|Western Digital My Cloud EX4 8TB NAS|
|Sunday, 23 February 2014 00:00|
The Western Digital My Cloud EX4 8TB NAS comes loaded with four 2TB Western Digital Red hard disks formatted in a 6TB RAID5 array, so you don’t have to worry about installing your own hard drives. Even better, it’s already configured with a few useful network shares.
The EX4 8TB's web interface is one of the best looking web interfaces we've seen, with large, clearly labelled icons that make it easy find key features and keep an eye on the NAS’s status. You can quickly view the health of your data volumes and see if the EX4 8TB’s firmware needs to be updated.
The EX4 8TB is sturdy and well made. At the back are two Gigabit Ethernet ports, which can be configured so that one Ethernet port takes over if the other's connection fails. Alternatively, they can be bonded to improve throughput. There's also a connector for a redundant power supply, but only one power supply is provided; you'll have to buy another if you wish to take advantage of this feature. There are also two USB3 ports.
We do have one major criticism of the EX4 8TB’s physical build quality, though. It’s too easy to eject one of the installed drives accidentally. Sadly, the EX4 8TB can't recognise disks that have been inserted previously. Re-inserting the disk immediately triggered an eleven and a half hour rebuild of the RAID volume. Although the EX4 8TB remained functional throughout the restoration of the volume, your RAID5 volume will be lost if two drives are removed in this way. We'd certainly welcome locking drive bays in any future iteration of this model.
Setting up a new volume is a pleasingly simple process. You select the RAID type you want to use, say whether or not you want to use a hot spare and decide if you want to encrypt the volume. The EX4 8TB doesn't support RAID6 but everything we expect to see is present. The EX4 8TB automatically creates three shared folders. One is a public SMB share and the other two are for Western Digital SmartWare and Apple Time Machine backups.
As is common with modern NAS devices, the EX4 8TB lets you install and run apps. Some apps are preinstalled, such as download clients that let you download large files via HTTP, FTP, or BitTorrent. There’s also a simple file manager that lets you browse files on the EX4 8TB, as well as a connected USB drive. A small range of third-party apps is available for download, including content management systems that you can use to serve a blog locally or online. Other helpful options include the ability to mount an ISO file and share it across your network. You can also set up an FTP server, administer the EX4 8TB remotely via WebDAV and back up data to a remote server or USB drive. Oddly, the NAS lacks a print server, a feature common to many NAS devices.