Western Digital MyCloud EX2 Ultra brings simplicity to the NAS cloud server.
Save often and back-up your work. Never were there more truer words of wisdom when working with technology. I’ve been burned many times before by hard drive failures and having a back-up has always saved me. There was one occasion when I was working as a video editor where a RAID hard drive system completely failed and all of our data was lost. We had to start the client’s project from scratch and it cost us a lot of time and money. After that point, we turned to Western Digital and their MyBook series hard drives for our archival needs. As wonderful as they were (and still are), the world has become wireless and it’s time to move to a more cloud-based system. Fortunately, Western Digital has a fantastic new RAID drive, the MyCloud EX2 Ultra.
WD MyCloud EX2 Ultra provides personal cloud storage in several size capacities – 4, 6, 8, or 12 TB. You can even purchase an Assembly kit where you can add your own hard drives into it. The hard drives included in the MyBook system are WD Red NAS hard drives. This RAID storage system is compatible with Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Mac OS X El Capitan, Yosemite, Mavericks, Mountain Lion, or Lion operating systems. All you need to get started is a router with Internet connection.
The WD MyCloud EX2 Ultra is a RAID system meaning that it has a “multiple physical disk drive components into a single logical unit for the purposes of data redundancy.” The MyCloud can be set-up as RAID 1 or RAID 0. It comes pre-packaged as a RAID 1 drive, which means that your data is being stored on one of the 2 hard drives and then being cloned to the other. This gives you a redundant back-up in the case of a drive failure. And, because of the way the MyCloud EX2 Ultra is set-up, should a drive fail, you can take out the bad drive and replace it so that you don’t have a loss of data. RAID 0 will stripe data across both drives giving you the full 4TB of storage (if that’s the model you have), but you stand the chance of losing all your data if a drive fails since the two drives are bonded together – acting as one. For my purposes, I intend to leave the MyCloud as a RAID 1 system.
In addition to its connection through your network (Gigabit Ethernet), the WD MyCloud EX2 Ultra also has 2 – USB 3.0 ports, which allow you to expand to additional drives, which will work with the MyCloud software. It has a Marvel ARMADA 1.3 GHz dual-core processor and 1 GB DDR3 memory, which makes saving and transferring data on this machine very quick and efficient. The system is also very secure boasting 256 AES volume encryption.
I have the privilege of testing out the 4TB version of the MyCloud EX2 Ultra, which weighs approximately 3 pounds. The higher capacities weigh more. This RAID system is small enough to be considered ‘portable,’ but I wouldn’t carry it too far. The WD Red drives are mechanical drives and as such shouldn’t be moved too much or you risk damaging them. Speaking of the drives, there are 2 x 3.5 inch hard drive bays that are hot swappable and have a tray-less design. This makes it easy to change drives when needed.
Getting started with the WD MyCloud EX2 Ultra was extremely easy. The first step is to pull out the drive, the ethernet cable, and power supply out of the box. Western Digital provides a very quick start guide. It’s a simple card that says, “Hello. Meet your private cloud.” On the reverse side, there is an easy to follow illustration guide. Step one – plug in the drive to power and your router using the provided ethernet cable. Second, you wait for the drive fully boot up by watching for the LED indicator lights to show a steady blue color. Once this step is complete, you finish your set-up through the web app at mycloud.com/setup.
This process is very quick and easy. I love the way Western Digital has it structured. Once you visit the URL listed above, and click “Get Started,” the web app searches for your connected device and prompts you to create a free account for cloud access of your MyCloud EX2 Ultra drive. The entire process from opening the box to logging into the web app for access to the drive was less than 10 minutes. I was completely blown away by how easy the set-up and account creation was.
At the end of the process, you are prompted to download WD Sync, a desktop utility that connects you computer directly to your MyCloud drive – bypassing the web app access. This is a useful little utility that makes it very easy for you to connect folders and sync them to your MyCloud drive. While this isn’t required of the user, it is recommended for easy connection to the NAS device.
EASE OF USE
One of the things I’ve always loved about Western Digital is that their products are user-friendly. The majority of the drives I’ve used in the past have been ‘plug-and-play’ type systems where the computer (usually a Mac) recognizes it right off the bat. The MyCloud is no different. It’s been designed as a user-friendly system from set-up to daily use and even maintenance. There are some RAID systems in the market that are meant for a super user, or someone that is technically minded. This is a self-contained, ready to go out of the box system that anyone can use.
I am lucky because I work in an environment that has very high-speed internet access. Our business depends on remote access of information and we utilize services such as Dropbox to complete our projects. With that in mind, one of the tests I ran the MyCloud through was a remote connection from my work location to my home, where the drive is physically located. I logged into the web portal, located a photo, and downloaded it (it was a 3MB file) within about one minute. The MyCloud was very responsive and the download speed was immaculate.
For a second test, I downloaded a video that was actually stored on Dropbox, but connected through the MyCloud drive. WD had included Dropbox as one of its apps, which means you can sync your Dropbox account to your MyCloud. So, my test involved selecting one of my videos stored there (approximately 160MB in size) and downloading it. I found that it took about 4 minutes to download the video. Not entirely horrible considering the MyCloud is actually communicating with Dropbox to transfer the data.
Remote connection to the MyCloud EX2 Ultra is amazing and I am in awe of how well it works.
The syncing of data to your MyCloud couldn’t be simpler. You can do it one of two main ways. First, you can visit the web app portal for your MyCloud and select “upload” to upload your files manually. While this is effective, the more efficient way in my opinion is to use the WD Sync utility I described above. Once you have set it up, it will automatically sync to your MyCloud drive, which keeps your data backed up.
WD designed the MyCloud series drives to work with built-in backup systems, like Apple’s Time Machine. It’s completely compatible with Time Machine and WD SmartWare Pro for PC users.
In my opinion, WD set this device up to act a lot like Dropbox does. It’s very easy to upload and download data AND there is a very simple sharing system embedded as well. You can set up different users to have their own access to the drive, which is great for small business settings, and you can send single files to individuals, too. I sent a test link to someone who was not in the same location as me and they were able to download a smaller file (3MB) within about a minute.
There are several third party app integrations, but perhaps the most well-known and popular is Plex. With the Plex media server, you can access all your media files from wherever you are and what ever device you have on you. It’s a seamless system and I’m glad that WD included it as a part of its ecosystem.
Western Digital products never cease to amaze me. They have sturdy hard drive solutions that stand the test of time and have built their systems to be user-friendly. The MyCloud EX2 Ultra is an exceptional machine that solves a lot of problems for me. Part of my concern with having a good back-up solution is that I have limited hard drive space on my computer. Knowing that I can back my photos (about 1/5 of my hard drive space) up to my MyCloud drive is a godsend.
I’ve wanted a system like this for a while, but didn’t feel comfortable with some of the bigger, more advanced systems out there. I just didn’t think it was something I could set-up on my own. The MyCloud is easy to use and easy to set-up. It’s a wonderful investment for someone who wants to have a very powerful, cloud-based, user-friendly back-up system. It’s also very cost-effective in comparison to some of the other systems available.
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