The My Cloud EX4 has all the features you want in a four-bay NAS and is priced right, provided that you accept its performance deficiencies.
Western Digitala€™s My Cloud network-attached storage unit earned four stars when I reviewed it in October. Because performance takes a backseat to features in this unit, Ia€™ll cover that aspect of the My Cloud EX4 later. Business users will appreciate the dual gigabit ethernet ports and the redundant power-supply features (although youa€™ll need to purchase the second power supply).
One feature thata€™s sorely missing from both the My Cloud and the My Cloud EX4 is the ability to sync folders via the cloud. In our benchmarks, the four-drive My Cloud EX4 read both our 10GB collection of files and folders and our single 10GB file somewhat faster than the single-drive My Cloud, but it was significantly slower reading than the much more expensive QNAP TS-469 Pro.
The smaller My Cloud is equipped with a dual-core CPU, in contrast to the single-core CPU in the EX4.
We replaced the EX4a€™s WD Red drives, which spin their platters at 5400 rpm, with four 1TB, 7200-rpm Seagate Constellation drives to see if the faster drives would improve the EX4a€™s performance. If youa€™re a consumer, you wona€™t care about the My Cloud EX4a€™s ethernet and power-failover features. PCWorld helps you navigate the PC ecosystem to find the products you want and the advice you need to get the job done.
WD has fixed the limited space and lack of RAID on its 1-bay My Cloud box by introducing a 4-bay one, the EX4. It uses WD Red drives and you can buy the box unpopulated or with two, three or four 4TB drives, taking max capacity to 16TB. It isn't cheap and it doesn't have Drobo or Transporter-style features, but it no doubt does the job WD designed it for. Adobe wanted to enable creativity in their customers and allow them to be mobile and function in the cloud. Learn about the 6 Tips for Engaging the New Mobile Workforce and how they can make your workers more productive. If you’re in IT, don’t make the mistake of assuming that all or even most of this growth will be centered on public cloud services. Review WD is on a mission to make using NAS as easy as possible for consumers to use, from setting a unit up to accessing it remotely via a personal cloud. It goes without saying that the business segment has been using multi-bay devices for backing up, maintaining and securing data for more years than I care to remember. Anybody expecting the same white and curved design styling of the original My Cloud is in for a disappointment.
If you trying to convince home users that NAS is the future you’d better make sure that the number one priority is that the device is easy to set up. Compared to the EX4’s UI, the interface for WD’s My Cloud software itself looks very basic and sparse. The Reg VerdictEasy to set up and use thanks to the well-thought-out interface, WD’s EX4 is multi-bay NAS provides support for apps such as IceCast (Internet music streaming), Wordpress and Joomla which will appeal to the home user while the more business orientated will be drawn to the security offered by the dual Ethernet and power options.
The Good The WD My Cloud EX4 offers data redundancy, Windows Server integration, and an excellent set of personal cloud features.
The Bottom Line It's not the fastest NAS, nor does it include many advanced features, but the WD My Cloud EX4 still combines great ease of use into an affordable personal cloud system that's excellent for a connected home. The WD My Cloud EX4 is a four-bay NAS designed for power users and small offices that builds on WD's new My Cloud platform. Unlike its smaller single-bay companion, the EX4 offers users a degree of security against data loss with support for RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10, as well as spanning and JBOD modes.
The EX4 benefits from WD's My Cloud series of mobile and desktop applications, allowing the user to access, modify, and share data on-site or remotely, while also providing the administrator with tools for remote user and energy management. As a file server, the EX4 offers a cross-platformed shared space for both Windows and Mac OS users to collaborate. The EX4 provides both a stable backup platform for machines in a cross-platform environment.
Our standard StorageReview Enterprise Test Lab regimen runs the device through its paces with a battery of varying performance levels and throughput activity workloads.
In our standard deviation section of the 4k test, the RAID5 SMB configuration offers the narrowest read standard deviation at just 93.16ms, while the RAID10 SMB offers the best balance.
The final testing benchmark is the 128K transfer test, which aims to demonstrate the highest sequential transfer speed available. The WD My Cloud EX4 definitely has the advantage of ease of use, simplicity, and low cost compared to other NAS solutions in its class. The EX4 does draw a degree of criticism over its performance speed, which could be a bit better compared to other similarly-designed competitor models for SOHO use. The WD My Cloud EX4 is a solid, attractive, and easy-to-use NAS solution for homes and small offices, providing all the consumer-level bells and whistles of a larger media center unit while maintaining a modest price point. The EX4 offers all of the user-friendly features of the original My Cloud, packed in a metal four-bay enclosure that boasts a number of high-end perks the My Cloud does not. Because the drives are hot-swappable, you can yank out the failed drive and replace it with a new one, and the EX4 will automatically rebuild the array without any downtime.
Consumers will appreciate its friendly, dashboard-like user interface, its DLNA server and iTunes support, and its built-in torrent downloader. The former keeps you informed as to whata€™s happening with the box without your needing to fire up a client, and you can use the latter to back up USB storage devices.


The company will soon release an SDK (software development kit) to encourage additional third-party development for its My Cloud platform. We swapped them out for 7200-rpm Seagate Constellation drives, and saw about the same performance.
And if youa€™re a small-business owner, you wona€™t care about the My Cloud EX4a€™s DLNA server and iTunes support. The drives slide in and out in seconds - they're also hot-swappable - with no screwdrivers required. As before, there is a facility to add external USB 3.0-connected external drives to push capacity higher.
There is a small monochrome LCD screen on top of the front face of the unit; nothing fancy here, but you manage it from a host computer via a browser. It'd be quite nice to stick 6TB helium-filled drives in it at some stage and get 24TB capacity. It’s not exactly a new mission, yet it has gained momentum since the company introduced its popular single bay My Cloud range.
In recent years, the benefits of using multi-disk RAID arrays for keeping data safe and as secure as possible has begun to filter down to the home user.If WD’s marketing research is to believed, this is a market segment with a huge potential for growth and the My Cloud EX4 is going to test that theory. When it comes to looks, the My Cloud Ex4 leans towards the company’s Sentinel range of business NAS boxes.
It needs some work on it to make it more user-friendly but it’s still quite early in its development and is something that WD can improve upon.
In the case of the reviewed 8TB model, that meant 6TB of usable space was available, as the parity stripes run across all the disks in the group. The mobile app supports a limited number of file formats, there's no search function, and it won't allow you to sort by content type.
With a full array of applications and easy-setup design, the My Cloud EX4 offers a feature-rich, stable, and secure network storage solution of up to 16TB.
The unit also comes in a variety of prepackaged models, utilizing WD Red HDDs: 8TB, 12, and 16TB. The front of the unit features a central LCD status screen in cool blue, centered on a strip of glossy black finish. The calm, dark interface speaks to next-generation design and simplicity, presenting the user with valuable information without the risk of clutter or aesthetic overload.
My Cloud also supports email and mobile alerts, keeping the user or administrator up-to-date on the system's status and performance. Integrated Microsoft Active Directory support allows the administrator to easily setup and maintain user accounts and permissions. Windows users can take advantage of WD SmartWare Pro (with the 10 included user licenses) to schedule and manage system backups, while Apple users enjoy native Time Machine support.
It should be noted that the models shipped with WD Red HDDs come already preconfigured for RAID 5. The clear performer for write activity is the RAID 10 configuration in both SMB and iSCSI, pulling 645 and 371 IOPS respectively. In the first mixed profile test, the RAID10 iSCSI configuration is the clear performer, while the SMB configurations remain largely indistinguishable from one another in terms of performance.
In general, the RAID10 drives offer the lowest deviation (with SMB consistently the lowest), while both RAID5 configurations jockey for the highest position.
Here, the differences in write activity throughput between RAID 5 and RAID 10 are slim enough to be inconsequential. In all cases the SMB configurations outperformed iSCSI, with RAID 10 SMB sacrificing the lead in read speed for a clear advantage in write ability. For home users, getting a quality storage solution set up on a network should only take a few minutes after unboxing the unit, and in minutes everyone in your household can be set up with cloud storage accessible from anywhere (though if you go for the driveless model, you will also need to set up your drives and RAID configuration yourself beforehand). That being said, the My Cloud EX4's price point and quality of life features more than make up for any possible performance shortfalls.
But 3TB is the maximum capacity that WD can deliver in that product, and since ita€™s a single-bay device it cana€™t provide the reassuring redundancy of RAID.
First and foremost among them is RAID support, specifically RAID 5 if you purchase the device prepopulated with drives.
Business users will value its dual gigabit ethernet ports, with support for both link bonding (so you can pool the bandwidth of two broadband connections) and automatic failover (if one connection fails, the EX4 automatically switches to the other).
You can also back up the EX4 to a USB storage device, but a more plausible scenario would be to back it up to another EX4 over your local network, or to the cloud using an Amazon S3 or Elephant Drive account. When you change a file on one computer, tablet, or smartphone, the updated file automatically goes to all your other linked devices. The QNAP drive was more than twice as fast as both WD drives on the files-and-folders write test. The QNAP, meanwhile, offers the best of both worlds: a dual-core processor that runs at 2GHz.
Both parties, on the other hand, just might decide that the EX4a€™s low price tag and strong feature set trump its slow performance.
Now to get over the limitations of using just a single bay, WD has pimped up the range by introducing a four-bay unit, the My Cloud EX4. WD provides iOS and Android support to access content on the move with both My Cloud and its image gallery app, My Photo. Data and parity are arranged on different volumes for resilience should there be a single drive failure.


Perhaps this explains why, despite some useful hardware features, WD considers the EX4 should be considered for home or small office use. Building on the design philosophy of its smaller sister, the EX4 retains the My Cloud's ease of use while offering an expansion of up to 4 total bays, a dual power supply, and additional data management features. Additionally, WD offer a drive-less package for those who wish to operate their own drives (WD or otherwise), or add them a la carte as storage needs grow. Dominating the left portion of the screen is a simple view of remaining free capacity on the NAS, while the right panel provides a quick glance at system diagnostics and firmware version. The EX4 is also a powerful iTunes server, allowing the user to easily manage and utilize a large music library.
The administrator is not only able to determine folder access, but also cap the maximum amount of storage users on the system are permitted to access. For read performance, the difference between RAID 5 and RAID 10 in SMB is negligible, while RAID 5 iSCSI solidly outperforms RAID 10 at 321 IOPS. While the RAID5 iSCSI offers slightly better average read latency, write latency skyrockets in comparison; meanwhile, the RAID10 SMB configuration offers both the best write latency and the worst read latency of the bunch. In general, maximum read latency across all configurations is largely equal, while the max latency for both iSCSI drives skyrockets over the SMB counterparts.
The story is similar for read activity, though using SMB the RAID 5 offers slightly better IOPS than its RAID 10 counterpart at 5156 IOPS.
In iSCSI configuration, both RAID 10 and RAID 5 configurations were functionally identical. The companya€™s announcement of the My Cloud EX4 today erases those limitations and adds a raft of other features.
Dual power connections deliver similar functionality: If one power supply fails, the EX4 can automatically switch to the other (though you must purchase the second one). WD includes ten WD SmartWare Pro licenses for client-PC backups in the purchase price, and the NAS supports Time Capsule for Mac backups.
WD doesn’t force-feed you its drives either, as the enclosure is also available unpopulated for ?319, but be warned if you go down this route, the list of compatible drives not made by WD is a little on the short side. To the left sits the power button which glows blue under normal conditions but glows red should any problems arise. As the ARMADA 300 only provides two SATA-II ports there is also a Marvell 88SX7042 4-port PCI-e SATA II controller on the motherboard.
The opening screen shows drive capacity and health, Cloud devices, users and apps.At the top of the screen are tabs to access setting for users, shares, Cloud access, organising back-ups, storage set up and the apps page. WD aims to make the EX4 a performer as well, with a 2.0GHz processor, 512MB onboard memory, and dual Ethernet ports (which provide link aggregation, allowing for transfer increase and redundancy). The drive bays themselves offer a sleek toolless design and allow fast hot swapping, making installation and expansion a snap.
Immediately below are four blue LED status lights, each assigned to one of the four drive bays. Simple indicators for network activity, resource monitoring, cloud devices, user accounts, and active applications line the bottom of the dashboard, while a ribbon at the top provides easy access to more advanced utilities and applications. The EX4 can also function as a full-featured FTP server, allowing the administrator to create and monitor FTP accounts and access permissions, throttle bandwidth, manage IP blocking, and take advantage of FXP.
For added security, the EX4 offers the administrator the ability to password encrypt entire volumes, allowing for controlled access.
Active directory support enables you to connect an EX4 to your companya€™s domain, and volume encryption means the box wona€™t boot without a password. As standard, there are three public share folders already provided to use; Public – for storing public data, SmartWare for Windows based backups and Time Machine Backup for Mac users. Alas, I was only able to test the EX4 using RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10 arrays due to time constraints, but didn’t notice any major differences in configuration performance in the various modes.I used CrystalDiskMark to give a quick snapshot of the overall performance of each of the RAID arrays I tested and then used some real life data transfers to get a better idea of how well the EX4 performs. RAID O took 10mins, RAID 1 a tadge under 15mins and both RAID 5 and RAID 10 arrays took just under 14mins to create and format. Below the control panel are the four tool-less, hot-swappable bays themselves (which, depending on model, are empty or come with WD Red HDDs). The unit also features a P2P BitTorrent server and HTTP download support, allowing the user to download files from the internet directly to the NAS. Under the LCD screen are four blue LED status lights, one for each of the drives.To access the drives you simple pull the door latch and the drive slides out with the door - very quick and tidy which is great for quickly hot swapping disks out should the need arise. When it comes to backing-up data up the EX4 offers plenty of options with accessibility using a USB device, remotely, internally or via the Cloud. Overall, the tests suggest that the EX4 isn’t going to set the world alight and, in particular, its Write performance is pretty weak.On the plus side, although the disk activity could be heard when it’s being pushed during benchmarking, it's not overly loud. WD touts the minimal effort required to change drives with the EX4: it really is just a matter of pulling a latch and out pops the drive. That said, you need to ensure that the door is re-latched properly or you could be in for a very, very long wait while the array re-builds.
When it gets to the end of this process, a blood-chilling grinding noise emanates from the EX4, well it did from the review sample anyway.



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