Looking for an affordable NAS server that is fast and offers a personal cloud for those occasions when you are traveling? Check out the WD My Cloud EX2. It is WD's latest My Cloud server, and operates just as its predecessors did, except it does them better. What's more, it allows you to more easily replace or install the internal hard drives.
The dual bay server is ideal for a home or extremely small office (supports about five users), but if you plan to rely on its cloud feature, be aware that its mobile app will only support a small number of file formats, and lacks a decent search and sort function.
In the familiar WD external drive style, it resembles a book standing up on a shelf. The drive bays are easily accessed at the top – simply press down on the front portion of the top and get to work. The drives are replaced or installed in under a minute. The best part: WD allows you to install non-WD drives, and still offers a three-year warranty!
Small LED lights on the front of the server indicate the power and internal drive status. The rear of the server has two USB 3.0 ports and a Gigabit network port, which allows you to hook up to your home network. You can use the USB ports to connect external drives to either backup the server or add more storage to it. It maxes out at 4TB in a RAID 1 configuration.
Yes, you can switch to RAID 0 to max 8TB, but this could lead to data loss. The storage capacity is the reason 5 users is the recommended max, though it claims it can support up to 10.
The My Cloud EX2 is a breeze to set up. Just plug it in, and start using it! Out of the box, the server contains three public folders: Public, SmartWare, and Time Machine Backup. They do just what you think – Public stores public files, and the other two are for Windows and Mac backup. You are able to immediately copy data over. Any DLNA-enabled media player devices on your network will be able to locate content on the drive to stream.
If you are the type who wants to add some private folders, head to wd.com/setup/mycloudex2 to download the WD Setup software. This process, which only takes a few minutes and 65MB of space, will install shortcuts to the share folders, the server's Web Dashboard interface, and install the WD My Cloud application.
All you need to do from this point is install the WD My Cloud mobile apps on your iOS or Android device using your home network Wi-Fi connection. When you run the app for the first time from the home network, it will automatically connect to the server. Now you can access the My Cloud EX2 no matter where you are, using any Wi-Fi or cellular network, anywhere.
No need to log in or go through multiple steps to make it all work. Want to add devices on the go, or for long distance friends or your kids away at college? Just create an access code and email it to the device that will be accessing the server.
Features and Pricing
Use the web interface to adjust settings, add users, set restrictions, and so forth. It's easy to use, and allows you to customize the server for your needs. The Cloud Access feature allows you to connect to the server and share files between your device and the server just by dragging and dropping, as you would your LAN. It's comparable to a VPN connection, minus the connection.
The streaming is possible, but very limited. Music can be streamed, but when it comes to video and even photo content, there is quite a bit of buffering going on. What's more, you can only playback content supported by whatever mobile device you are using. This means you shouldn't stream on your cellular connection, and that photo you want to see will take more time than you'd expect to download.
For about $569.99, the My Cloud EX2 performs wonderfully for a wonderful price, in an easy to use package. If you are looking for more advanced features or a better streaming experience, you might look elsewhere.