Western Digital’s My Book Live brings network-attached storage to the masses

Western Digital’s My Book series of consumer network-attached storage boxes has a new variant, the My Book Live.

With new sharing features–including a file-sharing portal–and great performance, it brings the My Book line up-to-date. Offering 2TB of storage, the My Book Live costs $229 (as of October 28, 2010), about half what you’d pay for similarly performing NAS competitors. (A 1TB version sells for just $169, also a deal.)

WD claims performance up to 100 megabytes per second for the My Book Live; and in both our testing and our hands-on evaluations, the drive proved to be an excellent performer.

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We didn’t see 100 MBps, but we did see 30-MBps writes and 47-MBps reads. That’s the kind of performance we’ve encountered only from the Synology DS1010+ and the LaCie 2Big Network 2TB (our top performer, the QNAP TS-859 Pro, is far faster). Those are the three speediest NAS boxes we’ve tested to date, so the My Book Live is in heady company.

Western Digital provides an app called WD Photos for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch that lets you view pictures stored on the My Book Live.

You need to subscribe to Western Digital’s MioNet Web-based data portal to use it, but that’s free for any WD My Book Live owner.

Unfortunately, Android and Palm OS users will have to stick with plain old Web-based access. The app works quite well, but it supports only JPEG files.

Setting up the My Book Live would have been easy for me without an older half-duplex hub on my network that the My Book Live does not support. Half-duplex is rare, though; and once I removed the switch, installation proceeded without incident.

The drive’s SmartWare software detected and mapped the drive and installed the Quick View and SmartWare monitoring utility.

The My Book Live serves up media to iTunes, as well as DLNA and UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) media adapters via the embedded Twonky media server. It worked perfectly with Windows Media Player 11, even with high bit-rate 1080p video.

The My Book Live’s major limitation is by design: It’s a single-drive NAS box. As a result, it’s useful as shared storage, but less so for backup purposes. We recommend not trusting any single-drive product with your important data unless you’re mirroring that drive off-site or locally.

Given the unit’s speed, backing up the My Book Live across the network is perfectly viable, but make sure you do so–unless, of course, you’re simply serving up DVD rips and copies of your photos and music.Another limitation compared with other network-attached drives: The My Book Live has no USB port for attaching printers or additional USB drives.

The Western Digital My Book Live offers a ton of of NAS capacity for a relatively small amount of cash. It’s fast enough that you won’t even think of it as network storage once you set it up, and it serves up media nicely. The remote access via MioNet is a major benefit as well.

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