When I was younger, I have heard “adults” boasting about their Hard Drive storage space being the latest in technology with 10GB or 20GB of space and that will be enough for a very long time. Capacity of hard drives increases along the way of technology advancement and even with 2TB of storage now, I find myself always looking for more space to store all my data and I am confident that I’m not alone in this matter.
Adding more hard drives isn’t a solution to all as there are limitation for mobile users, this is when a network attached storage (NAS) comes to play. NAS storage offers the ease of content sharing from multiple devices in the same network or even anywhere that has internet connection but this is usually done by those who are knowledgeable in networking skills. Cloud storage or other online file sharing services plays a more user-friendly role for those who don’t.
In light of this, we’re now looking at a NAS storage that comes with the feature of a cloud storage for today’s review, thank you Western Digital (WD) for providing us with the review unit. Enters the Western Digital My Cloud EX2, a 2-bay NAS storage that is offering the benefits of both NAS and cloud in one single device. Retailing at RM 1159.00 SRP and comes with a 2-year warranty, lets see how we all could benefit from it.
Full specifications can be found here:
The My Cloud EX2 comes in WD colours of deep blue with the NAS unit pictured at the front with the product name shares the same space. This particular model (WDBVKW0040JCH) of the My Cloud EX2 comes included with 2 pieces of WD’s own RED NAS storage drives in a total of 4TB of storage. It also comes available in 6TB and 8TB versions if you’re looking for much higher capacity.
Behind the box are feature highlights of the My Cloud EX2.
The top flap has another picture of the EX2 with the content description system requirements and supported browsers listed beside that. You can also see the compatible systems by their logo(s) at the bottom.
Opening up the box, we find the My Cloud EX2 is sandwiched between two hard foam that gives it adequate protection during shipping.
You get a few documentations, a Quick installation guide, Technical support and warranty guide and an illustrated content guide. In terms of accessories, all that comes with the My Cloud EX2 is a short Ethernet cable and a power adaptor cord with detachable power sockets.
The WD My Cloud EX2 retains the classic My Book design but we were expecting a better build quality from WD as the main piece of the enclosure is made up with a very thin piece of plastic, too flimsy to the touch.
There is little in terms of status displays and indication as we can see, only 3 LEDs for power and HDD activity indicators are present.
Four rubber feet provided some elevation for the perforated surface.
Moving to the back panel, it follows the same design as the bottom plate minus the openings for ventilation. Here is where you have the dual USB 3.0 ports, an Ethernet port and the power inlet. A Kensington lock port is also present here.
The USB 3.0 ports doesn’t allows you to connect it directly to your PC but instead, it’s an option for expansion where you can plug in other USB storage devices for several purposes and just to name a few:
- Expansion – should the drives in the drive bay runs out of space
- Backup – files can be backup directly from the drives to the USB storage devices without going through a PC
- Sharing – access files from your mobile devices that doesn’t comes with USB port through the network
Once again we see the ventilated plate at the top panel.
This opens up simply by pushing at the front edge to reveal the dual HDD present inside the EX2.
Removal of the HDDs will require the removal of the metal flap secured by a screw.
In which after, you will have full access to the HDDs. This is what most consumers will not do unless they want to perform upgrades or replacement of the HDDs. WD have attached a pull-tab to each of the drives for ease of removing the HDDs.
Just taking a quick shot of the dual 2TB WD Red NAS HDDs that comes with the My Cloud EX2.
One could swap the HDDs while the EX2 is operating thanks to the hot-swap interface used. However, the removal of the HDD is not ideal for hot-swapping HDDs as the whole process is not very straightforward.
Here is what the EX2 looks like when it’s plugged in and operating.
The User Interface & Testing
Once the EX2 is powered and connected to the router, accessing the web user interface is done via supported web browsers. If you’re accessing the EX2 for the first time, there is no need to enter a password and clicking login will grant you direct access.
There are several tabs in the UI, we’ll explain what each tab does as go through each of them., first is the Home tab. This shows basic information of the EX2 such as the amount of free space, how many people is currently connected to the unit, even the network activity can be seen here. Note that the EX2 we have now is running RAID-0 at the moment, hence the 2Tb storage free space.
Moving onto the Users tab, this is where you get to control who is allowed to access the EX2. Assigning users and/or groups is very intuitive and easy via the UI so that end users do not have to fiddle with traditional network address. The option to set quotas is an added bonus.
On the Shares tab, you could specify what folders in the EX2 can be seen by which devices connected to it. This is particularly useful for media streaming.
Cloud Access tab lets you configure access of devices to your My Cloud EX2 from almost anywhere as long as there’s internet connectivity.
Just generate the activation code unique for a single device and key it into the UI on your mobile device when prompted.
As the name implies, Backups does just that. There are several options available in this tab, USB backups will let you backup either to and/or from USB storage devices (e.g. External HDD).
Remote Backups will let you backup your data to another designated storage within or outside of your home network.
Internal Backups will assist with local data backups on the EX2, drives to drives or folder to folder.
Finally, there s the Cloud Backups. This is slightly different from remote backups as this is done via the Internet which is even accessible via mobile devices that has been added to the cloud access list(should you wish to set it that way).
Moving onto the next tab, Storage, also have several options. The RAID option allows for the configuraton of your HDD Raid mode.
Disk status option will display the “health” of your HDDs.
iSCSI option allows you the setup to a total of 64 iSCSI target on other devices which can then be mapped in the Volume virtualization option.
Volume virtualization allows you to create up to a total of 8 virtual disk drives via iSCSI Initiator.
In the Apps tab, users get to manage their downloads from the Internet to the drives in the EX2 without having to turn the PC on. Particularly useful to download large files over the Internet. HTTP downloads lets you download via direct sources.
FTP downloads are for files only accessible by having an access to the hosting website.
P2P are files grabbed from multiple sharing sources, usually on another computer somewhere in the world.
And the Web file viewer.. well lets you view files on the EX2 via the web.
Finally we come to the Settings tab. First option lets you set things like device name and time and such.
Network options adjusts the IP address and network services.
Media option lets you set the media database to access the data source you want and yes, it’s the iTunes you’re seeing there, users of Apple product will benefit from this feature.
All the things you will be needing for the system configurations and troubleshooting can be found in the the Utilities option.
Notifications options allows you to configure the My Cloud EX2 to send you an alert via email or SMS according to the types of notification to be sent.
And firmware update lets you configure the EX2 to update automatically or you could disable it should you wish to update only when you want it to. Once everything has been setup properly, your personal cloud storage is ready for action.
As we did mentioned earlier, accessing your files in the My Cloud EX2 is now made possible with the apps from WD which can be found in the Apple AppStore and Google Play.
WD My Cloud App
This is where unique code generated in the web UI comes to play, adding WD Devices requires the unique activation code. Once the activation is done, you can see the device listed in your WD Devices list.
With the My Cloud app, you can access all files and folders from your My Cloud EX2.
Other than that, there’s activity tracking option to keep track of all actions that you have done for history tracking purpose. As for the settings, you can configure cache size, notification, auto sync, etc easily as everything is pretty much self-explanatory.
WD Photos App
Unlike the WD My Cloud app, the WD Photos is very simple and straight forward app that is only for pictures. Accessing to your My Cloud EX2 is the same as the WD My Cloud app where the unique activation code is required. Once added to your list, you’ll see a camera icon located right next to the WD My Cloud EX2 which function as a quick access for uploading photos to your My Cloud EX2.
There’s also filtering options for you to filter out results by date or by name.
WD My Cloud Desktop App
There’s also PC version of the WD My Cloud that allows you to do almost the same as what the mobile app did, except that it’s a much more advanced version with more features. It’ll automatically detect WD My Cloud that is connected to your network and list it out as the devices found in your network.
If you wish to connect to your drive which is located outside of the network you’re currently connected to, you can go for the option ‘Connect to a device manually’ and opt for either WDMyCloud.com login or activation code as the credential to access that particular drive.
Once connected, you can access all your beloved files and share it with your friends and loved ones, the WD My Cloud way.
If you’re on your workstation and there’s reason for you to not installing the My Cloud Desktop app, you’re still be able to access the NAS directly to retrieve your files.
I’ve tried copying a movie file from a USB storage device plugged to the My Cloud EX2 and the result isn’t too shabby.
Copying the movie file stored in My Cloud EX2 shows almost x2.5 faster than the USB device plugged to the My Cloud EX2.
Doing it the other way around, I’m getting almost the same result for copying the same movie file into the My Cloud EX2.
What makes the WD My Cloud EX2 stands out from the rest instead of being just another NAS which you could probably get with a much lower price? My answer to that is the user-friendly cloud feature of it, your own personal cloud storage, your files, your control.
There isn’t many NAS in its class (and of course price as well) that offers cloud features that allows you to access your files via apps/software from almost anywhere that is easy to be configured, but I can’t stop myself from complaining about the choice of material and the flimsy build quality of the enclosure. That’s a minus from me, personally.
- Ready to use right out of the box and very easy to setup
- Gives you the personal cloud features that can be accessed with free to use mobile apps and software
- Affordable pricing for a NAS in similar class
- Cost efficient, much better than setting up a dedicated system just for the same purpose.
- Flimsy build quality of the enclosure
- Limited expandability
- No options for accessing the drives via USB interface
The WD My Cloud EX2 is hereby awarded with a Silver Award and Recommended Award from us at www.tech-critter.com.