NAS drives are becoming more popular, but you'll still need to be prepared to invest to acquire the right functions for your needs. Western Digital has built on the success of its My Book external hard drive range with an attractive mass storage unit. Furthermore it has the added bonus of being accessible from anywhere.
The original My Book was aimed at the home audience and the My Book World Edition is just the device for anyone wishing to extend capabilities to remote access. We found the set-up procedure particularly easy on Windows XP and, although there's no Vista support just yet, Western Digital is promising drivers soon. The drive is plug-and-play and the necessary software loads from the drive the first time that you plug it in.
It really is that simple. The drive even turns on and off at the same time as your computer. Adding the My Book World Edition remote access storage system to your network gives you a secure way to access and share data, photos, music at home, in the office or anywhere else, even when your local computer is off.
The version we tested was the 500GB World Edition I, but there's also a 1TB version (World Edition II) that includes RAID software. This enables you to take advantage of RAID mirroring for extra protection. The attractive "book" style of the drive that the original My Book first exhibited is still present and the handy storage lights show you roughly how full the drive is.
The front power button, surrounded by light, shows your drive's activity and the circular blue LEDs on the inner ring let you know how much of your drive is available. To save power it goes into standby mode after ten minutes of inactivity, but you'll barely notice when it does this.
The compact style of the drive enables two or more drives to nestle neatly together like volumes on a shelf. It still relies on Ethernet cabling though, so you won't be able to use it wirelessly. By way of compensation, it comes with a Gigabit Ethernet connection for the highest speeds possible.
We found the 7,200rpm drive retrieved data extremely quickly and quietly for the time we used it. However, it's the quality of bundled remote access software where the drive leaves the competition behind. We're happy to be able to say that Western Digital has got things right first time.
Leading remote desktop clients such as GoToMyPC offer outstanding performance, which you'd expect for a service with a monthly fee. WD Anywhere Access is just as capable and reasonably priced at £3.50. Another application, Data OnHand, uses Windows Explorer to securely browse through folders. Open, edit and save files as though they're right there with you.
MP3s, photos, movies - it was all a breeze with this excellent drive. The express back-up software, EMC Retrospect, also functioned faultlessly. We were able to back up large files remotely at a speed only rivalled by more expensive NAS options. If you're looking for a mass storage drive that you can access securely from anywhere then you'd be mad to miss out on this one.