Western Digital MyBook Studio 2 WDH2Q20000N

Author
Aron Schatz
Posted
November 25, 2008
western digital external storage
Views
43930
Western Digital MyBook Studio 2 WDH2Q20000N
The Western Digital My Book Studio Edition II combines dual 1TB drives in a very sleek and well made package. The unit has excellent performance and works great.

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Page 1
Intro:

Western Digital makes some excellent products and relatively recently, it pushed very hard into the external storage market. When I asked about if they are worried about the impending SSD emerging market, there was really no big worry, yet. Even so, hard drives are their bread and butter and solutions exists for nearly every segment of the market. I always say how important it is to have a backup solution and the My Book Studio Edition II aims to fit that bill with ease.

Box:

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The My Book Studio 2 targets the Mac crowd and the box is nice and red. The color scheme of the unit itself is purely Mac-ish.

Parts:

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Here are the extra parts that come with the unit. Since the My Book Studio 2 has a wealth of connections you can use, it comes with many different cables. You get USB (A to mini which is pretty weird), Firewire 800 and 400, a power cable and some software and literature. The software works with Mac and Windows (no Linux support for switching RAID modes!). Surprisingly absent is an eSATA cable which is strange since the unit has an eSATA port.

My Book Studio 2:

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The unit is classic Mac coloring. It is all silver (apologies for this picture). There is a lighted bar that will show the used space or transfer status and it is white colored. It is gimmicky and is only useful using USB or Firewire and not eSATA. Since most people buying this device will use eSATA (2x1TB drives). USB would be painfully slow and Firewire isn't as good as eSATA. The WD branding is on the sides of the device and it is a very sharp looking thing. Yes, it sort of looks like a bookend. Maybe.

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The back of the unit contains the various connections to run the device. There are a few points to take away. The first is that the USB connection is mini USB. Why? It is strange since most devices of this type use a normal USB-B cable. Mini USB is fine, but it is just weird to see, plus USB-B is more secure, physically, in the connection. It isn't like the unit will be mobile and needs to save the physical space. That issue aside, there are enough connections to satisfy everyone's needs.

Another thing that you should notice is that the the entire unit has vent holes to release heat. The unit is whisper quiet other than some drive seeking noises. Anything to release heat helps with hard drive life.

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There is a push release to the front of the unit on the top. You really have to push very hard to get the top to pop off, but it is not a problem. I bet it is done to prevent accidental openings. You don't want your drives exposed to the harsh reality of the world, after all. The unit is very well laid out. There is a bracket that holds the drives in place and can be removed with a single thumbscrew. Since the Studio 2 can do RAID 1, it makes sense to be able to swap drives in the event of a failure. The plastic pull tabs gives you quick access to the drives and are sturdy enough for the weight.

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The drives themselves are 1TB GreenPower WD10EAVS drives. Western Digital makes excellent hard drives and are one of the few that I recommend that people buy with confidence. Still, it is nice to know that you can swap the drives out in the event of a failure. The two drives themselves are marked A and B. The drives take a bit of force to remove.
Page 2
Installation:

Unfortunately, you need to be running either a Mac or Windows to switch RAID modes on the unit. Withe Linux, you get access to the drive but can't change the RAID mode without the software. That's points off right there for not including a hardware switch on the unit itself (such as the MobileStor units do). The unit is shipped with RAID 0 (striping) and the filesystem is HFS+. It makes sense since it is targeted to the Mac crowd. There is a similar unit called "Mirror Edition" that is RAID 1. Even so, hopefully you know someone with a Mac or Windows system.

I installed the software on a Windows PC and found it to be a bit clunky and it took a bit to get the drive into a RAID 1 array (like hunting through the C:\ drive to get to the proper program). I hate Windows. After the RAID mode was switched, the software formatted it to NTFS... no problem since I was going to use EXT3 anyway.

Testing:

After getting everything working, EXT3 was loaded on the drive. Don't get me wrong, you lose a bit of space for the filesystem, but it is a very good filesystem for open source systems. Using USB and eSATA, the unit was detected without issue on all the OSes. If you have eSATA, this will be the one to use, though, you need to buy your own cable.

Performance of the unit was outstanding. Using RAID 1 with the dual 1TB drives, the unit achieved 50.65 MB/s write speeds and 93 MB/s read speeds. I'm sure that it was being limited to the other components as well. This was just great performance using eSATA. Something like this will make backing up data all that much easier.

How about the RAID testing, though? While I don't have a video supplement (suspended until ASE Labs gets a better video system for recording), I can tell you that the unit handles drive failures gracefully. I pulled one of the drives out and the unit's light bar starting to go into alert phase. When I plugged the drive back in, the drive was detected and moved into the rebuilding phase. I'm sure the rebuild will take the better part of a day for 1TB of data. Remember that even with the unit having a failed drive, it was still transferring files just fine. This is a proper mirror.

One thing to note. When eSATA was used, if left plugged in during a reboot, the unit would fail booting since GRUB had a difficult time determining which drive to boot off of. I blame GRUB or the motherboard for this, but it is something to note.

Conclusion:

The unit »retails for a scant $350. At that price, it is a pretty good deal. The »drives cost about $150 a piece and the enclosure is well worth $50. The Studio 2 performs extremely well in testing. I have my reservations in that the unit doesn't really work well with Linux on the initial setup, but hopefully Western Digital will see the benefit of supporting this mainstream operating system soon enough.

I can easily recommend the Western Digital My Book Studio Edition II to anyone needing an excellent backup solution. You get redundant storage with an impressive array of connections. Think about having the ability to easily back your entire computer up. This is a 1TB RAID 1 array. No need to delete anything to save space (yet). If you are looking for smaller sizes, be sure to check out the entire line of Studio Edition units.
members/attachments/upload/2008/11/25/2849m.jpg box.jpg members/attachments/upload/2008/11/25/2850m.jpg parts.jpg members/attachments/upload/2008/11/25/2851m.jpg back.jpg members/attachments/upload/2008/11/25/2852m.jpg iso.jpg members/attachments/upload/2008/11/25/2853m.jpg opened.jpg members/attachments/upload/2008/11/25/2854m.jpg drive.jpg

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