Review: WD My Book 4TB external hard drive

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With those that have USB 3.0, getting the right drive to take advantage of those great speeds is important. Enter, the My Book Essential drive from Western Digital. Designed for use on a desk, the My Book comes with a huge 4TB of space, USB 3.0 connectivity and a small form factor so it can be placed almost anywhere. The drive is pre-formatted with NTFS – for use with Windows computers, however, the drive can easily be formatted to the file system of your choice. The included software SmartWare will also allow you to format the drive to HFS+ when installed on OS X.

Design

The design of WD’s My Book range has remained mostly the same over the years, however, the design of the hard drive has changed slightly. Now featuring a jet black glossy finish and white activity light at the front, you really can’t go wrong with it’s design. The spine of the My Book is a vent from the hard drive inside meaning the My Book doesn’t really get that warm, even after several hours of continuous use. You’ll find a USB 3.0 port, power port, power button and Kensington lock port on the back. There are rubber feet on the bottom of the My Book suggesting that it should be placed upright, however, we found the My Book to work fine in both Vertical and Horizontal orientations.

We found the My Book to be very quiet. During reading and writing there was only a small noise of the hard drive spinning but nothing loud. When the drive went to sleep, it was virtually silent.

Performance

wd4tb_testThe best way to gage the performance of a hard drive is by doing a stock standard speed test. We used CrystalDiskMark to test out the performance of the hard drive. For Sequential Reading and Writing, the My Book topped at 137.4 MB/s and 136.1MB/s respectively – which is a fantastic result. For a large block random access Reading and Writing speeds were 49.6 MB/s and 72.3 MB/s respectively. We were impressed by the speeds considering the price point of the My Book. In the real world, we were able to transfer a 17GB file onto the My Book in about 2 minutes and a 2GB file transferred across in just 30 seconds.

Software

Western Digital have included the SmartWare software on the hard drive. SmartWare allows you to modify options on the hard drive, add security features and offer a backup solution. We found the software to work quite well, however, at some points it was a little buggy. Available for both Windows and OS X, you can automatically backup the data you choose to the device and it will keep note and backup changes as you go. This is great for Windows users since there really isn’t a built in solution for those (however, Windows 8.1 will be bringing this) but for those with OS X, you could probably just stick to Time Machine.

The SmartWare Pro software will allow you to choose the location of your backup, you can either choose to backup to the hard drive itself or use the DropBox Integration to automatically backup your data to the cloud. You’ll also be able to set the SmartWare software to backup your DropBox storage for extra protection.

Also included is Acronis True Image WD Edition, allowing you to create a whole system image for a complete backup solution. This will allow you to completely restore your computer to a point in time of your choosing. Extremely helpful should your internal hard drive ceases to operate or you accidentally delete an important system file!

You can also encrypt the device with a password should you wish to do so. You can register the hard drive with Western Digital through SmartWare as well as modifying the sleep time and running diagnostics.

  • Score:

    9.5 / 10

  • The Good:

    Speedy, compact and a huge amount of storage.

  • The Bad:

    SmartWare software can be buggy at times.

  • Bottom Line:

    If you’re after speed and a huge amount of storage, then this is for you!

It’s hard to fault the WD My Book. It delivers exceptional performance, a huge amount of storage, backup software for both Windows and Mac plus security options inbuilt. If you’re after a plug and play USB 3.0 hard drive with tons of space, then this is for you.

Addendum: The following review was done on an older model. The image featured above is a newly designed product, however, since the disk is the same, performance should be the same. Added features such as Dropbox integration and Acronis True Image WD Edition have also been included and as such, the review has been updated to reflect this.