by Tom Streeter

Western Digital My Book Essential 4TB Review

Western Digital has taken a "more is better" approach with its latest iteration of the WD My Book Essential HDD. The top model features a single 4TB drive and a USB3.0 interface to help speed up the process of filling it up. Like its predecessors in the Essentials line, the My Book is marketed primarily as a backup storage device. It ships formatted as NTFS and includes WD SmartWare backup software for Windows 7 and Windows 8 pre-installed. After a straightforward initial setup and backup session, the software will run in the background and create incremental backups transparently and with adjustable levels of version control. Mac users who want to take advantage of the USB3.0 interface shipping on current generations of Apple hardware can reformat the drive to HFS+ and use the drive as a Time Machine volume.

WD My Book Essential Specifications

  • Capacity: 4TB (WDBACW0040HBK)
  • Interface: 1x USB3.0 & USB2.0
  • Dimensions (H x D x W): 6.5 x 5.3 x 1.9 in. / 165 x 135 x 48 mm
  • Weight: 2.60lbs / 1.18kg
  • Operating Temperature: 41ºF to 95ºF / 5ºC to 35ºC
  • Non-Operating Temperature: -4ºF to 149ºF / -20ºC to 65ºC
  • Input Voltage: 100-240VAC
  • Input Frequency: 47 - 63 Hz

Design And Build

The exterior of the WD My Book Essential hasn't changed significantly since the line was first introduced. It shares the now-familiar stylized book shape that gives the line its name. This edition is encased a glossy jet-black plastic enclosure. It can be set vertically or horizontally, but the presence of rubber feet only along the bottom edge suggests that vertical is the preferred orientation. A welcome feature of the enclosure is generous ventilation. The left, right sides and curved front "spine" of the My Book are formed by a seamless solid piece of plastic. The entire top and bottom edge, as well as most of the back edge, is actually a vent. As a result, the case stays cool to the touch.

The small part of the back panel that isn't a vent sports a USB3.0 port, the power connector port and a power switch. The only other features that break up the plastic are a tiny white activity LED on the front of the unit just above the small WD logo.


We tested the unit using the PC consumer testing platform using IOMeter over USB3.0. The drive registered 126.1MB/s on sequential write and 127.4 MB/s on sequential read tests. The large-block random access speeds were 49.8MB/s for reads and 50.8MB/s for writes. For 4TB of storage intended to be used primarily for backup and archiving that sells for around $200 at most retailers, this is a good value.


This edition of the Western Digital My Book Essential is an incremental bump to an established line of external hard drives. There's nothing revolutionary in it, but it delivers a solid value, Windows backup software and a 4TB capacity which is the highest available in a single hard drive. 


  • Good value
  • Includes backup software for Windows users
  • Top availalable capacity for single-drive externals


  • Mac users and those PC users who want more performance to go along with raw disk size my want to consider the My Book Studio series

WD My Book Essential 4TB at

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