Western Digital My Book Essential USB3 1TB review
1TB hard disk, USB3, 135x48x165mm
External hard disks aren’t always the most attractive pieces of kit and they often look ugly sat on a desk. Not so with Western Digital’s My Book Essential. As its name suggests, the disk's rounded edges are designed to fit in with the rest of your books on a shelf, and the top, rear and back ventilation means it won’t overheat if you do so.
The 1TB Caviar Green disk inside has a variable spin speed set a manufacturing to offer the best balance between temperature and power use, but it means performance varies from disk to disk. The USB3 interface helped our review sample achieve 81.6MB/s writes and 94.4MB/s reads in our large file transfer test, which is among the top performing desktop hard disks we've seen. Small file transfers were much slower, which is normally what we see in the second part of our storage tests – 25.3MB/s writes and 44.2MB/s read speeds put this drive mid-table.
Western Digital’s own SmartWare backup suite comes bundled with the disk. It lets you choose whether to back up individual files, multimedia or entire partitions at once, and you can prioritise specific folders to be monitored for any changes. Once you turn it on, it will automatically scan your PC for edited files and back them up incrementally, rather than as a whole disk image, saving you time and processor cycles. It would be better if you could access your backups from within Windows rather than through the app, but it’s still a very comprehensive tool considering it’s free. You can also secure the disk with a password, to prevent any unauthorised access.
It’s a great all-round performer, with a useful software bundle and sensible 7p per gigabyte price, but the My Book Essential narrowly misses out to the faster Buffalo DriveStation Velocity. If you can stretch your budget a bit further, the excellent Seagate Backup Plus desktop 3TB is a great choice.