WD My Book Live

The My Book Live is basically a file server that also allows you to access your files from the Internet. Don’t be fooled by the “My Cloud” hype. It’s nowhere as sophisticated as Dropbox for example. I could probably have designed my own “cloud server” by using my old Raspberry PI and a hard disk. It would then basically be a question of configuring  the required software packages. But I suppose I’m too lazy for that. So I ordered a My Book Live to see what it has to offer.

When you unpack the device there a sticker covering the ethernet port which reads: “wd.com/setup”. This leads you to an installation client download for your Mac or PC.  I installed the Mac version of the setup application. At some point I had to enter my name, surname and email address. It then complained about my surname containing spaces which I then had to remove. The registration process failed and I was told to try again later. If I remember correctly I had to try at least three times. Although the installation procedure could correctly locate my device on the network later attempts by WD My Cloud failed to locate my device.

Device not found
Device not found

Ironically WD My Cloud can successfully locate  my device if I’m not connected to the same subnet as my My Book Live. Go figure. The Windows version of the setup application hanged at some point. My second attempt was successful. The Windows version of WD My Cloud had no problem locating my device on my home network.

The next challenge was to do a firmware update. You have two options: the device can download the firmware itself or you can upload the firmware to the device using an image file that you have already downloaded from the Internet. The former option would advance to some arbitrary point and then, seemingly, stall.

Downloading Firmware ... until hell freezes over
Downloading Firmware … until hell freezes over

At this point you can hit escape which will abort the download process. Next I tried looking for the firmware images that I could download myself and found this disconcerting message

WD3

Luckily some helpful soul had put up a link to an image file that I was able to download which allowed me to update my My Book Live. Just be patient with the upgrade process: the progress bar would seem to get stuck for a long time and then suddenly jump to a high value. I was dismayed to find that the image I had installed wasn’t the most recent firmware version available.

What? Again!
What? Again!

This update stalled again. Now it’s possible to enable ssh so that you can see what the hell your device is up to. So I did that and did a “ps -ef”. If you look at the output of “ps -ef” carefully you will see the URL of the file being downloaded (I think the device uses curl), it will have a “.deb” extension.  So I downloaded the file to my Mac and uploaded it to my device. This update failed near to the end so I tried the update again. This time it seemed to work.

After the registration process you’re ready to try to access your device from the Internet. You do this by logging in to https://www.wd2go.com/. You select the device you want to access and enter a password if required. This is where things got hairy again. You should get a list of available shares however this screen requires java. The java browser plugin isn’t set up on the Mac by default. This meant I had to download  Oracle java. Hopefully this won’t break something else that currently works. Java wasn’t completely happy though.

Java unhapiness
Java unhappiness

I received two warnings that I had to dismiss. Next you should get a list of shares that you can then mount.

Shares
Shares

This creates a WebDAV mapping to your device.