Having switched over to using digital SLR photography, the amount of storage space required for storing and backing up RAW files jumped up tremendously! I had considered various options for data backup, but in the end settled on using the bulkier Western Digital My Book external hard drive instead.
You may ask why I don’t just go for a slim USB connected external hard drive? I have given some thought to it, though it is very convenient to use the slim version especially now that the prices has come down a lot, I felt that to get the most bang for the buck, a using the bigger powered versions I could get more storage capacity. Besides, I wasn’t thinking of carrying large amount of data on the go. For shuttling about, I preferred to use the pint size USB thumb drive.
The version that I went for was a 640GB Western Digital My Book external hard drive that requires a separate power adaptor to power it. The version that I got also has 1394 Firewire connection or eSata for higher speed data exchange connection. Figuring that with so much data to backup it would be prudent to pay a little extra for the higher data speed exchange.
Before I made my purchase I double checked whether my Gigabyte motherboard has the required 1394 Firewire connection, and true enough it was available. Unfortunately I do not have eSATA, though some of the WD My Book feature work better with USB and Firewire but not with eSATA. Still not so bad.
Plugging it in to my Gigabyte desktop system, Windows Vista was able to detect the external hard drive without any problem. However I found it strange that it crashed my PCMCIA Ricoh PC-Card reader. Pulling out the PC-Card that was left in the PCMCIA card seemed to solve the problem. Only thing left was after installing the WD Anywhere backup software, my HP All-in-One C4380 printer driver software started to re-install itself. Strange. Other than that, accessing the WD My Book was a breeze.
The WD My Book was formatted in FAT32 for optimum compatibility with all O/S platform such the Apple Mac computers. However to make use of Windows advance features, I reformatted the drive to NTFS instead. Before doing so, do back up the software that was included inside the hard drive.
Transferring large amount of files to the WD My Book wasn’t a problem. It was actually quite fast. Almost seamless usage. I guess with better technological advance, external storage devices has become faster and better. No more transferring data moving along like a slow behemoth.
Using the provided WD Anywhere Backup software on the other hand was a different experience. For first time backup, it took ages to make a copy onto the WD My Book external hard disk. I guess I had tons and tons of data, MP3, photos and what’s not. After the backup set has done its job, whenever you added or modified a file, the WD Anywhere backup software will spring into action and make back up copy.
Having tried various backup software including the Vista backup and restore centre, I think I like the WD Anywhere backup. When I checked the backup folder, I could actually see the file itself. I could open it as usual and look through its content. Unlike Vista backup and restore centre or others that I have used, where the contents are compressed or store in a format that I could not access. The good point about having the backup file not in a compressed format is that should you change PC or reformat your O/S, you could still access the files and data in the backup folder. Whereas if you were to use the Vista backup and restore, you would not be able to retrieve the data. Another thing I found using Vista backup and restore was that it uses a huge amount of space! I wonder how many versions of the file it kept in its back up set. The more versions, the more storage space required.
For the WD Anywhere Backup, you could specify how many versions to keep. Two versions would just be enough. As for me, I decided to just keep one version. Usually having just one backup location is not always the best policy. I do keep archived DVD copies of my more important files like photos and data. It takes awhile to compile them, but it is better safe than never to have several extra copies. And to be paranoid, keep another set of copies on another location, perhaps in your safe deposit box? Ha ha!
Overall, the WD My Book external hard drive works quite well, though on thinking back, the price was almost 40% of my desktop cost. What is more important though is the data and the sentimental photos, which if lost cannot be recovered. There were times when friends told me they lost this or that because their hard disk crashed or became corrupted. So consider this as a wise investment to your sentimental and valuable data. And of course keep extra back up data and be paranoid and store it separately in another location!
Ouch! The price just dropped and now for the same price you could get a 1TB capacity storage! Still it was fortunate that I got mine when I did, because my OS/HDD crashed and I managed to back up most data into the WD MyBook external hard disk. For my RAW files from my DSLR, I had to use recovery software which made quite a mess with the filenames! Better than nothing I suppose…