Western Digital My Cloud EX2 Review (2023)

Western Digital's My Cloud EX2 NAS fits a niche between WD's consumer-targeted My Cloud($299.98 at Amazon)(Opens in a new window) and its four-bay business storage solution the My Cloud EX4( at Amazon)(Opens in a new window). The EX2 is as easy to set up as the My Cloud home NAS, and it incorporates some of the advanced capabilities of the EX4.The EX2 has the same clean, user-friendly interface of WD's other two NASes. It also offers simple remote access with the My Cloud service and excellent read performance. However, a lack of warning about adding a drive of incorrect size to the RAID1 array for a re-build, and a really flimsy mechanism for pulling drives out of the drive bays are oversights in engineering. Furthermore, the My Cloud EX2's HDDs were the hottest I've ever handled after a few hours of uptime.

The EX2 is a two-bay NAS available in a diskless configuration for $199.99 (4TB, $369.99; 6TB, $469.99, and 8TB, $569.99). Populated units ship with Western Digital's Red HDDs, which are engineered specifically for NASes.

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Inside the EX2 is a 1.2GHz processor and 512MB of memory. The rear panel has dual USB 3.0 ports and a Gigabit Ethernet port. It's targeted at the power, prosumer user rather than businesses. Business users will want to look to the next-tier Western Digital NAS, the EX4, which not only offers more storage and fault-tolerance options with its four drive bays, but also provides hardware redundancy with dual power supplies and multiple Ethernet ports—more than even prosumers are likely to need.

The EX2 has a clean, industrial design, measuring 6.75 by 6.1 by 3.9 inches (HWD). Overall, this is as attractive a device as WD's My Cloud and the EX4. It looks like a fat Western Digital My Book. The front of the EX2 has three LEDs for system status and for status of each drive.

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A button on the top opens up the drive bay door with a light press. Within, the placement of the drives in this chassis is somewhat unusual. In most NASes, hard drives are installed horizontally into a backplane in the front of the device. In the EX2, drives sit vertically, installed from the top of the unit. A small plate keeps the drives in place. This plate unscrews when you want to remove a drive, and each drive tray has a plastic handle that lets you pull the drive from the bay. During testing, one of the plastic handles ripped, making pulling the drive from the bay frustrating. I find the EX2's entire drive-bay seating design disappointing.

On the software side, the EX2 supports Windows XP SP3 and later and Mac OS X Snow Leopard and later. The native file system is EXT4 and file systems supported on connected USB external drives are FAT/FAT32, NTFS, HFS+J, and Linux EXT2, 3, and 4.

Setting Up the EX4
Setup is very similar to, and as easy as, the setup of WD's consumer My Cloud NAS. The EX2 ships with a quick installation guide, which shows you how to connect the cables and tells you where to get the software to install, depending on what system you're using for setup. There's a specific URL in the guide for downloading the setup software for desktop computers. Those using mobile devices are instructed to connect a mobile device to the same network as the EX2 and browse to wdmycloudEX2.local to launch a Web-based setup.

Since I was using a Windows 7 laptop, I went to WD's site and downloaded the appropriate software. A wizard quickly walked me through the steps, which included prompts to create a My Cloud account for remotely accessing the EX2. I did this and then installed the WD My Cloud application, per the wizard's recommendation.

After installation, four shortcuts appeared on my desktop: WD My Cloud EX4 Dashboard, WD My Cloud EX4 Learning Center, WD My Cloud EX4 Public Share (a shortcut to a shared folder created upon install), and WD My Cloud.

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Features and Interface

Features and Interface

The interface is the same as that of the home My Cloud device. Its striking, modern design is very graphics-heavy, and there is a fair amount of in-UI help and explanations on the various settings and features in the EX2.

The Home page provides system information including amount of free space, a real-time network-activity monitor, a list of cloud devices (devices that are paired with the EX2 and can remotely connect), and more.

The EX2 has the same functionality as the consumer My Cloud NAS. It's simple to create folder shares, as well as users and groups. As with most NASes, the EX2 has features common to network storage devices, including FTP, remote backup, media streaming, DLNA, and several third-party add-ons to extend the feature set. Some of these add-ons include Joomla, WordPress, and Git.

Because this is a prosumer device, it offers some advanced features including iSCSI targeting, IPv6 support, SNMP, and integration with network UPS systems. Additionally, the EX2 supports volume virtualization. Volume virtualization allows you to map to an iSCSI target.

The EX2's elegant interface and performance are superior to those of another two-bay NAS I just tested, Buffalo's LinkStation LS420D($273.65 at Amazon)(Opens in a new window), which featured random Japanese screens (in a UI that was configured to install in English!) and myriad software-performance issues, including sluggishness in the interface and an occasional screen-freeze.

Remote Access
Western Digital's My Cloud service provides remote access to the EX2. For access from a smartphone or tablet, each mobile device has to be registered with the My Cloud service. Registration is managed in the EX2's user interface. You create a user account for anyone who will remotely connect with a mobile device.

Next, you generate a code to give the user by clicking the Generate Code button in the UI. The end-user enters this code into the WD My Cloud mobile app (downloadable from WD's site), which pairs that user's device with the EX2's cloud service.

Administrators may also send any user their login information via email directly through the interface. Those remotely connecting via a desktop can download the WD My Cloud desktop app. Desktop app users can log into the app via the login account the EX2 admin establishes for them, or by entering a generated activation code.

I've already testedthe WD My Cloud desktop app—you can read that review for specifics. Overall, the app offers a simple way to remotely connect to a WD NAS, although security and some features, such as syncing between the NAS and app, could be stronger. Users also have the option of using a Web browser to access data remotely on the NAS, but the app provides more functionality.

Drive Recovery and Performance

Drive Recovery
Since the specs indicate that the EX2 supports hot-swap, I pulled a drive from the second bay while the EX2 was up. I noticed that the drives were significantly hotter than those I've pulled from other NASes, including when I tested drive recovery on WD's EX4 NAS.

As soon as I pulled the drive from the second bay, the power LCD went from steady blue to a blinking amber. Diagnostics on the home page of the interface alerted me that the RAID array (a mirror) was in a degraded state, which is what you want to see when a drive that's part of a RAID configuration fails.

Initially, I inadvertently swapped the pulled drive with another one of smaller size. Of course, a degraded RAID mirror can't rebuild unless the failed drive is replaced with one of equal or larger size. I did not see any alerts or warnings that I had added a drive of incorrect capacity, an alert I have seen in other NAS products.

Before I pulled the drive, I made sure that the EX2 was set to rebuild the array automatically. By default, RAID rebuild is disabled. I'm not sure why. Once you set up RAID, that feature should be enabled by default. However, the auto-rebuild and drive recovery was as efficient as I tested with the My Cloud EX4.

EX2 Performance
The EX2's performance was more impressive than its fault tolerance. I tested read and write speeds by doing a simple copy operation to and from the NAS with a 1.5GB video clip. Read speed was the fastest we've seen yet from a two-bay prosumer NAS at 101MBps. That is a hair's breadth faster than the previous read speed two-bay record-breaker, the Netgear ReadyNAS Duo v2's rate of 100MBps.

The write speed was more on the average side, at 56MBps, and not as good as the Synology DiskStation DS712+'s($751.64 at Amazon)(Opens in a new window) 79MBps or the Iomega (now EMC) StorCenter px2-300d($1,183.59 at Amazon)(Opens in a new window) at 75MBps. These results tell me that the EX2 would be a fine performer for streaming multimedia and other tasks that require you to access data from the NAS, but not as fast at handling lots of data copied to it as the DS712+ or the StorCenter px2-300d.

A Cautionary Recommendation
The My Cloud line of NAS products is relatively new for Western Digital. Both its My Cloud and EX4 devices have impressive aspects. The EX2 also impresses, with the same interface and very good performance. Yet the flimsy drive-bay plastic handles and hot drives make for a less-than-sterling NAS product. The EX2 is a solid NAS, but the Editors' Choice for two-bay prosumer NASes remains the Synology DiskStation DS712+, a winning combination of performance, efficient fault tolerance, and good software.

Western Digital My Cloud EX2


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  • Clean industrial design.

  • Easy to set up.

  • Offers simple remote access configuration via the My Cloud service.

  • Excellent read speeds.

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  • Average write speeds.

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  • Plastic handle to pull drives out of bay is flimsy and easy to break.

  • Hard drives hot to the touch after several hours of system uptime.

The Bottom Line

Western Digital's EX2 has the same interface and many of the good qualities of other products in its My Cloud portfolio. Yet the EX2 showed a few troubling issues in testing that makes us hesitate to give it a strong recommendation.

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