Introduction

The market for 2-bay and 4-bay NAS units has been growing at a much faster rate compared to other configurations. This trend is only expected to accelerate over the next few years. As the 'cloud' becomes a more common buzz-word, the time is ripe to educate the average consumer about the benefits of purchasing a NAS system. Western Digital is aiming to tap into this opportunity with the My Cloud product line. Having already introduced 1-bay and 4-bay variants, they are launching their 2-bay product, the EX2 today.

Western Digital has had a lot of experience supplying SMB NAS units with more than 2-bays, but those have been based on Microsoft's Windows Storage Server. On the consumer side, their attempts with a custom Debian-based embedded Linux NAS system were very functional and cost effective. We reviewed the WD My Cloud EX4 recently. Despite the feature-rich firmware, the design of the hardware platform (choice of SoC and I/O ports) brought down the performance. For the EX2, Western Digital has retained the same firmware / UI, but moved to a different hardware platform.

The specifications of the Western Digital My Cloud EX2 are given below:

Western Digital My Cloud EX2 Specifications
Processor Marvell ARMADA 370 (MV6710) (Single Core ARMv7 @ 1.2 GHz)
RAM 512 MB DDR3 RAM
Drive Bays 2x 3.5" SATA 6 Gbps HDD / SSD (Hot-swappable)
Network Links 1x 1 GbE
USB Slots 2x USB 3.0 
eSATA Slots None
Expansion Slots None
VGA / Display Out None
Full Specifications Link Western Digital My Cloud EX2 Full Specificatios

The EX2 runs a Linux kernel (v3.2.40). Other interesting aspects of the platform can be gathered after gaining SSH access into the unit.

In the rest of the review, we will cover the hardware aspects of the EX2 and provide some setup and usage impressions. This is followed by benchmarks in single and multi-client modes. For single client scenarios, we have both Windows and Linux benchmarks with CIFS and NFS shares. We will also have some performance numbers with encryption enabled. In the final section, power consumption numbers as well as RAID rebuild times will be covered along with some closing notes.

Testbed Setup and Testing Methodology

Our NAS reviews use either SSDs or hard drives depending on the unit under test. While rackmounts and units equipped with 10GbE capabilities use SSDs, the others use hard drives. The My Cloud EX2 was evaluated using two WD Re (WD4000FYYZ) drives to keep comparisons consistent across different NAS units. Evaluation of NAS performance under both single and multiple client scenarios was done using the SMB / SOHO NAS testbed we described earlier.

AnandTech NAS Testbed Configuration
Motherboard Asus Z9PE-D8 WS Dual LGA2011 SSI-EEB
CPU 2 x Intel Xeon E5-2630L
Coolers 2 x Dynatron R17
Memory G.Skill RipjawsZ F3-12800CL10Q2-64GBZL (8x8GB) CAS 10-10-10-30
OS Drive OCZ Technology Vertex 4 128GB
Secondary Drive OCZ Technology Vertex 4 128GB
Tertiary Drive OCZ RevoDrive Hybrid (1TB HDD + 100GB NAND)
Other Drives 12 x OCZ Technology Vertex 4 64GB (Offline in the Host OS)
Network Cards 6 x Intel ESA I-340 Quad-GbE Port Network Adapter
Chassis SilverStoneTek Raven RV03
PSU SilverStoneTek Strider Plus Gold Evoluion 850W
OS Windows Server 2008 R2
Network Switch Netgear ProSafe GSM7352S-200

Thank You!

We thank the following companies for helping us out with our NAS testbed:

Hardware Aspects and Usage Impressions
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  • hlmcompany - Tuesday, March 04, 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 04, 2014 - link

    Thanks for the note. I have fixed the relevant text. Reply
  • redmist77 - Wednesday, March 05, 2014 - link

    I refuse to buy any product with cloud in the name. Reply
  • romrunning - Wednesday, March 05, 2014 - link

    Well, that just kills my idea for "Cloud-soft" (tm pending) toilet paper! Reply
  • futbol4me - Thursday, March 06, 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 08, 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 09, 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 05, 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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