Western Digital 1.5 TB My Book World Edition II Hard Drive

I recently purchased a personal network attached storage (NAS). It’s a 1.5TB external hard drive from Western Digital. It’s called – Western Digital 1.5 TB My Book World Edition II Hard Drive. [1] Thanks to my friend, Don, for telling me about this.

There are many good things about this product. Unfortunately, there are some bad things too. Let’s start with the good things.

The good things:

1. Cheap!

I purchased this from Amazon at US$319. [2] At this time, a standalone 500GB hard drive costs around $99. I thought this was impressive. It was the cheapest Linux-based NAS I could find out there.

2. Easy to setup.

It uses a web interface for setup and administration. Setting it up was as easy as setting up a wireless router. By default, it can do Windows-sharing type of access (CIFS/SMB). It also has this proprietary type of file access called MioNet (WDAnywhere), but I didn’t bother using it since I was only interested in using Samba and NFS. I actually disabled this hoping it would help speed up the machine.

3. It can do NFS.

If you’re going to use this with Unix, you would definitely want to have NFS access to this device. However, this is no longer available by default in the new firmware, 2.0.15+. [3] I had to install some nfs files manually (exportfs, rpc.*) to get this running. See my other post for details on how to set this up.

4. It’s a Linux machine.

It’s a small computer in itself and one of the compelling reasons I bought this was that it uses Linux. Therefore, in addition to disk storage, you can use it as a Linux machine with all the goodies like ssh, lighttpd, Perl, etc.

5. Quiet and cool.

Some reviews out there claim that this device is noisy. With two 750GB disks and a Linux machine in itself, I thought this was relatively more quiet than running your own Samba/NFS server on a desktop PC. It uses a small and low-power CPU (ARM926EJ). [6]

6. Plenty of Linux support.

You don’t want to be alone hacking this device. There are plenty of people already hacking this NAS. [4,5]

Now the bad things:

1. It’s slow!

I don’t understand what went wrong here because this NAS has a Gigabit ethernet and according to the specs, the drive speed is 7200RPM. However, I can only get a maximum of 7MB/sec of write speed. Note that this is through local access on the machine itself and not even across the network. I use the Unix command dd to measure write speed.

dd if=/dev/zero of=/tmp/x bs=1024 count=10240

10240+0 records in
10240+0 records out
10485760 bytes (10 MB) copied, 1.6501 seconds, 6.4 MB/s

I suspected that this is due to the CPU or IO of the machine. Therefore, even with a Gigabit ethernet and 7200 RPM drives, I doubt you can get it any faster than 7MB/s if the bottleneck is the CPU or IO.

I tested NFS write speed on a 100Mb/sec network and I can only get a maximum of 5 MB/sec.

2. NFS is disabled.

NFS used to be installed by default. All you need to do to use it was enable it. However, I learned that they removed this in versions v2.00.15 and later. [3] I had to install NFS files manually to get it up and running. I wonder why WD had to remove this. It appears that they don’t want users to be using this NAS with NFS. In addition to not supporting Linux access, WD also makes sure that it’s not there in case you’d want to use it.

3. Certain types of files cannot be shared

The software WDAnywhere restricts certain types of files from being shared. According to WD website, “Due to unverifiable media license authentication, the following file types cannot be shared…” [7] What this means is that you cannot share media files like mp3 or mpeg files even if they are your own personal audio or movie files.

I don’t have this problem with Samba and NFS. This has nothing to do with technology so I don’t want to comment about it. But I thought I find this feature amusing.

Some notes:

It’s probably a good idea to disable access to your network’s Internet gateway. If you only want to access this device on your intranet (LAN), there is no need to have it access your gateway and then the Internet. This makes it more safe in case you accidentally open up your router to your machines on the local network. This also prevents viruses or trojans from running on this device and contacting someone out there on the Internet, although highly unlikely because it uses Linux.

References:

[1] http://www.wdc.com/en/products/Products.asp?DriveID=318

[2] http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B000RZ68IG/ref=dp_olp_2

[3] http://mybookworld.wikidot.com/nfs-server

[4] http://mybookworld.wikidot.com/

[5] http://martin.hinner.info/mybook/

[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Digital_My_Book#Internals

[7] WD FAQ – What files cannot be shared by WD Anywhere Access?

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14 thoughts on “Western Digital 1.5 TB My Book World Edition II Hard Drive

  1. It’s unfortunate that it’s slow. It’s supposed to improve speed and capabilities, not slow them. Check to make sure your backup isn’t full of outdated, duplicated files. Good luck!

  2. Thank you very good review,
    I have just bought it yesterday, previously read, how easy it is to hack into linux.

    I did however, and played with it, installing ftp, rsync.. but whatever you do it’s butt slow, and it’s really too bad they didn’t stuck in better arm CPU. It’s practically useless if you want to use it for photo/hdv storage (since you need a few days to copy files off or on).

    I’m still considering what to do with it.

    Looks as if they design it for easy bitorrent/emule machine, where you have time to load, and it can just run on it’s own day and night without polluting your PC :)). RiAA will get bunch of new nameless enemies to sue ==> People versus WD World Edition :D

  3. Thanks for the info I have been racking my brain with the speed issue on this device. Takes what seems like days to copy over very large files (ie ISO’s) The first unit I purchased died within 2 months but kudos to WD Tech support and advance RMA I had another unit and the warranty of the device allows you to open it and swap hard drives without breaking your warranty! I’m glad I didn’t have to waste another week copying over 2GB of Data back over–instead I just swapped the Motherboard.

    I updated my firmware to see if it would fix my “perceived” speed troubles but alas I never suspected they would take away functionality instead of adding new ones ;) The front end menu lacks some HDD utilities I take for granted (defrag / zero unused etc)

    I suspect that the onboard linux OS may do some of this but I’m not holding my breath. Very easy to service either mainboard or HDD’s for those that feel comfortable doing so.
    Lastly they include some bloat ware that you can simply avoid “mio net”… No I don’t want access to my own PC via the web… isn’t that what VNC, RDP, and PC Anywhere, to name a few, are for? And No, I don’t want to pay for premium services…

    Hopes this helps people out! Got mine at COSTCO and was very inexpensive!

  4. I have the same drive and the transfer is jsut too slow, im cureently backing up 437GB at 6.69MB/s so i can format the drive insde as NTFS and jsut share it from my PC

    the cpu on the NAS is terrible.
    pity, i liked the blue lights.

  5. Have a near dead 1TB MYBOOKWORLD and a well performing DNS-323. Will the WD drive work in the D-LINK housing w/o having to be reformatted? Thanks for any help

  6. I’ve tried setting up the NFS share using the latest version of this software (version 2.1.96) which includes NFS again apparently. It’s running, but the weird thing is that it will allow me to browse the folder structure but then suddenly after a few folders in it will boot me out. I’ll get access denied and I’ll have to restart the device before it will let me back in. I guess I’ll just have to use USB access.

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