Jamie's Blog

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Western Digital MyBook Essentials (320GB) Review

A review of the MyBook external hard disk bought from “dabs.com”:http://www.dabs.co.uk

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<!–more–>h2. Contents

  • A power supply (like a small laptop supply) with UK/US/EU adapters and >3m cable
  • USB Cable
  • MyBook external drive
  • Rubber feet
  • Instruction booklet

h2. Installation (on WinXP)

Connect the power supply to the drive. Connect the drive to the computer with the USB cable. That’s it. XP recognises the drive like any other mass storage device. However, the drive will automatically (and without asking… Grrr…) install a diagnostics utility (it appears on your Start Menu). This isn’t as bad as it sounds as the utility seems quite well written and useful. However, it will then prompt to install various Google software but you can decline this.

The drive comes pre-formatted as FAT32 but, for WinXP, it makes sense to reformat it as NTFS (from Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Computer Management, then select Disk Management, right-click on the MyBook drive and choose Format). Formatted my 320GB drive appears as 298GB.

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h2. Operation

The drive automatically switches on and off with the computer, so no manual effort is required. In general use, the drive is not much louder than my Centrino laptop without it’s fan running — certainly it is not distracting or noticable at all. After a period of inactivity, the drive’s fan powers down.

The MyBook is a good looking devices with a single large power button (which is largely redundant because of the auto-power on/off) and matt-black plastic case. The button has a backlit bezel that glows green when the drive is powered and flashes to indicate activity. It can be mounted vertically (like a book) or stacked using the supplied rubber feet.

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I haven’t got any really reliable performance specs but backing up 40GB took just under 40mins (I think) but that obviously includes reading and compressing all the data from my slow 4200rpm laptop hard drive. SiSoft Sandra’s File System benchmarks gave the following combined read & write figures:

  • MyBook: 25MB/s and 16ms access time
  • My laptop hard disk: 26MB/s and 12ms access time