WD My Book Studio Edition II Review

Review Date: April 3rd 2007
Author: Jon Canfield

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Introduction

WD My Book Studio Edition II


Every photographer knows that backing up your data is critical. And, every photographer knows that it's easy to say I'll do it tomorrow. Heck, I've made tomorrow last for months at a time! This is really stupid on my part because I make a living from my images and writing. If I lose that data, I might as well start planning on moving into the car.

Luckily, storage capacity is growing at a faster rate than our data is. I remember the first external hard drive I bought a 300 MB SCSI monster that set me back nearly $3,000. Today, that capacity is laughable and wouldn't even be enough for the average photographer as a memory card in their camera. Nowadays, even gigabytes are becoming outdated when it comes to hard drive storage. It's not uncommon to see 1TB drives sitting on a users desktop, filled with thousands of images, music, and other data. The question is, how to back it all up safely, easily, and securely.

Normally, I use a series of external drives for this task, keeping two copies on hand and storing a third copy offsite. But, even at a terabyte, I was starting to feel the pinch when it came time to do a full system backup. So, I was very happy to hear that Western Digital had come out with a new version of their external My Book Studio Edition product. The original Studio Edition was available in capacities of up to 1TB. The new My Book Studio Edition II doubles that by placing two 1TB drives into a small external enclosure.

Right out of the box the My Book Studio Edition II is configured as a RAID 0 device preformatted for the Mac. If you're not familiar with RAID, a type 0 device uses striping across multiple drives to make the operating system think there is a single drive. It increases speed since you're writing to multiple drives, and it gives you tremendous storage space. Many of the external drives available use this method. Now that capacity has increased though, the potential for size has grown as well. The My Book Studio Edition II I looked at came with two 1TB drives installed.

Photo Credit: Copyright Shawn Soni

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WD My Book Studio Edition II
Figure 1

I like safety with my work, so I used the included Western Digital Drive Manager to set the system up as a RAID 1 device. This reduces my available space to 1TB, but every write operation is mirrored across both drives. The benefit here is that if one drive fails for any reason, I have an exact duplicate with no lost data. I can simply pull the bad drive out, pop a new one in and be on my way.

The Studio Edition II makes this type of swap very easy just push in on the top of the enclosure and the unit opens up. This also means that as capacities continue to grow, I can replace the drives with larger ones.

WD My Book Studio Edition II
Figure 2

The drive also comes with backup software, but since I'm using this on a Mac, I've decided to let Time Machine handle the normal backup chores. I have though setup WD Anywhere Backup to backup the backup. Every night, I have WE Anywhere make a duplicate copy of my latest Time Machine backup so that I always have a second backup available to me. This version is then stored away from the rest of my equipment.

WD My Book Studio Edition II
Figure 3

The Studio Edition II is a quad interface drive. You can use USB 2, Firewire 400 or 800, or, if you have the ability, eSATA. It includes a USB and Firewire 800 cable, and a 800 to 400 converter cable so it's ready to go out of the box. Looks wise, it fits right in next to my MacPro with a brushed aluminum finish. You can daisy chain multiple drives together if you have the need.

One thing that I really like about the Studio Edition II is the silence. There are no fans to distract me, and after some of the external drives I've used, this is a welcome relief. This device utilizes Western Digital's GreenPower drives which use about 33% less power than a typical drive and have a power saving mode. While I wouldn't make a buying decision based on energy use, it's nice to know that I am using less energy than I previously did.

On the outside of the enclosure, there is the usual lighting scheme to let you know the drive is powered on. Western Digital have added a nice touch, using this light to let you see at a glance how full your drive is the higher the light bar, the more you have on the drive. When the drive is in use, the light cycles to let you know it's being written to. If you shut your computer down when not in use, the drive will also power down.

Although it's preformatted for Mac, the included CD has software for PC users to reformat and configure for Windows systems. It's available in three configurations: 1TB, 1.5TB, and 2TB. The 1TB version costs $349, while the 2TB version runs $599. There are less expensive drives available, but I've had more than my share of problems with some of them. I can honestly say I've never had a failure with a Western Digital drive, so for my money, it's excellent value.

Conclusion

Ratings (out of 5)
Design
4.5
Features
4.5
Ease-of-Use
5
Value for Money
4.5

Storage doesn't get any easier than this. With the ability to add larger drives in the future, along with the whisper quiet volume, Western Digital has a great product in the My Book Studio Edition II. Although configured for Mac users, it's equally at home on Windows with the included software. The only addition I'd make would be to include a network interface for shared storage.

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