Western Digital My Book Live review: Western Digital My Book Live

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Western Digital My Book Live (2TB)

(Part #: WDBACG0020HCH)
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

1 stars 21 user reviews

The Good The Western Digital My Book Live NAS server is easy to use, fast, and affordable. It also comes with mobile applications to share photos on the go.

The Bad The WD My Book Live's hard drive can't be serviced by users, and there's no USB port to add more storage. The device lacks common features found in many NAS servers, and its MioNet remote access solution is nearly useless.

The Bottom Line The Western Digital MyBook Live is a fast, plug-and-play, simple-to-use home NAS server that unfortunately lacks features and has a subpar remote-access solution.

7.1 Overall
  • Design and ease of use 8.0
  • Features 6.0
  • Performance 8.0
  • Service and support 7.0

The WD My Book Live NAS server isn't able to do what its predecessor, the My Book World Edition, did a year ago. The World Edition made a huge splash in the pond of NAS servers' throughput performance, proving itself to be by far the fastest single-volume NAS of the time. This only means that NAS servers have come a long way since, as the new My Book Live, though not the fastest, is still very fast in our test.

The new server, while lacking many features found in other NAS servers, also remains one of the simplest and easiest-to-use NAS servers for the home environment. At the street price of just around $150 for 1TB or $200 for the 2TB version, home and novice users just can't go wrong with it.

Setup and ease of use
Similar to the My Book World Edition, the My Book Live is as easy to set up as plugging it into the power socket and the router. After that the NAS will appear in Windows' network browser or in Mac OX 10's Finder. The server also supports Time Machine, which is a feature not present in the My Book World Edition.

For those who are really unfamiliar with networking, the My Book Live comes with a CD that helps discover the NAS server in the network, set it up, and map the network drives. After that you also have the option to install WD SmartWare software for ongoing server management.

Advanced users can skip this software and use the NAS server's Web interface, also called Dashboard, to further customize the server. The Web interface allows access to many more server settings, such as user accounts, remote access, media streaming, and so on. The My Book Live's Web interface is significantly more robust and self-explanatory than that of the My Book World Edition. Most users will be able to figure things out just by looking at the way items are organized and explained. However, the interface is still sluggish at times, with the transition between different parts taking up to a few seconds to complete.

The My Book Live's default share folder, called "public," contains three subfolders for sharing particular types of content: Shared Music, Shared Videos, and Shared Pictures. When you put appropriate content in each of these folders, the content will be automatically made available to other network devices. When logging in to the Web interface, you can turn on or off the media-streaming features for any of the shared folders. They can select the type of content to be streamed, be it video, music, photos, or all three. The My Book Live is compatible with iTunes and DLNA- or UPnP-enabled devices.

Unlike the My Book Edition, the My Book Live doesn't have any USB ports, or any other peripheral ports, for that matter. This means you can't add more storage to the server via an external hard drive. This also means you shouldn't use the server as the only storage place of important data, as there's no way to back up its content to another drive.

The My Book Live has no support for printers, PC-less downloading, IP cameras, or many other features found in other NAS servers. It does, however, offer easy-to-set-up remote access via MioNet. Unfortunately, when it comes to usability, this couldn't be any worse of a choice.

Basically, once you register the NAS server with an account at MioNet via its Web interface, you can log in to the NAS server from anywhere over the Internet to get data off of it, using a Web browser. However, this doesn't allow for downloading or uploading files; all you can do is open files directly from the remote location. This obviously only works when you want to open small files, such as Word documents or photos. With large files, you will be dealing with a frozen Web page most of the time.

You can improve this by downloading and installing MioNet software on the remote computer. However, this is a rather involved and potentially frustrating process. First of all, the software, called MioNet Now, has some system-setting conflicts with popular antivirus software, especially if you run 64-bit Windows. To install it successfully and avoid blue-screen crashes you might need to change your antivirus/firewall settings software, which is not an easy task for most users. Secondly, MioNet Now installs a lot of services on your computer that start by themselves each time the computer boots, potentially slowing it down. Nonetheless, when successfully installed, MioNet Now indeed enables you to access the shared folders of the NAS server just like the way you do it from within a local network.

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