My plan was to pick up the 4 bay option of Western Digital’s (WD) Network Attached Storage (NAS), the EX4. With this option, i would have a storage device that can accomodate 4 hard disk drives. However, budget considerations made me settle for the 2 bay option, the EX2.
What Are Network Attached Storages (NAS)?
NAS are usually compact enclosures that are fitted with multiple hard drives. But unlike your regular hard drives, your NAS has the following additional features;
- Generally, such devices can be controlled via a web interface, like your router, giving you a centralized dashboard to monitor your storage (Health, shares, usage, etc).This web interface masks the powerful Linux Operating systems that the NAS rides on.
- The NAS is connected to a Wired or Wireless network, making the hard drives accessible to all devices (Computers, Tablets, Smartphones) on the network.
- You have an option to limit access to the NAS to your local network or you can access it over the Internet. Think of your own personal dropbox.
- You can then access the files using a variety of different applications and even run different bits of software on the NAS itself, such as media-server solutions for streaming media (Music, Video or pictures) to the different devices on your network and BitTorrent clients for downloading directly on the device. Many types of back-up software can back up directly to the network storage.
- Most have a bunch of one-click installable apps (WordPress, Joomla, Dropbox, etc) that can transform your NAS to your website host.
- For small businesses, it can serve as a central storage for your files and allows for collaboration. You could also set up your company Intranet on it.
- They have slots for multiple hard drives; 3.5″, 2.5″ or both.
Why Western Digital EX2?
What differentiates one NAS from the other include the following;
- Ease of use. As this device is targetted at the Home and Small Business audience who have limited technology skills, effort is put into making these devices as easy and intuitive as possible to use, particularly the embedded Operating System.
- Quality of the Hardware
- Availability of third party apps
The WD EX2 excels in (almost) all these. But i must quickly note that, at the moment, third party apps for this device are very, very few.
I picked up the diskless variant from Amazon for about $160 and it arrived within 3 days. It is a 2-bay NAS and it allows a maximum of 2 drives in its enclosure. As of June 2015, current firmware supports a maximum capacity of 6TB for a single drive for this NAS, making a maximum of 12TB for the 2 bays in its enclosure. However, i picked up a single 4TB drive for about $160, hoping to pick up another as soon as the drive fills up.
Please note that while your regular computer hard drives will work in your NAS, there are drives that are specially built to work with them because of their peculiarities. Western Digital calls theirs WD Red. Hard disks stacked close to each other in a NAS will be subject to more heat and vibration as they chug away than they would in a desktop tower, so the Red series have hardware-based vibration compensation technology to improve long-term reliability when used in arrays of between two and eight drives. They are usually a bit (just a bit) more expensive than your regular drives.
So What Happens To My Old External Drives?
Good News! While you are limited to the number of drives that you can fit into the enclosure of your NAS, whether you choose the 2 or 4 bay option, the WD NAS comes with 2 USB 3.0 ports. You can easily connect your old drives into these ports directly or via a, preferrably, powered hub if you have multiple hard drives or flash drives.
- You will be extending the capacity of the NAS. You easily add additional GB/TB to the capacity of your NAS
- Easily take back ups of the drives in the enclosure.