(UPDATE — Nov. 2007): I recently purchased the Western Digital My Book Premium II WDG2T20000N 2TB External Hard Drive. I mirror the drive so I have around 800 Gigs available for direct storage. Over the past month the drive has proven to be fast and killer and it works great as an iTunes server for my network.)

If you have more than one computer, you need an easy and fast way to back up your data and then share that data across platforms and facilities.

With my MackBook Pro purchase and ThinkPad T43p now sharing my mindspace — with the MacBook Pro creeping every-so-tenderly upward in the preference of my mind — I need a way to store lots of information quickly and painlessly.

Enter Western Digital’s 500 Gig My Book Premium: My Book is an external hard drive that looks like a book and behaves like a book because it “publishes” your sacred data by recording it automatically for safe-keeping. You can stack several My Books next to each other to create the largest hard drive library in the world.

At 500 Gigs, you have lots of room to store plenty of good stuff. I can even stream video from my High-Definition Camera directly to My Book through my MacBook Pro and Final Cut Express HD 3.5. That means I don’t have to purchase Sony DV tapes to record video at $11.00 a pop.

I can record “straight to disk” and cut out a bunch of processing time in cutting up and editing raw video in production. Having a “live streaming to hard drive” setup makes everything faster and more efficient. My Book also gets along great with my WinXP and OS X 10.4.6 computers.

The setup instructions suggest a file system incompatibility between Windows and Mac but that was not the case. My Book is pre-formatted as an NTFS drive and out-of-the-box I had all 500 gigs available to me in both Windows and Mac without needing to re-format or re-partition anything.

The bundled “one click backup” button and software worked well on my ThinkPad but not so well on my MacBook Pro. I deleted the Western Digital software from my MacBook Pro immediately after installation and used the .Mac backup software instead to target all the backups to My Book. That solution worked fine. The “Premium” version of My Book means it comes with two Firewire ports and a single USB 2.0 port.

I find it easier to move between machines using the USB cable since the Firewire ports on the MacBook Pro are on the wrong side of the machine if you do right-handed external mousing. I’m sure there’s a speed advantage in using Firewire instead of USB, but I don’t feel much of a difference between the two.

My Book has a 16 MB cache and it runs at a speedy 7200 RPM. There is also a keen blue light showing you in increments of a circle just how much space you have used and if the drive is in an active write state or not.

At $277.00 My Book may feel a little expensive, but its 500 Gigs and features set and connectivity options — as well as creating increased satiety of the mind — all make the Western Digital 500 Gig My Book Premium one bestseller you can write and publish on your own.


  1. Hi David. This drive looks like what I need. I’m sorry I haven’t been around much. Summer and all. You just plug the book in and out of the computers you want?

  2. Hey Anne!
    Nice to hear from you!
    I know the summer is a rough time to stay in touch and live online when the good weather is calling.
    Yes, you just tell whatever computer you’re onto “undock” or “eject” the My Book and when it is “released” by your computer, you can go plug it into another one.

  3. That seems good. Can you have the hard drive connected to two computers at the same time? Like a XP for one and Mac for the other?

  4. Hi Anne —
    Excellent question! I’m not certain of the answer, but here’s my guess: I think you could have the My Book plugged into two machines at the same time as long as they’re not both “live” as in being in an active reading and writing state. You’d always want to make sure the My Book was “not seen” by the machine you’re not using to avoid any conflicts.

  5. Pretty cool device.
    I’m getting ready to embark on a project where this would come in handy to copy everything from a computer as a backup.
    Instead of trashing an old computer that runs too slow for any new MS operating system, I’m planning to installing Sun Microsystems Solaris OS to see if I can give the old machine a new life.

  6. Hi Chris!
    You’ll love My Book. It is brand-new product and it is superfast. It runs rings around my old Iomega 250 Gig drive. It’s nice to just click a button and have everything backed up while you keep working.
    I put the big common files — movies, images, web pages, websites, photos — on My Book and then when I need to access them I just hook up “The Book” and there they are taking up all that space in a convenient single spot instead of taking up room on two computers where drive space can fill up fast when you are duplicating content.

  7. Hello My Dave!
    I don’t know if I’d hook up two computers to a My Book if they used different Operating Systems. I think you’re courting the danger of destiny if you try.
    Yeah! 500 Gigs is gigantoid. I’m sure it can quickly fill up when RAW photo images average 11 MB each and every laptop hard drive you want to back up is 100 gigs. The My Books just came out so 500 Gigs seems to be the biggest drive size in the consumer market right now and the RPMs are surprisingly good for such a big honker.
    Yes, Dave. The Mac is creeping on me like a sly moss. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the online Mac community is they love to cry and whine and they hate everything about their Macs! Jinkers! I thought Windows people complained a lot but they hold not a candle next to the “Mac Users” on the Apple forums. I have learned to “seek it yourself” and make up your own mind.
    I’m getting used to the ugly, chalky fonts.
    Entourage, with its new Microsoft update as of yesterday, is quite terrific for message management now that I’m back on IMAP and away from an Exchange hosted mail situation.
    I now have my cross-graded Mac copies of PhotoShop CS2 and Acrobat Pro 7 installed and they work just fine despite what the “Mac Addicts” in the Adobe forums claim.
    There are key chords I can use to replicate how I work in Windows. That’s good.
    The only thing I’m missing so far is a QuickTime PlugInHelper application that works on an Intel Mac — no yet word back on that request from Apple development — and no BlackBerry Desktop (though the synch works really well). If the rumors of a forthcoming Apple/BlackBerry are true that problem will be solved soon.
    I am impressed with the .Mac setup and the iDisk — despite what the “Mac Fans” on the Apple Forums say and the fact Quicken will backup my stuff to my iDisk in encrypted form is just quite delightful.
    I also found a cool thing that tilts the MacBook Pro up a bit so I can navigate the giant wrist rest a bit better for speed typing.
    I may have a more in-depth report on my liking of the MacBook Pro as a primary box as time and tide pass in the future.

  8. Dave —
    You’d also think you’d get answers from Apple there, too, but I don’t find that to be true.
    I want to know if there’s a QuickTime PlugInHelper that works with the Intel MacBooks and no one will answer me.

  9. I stumbled upon your review when I was considering a My Book purchase myself. Thanks for the good word. Compatibility between a windows and a mac machine is a priority for me as well so, just a random question. Did you plug the My Book into your mac or your pc first? Also, the files that you backup onto it from each respective computer can be seen by the other? Just asking because my old Maxtor One Touch will show up on my windows machine but I cannot access any of the files I put on it from my mac.

  10. Hi Lina —
    I hooked it up to my Windows machine first.
    The drive is formatted as FAT32 and you need to stay with that in order for a Mac and Windows machine to be able to read the drive. That gives you a 4 gig file transfer limit on the Mac side.
    I don’t remember if they could read each other’s backups but I was able to move and use files I just copied to the drive between the Mac and the PC.
    I just moved up to an eSATA II solution with two chained 250MB Hitachi drives.
    If you — OR ANYONE ELSE READING THIS — is looking for a good deal on my My Book that was used for a week — lemme know by using the Contact Form on this blog!

  11. A very helpful review David. I have a couple of questions.
    In your review you mentioned that “My Book is pre-formatted as an NTFS drive” then in your latest comment you said “the drive is formatted as FAT32”. Which is it?
    It seems odd that you have ditched the My Book after only a week. What was wrong with it?

  12. Hi Alastair —
    You ask an excellent series of questions.
    1. My MacBook Pro sees the My Book as an NTFS drive. So does my ThinkPad. I am told, however, by those who know more than I that despite what my Mac and ThinkPad say — the drive is really in Fat32. That doesn’t mean you can’t format it to whatever spec you like.
    2. I love the My Book! There was nothing wrong with it. I purchased it to move files between both PC and Mac platforms. I have decided to go whole-hog with Mac only. I don’t need to move files between machines any longer and if I do I can use a USB stick or iDisk instead.
    3. Speed is also an issue for me now because I purchased the MacBook Pro to do live video editing for the American Sign Language classes we are building for online teaching at http://hardcoreasl.com and I need to have the fastest interface possible. My Book is fine, but not super-great, at that because USB speeds maxed out at 5 MBps and 7 MBps for Firewire. Those speeds are fine for everyday use but not for my live video editing needs. I chose to go with an eSATA II solution where I can get 3 Gb/sec using the Express Card interface on my MacBook Pro, a FirmTek enclosure and two super-fast Hitachi 250 Gig drives. I had a need that was better fulfilled by a different, Mac-Only, solution. The My Book rave review still stands! It’s a heckuva drive!

  13. UPDATE:
    I decided to keep the drive. The price has fallen so much since I made the purchase I realized there’s no way I’d get much of my money back.

  14. Hi, I just came across this review via Google. I’ve been very happy with my MyBook Premium as an external backup for my MacBook Pro, but I have one complaint — the “light rings” on the front of it are supposed to act as a capacity gauge, according to the package. But for me, they’re just always lit up and indicate no capacity at all. Does it work for you?

  15. Hi Jay —
    I find the blue light too bright so I have My Book turned away from me. I don’t remember the rings working the way you describe and I know that’s the way they’re supposed to work — but I haven’t come close to starting to fill it up yet…

  16. Yeeeah, I have mine about 70% full right now and the lights are reading accurately. It should be only the inner ring. Btw… the hole ring lights up due to the brightness of the thing so it is hard to tell the distinction. Also it might not really start showing any indication till you have it about 25% full. Also remember to have the button drivers installed. Thats about all I can think of. Good luck?

  17. Hi I am using a Quicksilver 733 MHz G4 using OS 10.4 for the Mac. I have recently purchased “My Book”. While in theory the option of an extra HD with loads of room sounds fantastic it is painfully slow. Is there a way to speed the copying process up please.

  18. Your My Book needs to have a Firewire port and so does your computer. Then you connect them with a Firewire cable. It will be a little faster than USB.

  19. My Book does not appear to come with a Firewire only USB connection. Any other suggestions gratefully received.
    In the forum somebody talks about formatting the drive. Should I have done this first?

  20. if your mybook has a green light on the front it is not a premium edition with firewire, but a standard with only USB
    there is also a pro version that has firewire 800 and 400 plus the USB 2

  21. Hi,
    I couldn’t help but post to clear up a couple of things:
    – USB 2.0 is faster than firewire
    – You can connect the drive to 1 system and share it over a wired or wireless network to other computers.
    – The Mac wont backup over the network unless:
    a. the mac is capable of backing up data to an NTFS Partition. OR there is a mac partition on a shared drive.
    b. the mac has windows networking (TCP/IP) Support.
    Im sure its possible.

  22. Hi iain —
    USB 2.0 may be faster than Firewire on paper but not in practice:

    Question: Which is faster Hi-Speed USB 2.0 or FireWire?
    Answer: In sustained throughput FireWire is faster than USB 2.0.
    Question: If Hi-Speed USB 2.0 is a 480 Mbps interface and FireWire is a 400 Mbps interface, how can FireWire be faster?
    Answer: Differences in the architecture of the two interfaces have a huge impact on the sustained throughput.


  23. I have a My Book Premiun which came formated with FAT32 but I am considering to change the formating to Mac OS Extended to get more options but then will the My Book act in the same way?
    I am thinking of, the inner ring capacity gauge and the “Lounch WD Backup” software not to mention “spin down capabillity.
    : ) Bent

  24. I have a MyBook Premium Edition 250Gig drive connected to a PC. I also have an iMac OS-X in the house, which I’d like to wirelessly back up to the MyBook. The Mac is on my 802.11B network. Speed is not a consideration, and each computer being able to see the other’s files is only a nice-to-have. I just want to have scheduled backups of each and not have to worry about a hard-drive crash. And if the house catches fire, I want to be able to grab the MyBook and have all my family pictures and video!
    What do you recommend?
    Is there simple a wireless device that I can plug into the back of the MyBook and Mac to have them talk? Also, I’m confused by the comments above about whether or not I’d have to partition the MyBook to have a separate Mac and PC sector (which would be OK).
    Thanks in advance for the advice.

  25. Hi i’m shopping for ext hard drive and came accross this review page. I love how the My Book looks. One question i have is what’s the difference betwn the series, Pro, Premium, and Essential? Are they all built with the same reliability and ruggedness? That’s my main concern in ext hard drive as my last one (no name brand) die on my after 2 months.

  26. Hi,
    I bought a MY Book Pro (the silver one) and although it performs fine the led gauge on the front doesnt light up? I’m running an intel Core Duo iMac with Tiger 10.4.7. Is there an issue with the mac or the my book?
    Any help greatly appreciated before I return it as faulty, by the way I’m running the Firewire 400 port on the book.

  27. I just picked up two of these drives at Costco for $220, but I am concerned about the transfer speed. I am primarily using these drives to store and edit HDV video from my new Sony HD camcorder. Is this drive fast enough and is there a faster better drive to use? I need at least two 500 gig drives.

  28. I got the silver one which is essentially the same but has the firewire ports. This may be a common thing with most if not all external hard drives but a couple of times I shut it down without giving it a chance to shut down on it’s own. Then the next time I started it up it took 15 minutes before it booted on my screen. It would have been nice if I had a pop up screen with a count down timer telling me exactly what was going on but instead of turning it off and on,I just left it alone and soon enough,there it was.
    What I really love about this drive is that button. When you shut it down,it’s not ready to be turned off until both rings are a solid blue with no flashing,after you eject the my book icon.
    If you don’t do this,you will face frustration when you turn it back on. Just take a deep breath and leave it alone for it’s fixing the whatever happened when you turned it off too soon.
    I have a little 40 gig seagate hard drive that does this and it’s now just collecting dust.
    This drive absolutely RULES but you gotta be smarter than it as in all drives I would imagine.
    It also runs a little warm after about an hour of it being on so I have it standing like a book but elevated by a wire stand to help in cooling but it dosen’t seem to be bothered either way.
    Go get it. It’s quiet and well worth it.

  29. Hi there,
    I have just bought the 320GB my book and wanted to check something with other users before filling it up.
    The Western Digital website says Mac OS 10.2.8 ( I have 10.4.2 ) cannot support FAT32 partitions greater than 128GB. The drive appears in the Finder as having 300GB free so it looks like it is working fine, but I don’t want to get to 128 GB in and realise it doesn’t work.
    Can anyone confirm that straight out of the box I can use drive on both PCs and Macs and still use the full capacity?

  30. I just opened my MyBook premium and went to copy iMovie project files to the drive and it says “you can not copy the item “Icon” because it’s too long or includes characters that the disc cannot display. This is a 9 gig folder.

  31. Hi there,
    BrianP, sometimes with Macs you get that problem when the files have characters that it can’t copy over, presumably because they look like directory divisions. I have had that trouble and usually you hunt down all the back slashes (/) in the file names you want to copy and delete them and then you’re fine. It’s tedious, but that seems to be all there is to it.
    I’m wondering about the button on the front – I read on the Amazon page something about loading software being required to make the button on the front perform as it should. I run a Powerbook G4 with Tiger 10.4.8, and I’m looking for a drive I can eject from the desktop and then switch off, then change my mind and switch on again, right there, and it will pop up on my computer. That sounds obvious, but I have a drive I got in Japan that loads up only by being re-plugged in. You eject it, it turns off. To get it back you have to unplug the USB and plug it in again. It’s surprisingly annoying, especially when you want all your hardware and wires out of sight. Does the button work the way I want, and does it work on a Mac?
    Thanks for the thoughts.

  32. Ruben:
    I would think it would pop up again, as there is a button on the front of the My Book which turns it off and on. You could press it, and it should be the same as plugging it back on. It works like that on my PC anyway.

  33. Hi David-
    This looks liken a great device and a must have! However, I want an external HD to upload my DV footage to. Can I hook up my DV camera to the My Book directly with a firewire cable and capture the video that way, or does the camcorder need to be connected directly to the PC?

  34. Ok i have a question i have a mac book pro i do a lot of photo stuff so my hard drive is getting full so i when out and got the mybook 500g, now here is the problem. i want to install final cut on my mac, why would it not let me install it on a usb drive? it tells me that i have to instal it on a running system.. this is my runnig system… i need some help with this matter thank you

  35. I’m having problem trying to copy a 6.6gb single file to a 500gb my book via usb 2? it says it’s full when there are 400gb left.
    does anybody have the same experience?

  36. Using a Mac 10.4.8
    For some reason the drive wont show up on the desktop when using the firewire. But it does using the USB.
    Unfortunately I dont have enough USB ports.

  37. Hi 🙂
    I bought a My Book 500 GB Premium Edition Dual Interface. I’m using Windows, but I have the same problem like Chris and Cheryl’s :S
    When I plug in USB2 it pops up in My Computer, but when I connect with Firewire nothing happens 🙁 I would like some advice 🙂
    BTW: this is a top external harddrive!

  38. Hi David
    I’m about to buy a MyBook 500 Gb Premium, mainly to backup our Windows machines. We have an iMac G3 (USB / Firewire / 10 Gb) running OS 9.1 that works fine for my daughter to play games on. I’ve been putting off upgrading to OS X – is it possible to configure the MyBook to contain a bootable OS 10.x partition? What software would you recommend?

  39. I just purchased the MY BOOK at costco and i’m using a powerbook and want to backup my hard drive system… after reading the other reviews, seems this system may be more than i really need.
    I can’t even do anything yet cause I hooked up the MYBOOK but no folder acknowledgment appeared on my desktop yet so i’m searching the internet to find out solutions to my problem and found your site here….. i’ll keep trying and just wanted you to know that your site helped inform me of what this MYBOOK is good for. Have a wonderful day ~

  40. In answer to Lanka’s question — I have the MyBook Pro 500GB with both the USB and Firewire interfaces. To get the Firewire to work, you have to install the drive software by first connecting using the USB port. Once this is done, you can then use the Firewire port (but have to jump through a few more hoops). This is covered in the Quick Guide.
    Hope this helps.
    Cheers, Phil

  41. Also, in answer to Anne’s question (a long time ago) about using the drive simultaneously on two computers (say with one connected via USB and the other connected via Firewire).
    According to WD, you cannot do this. See the FAQ (Answer ID 338).
    Shame, because I wanted to do the same thing!

  42. i’d love to know how you got write access to ntfs, by default even the most recent version of mac os only has read access
    the problem one of the comments has with the fuel gauge is you HAVE to install the button manager software, else it won’t work. i had no problems setting the whole thing up with firewire alone. what you will find is if you turn it off via the button it won’t work without the software installed if you try and turn it on with the button then you have to unplug the power supply and put it in again to power it up

  43. I too would like to get the premium Book 500G from Costco at $230 cdn.
    But no one has answered the question about if this drive can handle the transfer generated by home mini DV cameras like sony for example ?
    Thank-you for the info in advance

  44. why does the drive have two firewire ports if you cannot use the drive on two computers simultaneously? i understand not being able to use usb and firewire at the same time, after all, theyre different interfaces, but does this apply to two firewire-connected computers?

  45. one more question. does the drive only appear as ntfs on macs connected through firewire?

  46. The reason external drives have multiple ports (Firewire or USB) is for daisy-chaining, not plugging into two PCs. I’m really surprised how many people think they’ll be able to connect a drive to two computers simultaneously. Just as a thought experiment, imagine deleting a file with one OS that the other OS was reading or writing….

  47. johnny (10:28:32) :
    I’m having problem trying to copy a 6.6gb single file to a 500gb my book via usb 2? it says it’s full when there are 400gb left.
    does anybody have the same experience?
    You have to reformat the drive, and use a different file system like NTFS. Fat32 has a limit of 4 Gigabytes on an individual file. The flie you are trying to copy is larger then that.

  48. I bought My Book and connected it. Now I find that it has put a lot of files on my C drive. I guess these are files for connecting backups. The My Book is full, and all of a sudden my C drive is full. I have a two year old high end Dell with 80 gig. I have about 4,000 pictures and some video. Can I erase the My Book and just use it as another drive? Can I delete earlier backups. The My Book is full too. I was very unhappy with the stuff that came with My Book. I don’t know how it works or really how to use it. Can you help.

  49. David, great review, thanks. I just bought one from Staples, now on sale for $109. Screaming deal, eh?
    Appreciate the help by pushing me in the right direction, Dave Jensen, Sham vs. Wham

  50. Hey i just bought my book premium 500gb and it seemed to “install” fine, but i cant put anything on it. I have a pc with windows xp, and when i open my computer and click on drive f, an error message pops up saying that this disk is not formatted, would you like to format it now? I dont know what i did wrong, or what i have to do, but i spent $160 on this thing and i need to use it! what do i do? iv looked everywhere online and no one seems to have had this problem.

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