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Hard Drive Among the Hugest in Recent Memory

If you have big storage needs, this device should be on your shopping list.

What would you call an external hard drive for your computer that can hold up to 500,000 mp3 music files or 571,000 JPEG photos?

I would call it humongous. The people at

Western Digital

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call it their "My Book Studio Edition II." It's a 2TB dual-drive storage system with built-in RAID. This requires an immediate explanation.

Two terabytes. That's 2,000 gigabytes -- the equivalent of eight 250GB hard drives. That's also a whole lot of storage stuffed into one desktop box.

For the record, these Studio Edition II systems are dual-drives. That means there are two one-terabyte drives inside.

The device comes pre-configured to automatically back up your data in a RAID 0 configuration (maximum capacity). You can also change it to operate in a RAID 1 format for maximum data protection.

The My Book can connect to your desktop or laptop computer in a number of different ways: USB 2.0 (480 Mbits/sec), Firewire 400 (400 Mbits/sec.), Firewire 800 (800 Mbits/sec.) or eSATA (3 GB/sec.). Western Digital supplies you with cables for all possibilities as standard equipment in the box.

Even though there is mega-sized storage space inside, the outer dimensions are fairly compact (6.5 by 6 by 3 inches and 5.2 pounds). The front of the box sports a LED capacity gauge that lets you know the hard drive capacity that's in use (for USB and Firewire only).

Installation was a breeze, but somewhat confusing at first. I used the supplied CD to install all of the software titles that come with the drives. But, surprisingly, once everything was installed, my ThinkPad laptop could not find my new super-drive.

I knew that the storage device was compatible with

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Windows Vista, XP and 2000 as well as Mac OS 10.4 and 10.5.2+. But it wasn't until I actually read all the instructions that I realized the box comes formatted for


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Macintosh computers. That fact is also made very clear on the packaging. A few keystrokes later and my WD drive was up and running on my PC.

I have not even come close to taxing the limits of my My Book drive system. It is fast, quiet and huge. I was able to transfer all my music and photo files in less than an hour. I'm not even using 10% of its capacity. But, I intend to re-rip my music into WAV files since I now have more than enough room to store everything at full-fidelity rates.

As for overall noise and heat, the My Book is barely noticeable. Even when I ask the box to work hard, I can hardly hear a peep. And, it gets only slightly warm to the touch after a hard workout.

You can buy simple, super-sized drives with enclosures for a few hundred bucks, but when you add all sorts of high-speed connections and the super-secure RAID protection systems, you know you're going to have to pay more.

The 2TB My Book Studio Edition II drives system retails for $599.99. There's also a 1TB drive system that retails for $339.99.

If high-quality, big quantity, super-safe storage is important to you for your valued documents, photos, music and videos -- especially if your needs run toward video and audio editing or graphic design -- the new Western Digital dual-drive system should be at the top of your short list.

Gary Krakow is's senior technology correspondent.