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Western Digital My Cloud EX2100 8TB review

Tom Morgan
1 Sep 2015
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Western Digital My Cloud EX2100
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
430
inc VAT

Excellent file transfer speeds and no-hassle setup, but WD still lags behind Synology and QNAP when it comes to features

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Specifications

Capacity: 8TB, 3.5" hard disk bays (free): 2 (0), Networking: 1x 10/100/1000 Ethernet, DLNA media server: Yes, Print server: No, Dimensions (WXHXD): 108x216x147mm, Weight: 2.1kg

A NAS device can be a brilliant way to add external storage to your network, making your files accessible on any connected device, but while brands such as Synology, Thecus and QNAP have products that are overflowing with features, you typically have to buy your own hard disks to put inside them, and software setup can be akin to installing a PC operating system. Not so with Western Digital’s My Cloud EX2100: it comes pre-fitted with a pair of WD Red hard disks, designed specifically for NAS devices and is ready to go right out of the box.

The EX2100 is a two-bay NAS, with two hot-swap 3.5in drive bays at the front of the unit, pre-filled with two 4TB hard disks. The black metal enclosure is utilitarian at best, although the glossy front panel and LED power button add a little design flair. There’s a single USB3 port on the front and a second on the back, which can be used to add external hard disks or flash drives to your network shares.

Western Digital My Cloud EX2100 front

There are also two Gigabit Ethernet ports on the rear, which can be used for redundancy in case your primary network goes down or you can connect them to the same network in case one port or cable fails. They can also be used for daisy-chaining multiple NAS devices together. Business-specific features like these will appeal to those needing to collaborate on projects or regularly save large files in a small office. That’s not to say that home users have been forgotten, as the EX2100 also supports DLNA and UPnP media sharing. You won’t want to keep this NAS next to your TV, though: the 70mm fan kicks up a real racket when you first switch it on and, even though this quickly quietens down once the operating system has booted, it’s still louder than other NAS devices we’ve looked at recently.

Powered by a dual-core, 1.3GHz Marvell Armada 385 processor and 1GB of DDR3 memory, the EX2100 is roughly on par with other mainstream NAS devices in terms of hardware. This certainly helps when it comes to file transfers: read and write speeds were very consistent, managing 110.1MB/s write and 112.5MB/s read speeds in the 2.5GB huge files test, and 105MB/s write and 109.4MB/s read speeds in the large files test. As usual, our punishing small files test takes significantly longer, but 74.2MB/s writes and 51.2MB/s read speeds are still very respectable. It means you won’t be waiting around to copy files, whether they are films or photo albums.

The one area Western Digital still lags behind the competition is with its web interface. The main screen gives you a simple overview of remaining capacity, disk health and CPU activity, but aside from user management, creating new folder shares and setting up backups, there’s just not a lot here. Smartphone apps for remote access are a welcome inclusion, and WD’s excellent backup software is useful, but otherwise you have to rely on third party apps to add features such as remote file hosting and web servers.

At £431, the My Cloud EX2100 is roughly on par with our current favourite NAS, Synology’s excellent DS215J, and a pair of 4TB WD Red hard disks. If you don’t mind setting up the NAS operating system yourself, the Synology NAS is far more comprehensive; it might not be quite as quick, but it’s overflowing with features. The EX2100 is fine if you’re after simple network storage, but most people will benefit from Synology’s more advanced features.

Hardware
Capacity8TB
Default file systemEXT4
File attribute supportYes
Price per gigabyte5p
Hard disk interfaceSATA3
3.5" hard disk bays (free)2 (0)
RAID modesJBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1
Interfaces
Networking1x 10/100/1000 Ethernet
Front USB ports1x USB3
Rear USB ports1x USB3
Other portsN/A
Networking
Universal Plug and PlayYes
DLNA media serverYes
Print serverNo
USB disk serverYes
Web serverYes
FTP serverYes
Mac file sharingYes
SSHYes
WebDAVYes
Other servicesRemote backups, download manager, smartphone apps
Features
Dimensions (WXHXD)108x216x147mm
Weight2.1kg

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