Pros: Fast, USB 3.0, customer service responsive, no issues with reformat.
Cons: One port, size, and power supply needed.
The Western Digital My Book external hard drive is intended for Mac’s. However, I have windows computers and therefore I needed to reformat the hard drive before I could use it. Once it was reformatted it worked well and I am using it daily for various tasks.
Overview of the Western Digital My Book Studio 1TB Mac External Hard Drive Storage USB 3.0
The Western Digital My Book Studio external hard drive comes with the storage capacity 1TB, 2TB, 3TB and 4TB, and this is the smallest of them. The hard drive is aluminum encased, stylish looking, and it runs cool. It is 5.3 x 1.9 x 6.5 inches and weighs a little bit more than two pounds. Unlike the smaller ultra portable external hard drives that are powered merely through the USB port, it needs a separate power supply. It is USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 compatible (via one port). Its size and separate power supply makes it similar to what I consider old-style external hard drives.
The box included the power adapter, a USB cable, quick install instructions, and the hard drive of course. The hard drive comes with the Apple Time Machine backup utility and protection software. However, this was naturally wiped from the hard drive when I reformatted the drive.
I should probably explain why I reformatted this drive for Windows instead of buying a windows compatible hard drive. Well, what happened was that I got this hard drive for free via the Amazon.com Vine program and since no external hard drives for windows was offered I took this one. Since it is tailor made for Macs and you lose the pre-installed software when you reformat the drive, this is not the ideal situation. However, it was free after all.
To reformat the drive you connect it and then you launch “Manage”, then you select “Disk Management” and then you select the correct drive. First you have to initialize the drive and once you have the black stripe across the area for the drive you can reformat the drive. I selected NTFS, which in general is the best for Windows machines (FAT32 has some annoying restrictions/features).
I should say that the fact that the reformatting worked without problem is a positive. There are many external hard drives for which reformatting do not work, or does not work properly. At least we know it works in this case.
After reformatting I realized that the capacity was 1TB not the 3TB I expected to see based on the information from the Vine program. So I sent an email about this to WD customer support. Not that I expected a reformat to turn 3TB into 1TB but I’ve read and heard about weird reformatting problems. After I sent the email I used the product number to look up the hard drive and it turned out that I really had the 1TB version and not the 3TB version. After informing the Vine program at Amzon.com about this I was released from having to write a review for it.
Well, customer support came back with an answer in less than a day. They suggested I try reformatting again but that this time I do full erase (all zeros) using software they provided to me for free. Since I already knew I had a 1TB hard drive this was not really relevant or helpful but they tried to be helpful in a timely manner, which is more than I can say for a lot customer support departments I’ve been in contact with. Therefore I give them a thumb up on this one.
The hard drive is rated with a transfer rate of 480Mb/s (60MB/s) for USB 2.0 and 5Gb/s (625MB/s) for USB 3.0. However, this is misleading since what matters in the end is not the theoretical maximum transfer rate for the port type but the read-speed and write-speed of the hard drive. I have not been able to find any ratings for the read-speed and write-speed for this hard drive. However, I measured it myself using Crystal Disk Mark.
With USB 3.0 I got a read-speed of around 150MB/s (1.2Gb/s) and a write-speed of around 150MB/s when reading and writing 1GB blocks sequentially. With USB 2.0 I got a read-speed of around 35MB/s (180Mb/s) and a write-speed of around 28MB/s when reading and writing 1GB blocks sequentially. I should say that even though the maximum transfer rate for USB 2.0 is 60MB/s you cannot expect much more than half even if the drive itself is much faster. So the result was pretty expected. When reading and writing data randomly (blocks of 4K) the performance was much worse, but that is expected since the OS and the speed of the computer really matters in that case. I should add that I did not turn off the memory cache when doing this experiment.
For a practical measurement I backed up 100GB of data comprising 386,000 files to the hard drive via a USB 2.0 port and copied it to another computer via a USB 3.0 port. The first operation took about three hours and the second about one hour. 100GB in one hour is 27.7MB/s (222Gb/s), which is not bad considering it was spread over nearly 400,000 files.
Overall this is pretty fast. I own a portable external hard drive that is faster (above 200GB/s). However, I also own external hard drives (a few years old) that are more than twenty times slower. 200GB/s and 150GB/s are both darn fast. On the other hand I think that any modern USB 3.0 external hard drive that is touted as being fast should at least have a read-speed and a write-speed exceeding 100GB/s.
I should add that the write-speed and the read-speed are affected by the file system and the OS, so the drive might have performed differently with its original formatting and with a Mac. However, I believe NTFS is pretty fast so I don’t think the hard drive suffered much of a speed loss from the reformatting, but I could be wrong.
1TB may seem to be a lot of disk space. However, today that is not that impressive considering that there are many pocket sized portable USB 3.0 1TB external hard drives out there that are just as fast. I don’t mind a 3TB or a 4TB external hard drive that requires a separate power supply but 1TB just doesn’t feel like something to get excited about for this kind of drive. It is fast but not spectacularly fast, so I don’t feel that paying $130.00 for this drive is really worth it. For me this drive is worth a rating of three stars. It is not bad but I would recommend it with hesitation and probably not get it if I had to pay for it.
However, I should say that the drive is intended for Mac users, not Windows users, and you lose the included software when you reformat. Therefore that might not be a fair judgment. Considering this, and the fact that reformatting actually worked, and the fact that customer support was responsive, I think a recommendation and a four star rating is probably fair.
Since read-speed and write-speed is such an important feature for external hard drives I would like to add this review to my “Time & Space write-off”.
Finally I would like to thank Bob (pvreditor) for adding this hard drive to the epinions data base.