Pros:Very simple to use, great price
Cons:The drive is only 5400 rpm, and the housing doesn't seem all that protective
The Bottom Line: This is a great backup drive and recommended for any Windows user.
I have needed a backup hard drive for a while now, and just recently decided to buy one to house system images of my desktop PC and two laptops. I’ve always preferred the Western Digital brand because of their reliability, and the price was just right when I found this WD My Book Essential 1.5TB External Hard Drive on sale at Best Buy for $109.
Recommend this product?
In case you didn’t know, an external hard drive is just an internal hard drive housed in a case with a power source. I could bust the case open and stick the hard drive inside my desktop if I wanted to. What you’re paying for here is the portability because it allows you to connect the drive to any other PC via USB. It’s also small enough to make it quite easily carried, and it makes for a perfect backup solution if you need to move a lot of data to different locations. It’s way better than trying to manage a stack of DVD-R’s.
Western Digital used a 5400 rpm speed drive in this model, which is kind of odd considering that the 7200 rpm models are faster and would be better suited for the USB 3.0 connection that this drive supports. It’s also backward compatible with USB 2.0, and in that case the 5400 rpm is just fine because the USB transfer rate will be the choke point. I did a little research and found that a great many USB 3.0 supported external drives are 5400 instead of 7200. In benchmarking tests a 7200 rpm drive transferring across a USB 3.0 connection is much faster in every single test. Well, duh.
The size of this drive is 1.5 TB, or terabytes. That’s roughly 1,500 gigabytes. On both my Windows 7 desktop and laptop, the total drive size shows as 1.36 TB. Keep in mind that nobody is getting ripped off here. The size difference is the result of the formatting process used in order to make Windows systems able to read and write from the drive itself. There will always be a small difference between original and formatted size. WD includes about 400 MB worth of data, including some manuals and software.
There is some backup software included on the drive, but I chose not to use it and instead stick with the built-in Windows Backup software. I didn’t want to take any chances with weird proprietary formats when the one straight out of Windows will do just fine. It’s in every version of Windows (even the Starter edition on my HP Netbook) and is very simple to use. Once you plug in the drive, just go Start and type “backup” and you’ll see the icon. Then you just select the destination (your new external hard drive) and choose which drives to backup. The process can take hours depending on how much data you have.
Although I didn’t use the included WD software, I was very glad to see no autorun stuff included on the drive. Instead, it just gives you a big open space to dump your data. I don’t need a bunch of backup wizards to show me where my files are because I already know, but I can appreciate that some folks might need a little help.
The construction of this external hard drive is decent, but not as protective as I would have expected. It has a solid shiny plastic cover around the front and back, plus a side, sort of like the binding on a book. The other sides have a slotted plastic piece that is obviously to allow for ventilation, but that can also let stuff in like dust, spilled drinks, etc. I can see the hard drive inside of the case, and it’s quite well exposed. Your best bet with this drive is to place it somewhere out of reach. The entire enclosure weighs a couple of pounds.
Overall, I am pleased with my WD My Book Essential 1.5TB External Hard Drive and the performance it brings. I got this strictly for backup and so I just let it start copying and walk away. I’m not all that concerned with benchmarking type stuff since I won’t be sitting to watch the little progress bar creep across the screen. If you want something where you will be moving lots of data frequently, you should probably look into one of the 7200 rpm models for better performance. Otherwise, this is a great drive for doing basic data storage.
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