom. Assuming this thing runs smoothly, I might even buy a personal one for my house.

 

UPDATE:

It has been asked if this device can automatically save an edited document. Yes, it can, sort of… You can map this drive so that it shows up as a regular network drive.

Use the Drive name or IP.

If your documents are stored on the drive and you open the document from the shared location and edit it, when you save, it saves direct to where it was opened from.

Open this doc, edit it and save all from the network.

If your at home, away from the local network and using the WD Cloud app, you would need to download the Doc, edit it, then upload it back to the drive. Unless, of coarse, you create a VPN so your drive shows up locally but I'm not getting in to that. At the office, you can use this, almost like a local drive that anyone can have access to, depending on how you set up permissions.

 

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4 thoughts on “WD MyCloud Server and the MyCloud iPad App UPDATE:12/5/2013

  1. Pingback: Cloud Storage Tutorial for Teachers and Students | SchooliPads

  2. Thanks for the write up. We’re a small business (2 users at seperate locations) thinking of using the WD My Cloud as a file server. One concern I have heard is that a word or excel document for example, whilst it can be manually edited, WD My cloud cannot automatically resave the edited document. Is this true in your experience? If so, it would render the machine pretty much useless from our point of view.

    Also, a little advice I picked up on last night that you might be interested in is to hook up an external drive via the USB as redundancy to take a weekly snapshot of the My Cloud. OIf the My Cloud drive fails, at least then you have some back up ;) and several relieved teachers!!!

    You might also want to use some sort of encryption app.

    • We use a 2 TB My Cloud in the exact situation you want to use it for. Small 2 man company. Once a file is on the drive, you can open it remotely with the app, edit it and save it back to the drive. The drive is local to my computer so I use it as a mapped drive but use the app on my android phone everyday. My partner uses the app to remotely access and edit every day using his laptop and phone. However, we he wants to make a new file he has to save it locally then upload it to the drive using the app. Again, once there opening and editing is not a problem.

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