Disappointingly, the use of the 'Cloud' buzzword on WD's My Cloud EX4 is a bit of a misnomer. Yes, it lets you access your files from afar, but you're going through WD's own servers - so it's technically their cloud and not yours. It's also not all that different from accessing a computer via a remote desktop app. We're guessing that connecting directly to your home or office network via a smartphone brings up all sorts of security headaches, but it still feels as if WD's cloud promise could be better delivered.
WD has certainly put a lot of effort into designing the My Cloud EX4, and it feels solid and reassuringly weighty while looking like a proper piece of business equipment. Setting it up is straightforward and there are very few points where we felt completely stuck, making it ideal for those inexperienced in the mysterious ways of NAS. It's also very, very safe, with lots of options for power supplies and backing up your data.
We really like the My Cloud EX4's software interface, too – it's stylish and unique, and it makes fine-tuning the drive a doddle. DLNA and UPnP support mean that the drive can become the heart of a home network, and the built-in downloading apps and iTunes support let you fill it with music and movies to your heart's content.
While WD has made everything in the My Cloud EX4 fairly painless, this comes at the cost of more advanced features and functions. Its apps are very few in number, and dwarfed by the sheer amount available for Synology drives – but this could improve in the near future if developers can be tempted by WD's carrot. We also found the mobile apps lacked features, and would have been better implemented had they included on-device transcoding.
WD's My Cloud EX5 certainly has the foundations of a decent and solid NAS system, and it's ruggedly designed and well thought-through. As an (expensive) introduction to NAS it's perfect, and more casual users will find it easy to setup and use on a day-to-day basis.
Where it lacks at the moment is in terms of apps, both in-built and third-party. While Synology's drives tend to be a bit more fiddly and complicated, we prefer them for the sheer array of available plug-ins and software. Investing in the drive, as it stands, is a bit of a gamble until developers code decent and useful apps for it.