The Western Digital MyBook World Edition NAS drive makes remote access and file sharing a breeze. The 500GB single-drive version costs $380, making it a cost-effective solution for network backup and sharing. Unfortunately, it's one of the slower drives we've tested and doesn't include a print server or a media server. Still, we like how the included software bridges the gap between highly technical file sharing and the kludgey workarounds we've seen. If the slow transfer speeds don't deter you, this is a good option for anytime-anywhere access.
The Western Digital MyBook World Edition looks exactly like its desktop brethren, the MyBook Premium Edition, save for its glossy white exterior, reminiscent of the traditional iPod case. The MyBook World Edition sits vertically and is designed to resemble a book. The edges of the "pages" are marked with a series of dots and dashes--Morse code--that do double duty as a passive cooling feature. On the spine of the "book" sits a power button surrounded by two blue LED rings. The inner ring is a capacity gauge, while the outer ring flashes to indicate activity.
The back edge houses a Gigabit Ethernet port for connecting to your router, a USB port for attaching an external hard drive, a power port, a pinhole reset button, and a Kensington lock. Setting up the drive is simple: just connect the drive to a LAN port on your router using an Ethernet cable, connect the power cable, and plug it in. Once it's fully powered on (which takes about 3 minutes), use the included CD to install the WD Anywhere Access software and the EMC Retrospect Backup software.
The regular MyBook World Edition drive houses a single 500GB hard drive, but the MyBook World Edition II houses two 500GB drives (for a total of 1TB); the larger version is RAID-capable as well.
Once you've installed the included software, the drive should be mapped as a drive letter on your system, and you should be able to access its contents as if it were a local drive. On each PC on which you install the backup software, you can set one-off or regular backups of files and folders. The EMC software will also let you restore your files in case of a system failure.
The compelling feature of the MyBook World Edition NAS drive is the Anywhere Access software. Lots of NAS drives currently on the market advertise easy remote access, but implement that feature in a number of ways--some more convenient than others. Most of the true anytime/anywhere products ask you to open ports on your router and configure dynamic DNS services--not for the faint of heart. The Maxtor Fusion Personal Web Server is one such device. Others use a more kludgey workaround that requires you to upload the files you want to access to a "cloud," that is, a designated Web server. While this option is easy to implement, it requires a bit of forethought and planning to make sure the files you want will be accessible.