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on June 21, 2011
[Updated this review on 28-Jun-2011]

I have purchased 4 of these Western Digital Studio II external hard drives over the past 18 months (three of them are 4TB, one of them is 6TB), and they are great. The first 3 of these I bought have been chugging along with constant use for more than a year, with nary a hiccup. I just purchased the 6TB model about a week ago, and it looks identical to the 4TB models -- I have high hopes for it as well.

For some context: In the past, I purchased 2 Iomega external drives and 4 LaCie external drives, and ALL of those external drives completely failed after a few months of use, while connected to 3 different computers. Unbelievable! But these Western Digital Studio II drives are a dream. They keep going and going...

These Western Digital Studio II drives have a choice of 4 different interfaces (USB 2.0, FireWire 400, FireWire 800, and eSATA), and I've used them with all of the interfaces. I've also used them on Windows Vista and Windows 7 (both 32-bit and 64-bit), on three different computers. No matter which interface you use, or which version of Windows, they work right out of the box, are immediately recognized by Windows, no drivers needed. No fuss, no bother, no reading the user manual, etc. (You just need to remember to format the drive for Windows; see below.)

Over the past 18 months or so, I have discovered some technical tidbits about using these drives that I wanted to pass along, because it might help someone who is stuck. Most of this information applies to any large external drive that you attach to a Windows computer; this info is not necessarily specific to these Western Digital drives.

So, here are some technical tips when using these Western Digital My Book Studio II drives:

1. When you receive the drive, it is formatted for the Mac, rather than Windows. No problem, you just need to format it for Windows, which takes less than a minute. IMPORTANT: When you are formatting the drive for Windows, you MUST use the USB 2.0 port on the drive (with a USB 2.0 cable -- included with the drive) to format it. After that, you can use any of the interfaces (USB 2.0, FireWire 400 or 800, or eSATA) to access the drive. If you try to format the drive while connected to your computer with eSATA, your computer will only see about half of the drive's capacity. Again, this only affects initial formatting. After formatting, use any interface, and your computer will see the full capacity of the drive. HOW TO FORMAT: Choose Start, right-click on Computer, choose Manage, and select Disk Management. You probably know the drill from there, but if not, see the documentation that comes with the drive. Do a "Quick Format" -- no need to do the lengthy normal format.

2. The fastest port on these drives is the 3Gbit/sec eSATA port. If you only have one eSATA port on your computer, and you have more than one of these drives (like me), you might think you can use an eSATA external port multiplier to turn your one eSATA port on your computer into multiple eSATA ports so you can connect multiple external drives to one eSATA port on your computer. However, this only works if the eSATA port on your computer supports an eSATA port multiplier. Some computer eSATA ports do not (for example, I have a Dell XPS 17 laptop, and its eSATA port does not support an eSATA port multiplier). If you are in this situation, or if you don't have any eSATA ports at all on your computer, but you DO have a USB 3.0 or SuperSpeed USB 3.0 port on your computer, you are golden. You can use a USB3S2ESATA 3 Feet SuperSpeed USB 3.0 to eSATA Cable Adapter or similar product, which is a USB 3.0 to eSATA adapter cable, to connect the eSATA port on your external drive to the USB 3.0 port on your computer. Most USB 3.0 ports run at 5Gbit/sec, and even though most eSATA ports only run at 3Gbit/sec, this adapter cable lets you use the drive at 3Gbit/sec from your computer's USB 3.0 port, which is 6 times faster than the slow 480Mbit/sec speed of a USB 2.0 port connection.

3. I discovered, on my computer, that when I attached one of these drives to my laptop computer via my computer's eSATA port, that my computer would no longer reboot successfully, unless I unplugged the eSATA cable and plugged it back in after my computer got past the initial stages of rebooting. This is not the fault of the drive. As noted on the Western Digital knowledge base on their web site, the BIOS of many computers cannot recognize hard drives larger than 2TB (even though Windows Vista and Windows 7 can recognize much larger drives), so the BIOS stops rebooting when it sees my huge 4TB or 6TB drive plugged into the eSATA port on my computer. I rebooted my computer and pressed F12 to change the "Boot Order" on my computer, but there was no way to tell the BIOS NOT to look at the eSATA port when rebooting. However, my computer BIOS DOES let me tell it to ignore the USB 3.0 ports on my computer when booting. So, I plugged my 6TB (or 4TB) drive into my computer's USB 3.0 port, using the above USB 3.0 to eSATA adapter cable to connect to the drive's eSATA port, and told the BIOS boot order on my computer to ignore the USB ports, and now my computer reboots fine when my big Western Digital 4TB and 6TB drives are plugged into it. Plus, it still has 3Gbit/sec transfer speed, which is great.

4. With Windows 7 (and perhaps with all versions of Windows and Macs, I'm not sure), these external drives will go to "sleep" after somewhere around 15-30 minutes of inactivity. In theory, this is not a problem, because the next time you try to access the drive from Windows, the drive will automatically spin up, and about 10-15 seconds later it will respond as normal. However, it takes sufficiently long for the drive to "awaken" from sleep that Windows 7 sometimes records the drive as no longer available, until you unplug and re-plug the power to the external drive. There is a little bit of discussion about this problem on the Internet. No one seems completely certain why the drive goes to sleep (is the it the firmware in the drive, or is it a "sleep" command from Windows 7?) and there does not seem to be a consensus on how to solve it -- different people offer different solutions. However, I wanted to share the solution that I found for this problem, if you are using the external drive via the USB port (or via the drive's eSATA port going to a USB 3.0 port on your computer using a USB 3.0-to-eSATA adapter): Under Windows 7, go into the Control Panel. At the top right of the screen, choose "View by: Small icons." Click on "Power Options." Look at which "power plan" you have selected (that has the radio button selected), and click the "Change plan settings" to the right of that. On the next screen, click on the "Change advanced power settings" link, toward the bottom. In the next dialog box, scroll down and click the "+" next to "USB settings." Then, beneath that, click the "+" next to "USB selective suspend setting." Change the "Plugged in" setting to be "Disabled," and if you also use these external drives on battery power, change the "On battery" setting to also be "Disabled." Then, click OK to close the dialog box. Making this change to the Power Options under Windows 7 seems to prevent Windows 7 from putting the external drives to sleep. Alternatively, other people have had success using a free utility called "xSleep" at [...]that periodically accesses your external drives so they won't go to sleep under any version of Windows (and you can put it on a schedule, so the drives can go to sleep at night, for example).

I hope the above info is helpful to someone. These Western Digital My Book Studio II drives are awesome.
99 comments144 of 146 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon June 23, 2008
If you want the best performance, you would want to use it as eSATA. This would mean a cardbus or expresscard eSATA adaptor on a laptop, for example. But here is the one star that I have taken off: at this price, it still does not come with an eSATA cable! It has cables for USB and the 1394, but no eSATA. I have not had the chance to test it in eSATA because of the cable. The USB2 speed is good enough for my archival application. I've also read around and eSATA is not faster than USB2 by much in real life (maybe 25MB/s vs 30MB/s).

The 5 year warranty is industry standard and is reassuring. And by the time it's up, you will want a larger storage anyway. :P But you must keep in mind that that if the controller in the enclosure dies, your whole array dies. Hopefully the controller didn't write bogus information into your harddrives and then hopefully WD will be able to ship you a new enclosure and you can recover that way. (This is the one weakness of having RAID 1 as the only copy. Be ware: a faulty controller can corrupt your data or even wipe your drives clean. Don't let that be your only copy.)

Cost-wise, each of its 1TB harddrives retails at about 180 as of this writing and you still need two enclosures to mount them externally. That means you are paying 470 - 2*180 = 110 for WD's own enclosure. It may still sound like a lot for an enclosure but the pros of this one outweight the cost and cons:

- The enclosure does RAID 1 (mirroring) in its hardware, no real cons here as long as 1TB+1TB mirroring is good enough for your application.

- Fanless: Less noise and it's really silent, but it also runs rather warm even with air conditioning. I do note that there is a temperature sensor that will stop the drives when overheated. So there is technically no worry, unless the temperature sensor itself dies... And being fanless is what makes the 5yr warranty even better. I've replaced one too many fans in my enclosures. (Many fans die within 3 years...)

- Self-rebuilds: After replacing a drive, it will rebuild in several hours. Good: completely automatic. Bad: it does this offline so the data is not accessible while rebuilding.

- Green assembly: I should note that you can only use WD's own "harddrive assembly" in this enclosure. You cannot (at least within the warranty's limit) use your own harddrives, not even WD Green Series retail ones since they do not come with the assembly hardware. See the manual if in doubt.

In all, highly recommended if the capacity suits your need.
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on April 28, 2009
I purchased this drive to go along with my intel mac. I was previously a happy lacie owner, but since WD came in at such a great price and was listed as great with macs, I went for it.

What a mistake. For the first month, it worked well... a bit slower than my lacie, but still worked. Then, all of the sudden, it began to dismount itself from my computer. I am currently using Lightroom to edit my work, and when the drive would fail, Lightroom would loose the catalog. When you have 500+ images to edit and the drive dismounts every 45 minutes, this can become a huge issue.

So, I did some further research and found out that several other intel mac users are having the same issue with this product. This is very frustrating as it is advertised 'for your mac'. Most of the other posters mentioned that the drive worked well for about a month and then started having issues.

I called WD, and their customer service department was actually very helpful. The offered to send me a new unit, even though that unit would likely have the same issue down the line. I understand that there was not much they could do for me at WD, but they were concerned and helpful just the same.

Luckily for me, the customer service dept at Amazon is rockin' awesome and is allowing me to exchange the WD for 2 lacie units even though I am slightly past the 30 day return policy mark. While I have never had to return an item to Amazon before, I am very comforted to know that the customer service dept is really looking out for their customers.

If you are using an intel mac, I would move on from this product. It is not worth the headache. However, you can feel confident making your purchase from Amazon...
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on April 23, 2008
I thought this drive would finally release me from my worry that my backups will melt away before my eyes. The Greenpower concept seems well and good but I don't know about the long term viability of putting two of these drives in the same tiny enclosure with no active cooling.

After about 20 minutes of transfers I opened the lid and the drives burned my hand. I put a digital thermometer on the inside of the case between the hard drives and the air in there was 51C. The drives were probably between 60-70C as I can't be sure. Compared to my internal WD Caviar 500GB drive that runs at 32C when cooled by the case-fan the the My Book worries me. Not that I will be running the drives for 2 hrs at a time all the time but it happens.

Otherwise, I tested the RAID 1 feature by removing a drive while the unit was powered and when I replaced it, the rebuilding process automatically began. If I unplugged it during the rebuilding, it would resume when I plugged it in again. Again after only 15-30 minutes of rebuilding the drives were too hot to touch again. I can't imagine how hot the non-Greenpower drives get.

The power consumption ranges from 4W when off to 16W when rebuilding.

The interface is quite speedy as well. Roughly writing at 35MB/s using USB2.0.

I think I'm going to return the drive and build a NAS with two of the same drives inside for peace of mind.
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on November 25, 2008
Would be great, if the silly thing didn't unmount itself for no reason. Usually when there's no activity, although I dread the day is happens in the middle of a video edit. (There are reports around that it does happen.) For some reason, it just unmounts itself. Disappears off the desktop. No reason. Only comes back with a physical push of the power button. Of course, Western Digital says the problem is with Mac OS, not with them. No other drives display this problem & this is a commonly reported problem in forums.
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on November 12, 2009

-Exactly as advertised by Western Digital
-Drive/RAID Management Software is very easy to use & works well in OS X
-Works very well with AirPort Extreme Base Station
-Excellent as an AirDisk for Time Machine (follow process listed elsewhere in reputable Mac Forums)
-Includes FireWire 800/800, FireWire 800/400, and USB A/Mini-A Cables (the FireWire Cables alone are a big plus for new Mac Owners)

-Included WD Anywhere Backup is a waste of time - does not do full system backups


I purchased this drive to run it from an AirPort Extreme Base Station (AEBS) as a self-mirroring Network Attached Storage (NAS) volume in a mixed-platform environment (WinXP and OS X).

MAC EXPERIENCE: Initial set-up was a snap by connecting the drive to a MacBook Pro via Firewire 800 and using the included drive/RAID management software to configure it to be a RAID 1 HFS+ volume. After following the processes to set this drive up as a Time Machine target, it has performed flawlessly. PLEASE NOTE: Using any drive as a Time Machine target via an AEBS IS NOT SUPPORTED BY APPLE.

WinXP EXPERIENCE: This drive was made available to my Windows Platforms via an AEBS. Mounting this volume was handled automatically by AirPort Base Station Agent. PLEASE NOTE: If using this drive on an AEBS in a Windows Environment, the AirPort Base Station Agent translates HFS+ File System into FAT32 in real time. For most new applications, this will not be an issue BUT some legacy software will either hang or post an error if writing a file larger than the 4GB limit in the FAT32 specification (this happened to me with Ghost v9), but I was able to establish a workaround.

OVERALL: This drive has performed HOURS of continuous READ/WRITE without any of the disconnect/dismount problems reported by other users (please see my note in the paragraph above as to my theory on why that happens). The Power Save mode is mostly transparent although there will be a minor delay as it restores itself. This is my third WD "MyBook" purchase, all of which have been dependable workhorses.
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on August 19, 2009
I have the 4TB version of this enclosure. I would like to warn all prospective buyers of this product that it is not a professionally made piece of kit by any means.
Firstly I bought this drive specifically to use via eSATA and expresscard 34 port on my shiny new 17" macbook pro unibody (which rocks incidently!). The eSATA port on the back of the enclosure is really flimsy - I had to physically hold the esata cable forcefully into the socket for the drive to mount - as soon as I stopped pushing the connection would be lost - and I would get the "unsafe device removal message". There was also a lovely electrical crackling sound as the cable swam around inside of the WD eSATA port! Tried a different eSATA cable to not effect. SO I am now using the drive via FW800....

Secondly I have had the same problems as noted by the other reviews, with the drive unmounting itself. Which is related to the power saving features of the drives- features which you cannot turn off! AS I write this my WD studio edition II is sitting infront of me - and will not mount - just like the other reviewers have noted, you have to unplug all the cables and wait for the drive to forget itself and then try and remount. The drive is the only thing yet that has crashed my lovely new Macbook Pro, three times now I have had the mac equivalent of the Blue screen of death- with the dark curtain descending over the screen and the multilingual OS X message "your MAc need to be shut down NOW!....

I am a professional photographer and cannot waste my valuable time waiting for badly designed pieces of technology. We all spend too much time in front of computers as is - I assure you that if you buy one of these drives at some point you will be wasting precious time waiting for this drive to find itself!!!!

Lucky I have found a solution- I am removing the drives from the enclosure and putting them into a Guardian Maximus from OWC - these enclosures actually work.

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on January 22, 2011
I bought my Western Digital My Book Studio II - 4TB (2 x 2 TB) USB 2.0/FireWire 400/800/eSATA Desktop External Hard WDH2Q40000N with great expectations. Upon arrival I immediately reconfigured it to be RAID 1 mirrored (2TB the raw usable) for the added storage safety. Things went swell for about 58 days with it hooked up to my new iMac 27" i7 computer. I used it to put my /User directory onto to store my roughly 1.3 TB of files, music, videos, etc.

Suddenly about 60 days into usage my iMac seemed rather slow. Eventually I realized it was various programs trying to save data to this external RAID 1 unit. After they all eventually wrote what they had to and shut down, I rebooted my iMac. This external Western Digital RAID 1 array did not remount. I was sort of freaked out!!!

I did some online research and sure enough various websites contained other users' experineces with this device frying its logic board within the first 90 days or so. I immediately ordered a NewerTechnology Voyager Q hard disk "toaster" intending to open up the Western Digital unit and pull both hard drives out to hopefully find at least one in good condition and then continue use of my computer and files.

I received my Voyager Q, opened up the Western Digital external RAID 1 array and pulled drive "A" from it and slapped it into the Voyager Q. It mounted right up in the finder and a disk utility disk check showed it to be clean. All files were as I would have expected. I have not touched drive "B" inside the Western Digital unit since drive "A" was fine. Drive "B" now stands temporarily as a mirrored snapshot in time at the point of the Western Digital enclosure failure.

I may have the enclosure replaced under warranty by Western Digital, but I have lost confidence in relying on this device for long term use so do not see the point at this time. My new plan is to order a second Voyager Q and move to a weekly bitwise disk clone using SuperDuper. I will also add an extra Western Digital 2TB Caviar Green drive (same as the two in the failed enclosure) and rotate the two extra week to week in the cloning process. This will allow me to also keep one clone offsite for extra safety. I have nothing bad to say about the Western Digital 2TB Caviar Green drives only the supplied enclosure.

I rated this device 5-stars for Data safety since the RAID 1 mirroring seemed to work up to the bitter end of the enclosure and my data was in good shape - give credit where credit is due... For Longevity and Trustworthy I can only give the lowest 1-star rating due to the events described above. I give 2-stars for Reliability since it did work as expected for about 60 days and it did not corrupt my data upon death.

I really wish this device had lived longer (at least beyond the warranty period) as a "professional level" RAID array such as those available from QNAP and others are significantly higher in entry price. In the long run I will likely move to a QNAP 6-Bay iSCSI SATA Dual-LAN Network Attached Storage TS-659-PRO+ setup as a RAID 6 array after I become weary of the planned intermediate disk cloning solution to data safety.

Best wishes to Western Digital who's hard disks I have used, and continue to do so, over the years. I hope they eventually figure out why these RAID enclosures are dying prematurely.

*** Update 1/25/2011 *** I removed drive "B" from the WD enclosure today to begin using it in the drive cloning process described above. Unfortunately it is unusable. A disk check on it showed "bad node structure". I tried to repartition and reformat the drive using disk utility to no avail. All attempts ended in failure to partition or format the drive. I ordered two new WD20EARS drives from Amazon today so that I may clone the working drive "A" data onto the two new disks and arrange for this enclosure and its two supplied drives (WD20EADS drives it turns out on inspection) to be returned to either the manufacturer or Amazon for replacement or refund. A not so satisfying end to this saga - but so far I have still not lost any data!
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on November 29, 2008
With the ever increasing size of my digital photo library I needed to increase the size of my back-up drive. I use this unit with a Mac and set to a RAID 1 configuration for mirrored storage. RAID 1 knocks down the usable area to 931 MB. It seems to work with Apple's Time Machine back-up program and OS 10.5. I did reformat from my Mac as I have always found I have to do for external drives. After about a month, everything seems good.
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on March 30, 2009
I have six My Book Studio drives in the 1TB capacity for storage in my photo studio. I love their speed, reliability, and trouble-free ease of use -- they have worked great for me.

The new 2TB WDH2Q20000N I got a week ago has not been a pleasant experience. I could not get my recent iMac 24" to recognize it as either a Firewire 400 or Firewire 800 drive. I tried it daisychained with other drives, as well as directly connected to the ports as the only drive -- no joy.

So I reluctantly hooked it up via the slower USB 2.0. Even this is a mixed bag. Once I get the drive up and running, it's OK, but if I power down my system, I have to physically disconnect and then reconnect the power and USB cables before the drive is recognized.

To make sure I wasn't doing something stupid, I upgraded the firmware in the drive, and reinstalled the WD software on my iMac. No change. After much digging around the WD support site, I found some mention of these problems. Not easy to find, and no real solutions offered.

I have no idea how this drive would perform in an eSATA environment, but for the Intel iMacs, I call it a total failure. Very disappointing.
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