04/10/2014 11:04 am ET Updated Jun 09, 2014

WD My Cloud NAS on Ubuntu

I decided that 2014 for me was going to be the year of the Network Attached Storage (NAS). Last year was the year that I finally abandoned my desktops and went all laptop for both my Mac-based iOS development workflow and general purpose computing (i.e, everything else on my Acer i5 running Lubuntu). This year I wanted to have a massive centralized storage where I could put all my videos and photos so I can access it from any laptop or mobile device. What follows is what I chose and how to hook it up to Lubuntu.

I first looked at external cloud solutions (DropBox, Box, CrashPlan, BackBlaze) and although they were all cool they were unfortunately out for me due to three reasons. First, the storage limits - I didn't want Gigs - I wanted Terabytes. Although, CrashPlan and BackBlaze both offer unlimited online storage they limit the number of devices. Two, I didn't have all the files centralized on one computer and it would be best to centralized all my Mac, Linux, and iOS data first before I could go to one of these offsite back-up solutions. Third, these all cost money in a form of a monthly fee of $5 or $50 yearly subscriptions. These offline solutions are definitely part of the final solution but I decided that would be a second phase for me. It looked like I had developed a phased project that broke down into two phases of centralization first and then offsite continuous backup second.

The first phase then came down to having a Network Attached Storage (NAS) type unit. The new Airport Time Capsule looked cool but I wanted something less Appley. I have had good experiences with Western Digital (WD) drives and saw in the January 2014 issue of Maximum PC a head-to-head between Dropbox and the new WD My Cloud product. A successor to the My Book branded drive this new My Cloud branded offering provides a shell to a NAS device and it was cheaper than a Time Capsule. I was sold and for X-mas asked Santa for the WD My Cloud 4TB Personal Cloud Storage - NAS (WDBCTL0040HWT-NESN) device.

Set-up was literally plug and play. There is an iOS App for iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch which allows upload to and download/stream from the NAS. The WD website and User Manual mention Mac and PC software to mount and sync that make connection a breeze. The device supports Time Capsule so I'll be doing that with my Mac laptops (yes - there is no limit to how many computers connect to this thing). Then came my Linux laptop. There was no mention of Linux which is a shame since you would think that they are leveraging the community's efforts in their products. But it was easy enough to connect my Lubuntu laptop as a Network File System (NFS) Client via three shell commands.

First, I changed directory to my home directory and created a nfs directory in there:
$ cd $HOME
$ mkdir nfs

Then I applied the following three shell commands:
$ sudo apt-get install nfs-common
$ showmount -e
$ sudo mount -o soft,intr,rsize=8192,wsize=8192 /home//nfs/

If you cd into nfs you'll be accessing the WD My Cloud device. That's it. I started to copy twenty mp4 files totalling 1.6GB into the device through 802.11g and it took 8 minutes. I was then streaming these on my iPad mini.

I hope this helps assure you you can connect to this from Linux. I know once I finished the plug and play I panicked for a bit thinking I wouldn't be able to connect my Linux machines to this device but now I happily throw everything I have onto this. Also, it has a USB 3 port on the back so I can simply plug another 4TB USB drive on it and expand it in the future.