Western Digital My Book Live review
Network attached storage (NAS) devices are a great way to share files between several computers, but setting one up for the first time can be daunting. Western Digital hopes to break this stigma with the new My Book Live edition, a one-bay, 2TB NAS that’s very user-friendly. Installation was indeed very simple and took just a few minutes – the setup program located the disk and added it to the Windows desktop in a couple of clicks.
Sharing the same minimalist design as the rest of the My Book range of external hard disks, the Live edition looks sleek from the front. Around the back, the only ports are for power and Ethernet, which helps keep things simple. There aren’t any USB ports for connecting other devices such as an external hard disk or a network printer, and because it’s a sealed unit there isn’t the option for adding extra storage at a later date.
Because it’s aimed mainly at the home user, the Live edition excelled at media sharing. There are default folders assigned to music, photos and video, but any user-created folder can also be marked as containing multimedia content through the simple web interface. This means you don’t have to rearrange all your media files for the unit to recognise them. We had no problem streaming video files to UPnP and DNLA media players.
Transfer speeds were quite impressive; large files were written at 42.3MB/s and read at 47.1MB/s. The demanding small files test was understandably slower, at 10.6MB/s write and 17.6MB/s read, but this is still impressive for a one-bay device without RAID.
The Live edition doesn’t have a lot of the extra functionality we like to see in NAS devices. There’s no web or FTP server, no download client and IP cameras aren’t supported. It does without these advanced features to keep things simple for less advanced users. We agree this is a great way to make network storage more accessible, but it can also alienate power users that need these extra features.
It might not have the most comprehensive specification, but the My Book Live edition does include a few extras. The optional software suite provides some useful monitoring tools, as well as the SmartWare backup utility. It’s relatively easy to set up and is useful for making copies of your important files. As it’s an optional install, you can use an alternative program if you prefer.
Because it’s a one-bay unit, there’s no added RAID protection, so if the disk fails you’ll still lose your data unless you back it up to a second location. For iPhone users, the WD photos app is a great way to view photos stored on the unit when you’re away from the computer. Thumbnail views make it easy to navigate large albums, which are quick to load even over 3G. Unfortunately, the remote access feature is more of a token addition; the MioNet web interface is slow and the optional desktop client is very limited.
The My Book Live is little more than a network attached hard disk, rather than the mini-PCs some NAS devices appear to be. While anyone used to more advanced features in a NAS device might find the My Book Live a little too simplistic, users looking for a simple way to share files on a network will appreciate how easy it is to use.
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