Product Review

WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra

WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra

WD or Western Digital has been making hard drives for quite a long time. A few years ago they introduced their WD Red drives that were made specifically for network-attached storage (NAS) devices. WD currently offers three different levels of NAS devices. The My Cloud devices are aimed at the general consumer, the My Cloud EX (expert) are prosumer devices, and finally you have the business series which is made up of the My Cloud DL devices. In this review we will be taking a look at the My Cloud EX2 Ultra with WD’s My Cloud OS 3.

The original My Cloud EX2, which was originally launched in March 2014, featured a Marvell A370 1.2GHz single-core SoC and 512MB of DDR3 RAM. That was respectable at the time, but prosumers today are looking for more power for multitasking and smooth HD video streaming. WD saw this coming though and upgraded the processor and memory while also introducing a larger capacity 16TB model. The new My Cloud EX2 Ultra features a newer Marvell ARMADA 385 1.3GHz Dual-Core SoC along with 1GB of DDR3 RAM. By doubling the number of available CPU cores and the amount of memory, the My Cloud EX2 Ultra should be ready to handle the content you need to store and allow you to connect it to your PCs, smartphones and TVs with ease. It also supports Plex Media Server, so all your HD content can be organized and ready to stream on and of your connected devices.

We are happy that the new model is more powerful than the old one as the form factor and functionality of the My Cloud EX2 were great. WD is able to offer the My Cloud EX2 Ultra at various price points due to having different capacity models.

Packaging

The My Cloud EX2 Ultra comes in a very nice retail package from WD. On the front there is a photo of the unit and it lets us know that we have the 4TB version. Currently the highest capacity available in 16TB.

Packaging of WD My cloud EX2 Ultra

Flipping over to the back there is more information on what the NAS can do for you.

WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra packing backside

On one side you have a list of specifications / features. On the other is even more information listed and an overview of the ports on the back of the unit. Suffice to say if you are at the store you’ll have all of the information you need to make your purchase.

WD My cloud ex2 ultra front and back

Getting everything out of the box we have the My Cloud EX2 Ultra NAS, an ethernet cable, power adapter, warranty guide, and a setup guide.

WD my cloud ex2 ultra arial view

Design and Build

The My Cloud EX2 Ultra looks almost identical to its older brother (My Cloud EX2). The front of the body has 3 LED status lights for power/connectivity, bay 1, and bay 2.

WD My cloud EX2 ultra side

A matte black covering wraps around the sides and front seamlessly, giving the machine an integrated and sleek feel. The top and bottom are covered in a ventilated covering to disperse heat effortlessly.

WD my cloud EX2 ultra back side

On the backside, you’ll find the power port, Ethernet port, reset button, 2 USB ports, and a lock slot.

Product Specifications

WD My Cloud EX2 ultra physical dimension

Capacity

4TB, 8TB, 12TB, 16TB

Interface

Gigabit Ethernet

Operating System

Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Mac OS X El Capitan, Yosemite, Mavericks, Mountain Lion, or Lion operating systems.

Package Includes

  • My Cloud EX2 Ultra Device
  • Ethernet cable
  • Power supply
  • Quick install guide

Interface

  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Power supply (DC in) x 1
  • USB 3.0 expansion port x 2 rear

CPU

  • Marvell® ARMADA® 385 1.3 GHz dual-core

Memory

  • 1 GB DDR3

Drive bays

  • 2 x 3.5 inch hard drive bays, hot swap capable, tray-less design

Internal hard drives

  • WD Red NAS hard drives

Expansion Ports

  • 2 USB 3.0 ports

System Requirements

  • Windows 10, Windows 8, or Windows 7 operating system
  • Mac OS X El Capitan, Yosemite, Mavericks, Mountain Lion, or Lion operating systems
  • DLNA/UPnP devices for streaming
  • Router with Internet connection

Supported Web Browsers

  • Internet Explorer 10 or higher
  • Safari 6 or higher
  • Firefox 30 or higher
  • Google Chrome 31 or higher on supported Windows and Mac OS platforms

Network Protocols

  • DHCP Client or Static IP
  • NTP Client
  • Dynamic DNS (DDNS)
  • Apple Bonjour and Windows Rally
  • Jumbo frame support up to 9K
  • VLAN (802.1Q)
  • Link Aggregation and failover for 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • UPnP port forwarding
  • LLTD Link Layer Topology Discovery Protocol
  • iSCSI
  • SSH

Network File Services

  • OS Supports
    • Windows XP Home/ Pro/ 64-bit SP3+
    • Windows Vista/ 7/ 8 (All versions)
    • Mac OS X 10.6, Lion, Mountain Lion
  • CIFS/SMB for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux
  • Linux Distributed File System (DFS)
  • AFP for Mac OS X
  • FTP/SFTP Server
  • WebDAV Server
  • Microsoft Active Directory support

Backup management

  • Remote backups: My Cloud Expert Series to My Cloud Expert Series locally or remotely
  • Backup internal files or folders of the device to other files/folders on the NAS or attached USB drive
  • WD SmartWare Pro for Windows clients
  • Apple Time Machine (10.5.8+) support
    • Cloud-based backup services
    • Amazon S3
  • ElephantDrive (http://home.elephantdrive.com/)
  • Disk sync management for the attached USB ports

Disk management

  • RAID: JBOD, spanning, 0/1
  • RAID migration
    • JBOD to RAID 1
  • Hot swapping
  • Disk roaming
  • Array roaming

Security

  • Volume Encryption (256 bit AES)

File System

  • EXT4 for internal HDD
  • Support following formats for externally attached USB drives
    • FAT/FAT32
    • NTFS (read and write capability)
    • HFS+J (case sensitive)
    • Linux EXT2, EXT3, EXT4
  • Support for mounting ISO-Image

FTP Server

  • Support Port Setting
  • Set port range of passive FTP
  • Option to report external IP in PASV mode
  • Client language selection
  • Anonymous FTP
  • Secure FTP Support
  • Support File eXchange Protocol (FXP)
  • FTP bandwidth restriction (upstream/downstream)
  • IP address block (block access from undesired IP address)

Download Management

  • HTTP downloads from a URL to a user specified folder on the NAS
  • FTP downloads of files or folders from an FTP server to another files/folders on the NAS
  • P2P Download Manager

Power Management

  • Drive Spin Up/Down (including Attached WD USB drives)
  • Automatic power recovery (with UPS)
  • Schedule power on/off
  • Graceful shutdown on UPS low battery
  • FAN Control
  • Network UPS
  • Wake On LAN

Remote Access

  • My Cloud mobile app
  • My Cloud.com web access

User/Group Management

  • Max No. of Users: 512 for Samba, 800 for ADS
  • Max No. of User Groups: 64 for Samba, 200 for ADS
  • Max No. of Network Shares: Max No. of Network Shares: 128
  • Max concurrent CIFS connections: 10
  • User/Group assignment for network sharing/FTP
  • Quotas for groups or users
  • Assignment of users to multiple groups
  • Batch assignment of users to groups
  • Batch user creation
  • Importing users (CSV Delimited Format)
  • Importing groups (CSV Delimited Format)

System Management

  • System status: Device Information
  • Capacity usage status for the external storage
  • File category breakdown of how much video, photo, music is stored
  • Alert notifications
  • Event UI message
  • UI Alert (with message acknowledgment required)
  • Email notice
  • QuickView pop-up message
  • RED LED status
  • Network recycle
  • Support Windows CIFS
  • Support Apple AFP
  • System/FTP Log (Syslog Client)
  • HTTP/S (Web) Administration Interface (HTTP Server)
  • Firmware upgrade
  • Configuration backup and restore
  • SNMPv2
  • System Information
    • CPU percentage
    • RAM usage
    • Network performance in MB/s

Media Streaming

  • PLEX media app
  • UPnP AV Media server (Twonky)
  • DLNA certification
  • Support WD TV, WD TV Live, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows 8, connected TVs, Blu-ray players and digital picture frames
  • iTunes Server

iSCSI

  • iSCSI Target
  • CHAP authentication
  • iSNS (Internet Storage Name Service)
  • Up to 64 iSCSI Targets
  • Volume Virtualization
  • Virtual Disk Drive (via iSCSI Initiator)
  • Max number of virtual disk drives supported is eight (8)

Power Supply

  • Input voltage: 100V to 240V AC
  • Input frequency: 50 to 60 Hz
  • Output voltage: 12V DC, up to 4A

Temperature

  • Operating Temperature: 0° C to 35° C ( 32° F to 95° F)
  • Non-op Temperature: -40° C to 70° C (-40° F to 158° F)

Software and Usability

Like other devices in the My Cloud family, the EX2 Ultra is easy to set up. The online user manual takes you through all of the necessary steps to get the machine up and running. WD also has mobile apps for iOS and Android, allowing you access to your content from anywhere.

The My Cloud OS has an indisputably simple design. The intuitive layout makes navigating through the features and settings a breeze. The home page displays the remaining free capacity, system diagnostics, and network activity.

My cloud dashboard

The My Cloud OS has an indisputably simple design. The intuitive layout makes navigating through the features and settings a breeze. The home page displays the remaining free capacity, system diagnostics, and network activity.

my-cloud

The ribbon at the top of the interface provides links to the tools and settings.

WD my cloud ex2 ultra performance

The device also can be accessed with mobile devices where users can view files, backup files such as photos and videos, check on the status of the device, and share files with others.

Performance Analysis

We ran the 4TB version of the My Cloud EX2 Ultra through its paces with our standard Test Lab regimen.

We first took a look at 4K performance at 100% read/100% write activity. While the new EX2 Ultra does not surpass the EX2 in write activity, read activity in iSCSI outperformed with an IOPS of 329.

throughtput

Next, we measured average latency under 100% read/write activity where the EX2 Ultra had superior performance in read activity with latency as low as 776.99ms in iSCSI. With writers on the other hand, the Ultra had higher latency in both iSCSI and CIFS with iSCSI being over two times higher than the non-Ultra.

avg latency

Looking at max latency we saw that the Ultra had the lowest write latency in CIRS with 2,295.5ms but its write latency in iSCSI was the highest overall at 8,800.4ms. It had superior read latency in both iSCSI and CIFS compared to the non-Ultra model.

Max Latency

Standard deviation gave us another example of the Ultra having higher latency than the non-Ultra version. While the write latency in CIFS was the lowest over all at 183.05ms, the Ultra trailed behind the non-Ultra on all the rest. The Ultra had an incredibly high write latency in iSCSI at 1,899.28ms

Standard Deviation

Compared to the fixed 16 thread, 16 queue max workload we performed in the 100% 4k write test, our mixed workload profiles scale the performance across a wide range of thread/queue combinations. Looking at throughput the Ultra found itself lagging behind the non-Ultra once again. The iSCSI peaked around 200 IOPS while the CIFS hovered right above the 100 IOPS mark throughout testing.

Conclusion

Like its brethren, the WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra is easy to use and is supported by a simplistic user interface. Getting the device up and running on your network only takes a few minutes, as this is one of the easiest NAS setups on the market. The latest model comes with several capacity options with the capacity on the high end being 12TB. It also provides users with several backup options making it an attractive choice for small and home offices.

Performance wise, the My Cloud EX2 Ultra performs well for the home or small office use cases at a wallet-friendly price point. The EX2 Ultra has a leg up on its previous generation EX2 with 128K sequential performance with speeds as high as 116MB/s read and 112MB/s write. However random performance is lacking in comparison to the EX2. This is most noticeably seen on the 8K 70% read 30% write charts with lower throughput and higher average and max latency. In the end most users probably won’t notice much about the performance though; the target demographic will find access times acceptable and should be more impressed with ease of use than anything else.

Pros

  • Very easy setup
  • Good price
  • Built to support media among other content

Cons

  • Fewer third party plugins/apps than alternatives

The WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra offers a clean design, both externally and with the user interface, home/small office targeted features, and one of the easiest setups on the NAS market, all at an affordable price.

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