Western Digital has a number of direct-attached storage (DAS) products based on hard drives. They cater to different market segments. These DAS units usually employ a USB port to connect to the host (Thunderbolt is also popular in the high-end market). Within the USB storage bridge market segment, Western Digital has a number of product lines tuned to specific use-cases. For example, the My Passport product line focuses on striking a balance between capacity and portability, while the My Book targets a 'desktop' use-case with external power, but much higher capacity.

Introduction and Product Impressions

The My Book and My Passport product lines were updated last week with a new industrial design. Western Digital has been selling these external storage devices with the highest storage capacity drives in their class for some time now (the 3.5" 8TB version in the My Book, and the 2.5" 4TB version in the My Passport). The refresh last week changes only the chassis and retains the internals from the previous model. Today's review will take a look at the latest versions of the My Book and the My Passport.

The gallery below shows the updated chassis design of the two units and a look at the contents of the two packages. The aspects to note here include the 18W adapter bundled with the My Book, and the longer USB 3.0 cable bundled with it. The My Book unit also comes with a Kensington lock slot.

The new chassis design is definitely more stylish compared to the previous generation. Despite being more pleasing to the eye, certain segments of the chassis act as fingerprint magnets. Also, the new chassis design makes no improvements to the repairability aspect. We would prefer being able to get access to the bare drive in these units easily. This was an issue with the previous design, and it continues that way even with the new units. This is particularly important for the My Book, where a SATA drive is connected to a daughterboard containing the SATA-USB bridge chip (making it possible to use the SATA drive alone after pulling it out of the unit). For the My Passport, we find that the SATA - USB bridge is integrated on to the hard drive's mainboard, and the USB port is the only available interface on the drive itself. A burnt-out bridge chip essentially means it is not possible for the average consumer to retrieve data from the drive in the case of the My Passport.

The table below presents the detailed specifications and miscellaneous aspects of the units and how they compare against other DAS units employing a single hard drive.

Comparative HDD-Based Direct-Attached Storage Device Configurations
Aspect
Bridge Configuration SATA III to USB 3.0 Micro-B SATA III to USB 3.0 Micro-B
Power 18W (12V @ 1.5A) External Power Adapter Bus-Powered
Internal Drive WD80EZZX-11CSGA0
8TB 5400 RPM 128MB cache 3.5" SATA Hard Drive
HelioSeal, 7-Stac, Hardware Encryption, TLER Off
WD40NMZW-11GX6S1
4TB 5400 RPM 2.5" SATA Hard Drive
WD Blue with Integrated USB bridge, Hardware Encryption, TLER Off
     
Physical Dimensions 139.3 mm x 49 mm x 170.6 mm 110 mm x 21.5 mm x 81.5 mm
Weight 960 grams 250 grams
Cable USB 3.0 Micro-B to USB 3.0 Type-A USB 3.0 Micro-B to USB 3.0 Type-A
     
Evaluated Capacity 8TB 4TB
Price USD 250 USD 140
Review Link Western Digital My Book 8TB [2016] Review Western Digital My Passport 4TB [2016] Review

 

 

The technical details of the internal drives in the unit(s) are revealed by CrystalDiskInfo. We see that the helium drive used in the My Book is similar to the Ultrastar He8, but, the spindle spins slower at 5400 RPM to further reduce the power consumption. Other firmware features such as TLER (time-limited error recovery) necessary for RAID operation are disabled, making the drive unsuitable for use in RAID arrays / NAS units. In any case, it is a bit of a challenge to take out the drive from the chassis without damage to the enclosure. The My Passport, on the other hand, is based on a 5400 RPM WD Blue - the high-capacity 2.5" versions have a 15mm z-height, and ship with the bridge chip integrated on the main board. This makes it difficult for the standard hard drive monitoring tools to get all the S.M.A.R.T attributes.

Internal Drive Characteristics
Performance Benchmarks
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  • JETninja - Sunday, October 16, 2016 - link

    I would never trust Seagate after having two 1TB 7200rpm HD's fail within months of each other after only a couple years of use. Have an old WD 1TB Passport that has had zero issues and works great, same with all my WD HD's. I use the Passport for Photo backup as well as also storing them in the Cloud..... Reply
  • negusp - Sunday, October 16, 2016 - link

    This article is about WD... Reply
  • Notmyusualid - Monday, October 17, 2016 - link

    Yes it was moronic comment placement, but my 4TB 2.5" Seagate disk failed also, and it was SO much data to lose... I guess it is his pain that is coming out. Reply
  • fangdahai - Monday, October 17, 2016 - link

    Same here. 2 hard disks died in months. Seagate is terrible. Reply
  • Zak - Wednesday, October 19, 2016 - link

    But surely you had backups, no? How could you possibly lose "so much data"? Reply
  • Ro_Ja - Thursday, October 20, 2016 - link

    Maybe because he ignored the increasing errors his Hard Drive had. Reply
  • StormyParis - Sunday, October 16, 2016 - link

    Anecdote is funny that way, I've had way more WD drives die on me than Seagate, to the point I'm strongly leaning the other way. Reply
  • Token2k8 - Sunday, October 16, 2016 - link

    Same, I've had terrible luck with WD. They die on me within about 1 year after purchase. I've been using the same Seagate for going on 8 years with no issues. Reply
  • Token2k8 - Monday, October 17, 2016 - link

    I know people that have terrible luck with Seagate as well. Always found that odd. Reply
  • valinor89 - Monday, October 17, 2016 - link

    The seagate 7200.11 firmware brick got me once, the replacement lasted one year... I have gone with WD since then and no problems... Reply

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