What’s better than a My Book with a single drive inside of it? A My Book with two drives in a mirrored array so the same data is on both drives. Even better, if one drive fails you can easily pop the lid on the drive and remove it! These are both very welcome features to the world of backup drives, and when you combine them with easy-to-use software, optional encryption and a competitive price, you have a very solid backup solution.
Features and Design
The My Book Mirror Edition shares the same Knight Rider inspired design with its My Book brethren, including the Home Edition model we reviewed recently. It’s solid black, glossy, with a cool blue LED light that displays the capacity of the drive as well as array status, making it easy to check on things at a glance.
The Mirror Edition is USB only, so if you’re an eSATA or FireWire enthusiast you’re out of luck. It’s possible those versions may be forthcoming from WD, but our guess is the company stuck with USB only to keep the cost down. Also, we received a 2TB (terabyte) version to review, but WD is also selling a 1TB version as well that costs $289.99 USD. If you simply do not care about a backup drive that uses RAID 1 (mirroring) technology and would prefer a faster transfer rate, we recommend the Western Digital Studio Edition II drive which features high-speed FireWire 800 and eSATA interfaces; sans RAID 1 capabilities.
The package includes the drive itself, power cable, USB cable, quick setup guide and a software CD. The software CD includes WD Anywhere Backup, (which is essentially Memeo backup), a Memeo AutoSync trial, MioNet trial and Google software.
Our review unit features two 1TB Western Digital 7200rpm hard drives, and they are the company’s green variety that offer reduced power consumption. With the Mirror Edition WD has implemented a quick removal option for the drives that will be a blessing to anyone who has ever had an external drive fail, as they are notoriously difficult to pry open to remove the drive. On this particular drive, you just apply pressure to the top of the drive and the grill lifts up. Then you twist a thumbscrew of sorts loose and lift it away, and each drive has a small, plastic handle you can use to remove the drive from the chassis.
The My Book Mirror Edition contains two drives that can mirror each other, or be striped to achieve full capacity of both drives.
Use and Testing
We took the drive out of the box and were surprised initially at how large it is, but remember there are two drives in here. It’s big, but nothing that will hog up too much of your desk space. We consulted the large, fold-out quick setup guide and found it consisted of three easy steps: put CD in tray, run software, and connect the drive.
We put the CD in the tray and once it started up we were presented with the option to install up to four different software packages: WD Anywhere Backup, Memeo AutoSync trial, MioNet trial and Google (Desktop, Picasa, Toolbar). Since the only free software was the WD Anywhere Backup (aside from Google, which we didn’t want), we installed it and found it to essentially be Memeo Backup, which was the same software used by the My Book Home Edition.
Since we’ve used Memeo before, we’ll reiterate that it’s fantastic backup software because it’s very easy to configure and backs up data instantly. Whatever folder you tell it to backup, it’ll do so, and then when you add any new files from the source folder it’ll automatically copy the files, so your data is always backed up. It’s also nice not to have to mess with backup schedules and the like, and you can either choose “smart picks” for backup, which is documents, videos, etc. or pick your own folders. You can also encrypt your backup jobs, so if someone steals the drive they will not be able to access your files without a password, which is a great feature. Just like last time, we had no issues with Memeo this time around either, and can easily recommend it.
Though we had no issues using the software, we once again came up on a small problem trying to register it. Once we installed the software it asked us if we wanted to register it or take a 30-day trial. As we learned the last time we reviewed a My Book, WD puts the registration information on a tiny sticker in the corner of the quick setup guide, on a page full of legal disclaimers and regulatory information, and we can imagine most users will not know the location of the sticker because WD never points it out, and it’s hard to see once you actually locate it. We’d like to see WD move the sticker to a more accessible location, or at least tell the customer where it is so they will know where to look when presented with the registration screen.
If you’re wondering, like we were, what the difference is between WD Anywhere Backup, which is essentially Memeo, and the Memeo AutoSync trial, it’s this – WD Anywhere Backup does backup, meaning it copies files to and from a source and target. Memeo AutoSync will sync two folders at all times between different PCs or locations. If you decide it’s worth it after the trial ends, you can purchase the full version for $29.95.
The WD MioNet is remote access software that lets you share photos or connect to your PC from outside your home or office. We didn’t install it but it’s available for $7.99 a month on WD’s website. You can download a 30-day trial from the website if you’re curious about it.
Running the RAID
Once we had finished installing the software and setting up our backup routine, the software diverted us to a window notifying us that by default the two drives in the mirror edition are mirroring each other, otherwise known as RAID 1. It told us we could keep it that way, or change to RAID 0, which stripes data back and forth on both drives, allowing for the full capacity of both drives, a full 2TB. The problem with RAID 0 is that if one drive fails, all your data is wiped out, and it’s not something we’d ever recommend for a data backup solution. Though we don’t prefer to use RAID 0, it’s nice to have the option if one wants a full 2TB of storage rather than the 1TB you get in a mirrored setup.
Once the array is setup a little WD icon sits in the system tray, and hovering over it tells you the status of the array, which is very handy. Also, if one drive fails, the software will tell you which drive has failed so you’ll know which drive you need to remove from the enclosure. The blue light on the front of the drive is also capable of communicating array status, and will flash red if a drive fails, which is helpful.
An icon sits in the system tray and hovering over it gives you the skinny on the array’s status.
Removing the Drives
If you’ve ever had to remove a drive from an external enclosure, you know they are not designed to be opened by the end-user, but not so with the Mirror Edition. To gain access to the drives you simply press on the top of the drive and it releases a latch, allowing you to lift the top off the drive. You then spin a thumbscrew of sorts to release a metal bar that holds the drives down, then lift a drive out by its little plastic handle. It works very well and is a fantastic feature; one we hope other drive manufacturers adopt in the future.
Voila! You can easily remove both drives from the My Book without any tools, which is a fantastic feature.
The My Book Mirror Edition is a very good backup drive that allows users to stash all the data they want without worrying about actually backing anything up since it’s copied to both drives (if you take the RAID 1 route, which we recommend you do). Of course, if you then use the included excellent backup software you’ll have three copies of your files, which is extreme data security! Overall it’s a great drive with superb software and features, and is easily one of the best backup drives we’ve ever evaluated. Adding a high-speed interface like FireWire or eSATA would be icing on the cake, but we understand this was not added to keep the price down. If you absolutely need the high-speed interface, look at the Western Digital My Book Studio Edition II which is similiarily priced.
• Easy to remove drives from chassis
• Great backup software
• Easy setup
• Works with Macs and PCs
• Can encrypt backups
• Hidden software registration sticker
• USB only