With the plummeting cost of hard drives today, hard drive manufacturers have had to come up with new ways to increase revenues, because selling bare internal hard drives to consumers does not carry much profit these days. The most obvious trend in the industry has been to dress up hard drives with external cases of various color and design and make them more appealing to consumers looking to backup their growing media collections and their occasional backup. All though there are a variety of external hard drive enclosures that you can buy separately, many consumers choose to buy an external case and hard drive packaged. In some cases buyers may be unaware that they can buy ordinary internal hard drives and pair them with a case of their choosing. Then there is cost, quality external cases can cost significantly and cheaper cases may be lacking in quality and looks. Hence the obvious choice is an external hard drive from a major manufacturer, and in this case from the hard drive manufacturer itself. This review covers the Western Digital My Book Home Edition drive. Out of the multiple choices out on the market I actually chose this specific model for the following reasons:
My Book Home Edition Features
With at least three external drives already connected to my Powerbook and a Windows Server in the same room, I wanted to keep noise levels as low as possible. Western Digital’s My Book models are for the most part pretty quiet compared to most third party enclosures. They are designed to stand vertical and save space, without using some sort of snap-on attachment stand.
Most important after design is performance. I needed at least a 500GB hard drive that performed as close as possible to a regular internal hard drive. This pretty much means you need to use something better than USB 2. Performance wise you really need to go with Firewire or eSATA. Both of these technologies outperform USB 2 external drives. The My Book Home Edition is available as a triple interface enclosure, featuring Firewire 400 (preferred on Macintosh computers and servers), eSATA (preferred on newer PC machines), and USB 2 in case you have no other option. If your computer has only USB ports, you can save some money and purchase the My Book Essential Edition instead. Otherwise I believe the extra $40 is worth it for faster performance.
Other features to note include smart energy power down when not in use, a capacity gauge that displays how much space is in use, and some backup software for Windows. Other than the energy smart features I did not setup or use these features. The capacity gauge is dependent on software, so if you do not run the software the capacity gauge feature will not work.
Western Digital does not include an eSATA cable, so if you plan on using this port, make sure you pick up a cable. Firewire and USB cables are included, as well as a nice AC adapter that takes less space than the usual brick AC adapters you usually get with external devices such as these.
The case is black plastic and it appears to be snapped together, meaning that if the internal drive ever dies, replacing the internal drive may be harder to do than just replacing the entire unit out right.
Since the drive will be used with a Macintosh exclusively I needed to reformat the drive to HFS+, but in case you ever want to use the drive with a PC, I recommend using Apple’s Disk Utility to create an image DMG file of the entire contents of the drive before you format it. You can then always have the DMG file in case you want to restore the original contents of the drive. For Windows, I still recommend formatting the drive. Might as well find out early if the drive has any problems than later.
I have not encountered any problems with the My Book Home Edition and it is my second WD My Book drive. I have an original 230GB Essentials Edition that is connected to my Windows Server. Neither drive has had any physical problems and both are relatively quiet, even when in use.
Western Digital My Book Home Edition Hard Drive
- USB 2 + Firewire 400 + eSATA
- Price: $149