Western Digital My Cloud DL4100 Review

Western Digital My Cloud DL4100Western Digital (WD) has always aimed the My Cloud appliances at the prosumer market preferring to leave SMBs to choose from its Sentinel products and their confusing range of Windows operating systems. That’s about to change as its latest My Cloud Business Series targets SOHOs and small shops that want plenty of storage but less complication and a lower price.

The DL4100 is a 4-bay desktop appliance which can be purchased diskless or prepopulated with WD Red hard disks and ready to go out of the box. On review is the 24TB model which looks very tempting as it comes with a quartet of 6TB Red drives and yet costs less than $1,600.

Processing power gets boosted over the My Cloud EX4100 model as its elderly 1.6GHz Armada CPU is replaced by a more modern 1.7GHz Intel Atom C2338. The base 2GB of DDR3L memory can be upgraded to 6GB by removing the chassis cover and slipping an extra SO-DIMM module into the easily accessible slot at the side.

The dual Gigabit ports can be used separately or joined together using one of seven fault tolerant or load balanced link modes which include round robin, active/backup, 802.3ad or adaptive. You get USB 3 ports fore and aft and pressing the button above the front one copies the entire contents of an attached storage device to a predefined share.

My Cloud DL4100 Rear View

Easy installation

The preconfigured models all come with their four drives in a RAID5 array. The hard disks are fitted in easy-swap carriers which don’t support SFF drives and if you do go for the diskless version, bear in mind only WD’s Red drives are certified for use.

WD’s web console is easy to use and provides a good overview of its status and active users

Installation is nicely handled as you point a browser at the appliance and follow the quick start wizard. This guides you through securing administrative access, creating user accounts and setting up WD My Cloud access.

Users receive an email with details of their My Cloud account and after logging in, they can see the appliance and are provided with links for downloading WD’s desktop and mobile apps. The Windows app provides a tidy dashboard showing all their shares and files can be copied across from Windows Explorer using drag and drop.

Download links for selected files can also be emailed to other users where the My Cloud app uses the default mail client. We also used WD’s free iOS apps on our iPad to view shares, download files and play music and videos.

We used WD’s iOS app to remotely access our files and music on the appliance

Backup features

Backup features may not be as extensive as those provided by Synology or Qnap but the DL4100 has most of the bases covered. We’ve already mentioned the backup button on the front panel but you can also create jobs for copying data to and from USB devices.

Backup to remote devices is possible but WD doesn’t support the Rsync protocol so this will only work with other My Cloud devices. Jobs can also be created to regularly copy data from one location to another within the same appliance.

Cloud backup is also possible but WD only currently supports the ElephantDrive and Amazon S3 hosted services. We tested the latter and had no problems securing data to our Amazon S3 account although you need to know your bucket names when creating jobs as the web console won’t display them for selection.

WD also bundles its SmartWare workstation backup software which can run real-time synchronisations or scheduled backups of selected local folders. On installation we got a free upgrade to the Pro version allowing us to backup data to USB drives and our Dropbox account as well as the DL4100 but not mapped shares on other NAS appliances.

Performance

The DL4100 delivered a mixed bag of speeds in our performance tests. Drag and drop copies of a 50GB test file between the appliance and an HP ProLiant DL380 Gen9 server returned sustained read and write averages of 112MB/sec and 104MB/sec.

Our general backup copy test wasn’t so impressive as its 22.4GB mix of 10,500 small files took over 9 minutes to copy across for an average of only 41MB/sec. When testing most Synology and Qnap businesses appliances we expect to see averages of around 80-88MB/sec.

IP SANs are also on WD’s menu although features are basic as it doesn’t support thin provisioning, LUN backup or snapshots. Performance was reasonable, though, with Iometer reporting raw read and write rates of 100MB/sec and 98MB/sec for a 500GB target.

More features

DL4100 Apps available

A modest selection of extra apps are available and we found Dropbox easy to configure

File syncing apps are thin on the ground as WD only offers one for Dropbox which supports one account. Even so, it’s easy to use as we loaded it on the appliance, linked it to our Dropbox account and were able to sync files between the appliance and all users with the same account.

WD also provides access to more free apps which can be downloaded directly from the web console. These include multimedia apps along with one for Acronis True Image 2015 where WD offers a special deal for users plus another for unlimited cloud storage.

It’s also possible to add power redundancy to the DL4100 as it supports two external PSUs. However commendable, it isn’t a feature we’re keen on as a second 150W power adapter costs nearly $100 – around the same price as a purpose-built 700VA UPS from APC.

PROS:
  • High capacity for the price
  • Easy installation
  • Geared up for cloud access

CONS:
  • Poor backup performance
  • Basic range of apps
  • Extra PSU expensive

Summary

The My Cloud DL4100 is very simple to install and is to be recommended if you want your users to have easy cloud access to its storage. It doesn’t stack up well against the likes of Synology and Qnap for features but it does score for value as few other vendors can deliver as high a capacity for such a low price.

7.8 Total Score
High Capacity at a Low Price

The My Cloud DL4100 is very simple to install and is to be recommended if you want your users to have easy cloud access to its storage. It doesn’t stack up well against the likes of Synology and Qnap for features but it does score for value as few other vendors can deliver as high a capacity for such a low price.

Performance
6.5
Features
7.5
Build Quality
8
Usability
8
Value
9
User Rating: Be the first one!