Diskless VS Preconfigured

Hello, I am debating between the ex2 ultra diskless, and purchasing 2 (4TB) Red PLUS drives and just purchasing the preconfigured 8TB system.

From what I can see, the preconfigured systems come with the standard Red drives. I can actually save about $40 by purchasing the diskless version, and then purchasing the higher quality PLUS drives.

My question is, what kind of “configuring” would I need to do with the diskless setup? I’m not really comfortable with “building or partioning” drives or anything like that. I would rather not have to install any OS or anything like that.

Is there really much of a benefit from using the PLUS drives vs the standard ones? Saving the $40 isn’t really a huge deal, but the quality of the drives is what I’m looking at. Thank you all!

At 4TB. . .the standard Red drives I believe are SMR.

SMR drives are to be avoided in all circumstances, regardless of cost savings.
They are supposedly good for archival purposes. . . but reading how this actually works… . .I wouldn’t touch it with a 10’ poll.

Red Plus should be conventional CMR technology, with 5400rpm spin. Red Pro is CMR with 7200 rpm spin. I think there are only limited advantages of 7200 rpm in a NAS. (definately the choice for a HDD in a gaming PC)

Although I have never done it. . .I understand that dropping drives into a WD NAS -and defaulting to wiping the drive for new use- is pretty much a default and a rather easy excercise.

Thank you for your reply! I am hoping that someone can confirm that by purchasing a diskless version, that I will be able to just drop in the red plus drives and be good to go, without having to create volumes or anything like that.

There is a volume creation step. . .and a raid configuration step . . . .but these are simple push buttons and are fairly straight forward.

Volume creation step: Confirms you are dropping in fresh drives that you want configured; and didn’t make a mistake and want to preserve daa on the drives. (if the drives came from another WD NAS, you would see an option to use “Raid Roaming”.

Raid configuration step:
Choices are:

  • Raid 0 (Both drives become a single volume; optimized for fast data retrival. No redundancy. One drive goes bad; all data is lost)

  • Raid 1 (Drives are mirrored; 2 x 4TB drives gives you 4TB of capacity. Redundant; One drive goes bad, you get a Red LED, a warning email; and you can replace the bum drive without even shutting down the EX2)

  • JBOD (Just a Bunch Of Disks) (Drives are independent; 2 x 4TB drives gives you 2 x 4TB shares. Non-redunant… . One drive goes bad; you lose all the data on that drive. Other drive will be fine)

  • Spanning (both drives are a . . . .aaahhhh. . .I forget the difference between this and Raid 0)

PS: Sounds like you are getting ready to make a purchase. While WD is economical; and quite fine for “simple” network file access. . . . for advanced users; streaming and Internet access. . . other more expensive vendors might be a better choice. You will see a number of threads regarding OS/5 (the current operating system) and it’s overall quality.

I see, I get the RAID idea, as ive seen videos on it, and I plan on using RAID 1.

Im guessing the volume creation is just pretty much formatting the drive to the enclosure correct?

Is the OS saved to the internal CPU or something? Thats where im getting confused. I dont want to have to load the OS and mess up!

For the EX2 ultra, the O/S resides on chips on the motherboard.

Volume creation is indeed equivilent to “format”

The secret here is updating firmware is basically wiping and replacing the O/S. This is a simple LINUX based system. . .and the O/S files are relatively small. It takes under 10 minutes, and is not an all-day event like a Windows O/S upgrade.

I have done firmware updates a number of times, including a reversion back from the current OS/5 back to the obsolete OS/3. That non-sanctioned reversion process took 15 minutes.

updating the firmware has to be done in either scenario, diskless or preconfigured right?

Some say you should update firmware whenever firmware is available… . . .I say wait awhile to make sure the rest of the user base doesn’t have issues with that version.

So. . . I would check for a firmware update every few monthes.

(In 2020, new firmware was coming out bi-monthly. in 2021, it was once per month. Not sure the frequency is in 2022)

((NOTE FOR OS/3 USERS: don’t do any more firmware updates. The last firmware update just provides a nag screen to upgrade to OS/5. There will be one more firmware update. Supposedly to remove cloud services. No telling what else will be intentionally/unintentionally be included in that update. It certainly won’t be a security patch)

I want to thank you for all of your input on my dilemma. I went ahead and decided to order the EX2 Ultra, with 2 of the 4TB Red Plus drives. I know you mentioned that other companies offer better and more in depth devices, but this is my first time getting into a NAS and I certainly do not want to overwhelm myself with all of the possibilities of a higher end system. I think the very user friendly and limited options (limited possibilities for me to mess something up!) is what I need at the moment. I will definitely look into something like a Synology in the future. Thank you again!

Just insert the drives and turn it on (plug it in). You are taken through the setup routine automatically. The EX2 Ultra will be fine until 2025/2026.