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Your files, all over the world…or at least all over the house.
We still have fond memories of our Apple IIe with dual 5 1/4-inch floppy drives. At the time, it was a miracle that a simple hole-punch was the only thing we needed to convert those 180KB disks into gargantuan, 360KB, double-sided data stores. But times have changed. Our iTunes library alone is pushing 120GB. The 320GB drive in our MacBook is supplemented by two external drives--we used to keep them connected to our AirPort Extreme router, but Apple’s AirDisk technology was too flaky for us to reliably access them over the network. For rock-solid performance, we prefer to store files on a dedicated NAS.
Western Digital’s MyBook World Edition is perfect for novice users looking to expand their storage options, or make certain files available anywhere on their home network. The browser-based configuration is simple, with plenty of custom options to meet a variety of needs. And extras like built-in media servers, expandability, and backup capabilities make the MyBook World Edition something akin to a Swiss Army knife for your data storage. Despite the complicated networking happening behind the curtain, the MyBook World is essentially a plug-and-play affair. Plug the drive into AC power and connect it to your router with Ethernet, and the MyBook appears in the Finder as a shared device.
In addition to run-of-the-mill file sharing among Macs (or PCs, if you have a mixed network), several great features extend the MyBook World’s usefulness. The drive supports Apple’s AFP sharing protocol, so you won’t run into file-naming problems that other NAS units may introduce. And it’s got a built-in iTunes server onboard, so that any music you dump into the Shared Music folder will be available for playback in iTunes anywhere on your network (be sure to check Look For Shared Libraries in iTunes > Preferences > Sharing, first).
Users with an Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or another DLNA- or UPnP-compliant media streamer will be able to put those devices to good use, thanks to the MyBook World’s built-in Twonky Media Server. Using this method, playing videos stored on your office Mac on your living room TV becomes as simple as dragging and dropping the files into the Shared Videos folder.
The MyBook World supports user accounts for more secure storage. The Web-based admin panel allows easy creation of user accounts and groups for more controlled file access, as well as fine-grained control over additional features. Advanced users will appreciate FTP access, and the security alerts, which can send you an email if your NAS bites the dust. Western Digital also includes Web-based access to your files via the MioNet service. While we love the idea of easy access to all our stuff anywhere there’s an Internet connection, the included documentation lacks specific instructions for configuring the feature with a Mac, although Western Digital assured us that they’ll be providing more complete instructions in the future. Once we did get it working, remotely accessing our files via the Web was useful, but so slow that we’d only recommend it for emergencies.
For easy backup, there’s a Mac version of WD Anywhere Backup, and we piggybacked a standard USB drive onto the MyBook World to make it available over the network too. In our tests, the MyBook World was responsive and reasonably quick, although the browser-based admin controls were poky at times.
Dead-simple setup and cool extras make the MyBook World a great NAS for home or small office use. We just wish the documentation was more complete for Mac users.