WD My Book Duo External RAID Storage Gets Your Shoebox System in Order

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I have a shoebox in which I keep all of my dearest personal information. It’s a shoebox, on the large side, and inside are photos of my kids when they were babies, a couple of birth certificates, my passport, some important tax files, and inspirational letters to and from friends that I’ve kept and cherished for a long time. There are also some receipts that I should have thrown out but didn’t, ticket stubs that mark great times I’ve had out on the town, and other assorted knickknacks and tchotchkes I’ve gathered over the years, all attached to some sentimental anchor in my heart.

Next to that shoebox is another similarly sized shoebox with other assorted ephemera inside. More letters, more photos places I’ve traveled to, more memories. The need to organize these boxes is compounded by the fact that several more shoeboxes exist in my closet, all filled with the same type of stuff.

"The ability to expand storage by adding your own drives makes the capacity almost limitless."

The problem is this: if one shoebox gets destroyed or misplaced, all the memories, all the information, all of the data in that shoebox is lost forever. There is no backup shoebox with an exact replica of the data sitting somewhere more secure than my closet. No bank security deposit box exists with the same receipts, same photos, same ticket stubs―just those shoeboxes in my closet.

You can see where disaster could strike. All it would take is a fire or flood to wipe out years of memories―and yet many of us live in the same situation with our digital data. We add external and internal hard drives. We replace hard drives when they fail, we store info on flash drives and memory cards (smaller shoeboxes, granted, but still shoeboxes), and we all hope that the day never comes when that shoebox gets lost or destroyed. But it will, and when it does, you’ll wish you had the same shoebox stored somewhere else.

That’s where the My Book Duo External RAID Storage comes in. It backs up your virtual shoebox to another shoebox, making complete replicas of your data via RAID. Available in 4, 6, 8, and 12TB configurations, these RAID enclosures offer security and capacity in one unit, using dual drives to mirror data or use the drives as one large disk.

I received the 6TB My Book Duo, and was immediately thrown by the size. These squat silver boxes look nothing like the slim and Mac-like My Cloud series (of which I own the 4TB version). The My Book Duo is almost seven inches tall and seven inches deep. Thankfully, it is only 4 inches wide, with a sleek powder-coat finish. There are two indicator lights on the front that show the activity of each disk, and a separate light for power. The only other adornment on the front of the unit is the WD logo and series name.

I was immediately curious about the insides of the machine, so before I powered it up, I depressed the latch on the vented top of the unit and popped it open. Inside were two 3TB WD Red drives. A flimsy plastic piece (which I eyed suspiciously) allows you to grasp a drive and pull it out. User-serviceable drives are a big deal with RAID and DAS units (a DAS is direct attached storage, as opposed to a NAS, which is network attached storage). The ability to expand storage by adding your own drives makes the capacity almost limitless. Every time you need a new shoebox, you just pop one in. One caveat: this unit does not support hot-swapping, so when you do put in a new drive, you have to rebuild the RAID configuration via a button on the back of the unit or through the included WD Drive Utilities.

Next, I plugged the unit in. It came to life immediately, so I connected it to my computer to start the download tests. I split the test into two parts―transferring files and transferring folders. File transfers will be much quicker, and I was interested to see if the Duo could reach the advertised speeds of 290 MB/s. That’s a 4GB DVD movie file transferred in less than 20 seconds.

The File Test

File transfers are deceptive on Windows. The speed that is reported back to you doesn’t always match the speed at which a file is downloaded. I took a 7.94 GB Matroska video file (a Blu-ray rip of The Music Man that I own and wanted a digital copy to watch on my tablet) and transferred it over. The transfer speed topped out at 120 MB/s, and the total download took 00:1:12.82―just over a minute. That would lend credence to WD’s claim that you can transfer a Full HD 4.9 GB DVD file in about 30 seconds. Next, I took a 2.4GB .MP4 rip of another movie and transferred it over to the WD drive. Oddly enough, the speed only reached about 55 MB/s, and the transfer took 00:44.55 seconds. I went back to another .mkv file, a 2.9 GB rip of Spiderman 2, and lo and behold, speed topped at 222 MB/s, and the file took 18 seconds to transfer. Interesting. Another transfer involved a 1.9 GB .avi copy of Immortal Beloved. Speed reached 120 MB/s and the transfer took 19 seconds.

These seemingly odd variations in transfer speeds are why you should always approach data transfer with the manufacturer’s caveat that transfer speeds will always vary depending on file format, your computer’s configuration, and other mitigating circumstances. There are also other programs used to transfer large files more quickly―using the standard Windows 7 drag-and-drop system can be a real pain, sometimes.

Next I transferred music files. Transferring individual 10MB .mp3 files was instantaneous. The Windows transfer window never even popped up. I then transferred an album folder, containing 14 tracks, total file size of 114MB. The whole album transferred in less than 8 seconds, with a speed of 108 MB/s. Music files didn’t seem to be a problem, so I upped the ante and transferred my whole music collection, which brings us to the Folder Test.

Oh, if you’re wondering about the document test, it was an even more negligible speed than the music files. I transferred documents over so fast that the file transfer pop-up in Windows never had a chance to deploy. The only speed rating I could muster was when I transferred a large folder of PowerPoint files, measuring about 20GB in size, containing 20 PowerPoint presentations of varying sizes. It took less than 90 seconds to transfer the files, with a speed of about 109 MB/s.

The Folder Test

For the folder test, I needed to duplicate my main 256GB solid-state drive, back up my internal 1TB hard drive, and transfer a 500GB external bus-powered hard drive to the My Book Duo, and then I transferred my entire music collection.

I set the RAID configuration to RAID 0, which sees the unit as one large 6TB drive. I transferred the 500GB hard drive over by dragging and dropping the folders (there were only two; one filled with downloaded games, and the other filled with converted AVI files), which turned out to be 1,456 files in 190 folders, and noticed a transfer speed that maxed out at 36 MB/s. Windows stated a transfer time of 3 hours and 30 minutes. Before you scream in horror at that obviously sluggish speed, you should realize that smaller files, when grouped and transferred, actually take more time to transfer than larger files. The speed jumped up to 64 MB/s when getting to the movie files, and the total time to transfer the 500GB drive was less than two hours.

"When you write data to one drive, it is duplicated on the second drive immediately."

I then wiped the WD My Duo drive and reset the configuration to RAID 1, duplicating data from one drive to another. With the handy WD Utility tool, you’ll see that the drives are split into two 3TB drives (in fact, a little less than 3TB because of system resources). When you write data to one drive, it is duplicated on the second drive immediately. You would think that this would slow down the transfer speeds, but it didn’t―I still saw about 64 MB/s as the top speed when transferring folders.

I wiped the drives once again and set the configuration to JBOD. JBOD sees each disk individually, but there is no mirroring of data. So I transferred the 256GB SSD over to one of the 3TB partitions, and saw the speed climb to 90 MB/s. It took about an hour to transfer the drive. This was straight drag-and-drop―I did not use the Acronis True Image software to make a duplicate copy of system files or the OS.

For the music folder the stats were: 31.8GB total size, 4,987 files in 1,304 folders. Windows stated that the transfer would take about 12 minutes, running at 50 MB/s. What happened was the entire collection took about 10 minutes, running at about 52.3 MB/s. The variant here was some non-music files I found while transferring, which slowed down the speed from 53 MB/s to 48 MB/s. All in all, though, that is some wicked speed when transferring a collection of that size―one shoebox down, many more to go.

Other Amenities

I was just as impressed with this unit as I was with what came with the unit. The addition of WD SmartWare Pro is definitely a deal maker, as are the WD Drive Utilities. You also get Acronis True Image WD Edition software. True Image lets you completely back up the operating system, applications, settings, and data of a disk. I wanted to remove an old hard drive from a laptop and replace it with a new SSD drive, but the SSD drive did not come with cloning software. With a few easy clicks, I used True Image to replicate the laptop drive, replaced it with the SSD, and in minutes had the laptop completely restored. This also helps when Windows upgrades give you a buggy experience―simply back the drive up first, upgrade, and if the upgrade doesn’t stick, revert back to the backed-up OS.

There are also cloud-based backup solutions that integrate Dropbox cloud service and the WD My Book Duo to give you offsite storage of important files (if you choose not to mirror your data, why not store some of your shoeboxes in the cloud?). You can even perform scheduled local backup with the WD Smartware Pro backup program, and recover lost or deleted files.

Is the Duo for You-o?

I was impressed with the performance of the WD My Book Duo. For transferring and archiving files, this is the unit you should be considering. It offers RAID without making RAID an issue, as some NAS servers can do. It’s a simple solution to the problem of data management, and for the uninitiated who just need to clean out their data closet, this is one shoebox that fits neatly into your work environment. Whether you’re storing personal data, business documents, or movie and music collections, the WD My Book Duo does all that and adds a layer of security, flexibility and expandability to your storage problem so you never have to worry about losing data again.

WD My Book Duo External RAID Storage
Capacity
4 TB 6 TB 8 TB 12 TB
Interface
2 x USB 3.0 ports 2 x USB 3.0 ports 2 x USB 3.0 ports 2 x USB 3.0 ports
1 x power supply USB 3.0 port (DC in) 1 x power supply USB 3.0 port (DC in) 1 x power supply USB 3.0 port (DC in) 1 x power supply USB 3.0 port (DC in)
Operating Specifications
Interface transfer rate: Up to 5 Gb/s in USB 3.0 mode and up to 480 Mb/s in USB 2.0 mode Interface transfer rate: Up to 5 Gb/s in USB 3.0 mode and up to 480 Mb/s in USB 2.0 mode Interface transfer rate: Up to 5 Gb/s in USB 3.0 mode and up to 480 Mb/s in USB 2.0 mode Interface transfer rate: Up to 5 Gb/s in USB 3.0 mode and up to 480 Mb/s in USB 2.0 mode
System Compatibility
Formatted NTFS for Windows 8 or higher, Windows 7 or Windows Vista operating system
Requires reformatting for Mac OS X
Formatted NTFS for Windows 8 or higher, Windows 7 or Windows Vista operating system Formatted NTFS for Windows 8 or higher, Windows 7 or Windows Vista operating system Formatted NTFS for Windows 8 or higher, Windows 7 or Windows Vista operating system
Operating Temperature
0 to 35°C 0 to 35°C 0 to 35°C 0 to 35°C
Non-Operating Temperature
-40 to 70°C -40 to 70°C -40 to 70°C -40 to 70°C
Dimensions
6.5 x 6.2 x 3.9" / 165 x 157 x 99mm 6.5 x 6.2 x 3.9" / 165 x 157 x 99mm 6.5 x 6.2 x 3.9" / 165 x 157 x 99mm 6.5 x 6.2 x 3.9" / 165 x 157 x 99mm
Weight
4.60 lb / 2.09 kg 4.80 lb / 2.18 kg 5.00 lb / 2.24 kg 5.1 lb / 2.3 kg
Includes
WD SmartWare Pro
WD Drive Utilities
WD Security software
USB Cable
AC Adapter
Quick Install Guide
WD SmartWare Pro
WD Drive Utilities
WD Security software
USB Cable
AC Adapter
Quick Install Guide
WD SmartWare Pro
WD Drive Utilities
WD Security software
USB Cable
AC Adapter
Quick Install Guide
WD SmartWare Pro
WD Drive Utilities
WD Security software
USB Cable
AC Adapter
Quick Install Guide

Items discussed in article

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Cris - Nice article to introduce this product.  Do you have any recommendations to your initial conundrum of losing data? Based on your intro paragraphs, it seems as though you've consolidated your 'stuff' into a bigger shoebox with this device.  Can you offer any solutions utilizing this device to create a back-up of your files that could be taken off-site and perhaps swapped with another fresh drive so that you are avoiding that disasterous event that ruins all your data?  In other words, using this device, could you set up the drives in JBOD as described and then utilize the True Image software to back-up your main partition to the secondary partition?  Once complete, could you remove the secondary partition drive, take it off-site, replace it with the same capacity drive, and have the software do a full back-up of the main partition?

Hope that makes sense.  I'm definitely intrigued by this product, but want to make sure I have a solution to avoid losing my larger shoebox...

Dear Reader,

Losing data is truly like losing your purse or wallet – you really struggle to recover that lost data, because it’s the only copy you might have.  Might I suggest that you first set the unit to mirror data, dump all your info on one drive, and let it reproduce the data on the second drive. Remove the backup, then purchase another WD REd drive and install that to the unit. Now you have one secure backup you can store off-site, and room to backup more.

The problem with creating the True Image backup is that True Image is more of a full system backup. If there is any corruption in the original system, that corruption will be duplicated on the backup (similar to the Restore function in Windows – you can only restore what you have, you can’t make it better). And the way Windows is configured, creating partitions is always tricky. If the MFT (master file table) somehow fails, which is what happened to my old drive, all your data could become unrecoverable or damaged.

If you purchase a larger capacity version of this unit, you could shuffle partitions and create True Image backups with a little more confidence, but at lower capacities, it’s probably easier to just buy spare drives. It’s not cheap, but it’s cheaper than losing all your data and having to pay a service to recover it.

I hope that helps. 

Hi!

I'm just wondering what happens if I get more units and daisy-chain them with the USB-3. Can I configure the "new system" in RAID?

For e.g.:
- 2 units, each indivdual unit is in RAID-0, daisy-chaned and then set to RAID-1, in order to make copy of the first RAID-0 unit onto the second RAID-0 unit automatically. Can it be done?

Thanks!

Drives attached to the USB port on the My Book Duo are independent of the RAID.