The WD logo has been synonymous with safe storage for quite some time, because they offer reliability and security showcased in a sleek design. Staying true to their formula, Western Digital’s My Book Studio is possibly one of the best storage solutions for your Mac.
First of all, caution must be exercised when transporting and opening this product’s box, for the flap opens on the sides and not on top, as is conventional with most boxes. Once you’ve safely settled the My Book Studio down, however, sliding the unit out greets us with a modern aluminum casing, with air vents immediately visible on the top and bottom. The texture is smooth and lives up to its “Studio” name— it looks professional and would fit well in a graphic design studio or an office with a modern theme. Moreover, the metal enclosure assures that it won’t retain any latent fingerprints, so you can expect this drive to look pristine and brand new for a long time.
The My Book Studio comes preformatted for Mac, so expect its external chassis to aesthetically complement Apple products. It’s a tower-style external hard drive that is free of unnecessary styling; all that is present on the front is a pin-sized LED light to indicate power and the WD logo. At the rear, you will find the provision for a Kensington Lock, power adapter and the ports.
Since this drive is intended to be stationary on a desktop, Western Digital advises users not to move it around too often. Although if it’s necessary to take on a trip, the My Book Studio isn’t incredibly bulky—it’s size and weight is relatively similar to a Bible or a dictionary. So, while it isn’t ideal to lug around, it won’t be a heavy burden if ever the need arises.
What makes the My Book Studio a great product is that it provides three interfaces to connect the hard drive to your computer: USB 2.0, FireWire 400 and FireWire 800. Cables have been conveniently provided by Western Digital as well, which are well-made and will match the color scheme of your Apple computer.
A quick-start booklet is included in the packaging, although it isn’t needed since hard drives are fairly straight forward to connect. The only thing that may require reference is how to differentiate between the two FireWire ports, since there are no text labels indicating which is which. Western Digital has arranged the ports according to speed, from highest to lowest with the FireWire 800 on top and the USB 2.0 on the bottom.
It was finally time to connect the My Book Studio to a computer, and the My Book Studio was linked to an iMac (OS X 10.6.8, i3 3.06GHz, 4GB RAM), with the FireWire 800 on the top of the testing lits. Once the cable was connected, the drive instantly mounted, followed by a dialog box granting an option to create a back up using Apple’s Time Machine. Opening the drive reveals WD’s preinstalled folders and files such as Quick Formatter, Turbo Installer and the PDF User Manuals.
The My Book Studio also comes with the option to install WD’s backup software SmartWare, which looks promising since the interface is quite user-friendly. However, users should refrain from using automatic backup programs, as doing anything critical should always have a hands-on approach and shouldn’t be left to automation.
The My Book Studio is also compatible with Windows, but it requires a complete reformat which is time consuming. While this might seem unappealing, in retrospect, it’s clearly advertised as a desktop external drive that has been pre-formatted for Mac. With that said, it’s safe to assume that those who acquire this drive will be using it solely with Apple’s OS. However, it’s always an advantage to have a drive that easily switches between the two major operating systems. Support for other OSs, such as Linux or Ubuntu, would have been much appreciated.
Moving along, it was finally time to test the drive’s transfer rate, and since the largest file on hand at the time of this review was a Blu-ray rip of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it seemed like a good place to start. Migrating the 7.04 GB file from the iMac to the My Book Studio clocked in at less than two minutes, which is very impressive. During the transfer, the drive remained quiet and undetectable, unlike other products in which you can actually hear the hard drive spin.
Transferring via USB 2.0 was also surprisingly fast, taking approximately three and half minutes. It would have been great if Western Digital included a USB 3.0 port on the My Book Studio, but perhaps this would have required a larger chassis and would make it more expensive.
Testing playback of various media formats direct from the My Book Studio, (i.e. MKV, mp3, etc.) produced uninterrupted results. Several editing and processing operations using iMovie, Photoshop and GarageBand were executed direct from the My Book Studio as well, and the drive performed excellently and caused no problems at all. All read and write operations were fast and fluid, which is expected from a product coming from Western Digital.
So how does it fair? In the end, if you’re looking to expand the storage capacity of your Mac, or simply want an external hard drive to back up your files, then the My Book Studio is one of the best choices. It works fast, has all the ports you need, and to top it all off, it looks great.
Dimensions (HxWxD): 165mm x 48mm x 135mm
Ports: FireWire 800 and 400, USB 2.0
Operating temperature: 5°C to 35°C
Non-operating temperature: -20°C to 65°C
• Sleek functional design
• Fast transfers speeds
• Multiple ports
• Requires reformat for Windows
The Western Digital My Book Studio is fast, silent and has all the essential interfaces you’ll need, packaged in a clean-cut modern design. If you’ve got an Apple computer, then this is the desktop drive to get.
Buy Meter: 9.5
[This review originally appeared in the September 2011 issue of Gadgets Magazine]