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REVIEW: Western Digital My Book Essential 3TB external hard drive

Comments (5)

my-book-essential.jpgName: Western Digital My Book Essential 3TB

Type: 3TB USB 3.0 External Hard Drive (PC/Mac)

Specifications: Click here for full specs

Price: £168.75 from Amazon seller

If you're looking to do some super-quick, super-painless PC spring cleaning, you'll want to grab an external hard drive with USB 3.0 transfer speeds. Western Digital's My Book Essential range offers as much as a massive 3TB of external storage, and transfer speeds three times as fast as USB 2.0 thanks to their USB 3.0 connectivity options. We took a 3TB model for a spin. Read on for our thoughts!


As far as external hard drives go, the My Book Essential looks pretty snazzy, with its gloss black plastic casing and curved front. Three edges house discrete venting, with the front curved edge a white LED light that stays on constantly when the drive is in use, and blinks when in standby, which it tends to do quite a lot as the onboard software powers down the drive after a few minutes of inactivity. In a neat touch, the drive powers completely down automatically when your PC shuts down, and fires back up when the computer is switched on. When it comes to power management then, the drive is particularly savvy.

Though it shouldn't be treated as a portable drive, the My Book Essential is surprisingly small given its 3TB storage space inside. It measures just 165mm x 135mm x 48mm, and weighs only 1.18kg. It's also quiet as a mouse, barely audible when reading from or writing to its disk. Though rubber feet on the underside edge suggest the drive should be used in an upright position, we've had it running laid horizontally flat with no problems.

Though the drive is listed as a 3 terrabyte, as with all drives the actual usable space onboard is significantly smaller. You've in fact got 2794GB of space to play about with. This is by no means a fault of the drive (all hard drives have this quirk), but is worth mentioning if you're after specifically 3TB of external storage.

Things were going well until we started to install the latest drivers for the My Book Essential. While the onboard drivers worked fine, upgrading to firmware version caused our system to go haywire, with the My Book Essential randomly connecting and disconnecting, our failing to appear at all when connected to our PC. It took a system restore to the initial driver settings before things calmed down again.

Using the USB 3.0 connection (the drive is also USB 2.0 compatible), we were very impressed with the My Book Essential's transfer speeds. See the chart below for our findings using CystalDiskMark:
As you can see, 5 passes at 1000MB saw average read speeds of 125.2MB/s and average write speeds of 92.61Mb/s, revealing solid transfer rates. In real world usage, we found it took just 49.4 seconds to transfer a 2.94GB ISO image file, with an average transfer rate of around 59.5 Mb/s. Not quite as good as the CystalDiskMark findings, but still impressive. Likewise, smaller file sizes transferred speedily at around the 70Mb/s mark, but wrote more slowly at closer to 30.5 Mb/s. It's still up with the best transfer speeds with experienced from USB 3.0, nonetheless, with each result averaging almost 3x as fast as when performed with a USB 2.0 connection.

The My Book Essential also ships with an impressive back-up software suite called SmartWare, pre-loaded onto the drive. Once a simple configuration process has been carried out, it works quietly in the background backing up your whole computer (or just files and folders of your choosing), keeping an eye out for changes and backing up accordingly. It's incredibly easy to use, and automates all of the tedious work that protecting your files can present.

Likewise, the security offerings onboard are equally impressive, with the ability to apply encrypted passwords and support for Kensington physical security locks.


A one-stop solution for your back-up needs, the My Book Essential offers speed, space, security and reliability. Were it not for the driver debacle we'd give this external drive a perfect score, but regardless it still comes very highly recommended. review-line.JPG



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  • Gianni

    Hi ! Does anybody know if it is 5400 or 7200 rpm ? in the WD they don't provide such specifications... thanks!

  • Cowlmaster

    Bought one of these last October. it went belly up in less than four months, did RMA with WD got my replacement and that has gone belly up in less than a month, I am not impressed.

  • Teemo

    I just purchased this drive today, and went to install it tonight. The only documentation \ instructions provided out of the box was a 3 step graphic: Plug the ac power into an outlet, plug it into the drive, then plug the usb into the computer. Win 7 said ti installed properly but here's the rub. It doesn't show up in My Computer. This is a known issue with the WD My Book. Luckily, unlike many others, this happened for me on day one. Go to the WD Community forum and read the number of posts related to this problem. The drive either never shows up or fails after a short time, and users then have to pay a 3rd party to retrieve the data - if at all possible. I had a WD Elements which was very reliable, but this is a different animal. The upright vertical positioning is vulnerable. The WD Elements is meaty and lays horizontal - as it should; this drive has neither a wide enough base nor enough weight to justify a vertical positioning. Drives are sensitive, and even an accidental knockover could damage them, as is very possible with this design. Comparing this to the WD Elements, the Elements has a much harder case, and is just a simple smart design - and without the unnecessary Smartware software in the My Book. If I'm lucky the store will exchange it tomorrow, otherwise I'll be in WD service hell with all the other folks. I would not purchase this drive, nor recommend it to anyone.

  • Ken

    update: I just rebooted with the drive unplugged from computer and my boot is about normal time. However I noticed the DWRulesengine, DWdriveservice and BackupEngine programs are showing as running per Task Manager are these Terminate and stay resident programs?

  • ken

    I bought this a couple of months ago for my Toshiba Satellite running XP 32 bit cause it said on the box good for XP. it is NOT user friendly like a NOOBe like me. I finally got it up and running and doing back-ups however, 20 minutes to boot my computer yesterday and more than 12 today. I have shut down the MYBOOK and hope when I reboot it will not take so long. I noticed in Task Manager that some WD programs were running but when I "Ended process" on them they just came back up. I have unchecked the ONE WD program in start up.
    I have a question..I have installed the Smartware since the beginning a couple of months ago and am wondering if it will permit XP 32 bit to use the entire ,2794 Gigs of the drive ???

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