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The Right Way to Backup External Drives on WD NAS

by Pratik

Whether you want to backup your entire data or stream videos around the house, having a dedicated NAS (a.k.a Network Attached Storage) really comes in handy. Recently, I got the 24 TB WD EX4100 for archiving my YouTube videos. And the first problem I faced was taking backups from the external Hard Drives. To begin with, the file transfer speeds over Wi-Fi are horrible. Switching over to the Ethernet port does improve the transfer speeds but it still requires you to keep the computer turned ON the entire time. Turns out, there is a better (and faster) way to transfer files from external HDD to NAS using the USB 3.0 port on the NAS and the WD web portal. Here is how you do it.

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Create Background Copy Jobs on WD NAS

Just to put it out there, the 10 Gigabit Ethernet will provide you better copy speeds than USB 3.0. You should stick to the LAN in case of the internal drives but if you have external drives, I would recommend connecting them to the NAS drive and using the portal backup jobs. On the WD web dashboard, you have a Backup tab that lets you schedule a backup job to copy data through and fro from the NAS to the USB. Let me brief you through the entire process.

Foremost, connect the external HDD or SSD to the WD NAS USB port on the front. Make sure you connect the external drive with the USB at the front since the USB drives at the back are USB 2.0.


1. Login to your WD web portal. In case you have not set up an administrator account, the default username and password are admin. Once you have logged in, click on the Backup tab.


2. Within the backup tab, you have the option to create backup jobs. The jobs are logged here and you can see any previously ran backup jobs below. To create a new job, click on the “Create Job” button.


3. On the Create Job menu, you will have the option to specify the job name which cannot be modified later. This field is irrelevant, you can provide the name accordingly. The next field is the Backup type which can be “USB to NAS” or “NAS to USB”. For this instance, we are transferring data from the external drive to NAS, we will select the Direction as “USB to NAS”.


4. Prior to the Direction, you have to select the Source and Destination folder. Another important parameter is the Backup Type. Now, since this is the first time we are copying files from the drive, we will select this as Copy.

The other two options are Synchronize and Incremental. In case you select Synchronize, files on the destination folder will be synced with the source folder. This will update the existing files on the destination folder with the source version and delete the destination files if they don’t exist on the source.

Whereas Incremental will copy the file changes from the source to the destination folder. It won’t delete the destination files if they don’t exist on the source.

select backup type as copy on NAS

5. Additionally, check the option “Auto Start When Connected” which ensures the job resumes if the external drive is connected. Click on the Create button and the job should start right away.

create backup job on NAS

Since this is a batch job, you don’t need to monitor the backup job. You can see the backup job progress within the same backup job tab.


On successful completion, the following message appears “Backup completed” beside the job name. You can also check the backup end time by clicking on the Job Detail button towards the extreme right of the job name. In case the backup has failed due to connection or storage issues, you will see the same information within the job detail tab.

backup job detail about the

You can also modify these jobs and reuse them. In our case, we have a fixed number of jobs depending on the external drives. We just re-run the job and attach the drive to archive the entire data on to the NAS.

For more queries or issues regarding the WD EX4100, let me know in the comments below.

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