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Western Digital My Cloud EX4 - Personal Cloud Goes Big

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital

Dashboard and Apps

Dashboard:

Exploring the configuration options further, we see plenty of options and features. So many in fact that it's probably best to just walk you through a slideshow of notable highlights:

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Shares can be added and removed easily. Pictured are the defaults that appear with all current apps installed. The TimeMachineBackup share is configured out of the box, with no tweaking needed.

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Backups configuration is flexible, and can go to a number of places. Internal backups are convenient for when a duplicate copy of a folder is warranted, however users will typically backup to external or cloud based solutions. For those, choices are a connected USB device, network shares, as well as ElephantDrive and Amazon S3 for Cloud options. WD will likely add more Cloud options in the future via firmware updates.

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Storage options are plentiful, with the ability to change RAID modes on the fly, view the status of all disks (including S.M.A.R.T. data), create iSCSI target volumes, and even volume virtualization, which lets the EX4 map other iSCSI targets from within the network. Those mapped targets will then appear under the EX4 as additional shares. This may come in handy for consolidating all iSCSI targets under a single device. An added benefit is that those shares will then be available while away from home via the My Cloud software solution.

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The settings group shows a very granular set of configuration options. Various built-in services can be enabled or disabled, ISO shares can be created, DLNA and iTunes media servers can be configured, and disk / array scans and formats can be initiated. The EX4 is also capable of sending notification emails at varying levels of verbosity, if so configured.

One feature I'd like to key in on is the network configuration, which is extremely detailed for a consumer NAS:

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I've chosen to expand the Link Aggregation option in the above screnshot. As covered earlier, the EX4 has dual redundant ethernet ports. These links can be configured in multiple ways as seen above, and Western Digital has made those configuration options extremely simple with their solution. It's worth noting here that the typical consumer router won't take advantage of channel bonding, which is more of an enterprise-level feature, so no performance improvement beyond single channel speeds will typically be seen. That said, if a user was so inclined, they could connect the EX4 to two different portions of their network, potentially offering real-time protection against cable and other various ethernet hardware failures.

Apps:

Currently, the list of available apps for the EX4 is small, but WD expects that number to grow as demand increases. Here is an example as seen from within the configuration GUI, showing automatic FTP download configuration:

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More detail on the available apps and capabilities are available at this link, and pictured below for your convenience:

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November 12, 2013 | 08:11 PM - Posted by mAxius

MORE NAS REVIEWS MAYBE EVEN A BUILD YOUR OWN GUIDE!!!

November 12, 2013 | 08:22 PM - Posted by Sublym3 (not verified)

Yeah a build your own and a look into RAID alternatives like FlexRAID, unRAID and Greyhole based stuff.

November 12, 2013 | 09:35 PM - Posted by Robert23655124 (not verified)

I agree, I would love to see regular NAS builds (different budgets) and os's with comparisons to pre-built gear.

November 14, 2013 | 04:28 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

NAS build guide for home use (backup, basic network advice, where bottlenecks exist) would be super useful. Maybe a buyers guide for someone looking at building a small home NAS?

November 14, 2013 | 10:05 AM - Posted by Quix (not verified)

Good work Allyn! Nice review. .. Now slave, MORE STORAGE REVIEWS/INFO! get to work.

(thanx)

November 15, 2013 | 01:27 AM - Posted by razor512

Horrible performance for the price, compare that to building a $400 PC and then installing a bunch of hard drives and setting up RAID 5.

At that price range, it should be maxing out a gigabit connection.

November 15, 2013 | 06:25 AM - Posted by praack

impressed, have been looking for a good system for over a year- have seen some in action - seen the reviews of others- most have failed expectations others were to - well let's face it - how many of us are millionaires!

this looks nice, good combination of featurs - right price

November 15, 2013 | 10:41 AM - Posted by Robogeoff (not verified)

I see that WD states that WD Greens are compatible with this device. I have 4 x 3TB Greens at hand that I could spare for this. How good an idea is it to used Greens on a NAS? I used to hear bad things about Greens and drive failures in NAS devices.

November 16, 2013 | 12:17 PM - Posted by Scimmy (not verified)

I have a home built NAS with WD greens in it. Been running 24/7 for about a year now with no issues in raid 0.

November 19, 2013 | 10:42 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Can you add ram to the unit? 512mb seems a bit small when moving large files? Could that improve performance?

November 21, 2013 | 05:45 PM - Posted by David (not verified)

I commend them for allowing redundant power supplies and network connections. That is something most NAS makers usually don't provide on consumer units.

The speed is horrible. Either the unit is defective or they have a big problem with that software. They need to upgrade to the i3 chip and get away from the Atom. It's too slow to do RAID and encryption.

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