Customer Review

67 of 70 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Mac external hard drive, July 22, 2012
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This review is from: WD My Book Studio 2 TB FireWire 800 External Hard Drive (Personal Computers)
Being in the market for an external hard drive for a Mac in my household, I naturally turned to customer reviews to read what others thought of the various drives on the market. What I found is that for every brand that I researched, including Western Digital, Seagate, LaCie, G-Technology and others, there are those that love the drives along with a few that reported multiple failures of the drives along with a promise to never buy that brand's hardware again. This made my decision process that much harder, especially since I am more familiar with the PC environment and wasn't sure about what might be best for a Mac. In the end, I went with what I knew from my prior experience.

I'm an IT guy and have a lot of hardware in my household, which has expanded from PCs to include Macs in recent years. My plan was to use a rarely used Mac Mini as a media server, to stream music, DVD movies, family photos and home movies to other devices, including Apple TV. I needed a large, fast drive that could support streaming to multiple devices simultaneously. Because it was difficult to fully trust any brand based on reviews, I also consulted the "experts" at a local Apple store, who recommended LaCie drives.

I had no familiarity with LaCie, but I did have extensive experience with Western Digital. I have two 500 GB Passport drives from early 2009 and a 1 TB My Book from late 2008 or early 2009. Although I have never had a problem with any of those drives, the reviews made me wonder if WD's quality or reliability had decreased over the years. We all know that companies tend to make things cheaper over time, and I was wondering if shrinking profit margins were resulting in poorer quality and more consumer problems. However, since reviews noted the same types of problems for each manufacturer I considered, I decided to rely on my prior experience when making the decision. While I can't say that the other brands are unworthy of consideration, I am very happy with the WD My Book Studio 2 TB drive that I purchased.

As it turns out, I have purchased several external drives over the last few months, including the aforementioned My Book Studio as well as a PC-formatted 2 TB WD My Book and a Seagate GoFlex 1 TB portable. All have worked flawlessly so far. The Seagate is my first experience with their external drives but I have positive prior experience with their internal drives (although I did have one of their internal drives fail on me prematurely a while back, which left me a little more leery of their drives).

One thing I seemed to notice in the reviews, which also swayed my approach, is to use a drive geared to the operating system I intended to use it on primarily. I purchased a My Book Studio for my Mac because I wanted it already formatted for the Mac, and I also wanted Firewire 800 rather than USB. However, I have successfully connected the NTFS-formatted My Books to my Mac in read-only mode, and the FAT32 formatted Passports in read/write mode. I have had no problems with moving these drives back and forth between PCs and Macs, although the My Book Studio is and will be exclusively connected to the Mac Mini.

One "problem" I have noted with all three My Books is that, when connected to the Mac Mini, they will spin down when idle for a while, even though I have the Mac's energy saver setting set to not put them to sleep. However, this really isn't much of a problem. There is a slight delay (a few seconds) when initially accessing the drive to use it or to stream content from the Apple TV as the drive spins up, but the delay is not really noticeable or problematic. I get no complaints from my wife and kids, so it can't be that bad, and I probably only notice it because I am aware of it. I am not using the drive for time machine, so I don't know if that delay is a problem for time machine, but since that is a background activity I don't see why it would be.

I have only had the 2 TB My Book Studio for a month or so, and the 2 TB PC-based My Book for maybe a couple of months, so the long-term reliability is not yet known. These drives have been getting some work though, as I have been using them both in my process for converting my extensive DVD library (~500 DVDs) into streaming content. This has worked flawlessly so far, with every piece of the puzzle working as expected (WD drives, Mac Mini, iTunes, Apple TV and even a WD TV that pre-dates my purchase of Apple TV).

In the end, you are reading this to help you decide what drive to buy. In my opinion you will likely have a good experience with any of the aforementioned brands, but that you could get a lemon with any brand. I decided against LaCie because I read that they do not make their own drives that are in their enclosures. I have decided to stick with WD and Seagate since they make drives, and lean more towards WD based on my years of positive experience. Unless you are experienced, I recommend buying a drive marketed primarily for the operating system you will use, even though any drive can be reformatted as needed. The My Book Studio was literally plug and play. I took it out of the box, plugged it in, told it not to use the drive as time machine, and am now using it to store and stream all of my media content. Although I have manual backups of everything, I am now considering buying a 3 TB My Book Studio for normal time machine backups based on this experience.

My workflow process includes ripping content on a PC to an NTFS-formatted My Book (because I prefer the ripping tool that I have for the PC), and then moving that drive to the Mac to read from it and convert the content to Apple TV format (because I prefer the tool I use on the Mac for that part of the process). Other than the My Book Studio, all of these external drives move back and forth between multiple computers with no problems so far. In fact, the 2009-era Passports travel as well with no failures so far. I also use one of those, along with a 2009-era WD TV, in our SUV when traveling and my kids have 300 movies on hand. No more deciding which DVDs to take in the car before a long trip. In short, WD drives haven't let me down yet and will likely work for you as well. It seems that you have a 90% chance of being happy with any drive you buy, and a 10% chance you will never buy that particular brand again.
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