WD recently released a number of new NAS devices, including the My Cloud EX4100, and here is our review.
This is how WD describe the EX4100:
“Save all your valuable photos, videos, music and files on this ready-to-go, high-performance NAS solution for secure access to them anytime, from anywhere. Protect your content with multiple backup options, customize your NAS with a full suite of apps and enjoy peace of mind knowing that we’ve put our best in it, so you can put your best on it.”
- Gigabit Ethernet x 2
- Power supply (DC in) x 2
- USB 3.0 expansion port x 2 rear
- USB 3.0 port with direct copy x 1 front
- 4 x 3.5 inch hard drive bays, hot swap capable, tray-less design
Internal hard drives
- WD Red NAS hard drives
- Marvell ARMADA 388 1.6 GHz dual-core
- 2 GB DDR3
A Closer Look
The front of the EX4100 has the power button, along with a information display that shows a number of pieces of information, all of which can be scrolled using the buttons to the right of the display.
The four drive bays are also situated at the front of the EX4100 and can be easily removed by pulling on the tabs. You can also see the lights under each drive showing they are functioning. There is also a USB 3.0 port along with a backup button – you can use this to quickly and easily backup the entire contents of a USB drive without the need for a PC.
The rear of the EX4100 has two USB 3.0 ports, two Ethernet ports and two power ports, plus a Kensington Lock.
Using the EX4100
Setting up the EX4100 for the first time is incredibly easy and quick – connect up the power and an Ethernet cable then switch on. All the configuration is done via a series of webpages and within a few minutes you are ready to go.
The Web Interface – My Cloud OS
The interface you are shown is very simple to use, as you can see below.
There are a series of tabs across the top, such as Home, Users, Shares, Storage, etc, which each having a number of different displays and options depending on what you choose.
The Home tab displays how much capacity is on the device (this review unit is the 16TB version pre-configured for RAID5, hence 11.8TB free). You can also see how many Cloud Devices, Users and Apps are configured, along with simple diagnostics and also the firmware version.
You can easily change the RAID mode by just selecting it. Just remember though that some changes are destructive to the stored data on the EX4100 so make sure you have your data backed up.
You can also check on the status of each of the disks in the EX4100, and even check the S.M.A.R.T. data too.
You can even set up an iSCSI target on the EX4100 if you need to, but I think most people won’t touch this, but it’s a nice addition for those users who might want this functionality.
You can easily create and control users and groups from the Users tab.
And the same goes for Shares. Out of the box there are three top level shares – Public, SmartWare and TimeMachineBackup, but you can easily add shares and the click of a button.
Time Machine Backups
The EX4100 works as a Time Machine Backup drive so that you can back up your Mac to it. Just go into Time Machine on your Mac and select TimeMachineBackup – WDMyCloudEX4100 and start backing up. Depending on the amount of data on your Mac, the initial backup may take some time.
You can install and run apps on your EX4100 – by default there are a few already installed for you to use.
Adding an app is very simple – you just select it from the catalogue and install. For now there are not that many apps available but hopefully that will change soon!
There are a number of settings menus ranging from the name and language settings, to enabling DLNA Media streaming and iTunes. Most of them just require enabling or disabling.
From here you can setup and manage any smartphone or tablet access to the EX4100.
My Cloud App
There is an app you can install on Windows or Mac that gives you access to the various Shares. From here you can upload, download, delete, create, and so on.
There are four different variants of the EX4100, for this review we had the 16TB version.
You may have noticed the number of times I used the word easily in this review – and for good reason! Everything you will want and need to do on the EX4100 is easy to do.
The My Cloud OS web front end is rather basic compared to other NAS devices on the market – that being said though everything you need to do can be done and it is presented in as simple a way as possible.
Earlier in the review we pointed out that there were two Ethernet ports and two power adaptor ports. The two power adaptor ports are used for ensuring that if one of the power supplies fails then the EX4100 will still carry on. You will need to be an additional power adaptor though as WD only supply one in the box. The two Ethernet adaptors are used for Link Aggregation, which can be configured for fault tolerance and speed improvements depending on your personal setup. What was disappointing here though was that WD don’t provide any information in either the manual or on the web front end on what each setting means, they just expect you to know. Given that some of the more obvious options have pages dedicated to them its a little surprising little is provided for a feature that can provide additional benefits.
Copying to and from the EX4100 was very quick – this was a good thing, and I initially wanted to copy a very large amount of data to the EX4100.
Setting up media streaming only involved switching it on and then all of my various devices picked up the EX4100 straight away and streaming worked like a charm. The media streaming component within the EX4100 is Twonky Media Server 7.2 in case you are wondering and is DLNA 1.5 certified
The EX4100 was fairly quiet in operation – that was good because I have used NAS devices in the past that sound like jet engines and that’s the last thing you want or need!
I was a little disappointed with the lack of available apps for the EX4100, for example there is no AV app and no surveillance app, so hopefully WD will sort this out soon as their competitors have these apps already, and for some of them for quite a while now.
You can backup your EX4100 too – options include backing up to a local USB device, another My Cloud device (local or remote), or even to the Cloud.
If you want to backup your camera images you can just connect your camera to the EX4100 and it can automatically copy the photographs off the camera. You can even set it up to move the photographs from the camera so you can have a nice clean camera card ready to use again.
Price wise, the WD EX4100 range is £359.00 for the diskless unit, £699.00 for 8 TB, £999.00 for 16 TB and £1,399.00 for 24 TB.
If you are looking for a simple to use NAS box that pretty much does most of what you need then you should look no further than the WD My Cloud EX4100.