Until a few years back, external drives for home desktop use had always been associated with portable items capable of limited amounts of storage. With advances in storage capacities in recent years, this fact is no longer true. Many storage companies taking a page out of the enterprise backup markets have started offering dedicated standalone drives that can double up as backup or as storage for home theater PCs.
Western Digital has unveiled drives in varying capacities from 80 GB to 500 GB. The drive that is discussed here is the 250 GB Western Digital “My book” external drive. This HDD design is appropriately titled as a “book”. This is due to the fact that the external casing of the HDD has been designed to look like a hardbound book sitting on a mantelpiece. Being fairly hefty in size and weight, the device is meant to be a stationary backup device. For those of you looking for a drive you can carry around you will have to look elsewhere.
Connectivity of this device is offered through the usual USB 2.0 slot that takes the guesswork out of configuring this device. All that is left to do is plug it into the PC's USB slot and Windows does the rest. The premium edition of this drive offers Firewire connectivity, which is not present in this drive. Also due to the rather spacious nature of the drive, powering this drive through just USB is not possible. It would have to connect it to an external power source using the supplied AC adaptor.
The disk itself is a standard 250 GB 7200 RPM drive with a fairly decent 8 MB buffer, which allows for better performance during file copying and backup of data. The software package is fairly sparse with just the Western Digital Lifeguard diagnostics program present alongside some free offerings from Google such as Picasa and Desktop search, which help you organize your data systematically. For backup purposes the drive ships with Western Digital backup software, which is quite comprehensive and helps you backup your data from individual files to entire drives.
In terms of performance, the drive is fairly average. We tested the drive using Sisoft Sandra 2007, Hdtach 3.10 and Everest Ultimate Edition 2006. The drive consistently managed average read speeds of 18 MB, which is a bit on the slower side. In terms of write speeds, the drive managed an average write speed of 17.3 MB. Clearly this is not a drive designed for performance but geared towards reliability.
At a cost of Rs 15,500 this drive is attractively priced and highly recommended for anyone who is looking for a cheap external backup solution which is reliable and can hold a lot of data, especially those with a fine expansive collection of movies and music.
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