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Western Digital My Book Essential Edition USB Hard Drive

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While external USB hard drives have been extant for several years, most of them have been funky, nasty or possessed of installation procedures with levels of complexity that rivaled a liberal politician caught with an open microphone.

The Western Digital My Book external hard drive is none of these things. Nicely engineered by a manufacturer that has been making hard drives since the late middle ages, it has proven to be utterly reliable in the time we’ve used one. It also has an installation procedure so simple as to defy the need for documentation. Plug in its power adapter. Plug in its USB connector. Pat yourself roundly on the back.

The My Book drive comes in capacities ranging from 160 gigabytes to two terabytes. We wanted one of the two-terabyte boxes, just to say we had enough storage to maintain the sum of human knowledge in one place, but the local Best Buy was out of them. Ours does 750 gigabytes, which is arguably about twice what we really needed.

About the side of a fat paperback novel, a My Book drive isn’t much of a desk hog. It requires AC power, rather than being powered by your computer’s USB port, but it draws next to no current even when it’s running. It shuts itself down to conserve power whenever the computer it’s connected to goes off line.

With a maximum data transfer rate comparable to that of a wired-in internal hard drive, the My Book is agreeably quick. Unlike an internal drive, you can easily unplug it and move it to another computer.

This is unquestionably the box to own if you want to store lots of pictures, music, video or any of the downloadable stuff that various record companies and movie studios hire lawyers over. Western Digital’s web page notes that the two-terabyte version of this drive can store about 571,000 digital photos, or 500,000 MP3 songs, or 50,000 CD-quality uncompressed songs, or 880 hours of DVD quality video. If you fill it, you’re watching way too much TV.

The most impressive aspect of the My Book drive is how quickly you can forget it’s there. Push it to the back of your desk and it will just store files and never remind you of its existence. In this respect, it’s pretty close to perfect.

Comments (2)

Robert SchechterAugust 30th, 2009 at 6:04 pm

I installed the Western Digital My Book Essential Edition USB Hard Drive 1 TB. I agree it has a very simple installation procedure. I bought it to back-up my system, and with the provided trial addition of Memeo AutoBackup, it does that smoothly and easily.

Vince ParkerOctober 19th, 2009 at 7:36 am

A great product — bought mine from Amazon at a good price and am now in the market for another, simply for the sheer convenience of the thing.
It has functioned flawlessly for about a year now, working so efficiently that I forgot that it was there until I read this review !