WD My Cloud EX2

Score

Sections

Pros

  • Smart, minimalist design
  • Intuitive setup
  • Fairly fast
  • Good value when bought pre-populated

Cons

  • Flimsy build quality
  • Lack of expandable RAID
  • PC app needs work

Key Features

  • Review Price: £199.00
  • 1x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 2x 3.5in SATA HDD Bays
  • 2x USB 3.0
  • Unpopulated, 4TB, 6TB, 8TB capacities
  • Remote file access
  • DLNA
  • iTunes Server support
  • Time Machine compatible
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What is the WD My Cloud EX2?

The EX2 is a dual drive version

of Western Digital’s popular single drive My Cloud hybrid NAS and Cloud

storage device. It joins the company’s four-drive My Cloud EX4 but,

while we found speed and design issues with that product, the EX2

follows the original closely. So do we have another highly affordable

and appealing consumer NAS or, in expanding the original My Cloud

concept, has WD again pushed too close to more established NAS devices

with greater functionality?

WD My Cloud EX2 – Design

EX2 2Unlike

the EX4, the EX2 mimics the design of the original My Cloud. This is a

good thing.

Whereas the hard angles of the EX4 were more industrial and

less living room friendly, the EX2’s sweeping curves give it an

appealing, chunky, almost cute appearance and make it a device you could

place just about anywhere.

Since price is a key part of WD’s

attack on the market the build quality of the EX2 isn’t stellar. The

plastic chassis has a lot of flex, most notably in the lid that pops

open like pressing the lid of a kitchen bin.

In this age of tool-less,

hot swappable drive bays we also aren’t particularly impressed by the

weak mechanism WD has fitted for taking the drives in and out.

If you

buy a populated EX2 this may not be a problem, but for those buying an

unpopulated unit it feels fragile and you need to be careful slotting

drives in and out.

In short the EX2 looks great from a distance, but you’ll spot some corner cutting up close.

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WD My Cloud EX2 – Features

EX2 3This

isn’t as evident in the feature set. Like the original My Cloud and

EX4, the EX2 has core NAS functionality like support for DLNA and iTunes

servers, UPnP and FTP as well as multi-user support to set folder

access and permissions. Backups are also a big focus with TimeMachine

support for Macs and WD’s own ‘SmartWare’ software for scheduling

backups on PCs.

WD pitches the My Cloud line as both NAS and

Dropbox alternative and it takes on the latter by enabling remote access

to its data via Android, iOS, PC and Mac apps. Files can be downloaded,

edited or – in the case of media on mobile devices – streamed

(depending on the codec support from your OS).

WD also builds in support

for Google Drive, Dropbox and Microsoft’s newly renamed OneDrive

(previously SkyDrive). Letting you automatically sync or manually

transfer specific folders between them and your My Cloud.

On the

hardware side there isn’t a lot to see. WD doesn’t reveal what chipset

powers the EX2, but accompanying its Gigabit Ethernet port are two USB

3.0 ports (up from the My Cloud’s single port), which allow you to add

further storage capacity via external drives.

Some NAS will let you sync

files from external drives via the USB ports, but here they are purely

for bolstering capacity.

So far so good, but the EX2 maintains a

potentially significant Achilles heel: its lack of expandable RAID.

This won’t affect customers who buy an EX2 with all the storage they

need, but for those hoping to expand it with bigger drives in future

you’ll be out of luck.

Unlike Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR), Netgear X-RAID

or Drobo’s BeyondRAID, the My Cloud’s RAID1 cannot swap to larger

drives and automatically expand its capacity. Instead you’ll have to

transfer everything off the My Cloud, install two larger drives (they

must have matching capacities) then put the data back on again.

This

aspect emphasises the mainstream consumer focus of the line. WD doesn’t

expect you to be upgrading the EX2 and if that is in your plans you

would be better of looking at the more advanced lines from Synology,

Netgear and Drobo.

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