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Western Digital MyBook Studio Edition II 4TB external hard drive system

4TB RAID 0/RAID 1 hard drive system for Macintosh By John Virata

External hard disk drives have the advantage of storing large capacities of data in form factors small enough that you can carry them with you. With devices that capture large amounts of data, such as HD video cameras and high megapixel digital SLR cameras now the norm rather than the exception, all that data has to be stored somewhere.

The Western Digital MyBook Studio Edition II is a dual drive, 4TB (Terabyte) external hard disk drive solution that is targeted at digital content creators on the Macintosh platform. It also works in Windows Vista. It is comprised of two Western Digital 7200rpm GreenPower hard disk drives in a specially designed enclosure. The drive system can be set to run in a RAID 0 or RAID 1 configuration depending on how you want to access it, and can be connected to the computer via USB, FireWire 400 or 800, and eSATA.

The one thing that bugged me about removable storage devices from the major hard drive manufacturers was the lack of upgradeability when storage hits the maximum, as well as the obsolescence factor of the entire unit once the hard drive inside the plastic case fails. I have four dead external hard drives taking up space in my office; two Maxtor One Touch models (one which the hard drive failed, the other, the electronics), a Seagate eSATA 500GB model, and a Western Digital 320GB model. Granted that most of these were more than five years old, which is the stretched limit at which a Winchester-based hard disk drive is supposed to last, but all the same, these models were not user serviceable when the hard disks failed. I just felt bad in throwing away the dead drives because the external shells looked so good, so they sit like relics of the past on my bookshelf as bookends.


The MyBook Studio Edition II offers the capability to swap out the hard drives, making them user serviceable without voiding any warranty. This is a definite plus, because you can switch out to fresh drives as the original drives get older. You just have to pray the electronics last, and back up your backups.

The rear of the unit with the connections.

The unit itself looks like a miniature toaster. The front of the unit has a single white light to you know the unit is receiving power, while the rear of the unit features all the connectors, which includes two FireWire 800 ports, eSATA port, and a mini USB port. The power button is also located in the rear as is the AC adapter connector. Because the unit is fanless, it relies on good old fashion air technology to cool things inside. The external shell is perforated with slots and holes on the top, back, and the bottom to keep it cool on the inside. The drive comes preconfigured out of the box in a RAID 0 configuration. You can configure the drive's settings via the Drive Manager. The Drive Manager can also give you a status update regarding the health of the drives in the system

The front of the drive features an LED light that offers up several levels of drive activity. A Steady light denotes power on or power save mode; slow flashing indicates system standby; moving up and down indicates drive is in use; alternating checkerboard pattern indicates a transition from one state to another; alternate flashing between top and bottom LEDs details RAID degraded mode; cycling from top to bottom means RAID rebuild mode, and Fast flashing indicates an overheating condition. The drive also features a Kensington security slot. It uses WD GreenPower technology as well, for a claimed 30 percent less energy consumption.

The MyBook Studio Edition II is targeted at digital content creators, and is plug and play on the Macintosh, with full support for Time Machine. You can choose between a RAID 0 configuration for the ultimate speed and the full 3.6TB of free space, or you can set the drive up as a RAID 1 system, which effectively halves the available disk space but ensures data integrity. 

What's in the box

  •  Dual-drive storage system
  •  FireWire 800 cable
  •  FireWire 800 to 400 cable
  •  USB cable
  •  AC adapter
  •  Software CD
  • Quick Install Guide

Performance
The MyBook Studio Edition II completed a 211GB data transfer via FireWire 800 on a 13-inch MacBook Pro (2.26GHz, 4GB RAM, 500GB Seagate Momentus 7200rpm hard drive) in 52 minutes. With USB 2.0, the same data transfer was transferred in 2 hours, six minutes.

Serial Transfer Rate
 
FireWire 800 Serial Bus Transfer Rate (1394b)
800 Mb/s (Max) 

 eSATA 
Serial Bus Transfer Rate (eSATA)
3 Gb/s (Max)

FireWire 400 
Serial Bus Transfer Rate (1394a)
400 Mb/s (Max) 

USB 2.0 
Serial Bus Transfer Rate (USB 2.0)
480 Mb/s (Max)

Throughout the testing of the MyBook Studio Edition II, the drive did not emit any significant sound thanks to the fanless design. The unit is ideal for all manner of digital content creation, including video editing, photography, audio editing--virtually any endeavor that requires a fast hard disk system with lots of capacity. Warm air wafted out of the top of the unit, as designed.  The unit has an MSRP of $649, but can be found online for much less. It ships with a five year warranty. For more information, visit www.wdc.com.


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John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at jvirata@digitalmedianet.com
Related Keywords:external hard disk drives, FireWire 800 hard drive, media drive,

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