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back to article WD My Book Thunderbolt Duo

The My Book Thunderbolt Duo contains two Western Digital 2TB or 3TB Caviar Green drives in its now familiar hardback-style silver chassis. There are only two interface ports on the back, and they're both Thunderbolt so while you can include the My Book as a link in a chain of Thunderbolt devices, it’s not for you if you don’t …

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It seems okay. But what sort of person doesn't already have a server in their home?

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Ooops

I just noticed the price. Okay - surely this is one for those who are high on money and low on tech-tolerance. For that amount of money you can get a nice fanless m/board with onboard CPU, e.g. the AMD Hudson (about £100, maybe less if you're okay with fewer than five Sata 6GB/s ports), the necessary case and PSU (< £100 even if you don't have these lying around from old systems). And you can whack whatever drives in there you fancy. Let's compare like with like (e.g. you want 6TB). A pair of 3TB drives will cost you slightly over £200.

Then you stick Debian on it (or Ubuntu server, or whatever) for free.

So for about £150+ less than the cost of the 6TB model, you get something with equal capacity, 1GB/s network capability (this has no network capability at all), USB 3.0 (for greater compatability than Thunderbolt), far greater upgradeability (take it to 12TB if you want or change the disks in the future when they're cheaper), eSata. You can even use the PCIe slot and put in *additional* SATA ports if you want for really insane amounts of storage. And I haven't even touched on all the extra things you can do with it being your own Linux system: put on VLC and make it a media server, incrememental backups that let you go back in time. If you're Linux-phobic, you can stick on Windows Home Server for about £40 (way less than the amount extra you'd have spent on this), but Debian is best for all your server needs.

Anyway, you'd save over a hundred quid, get a much more capable system with greater expandability, don't even have to fit a CPU and as a fanless low-power system it's quiet and only sips power. And all you're giving up is Thunderbolt. Really, it's way too expensive for what it is.

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Ermm, those of us who are not geeks, numpties or nerds (ie normal people with a normal life)

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Anonymous Coward

So, just the sort of lightweight who passes for PC Support these days then?

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FAIL

Server

Please show us how you can get an "average read speed of 208.7MByte/s" from a server connected with 1Gbit/s Ethernet? (which has a top theoretical speed of ~ 100MByte/s, in reality much less)

The whole talk about NAS and servers is completely irrelevant here, this is for people who want VERY fast storage.

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Or, for £300, you could buy a Netgear ReadyNAS Duo with a pair of 2TB WD drives in it, and plug-and-go technology for those of us whose idea of a good time isn't tinkering around with a storage box.

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"Ermm, those of us who are not geeks, numpties or nerds (ie normal people with a normal life)"

So people who wouldn't be posting on a NAS review discussion on a Bank Holiday Monday morning, for example?

Okay, my original comment was slightly tongue in cheek but not entirely. I would expect El Reg's readership to be mostly okay with putting in a home server rather than a thing like this. It offers advantages only to a very specialist group in comparison to an actual home server and for significantly more money and with significantly fewer capabilities. I miss-called it above: it's not even a NAS, having no network capability. It's basically an external drive with a Thunderbolt interface. Yes, it can transfer a 25GB file in maybe 2 minutes, rather than say 4 minutes for USB 3, but (a) I don't think that's a big deal and (b) it's at the cost of using an interface which isn't very common and isn't likely to become a standard either.

And before anyone takes the argument that just because something isn't a big deal to me, doesn't mean it isn't a big deal to someone else, I do some graphics and video work and whilst most of it is under 5GB, rather than 25GB, the files are huge enough that transfer speed is an issue. But if I'm going to be working on something 25GB in size, well, the two minute difference isn't going to concern me. The moment something falls outside the 'click it and it opens' category, I plan around it. If I'm working on a 25GB file, I drag it to my local system (which already has 3TB of data in RAID-1 (6TB disk space total, just to be clear), get my drink or whatever else I need to do before I start work, and then work faster than even Thunderbolt would let me from the internal disks.

Yes, there is a v. small sector out there that really needs super-fast external storage, but it's really very small. The rest are just people who like big numbers. The most that most people will do is serious graphics editing where you might get image files of 50MB (I have image files that sort of size lying around). Over 1Gb/s network, they take a few seconds to open which is a tiny fraction of the time I'm likely to be working on them.

So I see this only really for people who want to do serious, serious video-editing or want to physically transport the files easily and are sure they wont be encountering any systems that don't have a Thunderbolt interface (which is most).

That's a legitimate sector, sure. And if someone falls into that sector and wants to spend over half a grand on this, then fine by me. But for anyone else who wants to physically carry files around and save some money and gain wider support at the same time, get a USB 3.0 device for less. And if you don't want to be carrying the files around with you places, have a home server which can be expanded to have massively more storage, will still be plenty fast enough and can do a lot more besides.

I just don't see this being a good buy for most people.

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WTF?

@H4rm0ny:

"Yes, there is a v. small sector out there that really needs super-fast external storage, but it's really very small."

But I assume you're willing to admit that "really very small" is still greater than "non-existent", right? Ergo, there are people who will be interested in the combination of speed and capacity this device can offer.

The device in this review is very clearly aimed at such a "really very small" market, hence its niche pricing. Why do you (and so many other readers) have such a big problem with that? Nobody's forcing you to run out and buy the bloody thing! What the hell are you all afraid of that's got you on the defensive?

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Re: @H4rm0ny:

"But I assume you're willing to admit that "really very small" is still greater than "non-existent", right?"

Of course. If I were really arguing that there is absolutely no-one out there that this would suit I would certainly say so. I wrote a whole paragraph on who it would suit and why. So I'm hardly masking that. What I'm saying is that many who might think it suits them, would be better off with a solution that I proposed, or at the very least getting something that supports more than just the minority Thunderbolt interface. I'm also saying that this is very expensive for something so lmited (in terms of capability, expandability, range of scenarios that it is better suited for than something else cheaper). I'm not "afraid" or "on the defensive". I don't know how or why you read things like that into my commentary. I just think that most people who buy such a thing are spending more than they need. If it suits your needs and it's actually worth £450 - £550 - and I said this earlier - then go buy it. I'm just questioning how many people such a device really suits. IMO, not that many. I think it's overpriced given how limitied in application it is. Sure. I'm not saying no-one ever will find it useful.

And that's not "being afraid", btw. That's having an opinion.

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Yep, a lightweight who has a life outside of the IT business thank you very much.

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Linux

Obvious Paradox

You're not a "nerd" but you need large amounts of high speed storage.

How exactly does that work again?

A "normal" person is just going to use a USB pocket drive from Walmart or Tesco.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ooops

Some people value their TIME as well and your solution does NOT have Thunderbolt which is generally the point when you are looking at drives with Thunderbolt ports!!

I have a LaCie 6Tb Thunderbolt - yes it was expensive but it's hugely fast and for the work I do it will easily pay for itself - this article is not comparing other options - you are basically (sorry for the car analogy) comparing a standard Ford Focus with loads of extra options to a Porsche.

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Data Security?

How does it perform in RAID1?

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Joke

Re: Data Security?

That wasn't mentioned on the press release, so you'll have to go somewhere else to ask :)

(This bit's not a joke; I don't rate RAID 1 that highly for data security, after having an ICL server once with a PSU fault that took out the whole system, including all the disks)

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FAIL

I've had more WD drives fail on me than every other manufacturer put together. Meh.

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Yeah, the only time I've ever seen two drives in a mirror fail simultaneously they were WD drives.

Used to be a time when buying 're-certified' drives guaranteed either a WD or a Deathstar drive. Good enough reason to avoid like the plague.

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FAIL

No Ethernet or USB 3 ???

I don't understand the intended market, is it just for Apple owners ? Thunderbolt is obviously not a mass market interface, so why not include USB 3 or ethernet ports ?

Seems like a strange, very limited, marketing choice, by adding at least one of the other two interfaces the market would be far greater....

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Re: No Ethernet or USB 3 ???

Several manufacturers including Western Digital produce Mac-specific versions of their products usually with a distinctive appearance and bundled software and the favoured interface and charge a premium for them. I have one with a FW-800 and USB 2 connection and while the bundled software is toss, it works great with Time Machine: high transfer rates and little impact on the CPU.

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Re: No Ethernet or USB 3 ???

USB3, not sure. Ethernet, presumably as it would be a bottleneck on bandwidth.

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Re: No Ethernet or USB 3 ???

Yes I agree that 1Gb Ethernet would be kinda slow compared to Thunderbolt or USB3 but it would have opened the market a little more.

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Linux

Re: No Ethernet or USB 3 ???

It's worse than that and most Apple pushers won't even acknowledge it.

This isn't just Apple only but it's "New Apple Only". If you have even a slightly older Mac, this thing is of absolutely no use to you. So if you've got any older machines at all, this thing won't connect to them.

This thing is only useful if you have "this years" Mac.

You're better off getting the cheap pocket USB drive from Walmart/Tesco.

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Linux

Re: No Ethernet or USB 3 ???

On an enclosure this size, they could have included a USB port of some kind for legacy Mac users.

This sort of thing was quite commonplace with Firewire drives back in the day. It was very handy because you could take advantage of the better FW performance while still being widely compatible.

Although it's hard to mass the bus power of USB for convenience.

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Meh

Re: No Ethernet or USB 3 ???

You have a new Mac with Thunderbolt. You drop it on the floor / it fails. 'No problem', you think, 'I'll dust off my older Mac and continue working on my project'.

'Oh, bugger!'

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No Ethernet or USB 3 ???

You're better off getting the cheap pocket USB drive from Walmart/Tesco.

Yeah if you want about 1/10th the performance.

This is a specific drive designed to work with Thunderbolt enabled machines - it says nothing about USB / Firewire / Ethernet - it does what it says it will do - where is the issue?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No Ethernet or USB 3 ???

So buy a NAS if you want ethernet connectivity - this is for direct connection via Thunderbolt only - not sure where the issue is. Do you whinge because your car is diesel and you can't put petrol in it or charge up the batteries it never said it had?

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Re: No Ethernet or USB 3 ???

First of all I was not "whinging", I mereley mentioned the fact the it seems limiting to have only a Thunderbolt port.

If you think a little harder you would realise that the addition of ethernet would also give your other computers/colleagues access to the same drive.

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JDX
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Dimensions

Anyone know the size and weight?

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Happy

Re: Dimensions

Not sure whether you're too lazy or too stupid to click the link in the article, but here you go:-

http://www.wdc.com/global/products/specs/?driveID=991&language=1

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Swapping hard drives

One thing I hate about WD My Book is that you can't switch hard drives to non WD hard drives. Its my hardware, why does WD put a vendor check inside their hard drive enclosure?

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Re: Swapping hard drives

Because they're a hard drive vendor?

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Re: Swapping hard drives

They are selling this as a complete device with a warranty etc. - there are vendors who make plain enclosures if you want that. We have HP servers that only take HP 'branded' drives (even though they are made by Seagate) - but HP warranty it as a solution.

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Anonymous Coward

You buy a Thunderbolt enabled device primarily for the performance which is significantly better than a gigabit NAS - the NAS may have more features but you buy this for speed.

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