Mac-friendly network drive
No USB or Thunderbolt ports for direct connection to your Mac
$149 (1TB); $219 (2TB); $279 (3TB)
LaCie’s CloudBox has changed quite a bit since 2011. The original version of the CloudBox only provided 100GB of hard drive storage, but included a matching 100GB of online storage that allowed you to back-up the entire contents of the physical hard drive into the cloud.
The 2013 edition of the CloudBox takes a more conventional approach, combining a large hard disk with a smaller amount of online storage. Prices start at $149 for a model with 1TB of storage, while our 2TB test unit costs $219. There is also a 3TB model available, priced at $279.
The online storage component has been cut from the original 100GB to just 10GB, which is free for a year. The online side of things is handled by a division of LaCie called Wuala, so if you want to buy extra cloud storage or extend your subscription past the first year you’ll need to take out a subscription via the main Wuala website.
Prices start at around €2.99 per month for 20GB, which is reasonable enough – although it isn’t the lowest available. However, the ability to create a second, online backup of a small batch of important files is very handy and some people may well be happy to pay a small fee for that extra level of protection.
The basic design of the drive hasn’t changed much – it has the same creamy white casing, with a gentle blue status light glowing from beneath the front edge of the unit. There are no USB or Thunderbolt ports for connecting directly to a Mac or PC, just a single Gigabit Ethernet port so that you can connect it to your broadband router and share it on your network.
The CloudBox’s software is a little more user-friendly. The most important improvement here is the CloudBox can now work with Apple’s Time Machine backup application, allowing anyone using thier home or office network to backup to it automatically. It also works with iTunes ‘home sharing’ feature, so that music stored on the Cloudbox can be streamed to iTunes running on any computer on a connected network.
There’s a ‘Family’ folder already set up on the CloudBox, which allows home users to share photos, videos and other files, but individual users can also create private folders for their own personal use. There’s also a remote access option that allows you to connect to the CloudBox and retrieve your files from any location that has internet access.
Our only minor complaint is that the documentation provided with the CloudBox is sparse, so you may need to check out the support section of LaCie’s website in order to get a proper explanation of some of these features.
There are plenty of network drives now available that also provide additional online storage. However, the updated CloudBox is more Mac-friendly than it has been in the past, making it a good choice for home users who want an affordable network drive that they can share with other family members.
By Cliff Joseph, Macworld UK