Experience with MyBook Studio II

After a nearly catastrophic experience with a LaCie drive I was once again back in the market to buy a 1TB hard drive. I have about 750GB of stuff that I need to backup on a regular basis. The LaCie was working perfectly until it just stopped. I was able to cajole it into working just one more time so I could recover my data. I looked around and found the perfect solution, a Drobo. Unfortunately the Drobo is a bit out of my price range. I love the idea of a Drobo and maybe someday I can revisit it. On the bargain side of the isle I found the My Book.

I had heard some horror stories about My Book from coworkers. They reported that their My Book drives stopped working one day with Leopard. I did some research and found similar complaints online. I recently borrowed a My Book 1TB drive to use as a temporary backup. It was very noisy when it first powered on. It has its own fan in its case. Once the computer connected to it the noise went away. The Studio II features user-serviceable drives so long as you stay with match caviar drives. This sounded like a good thing especially since I am interested in the RAID 1 feature. In the end I relented because of the price, the built-in RAID and finally the Warranty. A 5-year warranty is just about right. In 5-years I can see where we are with ZFS and Drobo for my next purchase.

One thing that I had read about and knew that I would not like is the use of a custom RAID manager. I always advise against installing vendor software. This drive has a hardware RAID and the only way to change it from RAID 0 to RAID 1 is to use their software. I wanted HFS+. The only other format is FAT32. There is no NTFS support in the Mac version of the software. If you want NTFS, you need to connect and format using a PC before you bring it back to your Mac.

I inserted the CD. On the CD are two folders. One is for some backup program and the other is the Drive Manager installer. I opened the Drive Manager Installer folder and found a DMG file. I mounted the DMG folder and found the installer. I’m not sure they could have made it any more complicated. Why not just put the application on the Disk? I ran the installer and agreed to the usual licensing screens. The installer ran and completed. I proceeded to go find this Drive Manager program. I looked in my Applications and Utilities folders under both “D” and “WD” and could not find it. Maybe I missed something. I ran the installer again and still could not find the installed program. I went back to the CD and found a folder called Documentation. I opened the folder and found 23 items inside it. The first three folders’ names were visible: ARA, CHS, CHT. Inside the ARA folder was a PDF labeled UserGuilde.pdf. I opened it up and the entire document was in Arabic. OK, so ARA means Arabic. I went back up a folder level, changed the view to something that shows more than just 3 folders and found the ENG folder. There was also a QicGuide.pdf that I found later. Finally on Page 16 I found a reference to the “WD” menu that had been installed. There is no application to find. So I was wrong, Western Digital could make it more complicated.

I chose “Launch WD RAID Manager” from the WD menu. This gave me a window that listed all the WD hardware connected to my computer or at least it would have if I had more than just this one drive attached. There was a line for the My Book that showed its capacity and RAID level. Down in the lower right-hand corner was a button labeled “Configure…”. I clicked it and got a message about the risk of changing settings or something. I did not read it that closely. It did not look at important. It gave me two button choices, Cancel and Configure. I clicked “Configure” thinking that I would be taken to the configuration screen. I had not see anything to configure yet.

When I clicked Configure, the window went away and the drive manage proceeded to erase the whole hard drive. I was not sure what had just happened. I expected a new window that would let me see the configuration and make changes. Instead, I got an erased hard drive. Fortunately for me I did not have any data entrusted on the drive. This is a very bad UI experience. I checked on the web and found several other people who were similarly fooled but actually lost data.

Back on the previous screen I found only one thing that could be changed. I could change the RAID format. I chose RAID 1 and now intentionally chose Configure. The drive now has half the capacity but should now be redundant. I immediately uninstalled the WD software. No need to keep that around, especially if it is that easy to wipe out the entire drive with just two clicks.

I copied the installer DMG to a safe place so I would not need the CD again. I ejected the CD and put it in a safe place. I keep a binder with key software like disk utilities and OS installers.

If you go into the purchase of a My Book with your eyes open it is a good value. There are very few products in the 2TB range and the built-in RAID is a real coup. I have configured Time Machine and it is already busy backing up my primary and secondary storage.

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