by Thomas Sullivan

Western Digital My Book Live Review

Western Digital has long been in the personal cloud storage space with the WD My Book Live. It's the cornerstone of WD's strategy to help consumers organize their content and access it anywhere from the new WD 2go mobile apps to the WD TV Live media streamers connected to a TV. With seemingly more connected devices in the household now than people, the trend around centralizing a family's media assets is definitely gaining strength as we want to have reliable and easy access to family photos for instance on our phones, computers and televisions, without having to manage several copies of those files. 

Western Digital's approach to solving the media file overload problem with the My Book Live is to make everything simple. From setup to configuration and management of the device, WD makes it just work. That may seem obvious, but not every personal cloud device is created with the same attention to simplicity and ease of use. WD sees families, and even small businesses, dumping their assets on the My Book Live for retrieval from just about any type of device including the iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets, notebooks and just about anything else with a web browser. 

Western Digital My Book Live Specs

  • Capacities:
    • 1TB (WDBACG0010HCH)
    • 2TB (WDBACG0020HCH)
    • 3TB (WDBACG0030HCH)
  • Ethernet 10/100/1000 Mb/s capable
  • 6.60" x 5.50" x 2.00"
  • 2.41 Pounds
  • 3 year warranty

Design and Build

The My Book Live shares much of the same physical design WD has been using with their external desktop drives for some time. It's has a sleek, minimalist rounded face with a small WD badge and pinhole-sized green status light.

The body is black plastic, not nearly as nice as the aluminum used in the My Studio line, but it gets the job done and keeps cost down. The top, back and side are all vented to help the heat passively escape from the drive. The unit is fanless which is great for low noise output - the vents appear sufficient to keep the drive cool inside. 

The back of the drive contains the Ethernet port, power input, Kensington lock and recessed reset pin. Overall the case was designed with ease of use in mind, which WDC hit on all counts.

The My Book Live contains a Caviar Green inside with the capacity varying depending on which model is purchased. Our includes a 1TB hard drive, with 2TB and 3TB configurations also available.

Setup and Use

WD includes a quick start guide with the drive that pretty much says plug it in and run the included CD. If you don't have an optical drive, don't worry, once the My Book Live is conencted to the network it's easily found by both Macs and PCs. From there you can access the software folder to install the included software, or not, it's not required once you know the IP address of the device.

Having the software installed does make it easier to work with the drive though. It took us under a minute to run through the search of the network for the drive and installation the WD Quick View software. 

From there it's time to configure the drive for backups, remote users and the like. To allow mobile users to log in, you can setup activation codes on a per-user basis to work with the WD 2go Mobile Apps. The beauty of this method is the My Book Live broadcasts itself past the local network onto the internet without needing to forward ports or change any settings on your router. It is still able to limit access though through use of the activation codes so only registered users can access the files served.

The mobile apps provided by Western Digital provide a rich content experience, with easy access to files no matter where you are (as long as you have an internet connection). When tested from an iPhone or iPad outside of the office, the devices were quick to connect to the My Book Live and were able to access files immediately.

When it comes to performance, the WD My Book Live is no slouch in terms of read or write speed. The unit makes use of most of the gigabit LAN connection, serving up files with an average read speed of 61.2MB/s and a write speed of 45.5MB/s in our network. While not as fast as some of the bigger NAS units, it offers plenty of speed for moving media files around and providing some backup space for home computers. Note that since this model only includes a single drive, no data redundancy is offered in the event of a drive failure.

Conclusion

The Western Digital My Book Live fits the market segment for buyers who want network accessible media, but don't want to go through the hassle of setting up an entire NAS. Even though it doesn't offer internal RAID, the My Book Live still allows users to backup files to a secondary location and helps mitigate file loss if a computer suffers from a hardware failure or succumbs to a virus. The main draw though is the ability to serve up content behind a firewall to mobile devices anywhere in the world as long as they have internet access... and without needing to mess with any router settings!

Overall the My Book Live has a lot to offer to a network newbie who just wants to plug in the device and have it working. The software is easy to setup, the web interface is designed beautifully and looks great, and the mobile apps available for both iOS and Andriod are very well made. Western Digital really hit all marks with this network device, offering an all-in-one media serving package for home and mobile devices.

Pros

  • Easy to setup
  • Well thought-out interface and apps
  • Good read/write performance

Cons

  • No USB connection for additional storage
  • No multi-bay models for data redundancy

Bottom Line

Personal Cloud is all the rage and WD delivers with the My Book Live. It's dead simple to set up and use, and with the nicely designed mobile apps, users can easily access their media and files on a computer, smartphone or tablet.

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