Storage options for SMEs are maturing nicely
AS we wait for Western Digital's big reveal later on in the month, the storage company has brought out a pair of new SME storage solutions to tide us over.
The EX2 and EX4 are both Network Attached Storage (NAS) boxes aimed at hardcore home users up to SMEs with large data storage needs.
Late last year we reviewed WD's MyCloud offering and saw what this series of storage devices could do. Both the EX2 and EX4 could be considered the MyCloud's older siblings and both access the same cloud mobile and desktop apps.
EX2: The middle child
The EX2 is, like its one-bay sibling, a simple plug-and-play two-bay NAS box with arguably the best cloud services available at the moment.
While the EX2 reportedly lacks some of the raw performance of other two-bay NAS boxes and doesn't come with RAID expandability, it does have a much lower complexity gradient not only when setting it up but when using it.
Part of this is that, while you can buy the EX2 empty, it does come with WD Red hard drives already installed. These drives are built for being energy efficient and for use in high-density storage scenarios: exactly what the EX2 is used for.
While the ordinary use case for an EX2 is simply to plug it into your network and start storing files on it, third-party apps also allow it to act as a server for services like aMule, Icecast, Joomla!, phpBB, phpMyAdmin, Transmission, and SqueezeCenter.
The included DLNA-certified 1.5 media server, built-in iTunes server, and Twonky 7.2 server mean the EX2 can also be used as a media server giving users the ability to stream videos and photos to their TVs, media players, gaming consoles and other DLNA/UPnP devices.
If all that means nothing to you, don't worry. The power of the MyCloud family is that they require almost nothing to get working as a simple but powerful storage device, even if they're not at the bleeding-edge of speed.
The EX2 looks better than most NAS boxes in its range, though not everyone's going to like the plastic construction which, to us, felt overly flexible even compared to the similarly-built one-bay MyCloud. That aside, it'll look handsome where ever you put it and parts aren't going to start falling off anytime soon.
If you're a power-user creative type, professional or have a small business that holds plenty of records, this is a solid choice for an on-site storage backup.
If you're a home cinema buff, you'll have an easy way of getting the storage you need for your mkv files.
|WDBVKW0000NCH||0 TB||AU $449.99|
|WDBVKW0040JCH||4 TB||AU $499.99|
|WDBVKW0060NCH||6 TB||AU $599.99|
|WDBVKW0080JCH||8 TB||AU $749.99|
EX4: The tanker
The largest of the MyCloud series is a departure, at least design-wise, from the smaller siblings.
The EX4 has the square lines and black metal finish more commonly associated with commercial-grade network appliances but is still very much in the "make massive storage accessible" level of NAS box.
The major differences between the EX4 and EX2 is in how many bays there are for disks and how many ports can be used for connecting to the device. Obviously, with twice as many bays the EX4 is able to store twice as much data.
While most competing NAS boxes have proprietary RAID systems for expanding the size of storage, WD has opted to use a standard RAID-5 setup, meaning that while the drives are hot-swappable, all drives need to be the same size at the same time.
The feature set, like with the EX2, is the real strong point for the EX4. The number and execution of third-party and built-in services makes the MyCloud family a dream for utility, especially considering the ease with which the whole thing can be set up and left to run for years on end without a lick of upkeep.
Western Digital's without a doubt the most accessible offering in the Network Attached Storage game. An SME with mission-critical data storage needs might want to look elsewhere if absolute speed is a key factor in your purchasing decision, but if you're a wedding photographer or run an online business and need an on-site backup: this is your go-to device.