Hardware Aspects and Usage Impressions

The Western Digital My Cloud EX2 is bundled with a 36 W(12V @ 3A) adapter. The power adapter is customized to the country of sale. A network cable is also included in the package. Our evaluation started with a diskless system. Western Digital has diskless, 4 TB, 6 TB and 8 TB systems in the lineup. The systems with disks use two WD Red drives of equal capacity.

Unlike the WD EX4, the hot-swap mechanism is not completely tool-less. After popping open the top of the EX2 unit, a metal flap needs to be unscrewed and the disks need to be pulled out with an attached tag (refer to the pictures in the gallery below). This requires a little bit of force while tugging. Considering that consumers have been taught to treat hard disks as fragile and not to be subjective to excessive force, this is not a pleasant experience. The EX4's hot-swap mechanism and drive-bay arrangement seems to be much better compared to the EX2's, despite the EX2 having what appears to be a better industrial design. The unit has a GbE port, two USB 3.0 ports and a DC power inlet on the rear side of the unit.

There is a very small fan inside the unit (can be seen in the last picture of the above gallery), but it is pretty much inaudible during normal operation.

Platform Analysis

The WD My Cloud EX2 is based on the Marvell ARMADA 370 / MV6710 SoC. We have not reviewed any NAS based on that platform till now. So, we will take a look at the features provided by the ARMADA 370 first.

We find that the SoC provides 4 SERDES lanes, which should be enough for 1 GbE port, two SATA ports and one PCIe lane. The PCIe lane is used by the USB 3.0 to PCIe bridge. Though we didn't get time to do a full teardown and get the part number of the USB 3.0 to PCIe bridge, it is quite likely to be the Etron EJ168A that was used in the EX4. The two SATA ports serve the two drive bays. This configuration seems to provide better balance compared to the EX4 (except for the fact that the two USB 3.0 ports can't both operate at full speeds as the two SuperSpeed ports (10 Gbps) are bottlenecked by the single PCIe 2.0 lane (5 Gbps) connecting it to the ARMADA 370).

Setup & Usage

After connection to the network, the unit obtains a DHCP address (even in diskless mode) and could be setup using the web UI at http://<WD-EX2-IP>.  The UI on the EX2 is the same as the EX4, so we won't go much into the available options in this review. The obvious difference between the EX4 and the EX2 is in the supported disk configurations. While the EX4 can do JBOD, Spanning, RAID-0, RAID-1, RAID-5, RAID-6 and RAID-10, the EX2 can only do the first four.

Our testing sequence started with the insertion of a single disk and configuring it in JBOD. After adding another disk, we were able to migrate to RAID-1. However, the data wasn't online as expected during the process. The resultant RAID volume also appeared to be completely empty. However, creating the same share names as before proved that the data was intact. WD was able to replicate this issue in-house and a fix is expected to be out in one of the upcoming firmware releases. The firmware also doesn't have detailed logs for perusal (this is an issue on the EX4 too).

The EX2 datasheet mentions a limitation of 10 concurrent CIFS connections. In the process of putting the EX2 through our multi-client test (25 machines accessing separate CIFS shares simultaneously), we encountered lots of timeouts (but, the tests did complete after repeated tries). We haven't seen this type of limitation in other 2-bay NAS units (ARM or x86-based). WD indicated that this was more of a marketing positioning of the product. The device apparently does support over 10 users, but the unit is specifically tested considering 10 to be the overall use case for this product. WD suggests that users requiring more simultaneous CIFS connections move to products targeted towards SMBs (those based on the x86 / Windows Storage Server). Though it might be difficult for today's average consumer to hit 10 concurrent CIFS connections, it is not outside the realm of power users with multiple devices in their household.

Introduction Single Client Performance - CIFS and iSCSI on Windows
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  • hlmcompany - Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - link

    The article states: "The Western Digital My Cloud EX2 is bundled with a 36 W(12V @ 3A) adapter. A power cord (customized to the country of sale) and a network cable are included in the package." The EX2 units do not include a power cord. The 36 watt power adapter is a fixed-plug wallwart-style unit. The comment about a power cord seems to be left-over from the EX4 review. Reply
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - link

    Thanks for the note. I have fixed the relevant text. Reply
  • redmist77 - Wednesday, March 5, 2014 - link

    I refuse to buy any product with cloud in the name. Reply
  • romrunning - Wednesday, March 5, 2014 - link

    Well, that just kills my idea for "Cloud-soft" (tm pending) toilet paper! Reply
  • futbol4me - Thursday, March 6, 2014 - link

    One very useful non-geeky benchmark would be time machine backup performance. I have a mybook live and while it may read and write files with decent performance via afs or smb, time machine backups are almost unuseably slow. Reply
  • teich50 - Saturday, March 8, 2014 - link

    Has anyone figured out how to perform an encrypted Time Machine backup to My Cloud? I think, by default, the Time Machine back up writes to the Guest account with no encryption, which is scary. Reply
  • Atty - Sunday, March 9, 2014 - link

    What is your recommendation on hard drive choice? For this to be used to share and store mainly media files and stream them to various devices. Would it be worth the investment to get the re4 drives or are the red drives suitable? Reply
  • Cybernut1 - Friday, March 21, 2014 - link

    Red drives are recommended.For a home or small office setup Re drives are overkill. Re drivesare geared towards data centers. WD recommends Red for most common uses for this product though they will support select few other drives. Here's the full list of supported drives - http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=11... Reply
  • Cybernut1 - Friday, March 21, 2014 - link

    The couple big issues for me with this having used it for a week are:

    1) Currently the ftp functionality is broken (if you are trying to ftp from outside your local network - which is almost 100% of the time). Broken because you cannot save your external IP for passive ftp to work and that is critical. It keeps resetting the external IP value to 0.0.0.0. I have a trouble ticket open with their tech support but ETA for fix is unknown at this time.

    2) There does not seem to be any way for sftp - which is really a reason for many to get this. Even if you can get ftp to work (by going into the shell and making unsanctioned edit to the ftp configuration file), you cannot really do much about sftp. I am used to creating sftp via shell access for work - but here when you try to create an user in the embedded lightweight linux, that user cannot login to the shell no matter what privs you give that user. And without a remote way to ssh into the box, you can't do scp or sftp. So their marketing claim about "Secure FTP support" on this page -> http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=11... (click on Advanced Serving tab) is rubbish.
    Reply
  • jmm317 - Thursday, June 5, 2014 - link

    I found WD My Clound EX2 and was happy because I bought this was a great idea and a perfect solution. I found the product has several problems that makes this product useless. The problem is the following. The unit CPU work 24/7 at 100% because it has issues with a process name "Convert" that tries to create thumbs to media files. The problem I´m experimenting it not an isolated case, you can find in WD Community lots of people having the same problem. WD is aware of the problem for a while and has not find a solution (firmware update) or doesn´t care.

    This problem:
    - Not been able to access the unit.
    - When you have access the unit crashes.
    - Difficulty to access files.
    - Continually crashes and need to be restart.

    WD should stop selling My Clound EX2 and start a refund process.
    Link:
    http://community.wd.com/t5/Network-Product-Ideas/T...
    Reply

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