Easy to install and use. Stylish design. Mobile and web user interface. Automatic camera roll backup.
Drives are not easily accessible. Short on features. Middling file-transfer performance.
- Bottom Line
The Promise Apollo Cloud 2 Duo is a simple, good-looking NAS device that offers copious easy-to-use personal cloud storage, although it's a bit slower than the competition.
The Promise Apollo Cloud 2 Duo ($449) is an easy-to-use and easy-on-the-eyes network attached storage (NAS) device. Offering a simple way to store and share photos and video from your phone, you get 8TB of storage, but it delivered middling file-transfer speeds in our testing. The Apollo Cloud 2 Duo does offer some handy tools, though, including automatic camera roll backup to ensure the photos and video you take on your mobile device are never lost.
The Apollo Cloud 2 Duo doesn't look like a typical NAS device, but neither did its predecessor, the Apollo, which we reviewed back in 2016. The Duo 2 is a small tower that stands 8.3 inches high and is 5.4 inches deep and 4.8 inches wide. It has a glossy white finish with black trim, and there's a lone power button on the front. This device lacks the numerous activity LEDs that you get with most NAS units, but the power button's light ring will glow green when the drive is powered up and ready to use, white when it is in pairing mode, orange when it is updating its firmware or rebuilding its RAID drive, and red when there is a hardware failure.
The Apollo Cloud 2 Duo supports RAID 0 (striping) and RAID 1 (mirroring) and uses two 4TB drives for a total of up to 8TB of storage depending on how you configure it. It's powered by a 1GHz dual-core CPU and 1GB of DDR3 memory, and has a gigabit LAN port, a USB 3.0 port for transferring data between the Apollo and a portable USB drive, and a power jack, all around back. Missing are the USB-C and HDMI video ports that you get with drives like Asustor AS6302T. Access to the physical drives is tricky: You have to pop off the small cover on the top of the enclosure and remove a couple of screws and the fan assembly to get to them.
You can access and configure the Apollo Cloud 2 Duo via a user-friendly mobile (iOS and Android) app or a web-based app. It opens to a Files screen that has a large Device button with two smaller buttons on either side. At the top of the screen is a "+" button that is used to quickly create folders and add photo, video, and other files from whatever device you are using or from an attached USB device, and at the bottom of the screen is a series of dashboard buttons.
Tapping the Device button takes you to a screen that shows you how much storage space is used and how much is available, along with account information (user name and email address). The button on the left is the Members button which takes you to a screen where you can give members (up to 40) access to the drive. To add a member, simply tap the "+" icon, add a name, and send the invitation link via text or email to the recipient. Here you can also assign a storage quota for and delete members. The button on the right takes you to the Notifications screen where you can see things like who has logged in, when the firmware was last updated, when a USB drive has been connected, and when a USB transfer is in progress.
Below the three buttons is a list of folders by name with their creation date. When you tap on a folder you can access the files within and share, rename, export, trash (delete), or add comments to each file. You can choose to share a file with anyone, or only with people with a password. The share is sent via a link that you can make active forever or have it expire after a certain period of time (one to 30 days).
At the bottom of the screen are Files, Photos, Shares, Favorites, and Settings buttons. Tap the Photos button to view all uploaded photos, videos, and albums by date. You can add comments to any photo or video and mark it as a favorite. The Shares button shows you folders and files that are publicly shared or shared between members. Tap on any file or folder to change the permissions such as who can view the files and when the share link will expire.
The Apollo Cloud 2 Duo's Favorites button displays all files that you have marked as a favorite, and the Settings button takes you to a screen where you can manage the drive. Here you can see what files have been sent to the trash and either restore or permanently delete them, view device information such a RAID configuration and storage usage, set up a USB transfer, perform a backup and restore from a USB drive, configure Public Cloud syncing from Google Drive and Dropbox accounts, and add an IP camera to store captured video.
The Settings screen is also where you can enable Camera Roll Upload, a handy feature that automatically uploads all video and photo content from your phone so you don't have to. There's also a Smart Albums setting that when enabled will organize photos and videos by location. To use this you have to have Smart Albums enabled while you're taking the pictures and videos, and you must allow the app to access your phone's location services.
Although the Apollo Cloud 2 Duo makes it easy to upload content and manage photo and video files, it lacks many of the features that you get with more robust NAS devices such as the Synology DiskStation DS718+ and the QNAP TS-253B. For example, there are no apps that let the device perform basic DLNA, Plex Media, and iTunes media server functions or act as a bit torrent or email server. Also missing are apps that check for viruses and malware. In fact, you can't download any apps at all. Moreover, you only get the two RAID choices and there are no advanced settings that let you do things like configure a firewall or view detailed disk health data. That said, the Apollo does support Apple's Time Machine backup application and it has its own built-in music player.
Simple Installation, So-So Performance
The Apollo Duo 2 is very easy to install and can be set up using the mobile app or the web utility (I chose to install it using the iOS mobile app). I plugged the drive into my router, opened the app, and tapped +Apollo at the bottom of the login screen. I used my phone's camera to scan the QR code on the included ID card (it's also located on the base of the device) and tapped Claim. The app found the drive within seconds and gave me a choice of RAID (RAID 0 or RAID 1). Next I created an account, verified it using a code that was sent to my email address, created a password, and was done.
The Apollo Cloud 2 Duo is not a speed demon by any means. On our file-transfer tests, in which we use a 4.9GB folder containing a mix of music, video, photo, and office document files to perform read and write timing tests, its score of 32.76MBps on the read test was significantly slower than that of the Synology DS718+, the QNAP TS-253B, and the Western Digital My Cloud Mirror (Gen 2). Its write score of 49MBps was identical to the Western Digital My Cloud Mirror (Gen 2), but trailed both the Synology DS718+ and the QNAP TS-253B. The Apollo Cloud 2 Duo is whisper quiet and exhibits none of the constant humming noise that we got with the QNAP TS-253B NAS device.
Simple, for Better and Worse
While the Promise Apollo Cloud 2 Duo doesn't offer the versatility and robust feature set that you'll get with similarly priced dual-drive NAS devices, it's all about simplicity, and is very easy to install and configure. It uses a well-designed mobile app that makes it easy to back up data from your phone or PC and share it with other users, and the Smart Albums feature will tag your photos and video by time and location, making it easier to find and organize them later. For about $50 less, the Editors' Choice Synology DiskStation DS718+ is a feature-packed dual-drive NAS that offers excellent performance, but you'll need to provide the drives.
About the Author
John R. Delaney Contributing Editor
As a Contributing Editor for PCMag, John Delaney has been testing and reviewing monitors, TVs, PCs, networking and smart home gear, and other assorted hardware and peripherals for almost 20 years. A 13-year veteran of PC Magazine's Labs (most recently as Director of Operations), John was responsible for the recruitment, training and management of t… See Full Bio
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