Hardware Aspects and Setup Impressions

Western Digital is no stranger to dual-disk RAID-0/-1 capable solutions, having released a USB 2.0 / Firewire 800 capable unit back in 2011 and a first-generation Thunderbolt device in 2012 along with a high-performance variant using VelociRaptor drives later in the same year. All these used software RAID, and that is where things are changing now. The My Book Duo comes with hardware RAID (and hardware encryption, if opted for). It has a USB 3.0 interface. There are two additional USB 3.0 ports in a hub configuration at the rear of the unit.

Hardware & Platform Analysis

The picture below shows the contents of the package. Bundled along with the main chassis is a 36 W power adapter and a USB 3.0 cable. The design of the chassis is very similar to what was used in previous two-bay solutions that supported replacement of disks by users (such as the My Cloud EX2).

 

The gallery below has some more shots of the chassis as well as some teardown pictures.

In order to provide 'daisy-chaining' capabilities, WD has put in an ASMedia ASM1074 USB 3.0 hub chip on the board. This has one upstream and four downstream ports, and supports UASP (USB Attached SCSI Protocol). We also see a JMicron JMS561 USB 3.0 to dual SATA III bridge chip on the board. In terms of layout, it is obvious that the JMS561 links to one of the downstream ports on the ASM1074. Two other downstream ports are made available on the rear side of the chassis to connect additional USB 3.0 peripherals, as needed by the user.

One of the important aspects of the My Book Duo RAID storage box is the fact that the bundled drives are WD Reds. This allows for a balanced mix of performance and power consumption, while also allowing for the unit to be connected in continuous backup mode to a PC running 24x7.

Software Aspects

Unlike the LaCie 2big Thunderbolt 2, the WD My Book Duo doesn't have any way to configure the RAID level without connecting it to a PC and installing the WD software. At the minimum, the WD Drive Utilities software must be installed, unless the user wants to keep the default shipping RAID configuration (RAID 0). This software allows running of diagnostics (S.M.A.R.T, bad sector detection), RAID management, configuration of idle time for spinning down the disks and full erasure of the disk contents.

The WD Secure software allows setting up of a password to cryptographically protect the data on the disks. Mounting an encrypted drive without the password auto-mounts a UDF filesystem with the password unlocker utility. So, it is possible to move around an encrypted DAS without the need to install the WD Drive Utilities on the PC to which it gets attached.

In addition to these core software utilities, WD also includes a comprehensive backup suite. WD SmartWare Pro can be installed and configured to provide continuous or scheduled file backups. It can also integrate with Dropbox. For system level backup, the WD Edition of Acronis True Image is available. Readers interested in the details of various operational aspects of the WD My Book Duo can refer to the the user manual (PDF).

Introduction Performance Evaluation
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  • PEJUman - Saturday, July 12, 2014 - link

    it's also only $100 if you factor the 2 x 4TB reds in it worth $350. Reply
  • fteoath64 - Sunday, July 13, 2014 - link

    If you put it that way, then $100 for the enclosure, PSU and controller board would be reasonable, so it is a good buy if a DAS suits your needs using USB3 only interfaces with the added value of a hub tossed in as extra!. Reply
  • fteoath64 - Sunday, July 13, 2014 - link

    Clearly this is a DAS as opposed to a NAS that you would like to expect. Totally different kettle-of-fish!. Reply
  • Cerb - Sunday, July 13, 2014 - link

    Um, OK. Is there any reason why it can't connect to your router or Plex server? While the review is a little ambiguous, there's no mention of needing added OS-specific drivers just to see the drives, so it *may* work with [most USB UMC enabled] routers just fine. Reply
  • Zak - Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - link

    OK Reply
  • darwinosx - Sunday, July 13, 2014 - link

    You couldn't test it on a Mac too? With all the Apple articles Anandtech does? I'd like to know about the Mac software and performance. Reply
  • name99 - Sunday, July 13, 2014 - link

    What problem do you want to solve on a Mac?
    This will give you a single glob of 8GB storage with minimal config, but you're paying for that convenience. That's fine, but there are cheaper and/or higher performing alternatives.

    If you're willing to do just a little config, for the same sort of price you could buy
    - a USB3 hub
    - a 256GB external USB3 SSD
    - two USB3 4TB hard drives
    You could then use Apple SW RAID to stripe the HDs together, and use CoreStorage (using the commandline diskutil command) to fuse the SSD to the striped RAID. What you'd have will give you the performance of this box for throughput, but with the zippiness of SSDs for the random access. I have a system like this (although put together from substantially older equipment --- an old 64GB SSD and two REALLY old 300GB HDs) and it works astonishingly well given the age of the equipment, especially the HDs.
    Reply
  • darwinosx - Tuesday, August 5, 2014 - link

    I am already using two USB 3 drives and carbon copy cloner. I want a more minimal solution. Interesting solution with SSD but I don't need speed for a backup solution. Reply
  • DanNeely - Sunday, July 13, 2014 - link

    AT authors work remotely (and live all over the world) so there isn't a single shared testbed, nor can they easily loan hardware back and forth for testing. Since Apple doesn't donate hardware to build testbeds, the only authors who have Apple devices to test with are those who've bought Apple computers with their own money for personal use. Reply
  • darwinosx - Tuesday, August 5, 2014 - link

    Anandtech has plenty of Macs availalbe which is really obvious. Reply

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