Gadgetslab: WD DL4100

 

Storage is serious business. It’s difficult to put a price on data, and having a place to keep lots of it, with easy access is something many people would pay a premium for. WD has been making great hard drives as far back as I can remember, and they continue to give us that space we crave for, thanks to an excellent line of external, and network-attached drives. We were lucky enough to get our hands on a 16TB NAS for the office, so for those of you who just need more space, read on.

Design: 4/5

This NAS is very low-key. A simple black box, with vents for heat management is really all it looks to be. A closer inspection yields LAN ports at the back, along with USB ports for attaching other external drives. The front also has an extremely handy backlit display, so you can easily tell the network address, system status, and device name, without having to check the network page on your machine. If you’re doing the setup and system maintenance yourself, this is a godsend.

It has a decidedly more industrial look than the Personal offerings from WD, which is actually pretty cool in my opinion. While it might not be in place next to a slim and sexy TV, it looks all business, which is an appeal all on its own. Besides, with 16TB of storage, I’m not really one to complain.

Additional indicators for power, and each of the four HDD bays are present, so you can get a pretty good idea of what’s going on with your NAS with a quick glance.

Hardware 4/5

The DL4100 has four 3.5-inch HDD bays, each hot-swappable, and tray-less. Just pop the thing open, swap out, and you’re done. You also get USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports in the rear (one each), and another USB 3.0 port up front, with the ability for direct copy, should you need to migrate data quickly. Inside, you get four WD Red NAS HDDs for 16TB (!!) of storage, and a 1.7 GHz Intel Atom processor to crunch the data. It also has 2GB of RAM. To connect it to the network, you have two Gigabit Ethernet ports.

The extremely helpful LCD screen on the front of the device can display two lines of text, and pertinent information on the state and status of the NAS.

User Experience: 4.5/5

Networking things is not a strong suit of mine. I tend to get things working eventually, but it’s hardly ever a pleasant experience. The DL4100 was exactly the opposite of past experience. Plug in the power, wait for it to boot, plug it into the router and wait a sec for it to appear on the network. Once it did, I could immediately access public storage. From there, it was a simple matter of assigning it a static IP, giving it a name everyone on the network could recognize, and letting everyone know where it was. The whole thing took all of maybe ten minutes, from the time I opened up the box, to when I first transferred data onto the drive.

The next step was to allow for remote access. After making an admin account, I was able to create individual user accounts for my workmates, for use with the WD app for both iOS and Android. The cloud-based solution mostly cuts out complicated permission and access settings, and vastly simplifies the process. I did run into a problem with our ISP’s router settings, which required some technician-level assistance, but that was by no fault of the device. Once those were gotten out of the way, everything performed smoothly.

The WD app allows access to files and folders on the NAS, as well as a private folder for each user, should the admin account provide them with one. Remote admin access is available as well, should you need to make some changes while away. Once everything is set up, the DL4100 allows you to have your own personal cloud, located at a place that’s as secure as you make it.

One of my favorite features on the DL4100, apart from the copious storage space, is the presence of the display. Apart from the device IP and name, you also get info on fan status, drive space and status, uptime, system temperature, and Ethernet status. For more complicated notifications, the device can email you, or you can get alerts from the settings page, or the application. Nothing is going to get past you.

It also gives a lot of streaming support. UPnP, DLNA, XBOX, PS3, Windows 8, and smart TVs/blu-ray players all play nice with the DL4100, so it does both work and play. Streaming works just as advertised, and as long as your network is in good shape, it performs swimmingly. You may never have to plug an external HDD into your device ever again.

Value: 4/5

The value of having access to data cannot be overrated. The fact that the DL4100 makes it so easy to store and access is just icing on the cake. If your business moves a lot of files around, or needs remote access, plus the ability to run RAID backups, swappable drives, and a little streaming on the side, the WD DL4100 is a clear winner.

What’s hot:

Huge storage

Simple setup

Easy control

What’s not:

Might need a few extra skills for more advanced stuff

Bottomline: I’d get one myself if I needed all that space

Specs:

Capacity: 16TB, 4 WE Red NAS drives, 4 bays

Processor: 1.7 GHz Intel Atom

RAM: 2GB

Interface: Gigabit Ethernet x 2, Power supply (DC in) x 2, USB 3.0 expansion port x1 rear, USB 2.0 expansion port x1 rear, USB 3.0 port with direct copy x 1 front

File System: EXT4 for internal HDD, Support following formats for externally attached USB drives

FAT/FAT32

NTFS (read and write capability)

HFS+J (case sensitive)

Linux EXT2, EXT3, EXT4

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