by Jerry Jackson
Few external hard drives have been more popular over the years than the Western Digital “My Book” series. The attractive casing, solid build quality, good performance, and tons of storage space continue to make these USB hard drives a common site on desks across the globe. The all new Western Digital My Book Mirror Edition offers more than just huge storage capacities. The Mirror Edition gives you the security of RAID 1 or the massive storage of RAID 0 with just a click of your mouse. Keep reading and you may discover your next “must have” computer accessory.
Anyone looking at my home office will see a desk littered with an almost obscene number of external hard disk drives (HDDs). I own five 3.5″ hard drives in external USB enclosures and two 2.5″ notebook hard drives in external USB enclosures for a total of almost three terabytes (3TB) of external storage. As a technology website editor, photographer, and avid PC gamer I require as much storage space as possible. Not only do I need to save all my files and install all my games and applications, but I need to make backups of my important files in case something happens to one of my hard drives. In short, I’m exactly the type of consumer that Western Digital had in mind when they created the My Book Mirror Edition.
This attractive dual hard drive external storage solution is offered in either a 1TB (two 500GB HDDs) or 2TB (two 1TB HDDs) capacities … but that’s not what makes this drive so special. The “Mirror” part of the name indicates that this dual-drive storage system automatically mirrors (duplicates) your valuable data using RAID 1 mirroring technology for extra protection. In short, if one of the two hard drives inside the My Book Mirror Edition ever fails the second drive still has a copy of all your files. You may never lose an important file or family photo ever again.
Build and Design
In terms of the basic external shape and dimensions the My Book Mirror Edition is almost identical to the older My Book series … just wider so it can hold two drives.
- Height: 6.54 in (166 mm)
- Depth: 6.06 in (154 mm)
- Width: 3.87 in (98 mm)
- Weight: 5.2 lb (2.63 kg)
While the size and shape are reasonably compact, it’s clear that the My Book Mirror Edition is designed to be a “desktop” storage solution that doesn’t travel everywhere with you like the My Passport series of external notebook drives. You’re meant to leave this brick on your desk at home or the office and only use the massive storage when you need it.
One change I noticed with the My Book Mirror Edition is that the old blue LED circle on the front of the old My Book drives has been replaced with a blue LED vertical line that “pulses” up and down when the drive is active. The effect is sort of like a blue Knight Rider eye from the campy 1980s TV show … but not nearly as annoying.
Of course, there’s more to this external drive than just pretty blue LEDs.
The enclosure is very sleek and stylish with a minimalistic design and a subtle Western Digital “WD” logo on the sides. The top, bottom and back of the dual hard drive enclosure features a perforated surface designed to help air flow around the drives and keep the HDDs cool. The only thing to see on the bottom of the My Book Mirror Edition is a small sticker containing the product information, such as the serial number, model number, and country of manufacture.
To get to the point, this is one of the best looking external dual hard drives I’ve seen. It’s simple, functional, and doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb on your desk … unless you hate the pulsing blue LED. The only thing I don’t love about the enclosure design is the security lock slot is “hidden” on the back of the enclosure. In fact, the first day I was using the drive I was absolutely certain that Western Digital forgot to include a security lock slot for connecting a security cable. I eventually found the slot next to the power button on the back of the drive, but IT team members (or security-conscious consumers) might find it frustrating when they try to connect a security cable to the enclosure and can’t find the lock slot.
One of my favorite features of the design of the My Book Mirror Edition’s enclosure is the easy-access top panel for simple servicing of the drives. As seen in the images below, if you ever need to replace one of the two drives inside the My Book Mirror Edition all you have to do is press firmly on the top panel until it springs open. Next, unscrew the thumb screw holding the metal drive plate and remove the drive plate. Now you have open access to both drives … they’re even labeled “A” and “B” to help you identify which drive needs to be replaced. This is simply a fabulous enclosure design.
Western Digital also includes their standard suite of software:
- WD Anywhere Backup is a simple yet effective backup and recovery application that provides around-the-clock data protection. It features automatic backup to multiple destinations and synchronization of working files to keep them current.
- Google software (Windows only) allows you to search your drive, manage your photos, and simplify Web searches with included Google software
- WD Drive Manager/RAID Manager allows for quick and easy RAID configuration changes.
In my opinion, the single best application that comes with the My Book Mirror Edition is the RAID Manager application. By double clicking on the RAID Manager application you can check the status of you RAID setup, which is RAID 1 (mirrored mode) by default. Of course, if you don’t care about having a backup of all your files and you just want as much storage space as possible you can easily change the RAID configuration to RAID 0 mode.
A nice feature here is that when you select the option to change the RAID setting you are prompted to type in a unique confirmation code before the RAID Manager resets the RAID configuration and formats the drives. This is a great way to prevent accidental data loss due to user error.
Performance and Benchmarks
As previously mentioned, the My Book Mirror Edition drives are available in two capacities: 1TB and 2TB. With the maximum capacity 2TB drive, that translates to just under 600,000 high resolution digital photos (saved as compressed JPEGs), 500,000 MP3 files, or roughly 880 hours of DVD quality video. Bottom line, that’s a lot of storage space.
In terms of speed, the My Book Mirror Edition is rated at a “theoretical” maximum transfer rate of 480Mb (megabits) per second based on USB 2.0 transfer rates. That would translate to 60MB (megabytes) per second.
What these figures suggest is that the My Book Mirror Edition is roughly half as fast in transfer rates as an average 5400 rpm SATA internal notebook hard drive. That’s just a side effect of using USB 2.0 rather than a SATA/150 or eSATA interface.
The HDTune benchmark measures the overall performance of a drive both in terms of transfer speeds (read/write), “access time” (the amount of time spent searching for data on the disk) and CPU usage (how hard your computer has to work in order to use the drive). The HDTune benchmark indicates that the My Book Mirror Edition provides an average data transfer rate similar to most external USB drives … though not quite as fast as we might have liked to see. Below you can see the speeds of a typical Seagate 5400 rpm internal SATA notebook hard drive, a WD Passport Elite external hard drive and the speeds of the My Book Mirror Edition in both RAID 0 and RAID 1 modes.
Internal Seagate 5400rpm SATA hard drive
WD My Passport Elite external hard drive
WD My Book Mirror Edition running in RAID 1
WD My Book Mirror Edition running in RAID 0
Atto is another synthetic benchmark we use to test the performance of a storage drive. Below you can see the average read and write times for the My Book Mirror Edition in both RAID 0 and RAID 1 configurations. We’ve also included the benchmark for a typical Seagate SATA desktop HDD in case desktop users want to compare the speed of this external drive to a typical desktop internal drive.
WD My Book Mirror Edition in RAID 1
WD My Book Mirror Edition in RAID 0
Internal Seagate 400GB desktop HDD
Clearly, the USB interface is limiting the performance of the My Book Mirror Edition. If Western Digital had included an eSATA connection they could have raised the theoretical transfer rate of the Mirror Edition from 60MB/sec to 384MB/sec! In fact, the new My Book Studio Edition II (designed for Mac users) is basically the same design as the Mirror Edition but it includes an eSATA port.
Still, even with the slower USB connection the most important performance factor in my mind is that I don’t notice the difference between the speed of my notebook’s internal hard drive and the WD My Book Mirror Edition in “real world” use. Both drives are fast and the minor differences in transfer speeds between an internal notebook drive and the My Book are so insignificant that most consumers will never notice a difference. By comparison, I have two old external USB 2.0 IDE hard drives that only perform at 8.9MB/sec (compared to 20MB/sec with the My Book Mirror Edition) and those old drives are still perfectly fine for storing old files.
Heat and Noise
The My Book Mirror Edition runs quiet and cool. There isn’t much more to say in this section of the review. The drives get “warm” after hours of serious use, but never get hot. In terms of noise, even when transferring files, the drives make only the softest audible noise. Of course, when the drives aren’t accessing any files it’s completely silent.
The Western Digital My Book Mirror Edition is a wonderful update to the My Book family and offers consumers the option of extreme storage capacity or extreme data protection in one easy-to-use solution. The fact that average consumers now have a way to instantly backup their files without even thinking about it practically makes the My Book Mirror Edition a “must have” accessory for the home or office. The ability to shift between RAID 0 and RAID 1 with just a few clicks of a mouse is simply wonderful. Users and IT staff will appreciate the ease of service, and the performance of this dual-drive enclosure is more than enough for most people.
Although an eSATA connection would have made the My Book Mirror Edition even more attractive, the reality is that most people don’t have eSATA ports on their notebooks or desktops. Heck, I’ll bet many people reading this review have never even seen an eSATA port.
Bottom line, the My Book Mirror Edition is the best dual hard drive external storage solution currently on the market for consumers and small businesses.
- Absolutely fantastic RAID Manager software
- Easiest external RAID solution we’ve seen
- Your choice of tons of secure backup or tons of storage
- Simple USB interface ideal for consumers who need more storage
- Relatively quiet
- Easy-to-open enclosure makes service fast and simple
- No eSATA connection
- Fast, but not as fast as it could be
- Security lock slot “hidden” on back of the enclosure
Pricing and Availability
The Western Digital My Book Mirror Edition ($289.99 for 1TB, $549.99 for 2TB) is available for purchase on the Western Digital website or at many retail and online stores.