Western Digital MyBook World Edition II

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Western Digital MyBook World Edition II

Pros

  • 1TB capacity; remote access capability; gigabit Ethernet

Cons

  • The sharing of media files is restricted; the power button feels awkward when pressed

Bottom Line

The My Book World Edition II comes with an easy-to-use solution from MioNet that facilitates remote file access. It's a 1TB drive, so it can store a lot of stuff, but its cost isn't exorbitant.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 2 stores)

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The My Book World Edition II is a 1TB network attached storage device. It comes with software from MioNet that allows files stored on the drive to be accessed remotely. While Western Digital is pitching this hard drive at the home market, we think it's a product that many business users will also want to hear about. Business users who need to share large files with clients in a secure way (such as designers or users who work in public relations, for example), but who may not be too tech-savvy, will make good use of this drive. Likewise, travellers will find the My Book to be a useful online repository for digital photos, and will even be able to access music and video files if their available Internet connection is fast enough.

Once attached to a local area network, the My Book can be used just like any other drive. Folders can be created and files can be stored on it. By installing the MioNet software that comes with the drive, users can create an account on MioNet's servers which will allow them to access the My Book from any computer on the Internet. The My Book can be accessed remotely either by logging in through MioNet's Web interface (from any Web browser), or by downloading the MioNet client software and installing it on the remote computer.

MioNet makes it easy to share files that are stored on the My Book. All it takes is a few mouse clicks to share a particular folder and then users can be given "read", "read and write" or "administrator" privileges for that folder. MioNet user accounts for accessing shared files are free, so business clients or friends and relatives, for example, won't have to pay in order to access files that have been shared with them. However, a free account doesn't allow users to share files in return.

During our tests, MioNet was easy to use and didn't give us any reliability problems. However, we could only undertake one file transfer at a time which was rather limited.

While any type of file can be stored and accessed on the My Book drive using MioNet, there is a caveat, and it has to do with illegal file sharing. MP3 and video files will be remotely accessible by the owner of the shared files (that is, the owner of the My Book), but other users won't be able to access those types of shared files unless the files are equipped with digital rights management (DRM). We weren't able to test this during our evaluation as we didn't have any DRM-enabled files. This could be an inconvenience for users wishing to share multimedia files that have been created for clients, or wedding videos that have been made available for overseas relatives, for example. Zip files and office documents can be shared with other users without any problems.

Physically, the My Book drive is actually shaped, not surprisingly, like a book. It has two 500GB hard drives installed in a RAID 0 configuration for a total formatted capacity of 909GB, but users can also choose to use RAID 1 for data redundancy. Ventilation holes and an exhaust fan keep the drives cool, and the unit doesn't make too much noise while it's running. However, we found the unit's power button to be too shallow and sometimes we had to press it multiple times in order to switch it off. Its blue light also became annoying, especially at night as it's just too bright. However, it has its uses as it can let a user know if the drive is over-heating, if there is a problem with the RAID array, and can even be used to indicate how much drive space has been used (in one-sixth increments).

Connectivity is by way of a single gigabit Ethernet port and the drive's speed will be determined by this connection. Getting files on and off the drive when it's connected to a 10/100 Ethernet switch will average a transfer rate of around 9MBps, while a 1Gbps Ethernet switch will allow files to be transferred at almost twice this rate. Of course, remote access transfer speeds will depend on the My Book's Internet connection upload speed, as well as the remote computer's Internet download speed. In most cases, the maximum download rate that a remote computer will be able to achieve will be the maximum upload rate of the My Book's Internet connection. A drive like this will really put the 1Mbps upload bandwidth of many ADSL2+ connections to good use.

A USB port on the back of the unit can be used to attach another external hard drive, and it's convenient for plugging in other drives that need to be shared over a network connection.

All up, the My Book World Edition II is quite easy to use and is a useful storage solution for a small business or a home user. Its cost per gigabyte of 87 cents (at the time of writing) is competitive for an external hard drive.

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