Western Digital’s My Book Studio Edition II; Backing Up Is Easy To Do

Everyone knows that backing up your data is critical. And, everyone knows that it's easy to say, "I'll do it tomorrow." Heck, I've made tomorrow go for months at a time! This is really stupid on my part because I make a living from my images and writing. If I lose that data, I might as well start planning on moving into the car.

Luckily, storage capacity is growing at a faster rate than our data. I remember the first external hard drive I bought--a 300MB SCSI monster that set me back nearly $3000. Today, that capacity is laughable and wouldn't even be enough for an average photographer's memory card. Nowadays, even 300GB is becoming outdated when it comes to hard drive storage. It's not uncommon to see a 1 terabyte (TB) drive sitting on a user's desktop, filled with thousands of images, music, and other data. The question is, how do you back it all up safely, easily, and securely?

Normally, I use a series of external drives for this task, keeping two copies on hand and storing a third copy off site. But I was starting to feel the pinch when it came time to do a full system backup. So, I was very happy to hear that Western Digital (WD) had come out with a new version of their external My Book Studio Edition product. The original Studio Edition was available in capacities of up to 1TB (1000GB). The new Studio Edition II doubles that by placing two 1TB drives into a small external enclosure.

Right out of the box the Studio Edition II is configured as a RAID 0 device pre-formatted for the Mac. If you're not familiar with RAID, a type 0 device uses striping across multiple drives to make the operating system think there is a single drive. It increases speed since you're writing to multiple drives, and it gives you tremendous storage space. Many of the external drives available use this method. Now that capacity has increased though, the potential for size has grown as well. The Studio Edition II I looked at came with two 1TB drives installed.

I like safety with my work, so I used the included WD Drive Manager to set the system up as a RAID 1 device. This reduces my available space to 1TB, but every write operation is mirrored across both drives. The benefit here is that if one drive fails for any reason, I have an exact duplicate with no lost data. I can simply pull the bad drive out, pop a new one in and be on my way.

The Studio Edition II makes this type of swap very easy--just push in on the top of the enclosure and the unit opens up. This also means that as capacities continue to grow, I can replace the drives with larger ones.

The drive also comes with back-up software, but since I'm using this on a Mac, I've decided to let Time Machine handle the normal back-up chores. I have, however, set up WD Anywhere Backup to back up the backup. Every night, I have WD Anywhere make a duplicate copy of my latest Time Machine backup so that I always have a second backup available to me. This version is then stored away from the rest of my equipment.