With up to 6TB of storage and support for both RAID 0 and RAID 1, the My Book Studio Edition II is the largest dual-bay external hard drive to date, in terms of storage space. It comes with multiple types of peripheral connections and allows users to replace its internal hard drives easily, as long as they use PowerGreen hard drives made by Western Digital. Unfortunately, the drive doesn't support USB 3.0 and takes a long time to be recognized by a computer or to come out of sleep mode.
To make up for this, it offers fast performance and comes with a price tag that won't break the bank at just around $500 for 6TB (or $270 for 4TB and $180 for 2TB). If you're looking for a large and easy-to-use external hard drive for your desktop computer, especially a Mac, the My Book Studio Edition II is worth consideration.
Design and features
|Drive type||3.5-inch-based dual-bay external hard drive|
|Connector options||USB 2.0, FireWire, eSATA|
|Size (WHD)||3.87x6.54x6.06 inches|
|Available capacities||2TB, 4TB, 6TB|
|Capacity of test unit||6TB|
|OSes supported||Microsoft Windows (Vista, 7), Mac OS 10.5 or later|
|Software included||WD Drive Manager, WD Anywhere Backup|
The My Book Studio Edition II has exactly the same design as the previous model; it looks like a closed book. The bottom of the device is one side of the "book" and the top is the door for the two drive bays. The door can be pressed to open and the hard drives can then be pulled out to be replaced easily, without any tools.
On the front, the drive has a large vertical white light that shows the status of the drive. On the back, the drive has an array of peripheral ports including USB 2.0, FireWire 400/800, and eSATA. It comes with all cables for the above connection types, except for the eSATA. It's a little disappointing that it doesn't support USB 3.0. This is understandable, however, as the drive is made primarily for Macs, which don't currently support USB 3.0.
Also on the back, you'll find a power button that turns the drive on or off. We noticed that the drive seemed to go into sleep, or low-power, mode after being idle for about 10 minutes or so, and it would take about 2 minutes to wake up. There's no way to prevent it from doing this, unfortunately. While in sleep mode, the drive would sometimes unmount itself, and this proved to be problematic for those who sporadically need quick access to it. The drive would also take about 2 minutes to be recognized by the operating system, which is a very long time compared with other external hard drives. All this makes the drive seem "buggy" at times. Hopefully this will be resolved via a firmware update.
Though the hard drives are easily replaceable, as mentioned above the My Book only works with GreenPower SATA hard drives made by Western Digital, and comes preloaded with two of them. The review unit we received came with two at 3TB each, configured in RAID 0, offering a total storage amount of 6TB.
Although preformatted with HFS+ file configuration for Macs, the My Book can be reformatted for PCs easily, using the included WD Drive Manager software. It comes with a software CD that includes a manual in PDF format, WD Anywhere Backup software, and the WD Drive Manager utility. The utility enables you to change the RAID configuration from RAID 0 to RAID 1 and vice versa. It also helps quickly format the drive. In our trial, the included version of WD Drive Manager didn't work as expected, and we had to download the updated version from Western Digital's Web site before we could manage the drive's RAID configuration. Note that because of the limitations of the legacy standard, the drive, especially in the 4TB and 6TB versions, works only with Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Mac OS 10.5 or later. In our test, it took about 20 minutes to change the drive's setup from one RAID to another.
The My Book Studio Edition II performed well in our testing.
In tests with eSATA the drive registered 98.8MBps for writing and 109.2MBps for reading. These numbers were very fast and close to those of a typical USB 3.0 external hard drive. In USB 2.0 tests, it scored 26.5MBps and 46.1MBps for writing and reading, respectively, slightly higher than the average among USB 2.0 drives.
In FireWire 400 test, the drive scored 20.2MBps for writing and 42.6MBps for reading, again, about the average, which met our expectations. We didn't test the drive with FireWire 800 as our test machine wasn't equipped with this type of connection.
Other than the sleep mode issue mentioned above, the drive worked well in our tests. It seemed hot, however, after being used for an extended amount of time.
Service and support
The length of the warranty is the most important thing for storage devices, and Western Digital delivers. The company backs the My Book Studio Edition II with a generous five-year warranty. At the company's Web site, you'll find a section dedicated to the drive where you can find all you need in terms of support.
The My Book Studio Edition II makes an affordable backup and storage solution for both Macs and PCs. Its intermittently and seemingly buggy firmware and lack of support for USB 3.0, however, make it less of an ideal home direct-attached storage device.