With Gigabit Ethernet connectivity and 1TB of spanned capacity, Western Digital's My Book World Edition II is more than just your standard network-attached storage drive. It allows you to tap into your files and share them while you're on the road. We just wish it had a little more speed to go along with its features.
Sporting a new white case paired with Western Digital's cool double-ring emblem, the My Book II will look good on any desk. One USB port allows for additional storage, which shows up as a separate volume. EMC's Retrospect Express backup software comes included, but the WD Anywhere Access software is the heart and soul of this storage drive.
Inside, the unit is solidly built. You can remove a failed drive for replacement, but the new drive must come from the company in a proprietary mounting. Compared with the nearly instant swapping capabilities in other low-end NAS devices, such as D-Link's DNS-323 enclosure, this implementation seems cumbersome and costly.
Setup is straightforward. While installing WD Anywhere Access, you give the drive a name, which becomes the URL for accessing its configuration menus. We named ours MyBookWorld, so our URL was mybookworld.com. In the menus, you can change the drive type from spanned to RAID 1 mirroring, which halves the capacity down to 500GB but safeguards data against a drive failure.
In general, the WD Anywhere Access solution worked well. Instead of everyone on the network sharing files in real time, this bundled software offers users personalized access to files stored on the My Book, which could spell trouble for work groups that don't have strict data-organization methods in place (someone could inadvertently open an older version if someone else is already working on the current version). But we like the mapping technique, which essentially makes the remote location look like another drive on your system, whether you're in Windows Explorer or in the Open dialog box of an application. You'll notice some lag when you're connected but not enough to deter you from using it.
WD Anywhere Access has three interface tabs: My Resources, Shared with Me, and Shared with Others. The My Book remote access and share folder features are included in the basic service that comes with the MyBook. Remote desktop and webcam access are premium services, for which you get a 30-day free trial and then pay $6.95 per month or $49.95 per year.
Writing a 2GB folder with a variety of files to the My Book took 9 minutes and 56 seconds; the same folder read back from the drive took 7 minutes and 11 seconds. Performing the same operations to the Gigabit Ethernet-enabled D-Link DNS-323 with one 250GB drive took 4 minutes and 20 seconds and 4 minutes and 12 seconds respectively, indicating that Western Digital's embedded controller chip may need some improvement.
The My Book World Edition II won't dazzle with speed, but the WD Anywhere Access bundle, sexy aesthetics, and aggressive price make this unit an impressive solution.
HOW TO USE ANYWHERE ACCESS
Western Digital's Anywhere Access software lets you share your drive's resources in three ways. First, you can log into your required (and free) WD Anywhere Access account and browse your storage through a Java applet. Second, you can install WD Anywhere Access on other people's PCs, where they'll be able to search, open, and save to the My Book drive as if it were local. Or third, you can e-mail non-WD Anywhere Access users a link granting them VPN-like access to the files and folders of your choice. We tried WD Anywhere Access on three PCs and found it remarkably easy and effective though slightly buggy on occasion.
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