WD My Book Live network storage device
Access your files from anywhere on the Internet when they are stored on the WD My Book Live
- Simple remote file access
- Easy to install and use
- iPhone app could be better
- No USB port
- Android app didn't work on our phone
The WD My Book Live is more than a typical network storage device; it can also be used to share your locally-stored files through the Internet. Anything stored on the drive can be accessed remotely from other computers, or even from a smartphone, and the best part is that you don't need to know anything about how it all works to make it all work.
Price$ 169.00 (AUD)
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Western Digital's My Book Live is a network attached storage (NAS) device that's available in 1TB, 2TB or 3TB capacities and with a Gigabit Ethernet connection. It's a simple device to use and while it offers plenty of storage space for your files, it also gives you an easy way to access them remotely.
Installation, ease of use
Once the WD My Book Live is connected t your network router, it can be set up in many ways, but the most simple is with the supplied CD. However, because the drive is UPnP capable, if you use Windows 7, for example, it will simply show up as a device on the network. You can then right-click on it and select the option to launch its Web interface. Or, you could simply type http://mybooklive in the URL bar of your browser to get to it.
From the Web interface, you can add password-protected user accounts, create new folders and choose which folders users have access to. You can also manage backups and even enable data encryption. It's a clean and logical Web interface but it does have some annoying pop-up alerts that appear every time there is an 'event', such as when the network connection is lost or becomes intermittent. (Alerts are also emailed, which we prefer; the most recent one we received alerted us to a new firmware version.)
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After installation, the drive will appear in your local network and you'll be able to drag and drop files on to it. If you want to use the drive to store your computer's backups, then you can easily do this by following the instructions in the Web interface. It has you covered with the details on how to set up the drive with Apple's Time Machine or with Windows 7's built-in back up feature.
In our tests, using a Gigabit Ethernet switch with Gigabit-capable computers attached to it, the WD was able to write data at a rate of 39.1 megabytes per second. This is better than what you would get when copying files over USB 2.0. Incidentally, the My Book Live doesn't have a USB port, so you can't easily dump files to it from a thumbdrive, nor share USB-based drives through it.
Remote access: your personal 'cloud'
The standout feature of the My Book Live is its ability to be seen on the Internet and accessed remotely -- you don't have to know anything about networking in order to set this up. All you have to do is enable the 'remote access' option in the drive's Web interface and register an account with the www.wd2go.com Web site. There is no need to forward ports in your router, and you don't have to fiddle with dynamic DNS settings. To access your shared files, you can log in to the wd2go Web site from any Internet-connected computer -- it becomes your own little personal 'cloud'.
The site makes use of Java, so you will need to make sure that this is installed on your computer before attempting to access your drive remotely. The interface for remote access is sparse; it only shows the devices that are registered to your account and you can click on them to access their folders. The folders can then be opened in Windows Explorer and files can be dragged and dropped to your desktop. How fast the files transfer will depend on the Internet connection both at your home (for uploading the data) and at your remote location (for downloading the data), and vice versa if you are uploading to the device. The opened folders automatically get mapped with drive letters on the local system you are using -- you can browse them as if they were local drives.
Additionally, you can access files remotely through mobile devices. There are mobile WD 2go apps available for the iPhone and Android (2.1 and above). Before you can access content through the iPhone, you have to get an access code for it and tell the drive that your iPhone is a trusted device. The code took close to one minute to generate during our tests, but it all worked to plan once we got it. The app isn't great though: when playing music, it doesn't allow you to skip tracks, it can't play one track after the other, nor does it allow you to exit the 'play' screen without stopping the music (if you want to browse your collection while playing a file, for example). Videos will only play if they are in MOV or MP4 formats. We weren't able to get the Android version running on our HTC Rhyme smartphone, even though it uses Android 2.3.5.
We should note that in order to get the remote functions of our drive to work, we had to upgrade the firmware to version 2.0. We had some trouble upgrading during our tests -- the drive couldn't do it using its auto-update feature so we had to download and install the firmware manually.
All up, the WD My Book Live is a neat little storage solution for the home and we like the fact that it makes remote file access so simple. The mobile app for the iPhone could use some work though and we hope that new drives come with the correct firmware installed so that manual updating doesn't need to be undertaken. The drive in our test model had a 1TB capacity (for $169). It's also available in 2TB (for $269) and 3TB (for $319) capacities.
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