Like most designers who’s regularly working on multiple design projects at any given time, I have reached an inevitable milestone in my profession; my Mac’s hard drive is full to the brim… and so is my external drive. It still amazes me how a 2-3MB one-pager final artwork could produce so much associated working files (from 4MB high resolution images to 2GB composite layered PSD files). When I first bought my 320GB portable hard disk (iOmega eGo) four years ago, I though to myself that this probably will be the only extra storage that I’ll ever need – how wrong was I…
Setting the bar
So after much contemplating and research, I’ve finally narrowed down my HDD features wish-list. Whatever I’ll be spending my hard-earned moolahs on has to have the following ‘minimum specifications:
- It should offer at least 2TB of storage space.
- I should be able to access the damn thing from different/multiple computers and/or devices through a network regardless of the computers’/devices’ operating system.
- Not an absolute must, but I would very much like it to be accessible remotely online.
- I should be able to use it ‘out-of-the-box’ and forget about it (with minimal need perform maintenance on it) – not needing to hack its firmware just so I can ‘properly’ integrate it into my current workflow.
- I should be able to ‘comfortably’ afford it without it being something that’ll I see everyday as a constant reminder of how much I am excessively spending on ‘toys’.
And the candidates are…
With all that written down in stone, I’ve sifted through the interwebs to find these possible solutions for my storage dilemma: My initial idea was to get an iOmega iConnect then just buy additional external drives, but then when I add all that up it seems to be more expensive and will likely add to the clutter in my current setup. Then there is apple’s very own Airport Time Capsule (ATC) and Western Digital’s My Book Live (MBL). For a self-confessed apple fanboy like myself, purchasing the elegantly designed and feature-packed apple ATC would’ve been ‘right’ choice – but with its S$528 price tag, I had to consider the latter. Best Denki was offering the WD MBL 3TB for only S$239.00 and I’m not overly concerned with the issues it has with Time Machine backups (I’ve read from reviews that backing up TM with MBL over the network is painstakingly slow), as I am doing my TM backups to a different dedicated backup HDD. Maybe if I won hardware money from the lottery I’d buy the ATC along with a shiny new 15″ rMBP.
And now, for some geeky tech-porn…
So this are the contents of the WD My Book Live 3TB:
- Network drive
- Ethernet cable
- AC power adapter
- Quick Install Guide
- Downloadable software installation
As easy as 1-2-3
The installation instructions on the box was actually not far from the truth. The whole process was relatively easy and fuzz-free, thanks to a very user-friendly interface of the setup software. Though the box came with its own setup CD I still went to WD’s site to download MBL’s setup software, ‘coz as with most drivers/firmwares, it’s likely that there is an updated version of it. The setup software held my hand through the whole process sans any confusing technical jargons. It was basically just a matter of clicking through the instructions and plugging and detecting the MBL through the network. And viola I’m done! Everything is up and running. Out-of-the-box, as promised.
Bells and whistles
After I’m done with the installation, the setup software gave me an option to create shortcuts on my desktop and a quick access to the MBL dashboard through a clean interface on OSX’s menu bar. Once the dashboard fires up, it prompted for a firmware upgrade which really did take too long. Then it rebooted itself and finally I have full access to the MBL’s features.
One of the nifty features that I really love about the MBL is being able to use it as a 3TB personal cloud storage which we can remotely access through our computers or via our iOS devices (using the ‘WD 2go’ app from the iTunes app store).
I also read from several online forums that this machine can also be hacked so you could use it as a Linux web server of sorts.
Now about those issues regarding apple’s Time Machine backups with BL over WiFi – yes, sadly they are true. After initial backup, which took about two days, the subsequent backups were quite faster at tolerable speeds. Though after a some time, TM will notify you it’ll need to create a fresh backup from scratch because for some shitty reason your current backup file is out of sync or unreliable. Oh, you’ll ever want do TM backups via WiFi, do remember to log on to the MBL as a registered user (not as guest), else you’ll get to be raptured before you ever finish your first TM backup.
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