Being one of the biggest names in the storage industry, Western Digital certainly does not need much of an introduction. The attractive casing, solidly built quality, great performance and tonnes of storage space continue to make these USB hard drives a very common sight on the desks across the globe. The latest model of the My Book series is the WD My Book Mirror Edition and it seems to offer just more than the two huge capacities of 1TB and 2TB that it is available in.
What is different about the Mirror Edition?
The Mirror Edition is a new dual-drive storage system that is pre-configured for RAID 1, which is the Mirror edition. The “Mirror” part of the name indicates that the dual-drive storage system automatically mirrors your valuable data using RAID 1mirroring technology for additional protection. In this way, if one of the disks happens to fail, the system continues to run and your data is kept preserved. Otherwise, you also have the option to use the full capacity of the system by configuring the system to use RAID 0. Most of the time, RAID 0 is used for its performance benefits, but when passing data over the USB2.0 interface, you will not be able to find any enhancement in its performance. But, note that the RAID 0 also does not protect your data on the drive and if there is a mishap with one of the drives, you will lose all the data. Keep reading and you might have just discovered your next “Must Have” computer accessory.
Minimalistic and Simplistic:
The Western Digital My Book Mirror Edition looks great in its sleek White casing and curved corners. While the single-drive My Book Essential and Home Editions look like a hardcover book, the My Book Mirror resembles War and Peace at nearly four inches thick. It mostly resembles its sibling the My Book Studio Edition II. The design is stylish and minimalistic with a subtle Western Digital “WD” logo on the sides. While the glossy white finishing of its facia looks nice, the fingerprints and smudges tend to stand out. The only thing that you have to preserve in the bottom of the drive is the small sticker that has product information like serial number, model number along with the country of manufacturing. To be short, the Mirror is one of the best looking dual drives; it is a simple, functional and does not stand out like a sore thumb on your desk unless you really hate the pulsing blue LED.
Not really “Portable”:
Though the drive is relatively compact for a two-bay enclosure measuring (H x W x D) 6.54” x 6.06” x 3.87”, its power adaptor is bulky which makes the entire package quite bulky to be described as portable. So, it does not travel everywhere with you like the My Passport series of external notebook drives. You are meant to leave this brick on your desk at home or office and only use the massive storage unit when you actually need it.
Life made easy with LED:
The drive sports an LED on its facia, which changes color with the status of the drive like powered on, in use, idle and error. One obvious change that we noticed in the drive’s facia is that the old blue LED circle in the old My Book drives has been replaced with a blue LED vertical line. This makes it very easy to check things on the go. The status indicating LEDs also doubles as a capacity gauge; when connected to a computer with the necessary software and drivers, the four sections light up, an indication of the amount of space in use.
The Ports and Connectivity:
On the rear side, you will find a power switch, power connector and a low profile USB2.0 port similar to the ones found in the pocket-sized external drives. While the drive automatically turns off when the PC is shut down, the power button can be used to perform a safe shut down and in this way, you can prevent the system from powering down before the entire data has been written to the disc. One thing that we did not like about the drive is that the “Security lock” slot is hidden on the back of the enclosure and in fact, the first day we used the drive, we were almost certain that WD has missed the security lock slot for connecting the security cable.
The WD My Book Mirror has employed the USB 2.0 interface and USB2.0 is a protocol that has already started to show its age as it only has a peak bandwidth of 480Mbps. The USB 3.0 has already started showing its face in a couple of products and it will not be long before it replaces its predecessor which dominated the decade. There are no FireWire or eSATA connections which are disappointing but are really understandable as the drive is pre-configured for RAID1 that has been optimized not for speed but for data protection. But if you feel that you cannot do without the FireWire and eSATA interfaces, then you could opt for the pricier My Book Studio.
As we had mentioned earlier, the My Book Mirror Edition drives are available in two capacities: 1TB and 2TB.
When it comes to speed, the My Book Mirror Edition offers a theoretical maximum transfer rate of 480MB per second based on the USB 2.0 transfer rates, which would translate to about 60MB per second.
The Mirror Edition drive is preformatted in NTFS and will work right away when plugged to a Windows PC. The drive also works with Mac, but it has to be reformatted into OS X’s file system, the HFS+ and it is a very simple process.
What we like the most about My Book drive is that it has been designed to be user-serviceable. This means you will be able to upgrade or replace the hard drives without the need for any tools. The drive uses 3.5” SATA hard drives, but there is a catch as you will be able to use only the western digital hard drives. Though this limits the flexibility of the drive, this cannot be really considered as an issue as the WD drives are quite popular and are available at relatively competitive prices. All that you have to do to remove the cover is, pop off the top and just remove the cover plate and hence you will have access to the 2 green power hard drives. Not clear? Though it is not obvious, you simply press on a spot in the middle of the My Book Mirror’s top front edge and the cover will pop open giving you access to the drives. This is a very nice touch to the drive because, in case a drive fails, the drive and data remain with you while the WD sends you a replacement.
The Western Digital Mirror Edition Desktop Hard drive comes bundled with software for the sake of back up and synchronizing your data. The application installer launches automatically once you insert the CD, provided, you have the autorun enabled in your system. Once you are done with the standard stuff of license agreement, the main menu opens from where you will be able to install the bundled software into your computer. Make sure that you copy them to another location for safekeeping. The Software CD includes a 30 day trial for Memo AutoSync and WD MioNet and the software that the consumers are going to find as the most useful is the WD Anywhere Backup. There is also Windows-only “Google software” that allows you to search for your drive, manage your photos and also to simplify Web Searches with the included Google software.
Anywhere Backup software:
The Anywhere Backup software is compatible with both PC and Mac and offers you the capability to create your own custom backup plans. It is a simple yet effective backup and recovery application that provides around the clock data protection. With this software, you will be able to choose the particular files and folders that you wish to backup along with the location of where they would be actually stored. From then on, whenever a file is created or any change is made, the software will have an automatic backup. The software also maintains multiple versions of the file allowing you to know how it has evolved over time. This wizard-driven backup solution allows backing up your selected data to any other media, including your iPod and when we tried out this feature, it worked out as intended. A very important note is that the serial key that is required to make the software work in the nontrial mode is printed at a corner on the back of the setup instruction poster, a very obscure place.
Backup Multiple Computers:
If you had thought that the button labeled “Backup Multiple Computers” means that the software will be able to have a backup of the other computers on the network, then well, you are wrong. The button takes you to a website from where you will be able to purchase a copy of the “Anywhere Backup” software; but, why would anyone want to do that when they already have a copy of the software. The reason is that the software does not allow you to backup files on the network. With huge capacities of 1TB and 2TB, it will be nice to be able to backup all the systems in your home and office using the same My Book Mirror.
WD Drive Manager:
The WD Drive Manager is also very handy software offered. This utility, when installed, shows up on the system tray and offers a quick and easy way to view the status of the drive. The Drive Manager enables the capacity gauge, safe shutdown and also installs another useful utility called WD RAID manager. Of course, if you do not care about having a backup of all your files and you just want as much storage space as possible you can easily change the RAID configuration to RAID 0 mode. A nice feature here is that when you select the option to change the RAID setting you are prompted to type in a unique confirmation code before the RAID Manager resets the RAID configuration and formats the drives. This is a great way to prevent accidental data loss due to user error. This RAID Manager can be launched by right-clicking on the Drive Manager system tray icon and it is with this utility that you can refer to the status of the RAID system and change its configuration.
WD MinoNet service:
The WD MinoNet service for remote access worked well and we were able to access the content of the Mirror drive over the internet and drag its files and folders into a local system. As the drive is not a NAS device, the host computer has to be on and has to be connected to the internet for this to happen.
Read and Write Speeds:
When we had put the drive into some real-world testing, we had copied and pasted about 30GB of randomly generated files and directories. The configurations of RAID had very little effect on the performance of the My Book Mirror. In each of the cases, the drive took about 25 minutes to write 25GB of data and almost 22 minutes to read them back. In RAID 1, the drive registered a 138.4Mbps on the written test and 156.8Mbps on the reading test.
Noise and Heat:
If you are just one of those persons who hate to hear gadgets making noise, this will be good news for you. The Mirror was quiet throughout the test which is contributed by the fact that the drive does not have any fans and the only noise comes from the spinning of the two disks. Even then, you would really have to strain your ears to hear anything from it. The drive also remained cool when idle and became slightly warm only after hours of usage.
With the help of its fan-less design and green power hard drives, the Mirror Edition uses third less power than the other dual-drive system.
Most of the direct-attached external hard drives are single drive models, so the cost per GB comparisons here cannot be exactly apples to apples. When compared against the single drive units from reputed manufacturers like SimpleTech, Maxtor and Vox along with the two drivers and the huge four drive 2TB enclosures from LaCie, we realized that the 2TB My Book Edition offers a very compelling value of cost per GB. Even when you factor in that you will roughly get half the capacity when using the default RAID 1 configuration, the cost per GB still seems to be very competitive. However, you must also keep in mind that the LaCie 2Big Dual Drive also offers eSATA interface along with the USB2.0.
Inside the bright, lime green package of the My Book Mirror Edition3.5 inch USB 2.0 external Hard drive, you will find the storage device, USB cable, AC adaptor, a quick install guide, a software CD and warranty information. The drive comes with two USB 2.0 cables of different lengths: 5 inches and 2 inches, in order to accommodate wherever you wish to have it. This is really a nice gesture as we often run into drives that do not come with enough cables.
Warranty and Service for My Book Mirror Edition:
Western Digital offers its My Book Mirror Edition external hard drive a generous three years warranty for parts and labor. Though this is not as great as the five-year warranty that is provided with the My Passport Studio, it is a lot better than the stingy one year warranty that is found in many of the other storage devices like the SimpleTech drive. For the sake of service, WD offers its technical toll-free phone support from 6 am to 5 pm Monday to Thursday and from 6 am to 3 pm Friday through Sunday. On its Web site, you will find a comprehensive set of Web-based support including downloads, product RMA, a sizable knowledge base, and an online installation guide.
In the short time that we have spent with the Western Digital My Book Mirror Edition, we have come to appreciate its good looks, ease of use and the extra protection that has been offered by the RAID system. The drive performed fairly well in its read and write speeds; though it was not as fast as WD’s eSATA and FireWire equipped storage drives, its performance was on par with the other external USB Hard Drives in the market. Although an eSATA connection would have made the My Book Mirror Edition even more attractive, the reality is that most people do not have eSATA ports on their notebooks or desktops. Noise and heat were never an issue, thanks to the device’s fanless design and GreenPower hard drives. We recommend this drive for those who have private data that they just cannot afford to lose and also to the ones looking for a reliable high capacity storage device.