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WD My Cloud EX2 review

Gordon Kelly

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WD My Cloud EX2
  • WD My Cloud EX2
  • WD My Cloud EX2
  • WD My Cloud EX2
  • WD My Cloud EX2
  • WD My Cloud EX2
  • WD My Cloud EX2
  • WD My Cloud EX2
  • WD My Cloud EX2
  • WD My Cloud EX2
  • WD My Cloud EX2
  • WD My Cloud EX2

Summary

Our Score:

7

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

  • Unpopulated, 4TB, 6TB, 8TB capacities
  • 2x 3.5in SATA HDD Bays
  • 1x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 2x USB 3.0
  • Remote file access
  • iTunes Server support
  • Time Machine compatible
  • DLNA
  • Manufacturer: Western Digital
  • Review Price: £199.00

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.

torjs99

March 28, 2014, 1:47 pm

hp microserver... (just saying)

Gordon Kelly

March 29, 2014, 1:25 pm

Your consistency is amazing :)

Juan

June 3, 2014, 4:10 pm

I found WD
My Clound EX2 and was happy because I bought this was a great idea and a
perfect solution. I found the product has several problems that makes this
product useless. The problem is the following. The unit CPU work 24/7 at 100%
because it has issues with a process name "Convert" that tries to create
thumbs to media files. The problem I´m experimenting it not an isolated case,
you can find in WD Community lots of people having the same problem. WD is
aware of the problem for a while and has not find a solution (firmware update)
or doesn´t care.

This
problem:

- Not been
able to access the unit.

- When you
have access the unit crashes.

- Difficulty
to access files.

- Continually
crashes and need to be restart.

WD should
stop selling My Clound EX2 and start a refund process.

Link:

http://community.wd.com/t5/...

KermitzLAN

July 2, 2014, 10:09 am

I would be curious to know how the data transfer performance was measured.

I've been testing my new MyCloud EX2 for a few days now and don't seem to be able to go beyond 150 Mbps. Most of the time, the performance is even around 40-60 Mbps.

My setup:
BT Home Hub 3, with gigabit switch TP-Link TL-SG105 connected to the Home Hub gigabit Ethernet port with a CAT6 cable.

MyCloud EX2 connected to the switch with CAT6 cable.
Mac Pro connected to the switch with CAT6 cable.
Files transferred manually with the Finder, with a mix of photos and videos, with file sizes ranging from 2 MB to 300 MB.

Any idea what I'm doing wrong and why the performance is so slow?

KermitzLAN

July 7, 2014, 12:34 pm

Problem solved. I disabled the disk encryption on the MyCloud EX2 and performance shot up to 850 Mbps for reading file and about 500 Mbps for writing. I'm amazed by how much encryption degrades the performance of this NAS.

johndo24

October 22, 2014, 2:26 pm

Thanks for the great review! I liked it - wanted to buy this NAS device.

I found some german reviews, this is the one I liked: WD My Cloud EX2 NAS-Server Review.

But I fear after reading these reviews that after a few years I would have to exchange the disks because I need a lot of space. Having to retransfer all the data after exchanging the HDD is a no-go. This is a task a NAS must be able to perform, it's a common use case!

So now I'll have to reconsider my decision and evaluate the other manufacturers - the trend seems to be Synology...

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