A network-attached storage (NAS) is a file-level computer data storage server connected to a computer network providing data access to a group of users. Such is the role of WD’s MyCloud EX2, which touts speed and ease of use. We had one unit up for review, and here’s what we have to say.
Design and Construction
The MyCloud EX2 sports a rather clean, modest look that features lots of curves on its sides. Built with a polycarbonate in a matte black finish, sans the LED lights that indicates the hardware’s power and hard disk status in front where it has a gloss enhancement, the overall structure feels really solid and well-constructed.
Its top and bottom portions offer internal heat reduction by placing lots of holes in them, and this might be a problem for homes who suffer from occasional dusty conditions. It’s a compact size for an NAS of its kind, and can fit at any home or small office space with ease.
The top panel is surprisingly easy to open, and putting hard drives into its slots are a breeze. The EX2 unit we had came in with WD Red hard drives that account for a total of 2TB total storage space, and were easy to remove from the server.
Its back has the following ports: a gigabit Ethernet port for connecting to a dedicated home or office router, a DC power jack, and two USB 3.0 ports for added storage from flash drives or external storage devices, should there be a need to hook them into the hardware too. The ports have enough capacity to power other external hard drives that need an extra port for power, and the whole EX2 is configured with a RAID 1 system so files will remain intact should any of the internal hard drives fail.
Interface and Performance
Once all cables have been set up and all the lights turn blue (yep, you don’t have to do lengthy setups), you can access the control panel with a dedicated online IP address. With the online address set, you can create new users for their dedicated login keys, folders with editable permissions for each registered user, and setting up password access for the connection. By default, the EX2 does not have any password set so anyone who is in your network can easily connect to it. You’ll also have a ‘Public’ folder, which can be accessed by anyone who connects to your network.
The EX2 has a lot of great use. For a Windows PC, using it is just a few clicks away, if you haven’t set up any password yet. The interface offers a lot of functionality — from adding cloud devices, to restricting permissions for each user, to upgrading the server’s firmware, everything is very user-friendly and doesn’t require a manual to boot. It’s also worth nothing that this is compatible both with Windows and Mac platforms, hence the initial folders you’ll see for backups upon launch.
The EX2 also offers file access through its mobile application, which is available both on Android and iOS. It’s pretty easy to detect the server over WiFi signals, and it works pretty much the same as the network app on the desktop version. You can also add online cloud platforms onto the app such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive to seamlessly transfer files to the EX2.
What’s great about the mobile app is it gives access to the server wherever you may be, as long as you have credentials to access it. It’s called the Cloud Server, a service you can sign up through WD’s website. It basically gives you a code that you can use to enter your own server when you’re somewhere afar. We tested this feature when we left the EX2 running at home with a few work files in it, and we were able to download those at our workplace situated more than 25 kms away. This also works well as a trusty end-to-end peer connection when you want someone to get files from your side, but isn’t physically capable to meet up due to circumstances.
The app can also act as a backup measure to automatically keep a copy of your photos, and remotely upgrade the server’s firmware as well. On the downside, the app itself isn’t that much of a user-friendly interface to begin with, and might be a pain to look for files on mobile since it doesn’t offer any sorting options.
With regards to its performance, the EX2 never produced any noise, and never got hot during our testing and use. We were able to see an average of 500MB/s write speed and up to 1GB of read speed. Chances are we might see better numbers when we configure it with a RAID 0, but would greatly increase the risk of losing data altogether. Indeed, the EX2 works well with streaming media, but offers a limited capability when it comes to file formats it natively supports.
For no-frills, no-hassle server setup, WD offers a simple solution: the My Cloud EX2. Its ease of use and the number of options to access the plug-and-play server, not to mention its user-friendly interface, are just some of its great points that leaves you not to get one for home entertainment or file backup purposes. It’s currently priced starting at Php 10,990 for the diskless variant up to Php 28,990 for the largest 8 TB model, the EX2 may be one of the most affordable NAS around right now.
With that being said, the mobile app and its limited playback options could really do some improvement. Nevertheless, the EX2 is a great buy for those looking for a remote server they can rely on.
What we like about it
- Plug-and-play setup
- Never heats up nor produce noise
- Great read/write speeds
- Can access anywhere with cloud server
What we didn’t like
- Limited playback options
- Mobile app could do some improvement