The front of the drive, which is the “spine” of the book, features a small access indicator light and a silver metal sticker with the WD logo. Its top, bottom and rear are full of venting holes, but this time they take a different direction than most drives.
Traditionally, My Books are actually covered in Morse code; the varying dots and dashes spell out positive adjectives like design, innovative, personal, simple and reliable. The My Book Studio, however, eschews the code for a fan-shaped array of circular holes, most likely because the dots and dashes would cost a lot more to recreate in aluminum instead of plastic.
Unlike some external drives, the silvery Studio has no cooling fans on the inside. It doesn’t need them. Like its Apple inspiration, the aluminum shell serves as a giant heatsink for the drive and electronics inside, performing sufficient cooling as to render a fan unnecessary.
Inputs and expansion
Since the My Book Studio is targeted at the Apple audience, the port selection available on the drive changed from those inputs that WD puts on other drives. Instead of offering USB 3.0 or eSATA, ports that are not officially available on any Apple computer, WD uses USB 2.0, FireWire 400 and FireWire 800. Most Apple computers built recently have at least FireWire 800, with the notable exception of the MacBook Air.
Some of the external drives on the market let you get into the innards and replace a broken or antiquated drive; it’s a handy option for the tech-inclined. WD puts the kibbutz on that idea, however, with a big, shiny VOID sticker over the screws. It seems a little silly – but chances are you won’t need to get inside until after the warranty expires, anyway.
Most people don’t really think about the performance when they look at storage. It’s even less of a consideration for most when buying an external drive. That’s a shame, too – there can be significant variance between the various options and even the various connections within that same selection of drives.
That’s what we’re here to help with, though, right? Right. We tried out how the WD My Book Studio might perform in a couple of situations, both in Apple’s Mac OS X and in Microsoft’s Windows 7. It’s important to remember that the My Book Studio, as a Mac accessory, will come formatted with the native Mac filesystem. In this case, that means HFS+.
It’s something that Windows can’t read at all, though there are (paid) third party drivers available. In order to test the drives in Windows, we went ahead and formatted them to NTFS; if you need something that can be jointly read and written to by both operating systems (like if you need to move the drive around regularly), you can use FAT32 or exFAT.
To test the drive’s performance under OS X, we used the well-known Unix command rsync to back up several directories of files from a recent model iMac’s hard drive to the external My Book. The first set of files consisted of very large files, which allowed the drive to hit its maximum speed. The second set contained a lot of files, but of small and medium sizes, as if you were backing up pictures and music.