As our world moves further into the Digital Age and more people, many of whom have little experience with computers, allow technology like digital photos and digital music into their lives, the need for low cost, high volume storage has grown. For many users, opening up their Dell or Gateway beige box is a not an enjoyable experience and some users wouldn't even consider it an option. For those of you that simply will not get in there, Western Digital has an external storage system for you that is both easy to use and gives you data protection like the pros use.
The Western Digital My Book has been around for a few years and has several versions in its product line. Prices range from just under 100 Dollars for the My Book Essential 160 GB to just under 600 Dollars for the Studio Edition 2 TB and features eSATA, USB 2.0 and FireWire connections.
Today we are going to take a look at the Mirror Edition, a dual drive external product that is available in 1 or 2 TB capacities. What makes the Mirror Edition unique in the over saturated external drive market is its ability to store data in RAID 1. The Mirror Edition in RAID 1 stores your data on two drives in full, giving you two copies of everything. Since hard drives can unexpectedly fail, rendering them and the data stored useless, it is important to keep a back up of the data you never want to lose.
The Western Digital My Book Mirror Edition is also capable of running in RAID 0, effectively turning the system into a 2TB hard drive that the PC sees as a single drive. In many situations RAID 0 is used for its performance benefits, but when passing data over USB 2.0 we will not see a performance increase. RAID 0 also does not protect your data on the My Book and if one drive is lost due to failure you lose all of the data.
Let's dive in and take a look at the Western Digital My Book Mirror Edition 2TB USB 2.0 external hard drive and see what it has to offer.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
Western Digital makes several different My Book products. Today we are looking at the Mirror Edition which uses only the USB 2.0 interface. USB 2.0 is a protocol that is starting to show its age and only has a peak bandwidth limit of 480 Mbits/s. Details on USB 3.0 are slowly starting to immerge this week at the Intel Developers Forum, but actual products will not be ready until the first half of 2009.
The My Book Mirror Edition is a little larger than most portable USB hard drives, but it is not built for portability as much as it is extra storage. At just under seven inches tall and four inches wide you could easily take the Mirror Edition in your luggage for travel, but your notebook bag is another story.
The biggest feature for the Mirror Edition is data protection in RAID 1. As enthusiasts, many of us have lost a hard drive in the past along with the data kept on the drive. As I type this I am searching my network for my wife's resume that I am pretty sure was lost in a disaster earlier in the year. Such losses are far more than troublesome and the aftermath is similar to what victims go through in a house fire. While I didn't lose any silicone or plasma bits in my data disaster, many years of files, pictures and other sentimental items were lost that can never be replaced.
Not listed in the product specifications is the software package Western Digital has included with the My Book Mirror Edition. WD Anywhere Backup, Memeo AutoSync and WD MioNet include everything you need to safely backup your data. You can also set the software to automatically back up certain folders or your entire system.
Western Digital has a good network of e-tail and retail outlets for their products and you can find many of the My Book products locally. After a quick search using the Tweaktown Shopping Network, I was able to find the 2TB version that we are reviewing today for 399 and the 1TB version for 219 U.S. Dollars. If purchasing locally, be ready to spend around 499 before taxes.
The My Book Mirror Edition comes in a consumer friendly package. You can see clearly that Western Digital is on the 'Green' bandwagon and even reflects this fact by claiming the My Book is 30% more energy efficient.
The side of the package shows the My Book nestled between a row of books.
The back of the box has a lot of information that is presented in a manner that is easy to follow for those of us that are technically challenged.
The other side takes us back to the book shelf and shows the back side of the My Book.
The top of the box gives the user an idea of what to expect when they open the package. The drive is setup for RAID 1; data protection. Also listed are the package contents and an estimate of the amount of files the My Book can hold.
With the box removed, we see that the My Book is packaged very well with over an inch of cushion between the unit and the edge of the box.
The Western Digital My Book Mirror Edition
The My Book Mirror Edition has an external shell with a very nice black finish that is smooth and reflective. The only problem that I can see is that finger prints are going to show up if you even think about touching it. A series of status LEDs are also visible on the front of the drive.
Here we see the side and just how reflective the 'piano black' effect is.
Other than looking good, the sides of the My Book are plain with not much going on in this area.
The back is where the USB and power cables plug in. The power button is also located here, not where I would put it but Western Digital chose to keep a majority of the electronics together in one area.
The top and bottom of the My Book has adequate ventilation for the two 1TB hard drives inside.
With the unit powered we see the front LED array lit at full glow. The LEDs serve a couple of different functions. The first simply shows that the unit is powered and the second shows the amount of data stored on the My Book.
Documentation and Accessories
The documentation for the My Book Mirror Edition is pretty extensive for an external drive; but then again, most external drives do not come with RAID, much less selectable RAID.
The physical accessories are a power cord, brick style power supply and a USB cable.
Western Digital has given the My Book Mirror Edition a decent software package. After inserting the supplied software disk, a window is presented asking what software you would like to install.
Test System Setup
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 (Supplied by Intel)
Motherboard: XFX 680i SLi (Supplied by XFX USA)
Memory: 2x 1GB DDR2-1200 (Supplied by Winchip)
Graphics Card: ASUS HD 3870 TOP (Supplied by ASUS)
Cooling: GIGABYTE 3D Galaxy II (Supplied by GIGABYTE)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP Pro
Drivers: NVIDIA 15.17
Controller: Areca ARC-1231ML (Supplied by Areca)
As stated previously, the Western Digital My Book Mirror Edition can be run in either RAID 0 or RAID 1 modes. It is up to the user to choose if they want a full 2TB of space that is open to failure, should a drive go bad, or 1TB of protected space. Benchmarks are presented in both RAID 0 and RAID 1 configurations.
Benchmarks - HD Tune Pro - Read
HD Tune Pro
Version and / or Patch Used: 3.00
Developer Homepage: http://www.efdsoftware.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com/>
HD Tune is a Hard Disk utility which has the following functions:
- Benchmark: measures the performance
- Info: shows detailed information
- Health: checks the health status by using SMART
- Error Scan: scans the surface for errors
- Temperature display
HD Tune Pro gives us accurate read, write and access time results and for the last couple of years has been gaining popularity amongst reviewers. It is now considered a must have application for storage device testing.
The RAID 0 and RAID 1 read benchmarks are nearly identical and both are being limited by the USB 2 wire speeds.
Benchmarks - HD Tune Pro - Write
HD Tune Pro - Write Tests
Just like the HD Tune Read Test, the performance of the My Book Mirror Edition does not change much in RAID 0 to RAID 1. I was surprised to see the read speeds so low in this test; USB really rains on the My Book Parade when it comes to transfer speeds across the platters, but ease of use is greatly increased using this standard.
Benchmarks - HD Tune Pro - File Benchmark
HD Tune File Benchmark
The File Benchmark is used to show maximum write speed at different locations on the arrays disks. Both graphs look nearly identical, just like in the read and write transfer tests. Clearly the Western Digital My Book Mirror Edition is faster at reading data over writing and in most cases is able to read at twice the speed as it can write.
The Western Digital My Book Mirror Edition is not unique in its features, but is one of the most widely available external hard drives to feature RAID. The included software suite is given a big star of approval since it comes with a backup utility that is easy to navigate and setup. If used in RAID 1, the My Book Mirror Edition not only makes an external back up of your data, it places the data on two drives within the My Book, giving you three copies total. Your important data is truly safe at that point from catastrophic hardware failure.
Can you really put a Dollar amount on your families collection of digital pictures? As someone who has actually lost several years of pictures, I can tell you that you can't, but I can say what the cost of it not happening is. The Western Digital My Book Mirror Edition can be had for around 399 in the U.S. - It is really a small price to pay once you consider the data being saved. This is true for both home users and business professionals; just exchange the word picture with client list or work documents and it all reads the same, data that you never want to lose.
For enthusiasts looking for additional features like eSATA or Ethernet connectivity, the Mirror Edition is not for you. USB 2.0 has not become slower, your worlds are moving along faster, but Western Digital makes a My Book for you. The Studio Edition and Studio Edition II both use USB 2.0, FireWire and eSATA, giving you access to your data just a little faster. Large file transfers would benefit from the Studio Editions, but most home users keeping several small files such as pictures and music will not notice a speed increase. The My Book World Edition and World Edition II have network connectivity, effectively making them My Book NAS devices and are geared for multi-users or owners of home networks where two or more systems can access the data.
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