LaCie CloudBox review: Back up your files on a large hard drive and online

LaCie’s CloudBox has changed quite a bit since we first reviewed it back in 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.

This year’s edition of the CloudBox takes a more conventional approach, combining a large hard disk with a smaller amount of online storage. Prices start at £139.00 for a model with 1TB of storage, while our 2TB test unit costs £159.00. There are also 3TB and 4TB models available, priced at £189.00 and £249.00 respectively.

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 web site.

Prices start at around £2.50 per month for 20GB, which is reasonable enough – although still not as low as rivals such as Microsoft’s SkyDrive. However, the ability to create a second, online back-up 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, white a gentle blue status light glowing out 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. 

However, the software side of things is a little more user-friendly now. The most important improvement here is simply that the CloudBox now works with Apple’s Time Machine, so that anyone using your home or office network can now back-up on 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 your 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 a bit sparse, so you may need to check out the support section of LaCie’s web site in order to get a proper explanation of some of these features.

OUR VERDICT

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.

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