Western Digital My Cloud EX4 review
We liked the My Cloud drive that Western Digital launched recently, which combined a compact NAS drive with a ‘personal cloud’ option that allows you to gain access to your files when you’re away from home or your office. The new My Cloud EX4 is the latest addition to the My Cloud range, and while it looks completely different it does have a number of features in common with its predecessor.
Rather than the slimline, pristine white casing of the original My Cloud, the EX4 is a bulky black unit that houses four separate drive bays. The standard My Cloud model is a single drive unit that only provides a maximum of 4TB of storage, but the four-bay EX4 can cope with 4TB in each drive bay, providing a total capacity of 16TB.
Even so, Western Digital says that the EX4 is still very much aimed at home and small business users. And while it’s not exactly elegant, the design of the EX4 is very straightforward and practical. The unit is very solidly built, but it’s easy to pop open the bays at the front in order to install or replace the drive units.
You can buy the EX4 as an ‘unpopulated’ empty box for £319.00, and then simply add your own drives to provide whatever storage you require. Alternatively, you can buy it with 8TB, 12TB or 16TB of storage pre-installed, priced at £679.00, £799.00 or £999.99 respectively. The EX4 supports RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10, and JBOD (just a bunch of disks) configurations, and there are also two USB ports tucked around the back that will allow you to add extra storage if you need to. You’ll also find two Gigabit Ethernet ports at the back for your wired network connection.
Despite its rather intimidating appearance, we were relieved to see that the EX4 offers the same admirable ease of use as its predecessor. Western Digital’s setup program walks you through the basic installation options, while the browser-based Dashboard provides easy access to additional options, such as setting up shared folders and remote ‘cloud access’. The EX4 is compatible with Apple’s Time Machine for easy back-ups, and Western Digital’s My Cloud app is available for both iOS and Android devices, making it easy to connect to your files from a variety of mobile devices.
It’s not the fastest NAS drive we’ve ever seen, though. Using our usual 5GB batch of test files with the 8TB version of the EX4 produced a respectable read speed of around 35MB/s, while the write speed was a more modest 20Mb/s. But, to be fair, the My Cloud range is intended for home and small business users, rather than for larger organizations that require really high-performance back-up systems.
There are faster NAS drives available, but the My Cloud EX4 should still be perfectly adequate for the home users and small businesses that it is designed for. It’s also much easier to install and run than many of its more business-oriented rivals, making it a good choice for people who want a reliable, high-capacity storage system for use at home or in their office.