Western Digital My Book Duo 12TB Snap Verdict
Western Digital is one of the best-known manufacturers of external storage.
The company’s My Book Duo range is an ideal solution for photographers and videographers. It’s also seen a recent and significant update, with an all-new design and ultra-fast connection.
As a dual drive, the hardware features two internal hard drives that, by means of a hardware RAID, can be configured to maximise capacity and speed (RAID 0) or safety (RAID 1).
Configured as RAID 1, the two drives are mirrored for maximum security. This is an ideal solution for anyone looking to store large image and video files.
Once you follow the simple steps outlined in the downloaded WD Discovery and WD Drive Utilities Apps, the drive is quick to configure and setup. It appears on your desktop like any other drive.
Connection speeds for both read and write are good and more than fast enough for you to edit 1080p video directly from the drive.
Storage here is the main concern and with the 12TB configured in RAID 1, you’re left with 6TB capacity.
Removing one of the drives, as if it were damaged, and replacing it with a blank proved easy enough. Once the blank drive was installed, the RAID could be rebuilt ensuring the content remains duplicated. At all times, the content remained accessible.
The Western Digital My Book Duo is a great solution for photographers offering large capacity storage and back-up in one.
Storage is one aspect that many of us never give much thought to, at least until we run out of it or it implodes. There are many storage options out there, but if you’re to keep your files safe, you need a decent backup solution.
The general rule of thumb is two on-site back-ups and one off-site. The WD My Book Duo 12TB is a perfect on-site solution, offing you large capacity storage that is easy to manage.
The drive looks like any other external drive but inside features two hard drives and hardware RAID. These two drives can be configured to either appear as one large 12TB drive or a 6TB mirror.
RAID 1 sees content from one drive mirrored onto another. This means if a drive fails, then a new one can be popped in and the contents of the remaining drive will copy across to the new drive.
This offers good security for storing your files in a domestic situation.
The drive also offers the latest in connection technology with a USB-C port that enables ultra-fast transfer speeds. The downloadable WD apps gives you direct access to a host of handy applications, although these are external to the My Book Duo.
They also give you access to further applications that can be used in conjunction with the drive, including Acronis True Image; a complete backup solution, Adobe Creative Cloud, Norton Security and more.
External hard drives have come along way in a short time, and while the drives themselves have changed little, the technology and software around them have advanced at speed.
The My Book Duo is far more than just a simple external drive. It has a wealth of additional features that will appeal to photographers and videographers.
When the new My Book Duo arrived, I have to say I was impressed with the design. I use the small My Passport SSD as a working drive and the aesthetic design of the much larger Duo is much the same.
The top half is a sleek flat glossy black while the bottom contrasts with a textured black surface. It’s a small design feature but one that works well. I also like the fact that the larger Duo’s textured section is black rather than silver which looks far more classy than the SSD’s silver.
Across the front of the box, between the top and bottom section, is the status light. This stretches the full width and pulses backwards and forwards in a style reminiscent of Kit.
Other than that detailing, there is little else on the front, top or sides of the box. Spin the box round and on the back, you have the socket for the power cable, two USB 3.0/2.0 ports and a USB-C.
If you look carefully, above the two USB 3.0/2.0 ports you’ll see a thin power button. This is used when you need to swap out drives.
The USB 3.0/2.0 ports are designed for plugging in external devices and additional drives, which is handy. It also acts as a rather nifty doc for older devices that still utilise the USB 3.0/2.0 standard.
The USB-C port is used to plug directly into your computer.
If you need to get to the two drives, then the top of the box can be removed. It’s just push fit, and with a flat head screwdriver, it’s easy enough to pop off the top.
Inside are the two drive trays. These are also push-fit and can be released quickly by pushing in the release and pulling up.
Once removed, a failed drive can be unbolted from the caddy and replaced with ease.
The two drives in the 12TB model are 6TB Red drives which have been designed for RAID use.
Alongside the two drives is the RAID hardware, this comes pre-configured as RAID 0 which optimises speed and capacity for the drive.
There is also the option which is set-up through the software to enable encryption. This is 256-bit AES hardware encryption.
The My Book Duo can be used with either Mac or PC systems but it needs to be formatted in the correct file system for that system before use.
The software is required to make use of all of the drive’s features and this is downloaded from the WD website. WD Discovery gives you access to WD Disk Utilities, WD Backup and WD Security.
Build Quality and Handling
The latest WD Duo is a complete redesign from the previous generation which had existed for a few years.
The updated look is definitely more stylish and overall it has a higher quality feel.
The simple lines and single light across the front of the drive make it easy to see the statue of the drives. The ports are neatly hidden around the back and help to keep the drive and cables tidy.
The switch to the latest USB-C port is the biggest step forward. The old USB 3.0 Micro B connector was one of the worst connector designs of all time, and for me has been the cause of countless drive failures. It’s absence here can only be a good thing.
As usual with external hard drives, there is no type of cable lock to keep the USB-C cable locked into the back of the drive. While the USB-C connector is far more robust, for peace of mind, I would like to have seen an option cable guide or lock.
Once the cable is connected and the drive is positioned, it can then be connected to your computer. It takes a few moments to mount, slightly longer than a single drive but still fast enough.
Once it appears, it will show as with any other hard drive that you plug into your system. But, before you get started, it needs to be configured for your use and system.
As I’ll be looking at the My Book Duo as a photo and video storage solution I aim to set the RAID to RAID 1. The drive arrives as RAID 0 and preformatted as NTFS.
The first step is to download the WD Discovery app. Once installed, which takes a few moments, it recognises the drive and you can click the Apps to install WD Drive Utilities.
When I first started the WD Apps it asked for a firmware update, I clicked yes and it ran through quickly with no issues.
The next step was to set the RAID type to RAID 1. From within WD Discovery, I clicked the cog next to the drive. This brought up a window that enabled me to select either RAID 0 or RAID 1.
RAID 0, or stripe, maximises the storage so will utilise both drives and give you a single storage drive with a 12TB capacity. Striping the drive will also give you the fastest read and write times.
Although it optimises the drive, it’s not a great solution for secure storage as I need something that is as robust as possible.
RAID 1 mirrors the content from each drive. This means that when you copy a file onto the drive, it will be duplicated across to the other drive. Although there are two 6TB drives giving a total capacity of 12TB, by using RAID 1 I’ll only have access to 6TB of total storage.
To select RAID 1, just tick the Mirror (RAID 1) Option. Before clicking OK, I made sure that I had the right file format for my computer.
As default, the drive arrives formatted as NTFS which is a PC file system. As a Mac user, I’ll need to reformat as a Mac Format, either JHFS+ or APFS. I’ve selected JHFS+ for maximum compatibility.
I also have the option here to format both as individual drives, which I’ll not be doing.
Then just need to tick the confirmation box and click configure, and the software handles the rest.
The configuration process is quick and once complete, the new 6TB RAID 1 drive appears on the desktop ready for use.
As with any other drive, it can be ejected and remounted. If I need to power the drive down, I can eject it from the system. I can then use the button on the back to switch it off before removing the power cable. This can be done if I need to transport the drive or swap out a drive.
In this test, I’m looking at the drive from the perspective of a storage device for photographers and videographers. To this end, I have selected to use the drive as a RAID 1. This means that the storage is optimised for safety, so if one drive fails my content will still be safe on the other drive.
As I’ve already said, it also means I’ll have 6TB of capacity rather than the maximum of 12TB that I could have had if this drive had been configured as RAID 0. RAID 1 also offers slower transfer speed than when compared with RAID 0, so this test will show the results from a real-world test of the drive being used as storage solution for photographers and videographers.
Just as a side note, I also have a back-up running through BackBlaze to cloud backup.
The first performance test is to run the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test.
Connected through USB-C to a MacBook Pro 15-inch i9 with 32GB RAM, the drive produced results of 82.2MB/s Write speed and 88.5MB/s Read speed.
These may sound well under the 360MB/s maximum transfer speeds reported on the WD product page, but this is due to the RAID configuration and environment of the test.
For a drive of this type, those speeds are more than sufficient for all image manipulation from files directly from disk and most types of full HD video editing, again direct from disk.
As a comparison, the My Passport SSD connected through USB-C reaches speeds of 188MB/s Write and 389MB/s Read.
The next test was to see if I could duplicate the content of a full 6TB drive onto the Duo, this was a simple test to check the drive integrity over a long period of time.
The other drive was an old My Book Duo connected through USB 2.0/3.0, so it has much slower transfer speeds and connects through my Kingston Nucleum hub.
The estimate transfer time was 12 hours which proved to be quite close. Through the 12 hours the two drives worked away without issue and at the end, a quick integrity test showed that all files had been copied across without issue.
Finally, the last test was to see how easy it was to recover files after a complete drive failure.
To do this I simply ejected the drive, powered down and removed one of the drives. I then popped in a new drive and connected theMy Book Duo.
When the drive mounted, WD Discovery alerts that the RAID needs to be rebuilt I followed the one-step instructions and left the Duo to it.
After a time I checked and the process was complete, the Duo had re-mirrored all content. All very easy.
As well as the core features of the drive through the WD Discoveries App, you have access to further applications, some of which need to be paid for.
These include WD Security which can be used to password protect the drive if you need to secure the contents.
A worthwhile subscription is the Acronis True Image. This enables you to backup and restore your entire system. If you’re a Mac user then it’s similar to TimeMachine and a great solution for PC users or Mac users who don’t want to use TimeMachine.
Storage is an incredibly important part of the photographic process and the WD My Book Duo makes keeping your files safe on-site. It’s also exceptionally easy to use.
Setting up the drive for your system couldn’t be easier, just install the software and follow the instructions.
In use, transfer speeds are pretty decent, by no means SSD speeds but perfectly suitable for the intended use and of course with the benefit of the huge capacity.
As a complete home storage solution for your Mac or PC, the My Book Duo is ideal. It provides plenty of secure storage at a great price. It’s designed as an on-site solution, so if you do need an off-site backup as well, you need to look at an additional service.