Western Digital My Book Elite (2TB) external hard drive

WD's My Book Elite external hard drive has an eInk label and hardware encryption

Western Digital's refreshed My Book Elite 2TB external hard drive offers intuitive backup options, 256-bit AES hardware encryption, and an e-ink capacity indicator. However, there are faster USB 2.0–based external hard drives that have passed through our Test Centre, and it doesn't offer any alternative connections like eSATA.

The WD My Book Elite has a similar book-like design to its predecessors. It's still passively cooled through vents on the top and back, so it runs silently. The fascia has undergone the biggest change: instead of a slim LED capacity indicator it uses an eInk display to show how much space is left on the drive. You can also use it to label the drive using the WD SmartWare software, which is definitely handy if you have more than one external hard drive. Because the display is eInk, the label will last for up to six months before requiring power again.

The My Book Elite has a single mini-USB 2.0 connection (the same kind used in the vast majority of digital cameras, portable hard drives). Given the "elite" moniker, we would have preferred faster connections like FireWire 800 or eSATA.

Though formatted in NTFS for Windows PCs out of the box, the My Book Elite will work with Macs as well. Western Digital has included both Mac and Windows versions of bundled software on a reserved partition of the drive. This means even if you format the drive, the software remains.

WD SmartWare Label configuration

WD SmartWare lets you change your hard drive's label.

The highlight of the included software is WD SmartWare, a configuration hub which lets you choose backup schedules, alter the eInk label and enable the drive's password-protected 256-bit AES hardware encryption.

Backing up using the My Book Elite is fairly intuitive. Like the software on the HP SimpleSave Portable, WD's SmartWare automatically categorises data on both your PC and the external hard drive based on file extensions. From here, you can choose which types of files to back up. However, unlike the SimpleSave Portable, you can't set your own custom extensions. As a result, obscure media formats will simply be listed as "other" and bundled with miscellaneous system files. WD SmartWare supports up to 25 sequential backups of the same file.

Small File (3GB) Transfer Test Results
Model Price Storage Capacity Read
speed (MBps)
Write
speed (MBps)
Read/write
speed (MBps)
Western Digital My Book Elite $399.99 2TB 24.6 15.2 10.2
LaCie Starck Desktop Hard Drive $199 1TB 28.8 17.1 10.5
Promise SmartStor DS4600 $550 3TB 25 25 10.2
Western Digital My Book Studio Edition II $999 4TB 23.4 15 10.7

Large File (20GB) Transfer Test Results
Model Price Storage Capacity Read
speed (MBps)
Write
speed (MBps)
Read/write
speed (MBps)
Western Digital My Book Elite $399.99 2TB 27.7 24.1 11.3
LaCie Starck Desktop Hard Drive $199 1TB 30.3 25.7 12.7
Promise SmartStor DS4600 $550 3TB 27.9 26.4 11.7
Maxtor [[Artnid:296805|OneTouch 4 Plus|Review: Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus externsal hard drive $349 750GB 28.58 25.47 N/A
Western Digital My Book Studio Edition II $999 4TB 26.7 25.1 12.7

Western Digital's My Book Elite manages reasonable read and write speeds when dealing with both small and large files, but isn't the fastest USB 2.0 external hard drive we've tested. A faster interface, like FireWire 800, would certainly have made a difference in our large file tests.

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More about: AES, Hewlett-Packard, HP, LaCie, Macs, Maxtor, Promise, TFS, Western Digital
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