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My Book Pro Edition 500GB drive

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Even if your desktop Mac still has plenty of room left on its internal drive, maintaining an external backup is always a smart idea. If you’d rather be safe than sorry, the My Book Pro Edition 500GB USB/FireWire hard drive gives you plenty of breathing room for your sundry files, plus enough space for your backups.

The rounded edges and silver finish of the My Book’s plastic case give it the style of a glossy, medium-sized book, but the circular blue activity LED on its “spine” gives you important information. For example, the indicator area lets you know at a glance how much remaining storage is available (in 17 percent increments of total capacity), although activating this feature requires installing an OS X driver. The only other software included with the drive is EMC’s Retrospect Express back-up utility.

Installing the My Book is as easy as plugging in the drive’s power adapter and connecting the drive to your Mac using one of the drive’s USB, FireWire 400, or two FireWire 800 ports. A generous six feet of cable gives you freedom to place it anywhere within your workspace. In operation, the My Book is normally in standby mode and spins itself up as it’s accessing your data.

In performance testing, the My Book Pro Edition turns in quite respectable stats when compared to smaller capacity desktop drives we looked at recently: it matched the others in all tests, even beating out the fastest drive—the LaCie d2 Hard Drive Extreme with Triple Interface 300GB (   )—in the Photoshop test by five seconds. The My Book Pro Edition represents the top end of this line of drives, but lesser models in the My Book family feature FireWire 400 and USB, or USB alone, and are available in a variety of capacities from 80GB to 500GB.

timed trials

Copy 1GB to Drive 0:33
Duplicate 1GB on Drive 0:54
Low Memory Photoshop CS Suite 1:20

Scale = Minutes: Seconds

How We Tested: We ran all tests with the FireWire drives connected to a dual-2.5GHz Power Mac G5 with Mac OS X 10.3.9 installed and 512MB of RAM. We tested the drive using FireWire 800. (In cases where a drive does not have FireWire 800, we use FireWire 400.) We copied a folder containing 1GB of data from our Mac’s hard drive to the external hard drive to test the drive’s write speed. We then duplicated that file on the external drive to test both read and write speeds. We also used the drive as a scratch disk when running our low-memory Adobe Photoshop CS Suite test. This test is a set of four tasks performed on a 150MB file, with Photoshop’s memory set to 50 percent.—Macworld Lab Testing by James Galbraith and Jerry Jung


Price per gigabyte $0.70
Connectors FireWire 800 (2), FireWire 400 (1) USB 2.0 (1)
Rotational Speed 7200 RPM
Other capacities 250GB ($220)

Macworld’s buying advice

Desktop Mac users looking for a spacious and speedy extra 500GB of storage should consider the Western Digital My Book Pro Edition 500GB. The My Book is luggable, though its desktop form factor makes it more suited to sitting on a shelf rather than taking it with you. It’s fast, attractive, and its USB, FireWire 400, and FireWire 800 ports give you maximum flexibility when connecting it to your Mac.

[ Jeffy Milstead is a Macworld Lab alumnus and writer living in San Francisco. ]

Western Digital My Book Pro Edition 500GB USB/FireWire
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