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Most people don’t keep up with the backup drive game, and we don’t blame them. It’s about as exciting as a “You’ll never believe what happened to me last night in Oblivion” story. The Cliff Notes overview is that WD’s Dual-Option Media Center drive has ruled the roost for a long time. We loved its high capacity and somewhat-easy-to-use software, but what really set it apart from the competition was its front-mounted USB port and 8-in-1 media reader.
Apparently no one else loved it, though, because WD has ditched those amenities with its totally redesigned My Book: a book-shaped backup drive that delivers on its promises, but still can’t compare with its predecessor.
We tested the 500GB Premium Edition of the My Book, though it’s also available in smaller capacities. All Premium Edition drives offer two six-pin FireWire 400 ports, a USB 2.0 connector, a capacity gauge (the inner blue ring on the front of the drive), and WD’s backup software. A WD5000KS drive, aka WD Caviar SE 16, handles storage duties. It’s WD’s fastest 7,200rpm drive (and our favorite drive in this category), and it sports a 16MB buffer.
On the software side, WD has thankfully ditched the somewhat-arcane Dantz Retrospect in favor of backup software from Arcsoft that has a custom-designed and totally newb-proof front end. You can select specific folders for backup, or simply select “photos,” “videos,” or “music,” and it’ll scan your drive for the relevant file types and back them all up. You can schedule backups, password-protect individual backups, and quickly restore files by running the built-in restore program that Retrospect automatically attaches to each backup set. Nearly silent operation is the watchword for this drive; it even turns on and off automatically based on activity.
Our only complaint is that Retrospect lacks an option to save files in their initial format. Instead, it puts the files into compressed backup sets that you have to unlock using an included utility. It works perfectly, but we’d like the option to make one-to-one backups, so we could browse the backed-up files using Windows Explorer. With a front-mounted USB port and media reader this drive could have surpassed the previous WD backup drives. As is, it’s still a strong contender.
Month Reviewed: July 2006