First NAS. Would appreciate some basic help on planning use

I’m having some challenges understanding what to use our new NAS for. There appears to be good procedure references once choices have been made, but stuff intended to help strategies on NAS use is pretty high level.

Starting with some basics: Some references advise to just think of the NAS as a big storage device, but, if I understand properly, it’s also a server. I say that because of the list of applications (e.g.Joomla!, WordPress, phpAdmin), which appear to be run on the NAS. True?

Ours is a home application with just two users (me, spouse). One function we will use is to backup our laptops to the NAS. We’ll use Acronis TI, which I assume we load on the laptops and configure to use the NAS. I say that because Acronis is listed as a “server” application which tells me its Acronis loaded on the NAS to back up the NAS itself.

Another function we’ll use is to offload files from our laptops. The first will be the iTunes library. I assume I can find good instructions online on how to move the music library to the NAS and the point iTunes to it.

We could use a DropBox-like sync (allows us to sync more sensitive data). Is WD Sync what to use?

Has anyone seen any documentation that is aimed at understanding what to use a NAS for (as opposed as how to use a NAS)?

It would have helped to know which EX2 you have, how many drives and their size, as this limits how much data you can put on it.
Best way to help is to tell you I have the earlier top of line model DL2100, w/two drive bays and each drive is a 4TB WD Red drive arranged as RAID1, so I have effectively only 4TB I can populate with data (RAID1 was the wrong choice; I should have set it up as JBOD to be able to use the full 8TB for storage. More on this later.)

I chose to use my NAS primarily as a media server, (not a backup device). The best thing about a NAS is that no computer needs to be on to use it! I have a large music and video collection we stream to many devices either within home and even remotely using the WD My Cloud app on our iPads and iPhones

We can stream music (via Bluetooth or Chrome casting) that’s playing on iOS gadgets to other gadgets connected to the TV/stereo, even to Alexa or Google devices. Music we stream is from my iTunes Media file or my wife’s. I know I can direct my iTunes Media files to the NAS, but chose not to,because I do not want to chance screwing up the original files in any way, so the NAS has COPIES of these files on it. This means I have to manually update new music on the copies, but I have the drill down, and I update them frequently enough so hassle is minimal.

My movie collection from our DVDs have been cleared of copy protection so they can be used as fifes and played on all our devices such as a WDTV media player’ even an Amazon Fire TV. The files are in disk image format (ISO) and some are in a format for playing on the tablets and phones (mp4/m4v) NONE of our music or videos were Apple downloads. Apple will not allow their stuff to play unless directly saved and stored on an Apple device, so none of our media files have that limitation /issue.

I back up our phone and Pad camera rolls to the NAS using the My Cloud app. I have customized the app and data to place the data into certain folders.

BTW, The My Cloud app works well for viewing videos on iOS devices, but it just plain ■■■■■ for music, so I use much better apps for playing music from NAS.

Perhaps you have noticed ALL media files on my NAS are copies of data folders/files stored elsewhere, so in a real sense data on NAS is a Back up of this data.

As for setting up the NAS as either a RAID or JBOD config: Businesses need RAID for real time backup, but personal users don’t. I had meant to change mine from RAID to JBOD earlier so as to have all my storage space, but put it off until I now have 2TB in NAS I will need to remove and save, so I can set it up as JBOD now and re-copy the data on to NAS. I suggest you config to JBOD now before you have the situation I now have.

Excellent! Thanks for taking the time to post.

We’re not much for digital video, so that’s no much of a priority. You’re comment does remind me we have a bunch of family photos on SmugMug that I’d just as soon move (to remove cost of SM). The key will be to have some sort of indexing scheme and navigation method to view groups of photos, and ultimately allow for downloading the image file.

BTW, our NAS is a WD My Cloud 4TB EX2 Ultra, purchased late last year.

Thanks for the comments on RAID. Not sure I fully agree about it not being needed for personal use, but I do understand the trade-off you’re pointing out. I’ll do a quick estimate of our projected space use. Other than the laptop backups, the next largest uses will be the iTunes music library, file archives (from the laptops), and the photos, assuming there’s a path from SmugMug. The laptop backups will be around 1TB, even considering incremental backups. The iTunes music library is about

If the number comes anywhere near 2TB, I’ll do what you suggest re: JBOD. I’m assuming if I do that, it puts a higher premium on backing up the NAS.

I haven’t gotten to thinking through our mobile devices yet. Spouse and I both have IOS phones and iPods. She also has a tablet. Right now we have iTunes installed on one of the laptops, which is dedicated as a local network-connected device. It sits on a desk and is pretty much only used for iTunes. Rather than have each of us downloading tunes, we do all of them on that laptop.

Until just recently, that machine was a Mac, which is now being retired and replaced with a PC laptop. Although I could leave the iTunes music library on the laptop, my intent is to move the library to the NAS. Sound good?

Just to share for others, I have made some progress in learning about backups to and from the NAS via a chat with Acronis. Before some time with Carbonite, I used True image to do the laptop backups (to external HDs). I’m going back to ATI and discovered that their PC licenses can use ATI for backups to or from the NAS. If I go the JBOD route, I’d use the backup from the NAS more often.

Another new question: Does WD Sync create the NAS function similar to DropBox? i do have an issue with the install of WD Sync (the process doesn’t match what’s in the device user guide). As a result, I can’t tell if WD Sync is installed.

I realize this work will be lost if I decide to move away from RAID, but there’s only early testing going on. No harm if a start from scratch.

In thinking through the storage size question, am I correct in assuming that, even if allowed, physically replacing the 2TB HDDs with (say) 4TB HDDs is not a good path, particularly a couple months after making the NAS purchase.

If true, what are the ways to expand NAS storage, regardless of whether mirroring is being used? Is add another NAS one of the options? If so, I’m assuming that’s relatively inexpensive (i.e. under $300). Whatever the number, wouldn’t it be the cost trade-off for using mirror?

The is exactly the level of help I need right now. This RAID decision needs to be made since I’m ready to start using the NAS.


As I said, my NAS is filled with copies of media files only, and the originals are stored elsewher on drives. So, if my NAS were to go Poof, it would be easy to rebuild it, since the original files exist, and they are not tucked into an encoded backup set of files

You, on the other hand, want to completely backup two laptops using a back up program, so RAiD is better for this format. Not easy to extract folders/files individually. You would be using the backup to restore laptops, so redundancy of RAID is important. There is still the risk the NAS could go Poof, but you could easily rebuild a new one by running the back ups of the laptops again.

You decide.


My view on the EX2 is that if you are using 2x2tb in a JBOD configuration, why should you be using a 2-disk NAS box instead of a cheaper single disk 4tb world book? The whole point of the EX2 (and EX4 for that matter) is to implement a RAID architecture and backup the drives.

Well. . .the other reason may also be because the EX2 has a more powerful processor and more RAM than the older world books, so that it can serve better as a media server.

But frankly. . . even as a media server (using PLEX), I find that transcoding with the EX2 to be . . . painful? I now use direct streaming of files in final MP4 format that my media devices (usually a Roku stick or a tablet) can understand. Quite happy with the result in my house. Outside my house, streaming across the internet using PLEX from an EX2. . . even without transcoding. . . .has proved a bit problematic. I have not fully figured out how to optimize that aspect of the use case. Now, I generally carry a portable device that can stream media locally so I don’t have to worry about an internet connection.

Fundamentally, I sleep better knowing my data sits backup up on a NAS with a raid configuration. But Mike is right, the NAS can’t be your only copy of the files. In my case, I generally have a 4tb external drive as the “master” copy, and regularly backup this drive to the NAS. That way, if my external drive disappears. . .I am good with the NAS backup. If the house burns down with the NAS in it. . .more than likely the 4tb external drive will be in my bag with me. . . and I will still be good (homeless. . .but good).

Also. . .bear in mind that the WD NAS speaks a proprietary language. If the box itself dies, then getting the data off the drives might be a project (and will involve getting another WD NAS box)

Thanks for taking the time to comment.

I’ve reached sorta the same conclusion (re RAID) for this, our first NAS. I did go through a rough estimate of the amount of storage I’m going to need, which indicates the high water mark will be considerably less than 2TB.

In our case, the authoritative copy of the files are on the internal HDs of 3 laptops. Ended up re-licensing Acronis TI which, I’m told, can also be used to backup the NAS. I have a 2TB external that I’m thinking about connecting to the NAS, but still don’t have an approach to getting the NAS backup off site.