Let’s Go Outside: My Book Essential

Western Digital also sent along the My Book Essential, an external version of the 3TB Caviar Green. Unlike Seagate’s GoFlex Desk, the My Book Essential doesn’t have an option for interfaces: USB 3.0 is all you get. Obviously USB 3.0 is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 on the host connector side.

The first thing I wanted to test with the My Book Essential was how well it kept the drive cool. Remember the Caviar Green is a 4 platter sub-6000 RPM drive compared to the 5-platter 7200 RPM design in the GoFlex Desk, so temperatures should inherently be lower. To make sure the drive never gets too hot Western Digital has a grate that runs along the top, spine and bottom of the My Book Essential. A pair of rubber feet prop the drive up a few millimeters off of the ground to allow air in from below.The ventilation story is a lot better than what I encountered with the GoFlex Desk.

As a result, temperature is a non-issue. Here’s the drive at idle and after over an hour of use:

Thermal/Power Comparison
  Idle Load Power Consumption (Idle/Load)
Western Digital My Book Essential 3TB 34C 49C 5.30W / 9.60W

Like Seagate, Western Digital supplies software with the drive to manage the drive and backups. Western Digital doesn’t bundle a NTFS Mac driver so you’ll need to reformat the NTFS formatted drive for write use on a Mac (or supply your own NTFS driver for OS X).

WD’s SmartWare utility does let you seamlessly lock and unlock the drive across both Windows and OS X however.

The performance of the My Book Essential isn’t nearly as good as what we saw with the GoFlex Desk. Seagate is over 25% faster for sequential reads and writes over USB 3.0. I’d say the tradeoff is worth it given the tremendous difference in heat however.

External 3TB Performance Comparison
  Seagate GoFlex Desk 3TB (USB 3.0) Western Digital My Book Essential 3TB (USB 3.0) Western Digital My Book Essential 3TB (USB 2.0)
Sequential Read 151.9 MB/s 120.6 MB/s 37.8 MB/s
Sequential Write 151.2 MB/s 119.7 MB/s 32.9 MB/s
Random Read 0.30 MB/s 0.18 MB/s 0.17 MB/s
Random Write 0.93 MB/s 0.84 MB/s 0.82 MB/s

USB 3.0 continues to be a great interface for external storage. There’s very little sequential performance difference between the 3TB My Book Essential and the desktop Caviar Green. Random performance is significantly lower, presumably because of the translation that happens at the USB controller level. As an external drive, you’re more likely to be writing to the My Book Essential sequentially rather than throwing a more random workload at it.

The only problem I had in testing the My Book Essential was very erratic read performance at the beginning of my testing. Here’s a shot of the first sequential read pass on the drive:

The problem mostly resolved itself after further passes, although there were always some strange performance blips aross various LBAs:

Write performance is also impacted:

You'll notice that I didn't see these problems with the internal drive, which leads me to believe that this is either a problem with my review sample or with the USB 3 to SATA bridge in the My Book Essential itself. The variable performance also isn't consistent between runs or benchmarks 

The move to USB 3 adds about a 3+ ms latency penalty compared to the internal drive. This is ok for backups and large file storage, but it's not something you'd want to use as an application drive.

The 2.19TB Barrier Sequential & Random Read/Write Speed


View All Comments

  • Photo-Nerd - Sunday, October 24, 2010 - link

    It was slooooooooowwwwww, but on top of that, disk utility was reporting a smart failure.

    This drive equals the suck.

  • piroroadkill - Monday, October 25, 2010 - link

    You mean that now and then you get failures of <any product name here>?

    Colour me shocked.
  • pesos - Saturday, December 18, 2010 - link

    Hi Anand, I bought a mybook 3tb usb3 drive with the intention of using it to store Hyper-V VHD virtual disk files.

    Hyper-V is reporting that it cannot use drives with 4k sector sizes (way to go, microsoft). I have heard that the built-in WSB (same engine used for win7 backups) also has this limitation.

    Do you know if there is any way to get 512b emulation on the MyBook drives, or do I need to return this drive and go with a different solution?

  • Azaloom - Monday, January 10, 2011 - link

    That bundled PCIe-card really looks like a 4-port card. Maybe that's why the HighPoint’s drivers won't work - they have altered the card a little bit and removed port 3 and 4 plugs as excessive? But the solder bases looks to be there on the circuit board. I wonder if you could make it into a 4 four port SATA card just by soldering the missing SATA data-ports to their bases on the board. I mean I already thought about bying this HDD because I have all the SATA ports in use on my MB, and this would give the possibility of adding not one but two more HDD's - who knows, it that's four with a little tweaking. One PCIe lane should be more than enough to drive 4 mainstream HDD's for the average user. Reply
  • coyote2 - Tuesday, February 08, 2011 - link

    If a 3TB drive is only formatted to < 2.19TB, would that remove all complications of booting from it?

    (Odd question, I know. But I'm buying a new system, for which I already own a boot drive I want to reinstall the OS onto; but the system builder requires that I buy the new system with the OS [Windows 7 Pro 64-bit] pre-installed; I'm just wondering if they only format a 3TB hdd to < 2.19TB, will booting from it will be issue-free?)
  • eazmichael - Tuesday, March 01, 2011 - link

    Is WD using the same HD model in the 3TB My book as the internal package? The stand-alone drive costs around $215 or more while the 3 TB My book is now available for less than $180. i was thinking about putting two of the drives in a Synology DS211+ enclosure (Raid 1) - it looks a bit like it is cheaper to buy two My Books and rip the drives out. Reply
  • burbello - Monday, June 30, 2014 - link

    Does anybody know if it is possible to replace the hard disk of Western Digital 640GB My Book for a new one with 3TB ? When replacing only the disk, should I perform any particular step? Thank you. Reply
  • burbello - Monday, June 30, 2014 - link

    I have an Western Digital 640GB My Book, I would like to replace the hard disk to another WD 3TB, but I am not sure if it will work, does anybody know if this is compatible or even if I have to perform any additional step? Thank you Reply

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