We ain’t all equally skilled when it comes to the configuration of network and storage devices nor is it everyone that has the same interest in that. Sometimes you just want to purchase something, enter your preferred name and password, and then be ready to rock.
WD’s My Cloud series is designed for just these scenarios and it comes equipped with drives and is pre-configured. All you need to do yourself is connect it, turn the power on, and set your password. Today I’m taking a closer look at the WD My Cloud EX4100 from the Expert series and will give it a good spin in the test area.
The MyCloud EX4100 it is a 4-bay NAS unit and in this case it comes pre-loaded with four 4TB WD RED drives. Other disk configurations are available if 16TB shouldn’t be the right match. You can get it from driveless all the way up to 24TB raw capacity.
You will need some power on the insides to handle what the EX4100 promises and it comes with a dual-core Marvell ARMADA 388 processor that clocks at 1.6GHz and 2GB DDR3 memory. This should be plenty, but if it shouldn’t be then the EX4100 also comes with three USB 3.0 ports allowing you to connect extra external storage.
Two gigabit Ethernet ports take care of the network traffic and they fully support both port trunking and link aggregation for failover redundancy and improved traffic capabilities.
A nice bonus for every device is the built-in display at the top of the unit. It allows you to quickly see what’s going on with your unit, its name, network details, and storage setup. It will also keep you updated on the progress when you changing major configurations such as the drive setup.
Just because the unit comes pre-equipped with four drives doesn’t mean that you can’t replace them with smaller, bigger, or just other ones if you want to – or in case you bought a driveless unit. The EX4100 supports hot-swapping and comes with easy-release front bays for quick access. Pop the slider and the drive will eject.
It comes as no surprise that WD used their own RED series of NAS drives in these units. They are built especially for NAS usage, so what better to pick. In this case, the unit is equipped with four of these 4TB drives. The WD RED series uses an IntelliPower RPM systems up to 5400 RPM and come with 64MB Cache.
The EX4100 doesn’t have any dedicated drive trays and is as such tool-less to upgrade. The drives are still firmly secured inside thanks to the large dividers. Not using drive caddies allows for a smaller and more narrow footprint, something anyone can appreciate.
The EX4100 supports RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 as well as JBOD and Spanning. While the RAID 0 to 60 modes are self-explanatory, how the terms JBOD and Spanning are used variates a bit, including Single disk. Essentially, JBOD and Spanning is the same thing but with a small difference. JBOD stands for Just a Bunch Of Disks, these can either be presented as single volumes or one large where they are used as extension for each other. Spanning, on the other hand, will create one large volume with all the drive space available and the drives don’t even need to be the same capacity.
JBOD stands for Just a Bunch Of Disks, these can either be presented as single volumes or one large where they are used as extension for each other. Spanning, on the other hand, will create one large volume with all the drive space available and the drives don’t even need to be the same capacity.
In the EX4100’s case, JBOD will result in four individual volumes and spanning will create one large volume without redundancy or performance improvements. As always, which mode i
As always, which mode you chose is down to your own needs. Whether you need a maximum amount of capacity, redundancy, performance improvements or a little of each.
Storage is just one side of the story, you also need to connect that storage somehow. The EX4100 comes with two Gigabit Ethernet ports that support both failover and port trunking.
The addition of a dual power supply system with a backup for emergency situations is awesome and something more NAS should feature. Any product can break for one reason or another and it should have a backup solution in case that happens.
The single and relative large 120mm fan helps to keep everything cool without creating too much noise. It only needs to rotate at low speeds to keep everything cool and operate optimally.
So far I’ve talked a lot about the hardware, but that’s just one side to the story. The software has to match with the right features, otherwise what would be the point.
It doesn’t matter if you want to connect to the WD MyCloud EX4100 from Windows, Linux, or your Mac OS based system, everything should be covered with Samba, Bonjour, and NFS3 support. The EX4100 also support VLAN, UPnP, iSCSI, SSH, and WebDAV and comes with an FTP server.
It is well suited to stream all your stored content to anything from smart devices to TVs and media players. Twonky’s UPnP media server, DLNA, and iTunes server are all present and it supports connection to devices such as WD TV Live, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows 8, connected TVs, Blu-ray players and digital picture frames.
Security is important everywhere and WD has that part covered too with features such as Active Directory support and 256-bit AES full volume encryption.
You can set up backup plans to local and remote locations as well as the same system, use Apple’s Time Machine, or use the cloud-based services Amazon and ElephantDrive. You can also sync drives with the attached USB 3.0 ports.
Security also involves power management and the EX4100 doesn’t just come with redundant PSU support, it can also control both network and USB connected UPS power backup devices.
Within the package you’ll find the NAS device with the drives inserted, a network cable, a power supply and, in this case two connector cables: one UK and one EU. There’s also a startup guide that will get you set up, even if you don’t know the darndest thing about NAS systems.
Remote access can not only be achieved through the web interface, you can also get both a desktop application and several mobile apps for your Android and iOS devices.
Other features such as a download server for both HTTP and P2P services, being IPv6 ready, supporting jumbo frames up to 9000 bytes, and SNMP for easy administrator management in larger environments are also all present.
If you’re concerned about the environment and having a device running all the time, then WD has you covered too. It features disk spin down when not need, which also will increase the drives lifespan, wake-on-LAN, automatic power recovery, and scheduled power on-off times.
The PCB has a simple build where only one side is utilized. The memory is soldered onto the board, so you can’t upgrade that, but that would also be kind of missing the target audience for a pre-setup unit.
We see that the memory used comes from SKhynix and the LAN ports are controlled by two Marvell 88E1512 chips. The USB 3.0 ports are controlled by a Renesas µPD720210 4-port hub controller.