WD My Book World

This is a product that promises the world and which can deliver nothing but trouble. Based on all the problems I had with this product, I recommend avoiding it and looking for an alternative.

My Rating: nonononono

Pros

Cons

Review

The install instructions and web site help pages for this Network Accessible Storage (NAS) device seem to leave out lots of not so obvious things that can make it a real pain to actually get the device configured and working. In fact even the Western Digital second level support are unable to supply the information needed to get all of the functionality of this device working properly with some networks.

The first thing to make setting up this device awkward is something covered in their help pages on their web site and that is how to get your network to find the device in the first place. There is no specific IP address assigned to the drive to start with and so you must have DHCP turned on for your network in order for the device to be allocated an IP address in the first place. If your network does not have a DHCP capability then you can completely forget about installing this drive.

To install the drive follow the supplied instructions on how to connect everything up. Then follow the instructions on how to locate the device on the network and using your web browser go into the configuration options. The first thing that I suggest that you do is to assign the device a static IP address. This will allow you to set up a bookmark to the configuration facility within your browser as the address of the device will then always be the same. Alternatively if you want to keep the drive on a dynamic IP address then the drive can be accessed as http://mybookworld.

One problem that I found with accessing the drive when you log on to your computer is that if your login doesn't have a password then you may have to actually login to the mybookworld separately before any software you are running on your computer can access any of the drives on the device. You can resolve this by setting up a password on your regular user account.

The next step (if you are going to try to use the supplied software) is to install the WD Anywhere backup software onto each of your computers. Aftwer all the problems that I had trying to do this and the answers that I eventually got three weeks later from WD second level support I recommend that you don't waste time even trying to do this. Instead you should throw away the WD Anywhere Backup software that you purchased with the device and replace it with some free backup software. Almost all of the free backup software I have seen works far better than the WD backup software.

The next thing I decided to try was to load a video file onto the drive and then try to access the video via the built-in media service from an Xbox. Unfortunately with the way my network is configured the Xbox was unable to see the device at all and so playing video from the device (one of the features promoted for the drive) was not possible at all on my network. The support at WD were unable to provide a solution to this so if one of your reasons for buying the drive is to use it as a media centre then forget it and look elsewhere.

Another feature promoted for the device is its supposed ability to be able to schedule it to run downloads from the internet for you when all of your computers are turned off. Yet another is that you are supposed to be able to access the device from a remote location via a WD web option called MioNet. Unfortunately with the way my network is set up the device has no internet access whatsoever from the software running on the drive itself and the WD support staff were unable to provide me with a solution. I did try all the alternatives that I could think of without success and believe that at least some of these issues could be resolved by setting up port forwarding of the ports that the device requires for the access. Unfortunately the WD support staff were unable to supply me with the information on what ports that the device needs to have forwarded to it in order for it to actually work.

The only actual response that I got from WD support regarding any of these problems was an answer to the very first question that I asked them. Their answer was to go in and update the firmware on the device to the latest version. Now this might be a workable fix for at least some of the problems that I had with the device but unfortunately yet another of the things that doesn't work with the device connected to my network is that it can't access the internet to obtain the firmware upgrade and nowhere on the WD support site does it provide a way to download the firmware upgrade from your computer so as to be able to try to install the upgrade from the alternative option of supplying the file directly.

The conclusion that I reached from my testing of all the advertised features is that the only way I could get the device to actually connect to the internet would be if it were connected directly to the internet and not connected to my network. This of course would mean that I would have no local access to the device to request for it to do anything at all.

Unfortunately all of the software supplied with this device requires that the software has constant internet access in order for the software to work - something that is less than desirable at the best of times and which makes the device almost completely unusable where it can't obtain that access. About the only real use that I can see for this device that looks like it would always work is to use it purely as a network backup drive using backup software from an alternative supplier. Given the price of this device there should be many cheaper alternatives that will provide that same functionality if that is all that you require. The real value for this device is in the media player and downloader functionality that the supplied software is supposed to provide and so you would presumably only consider this device rather than a cheaper alternative if you want to use one or both of those functions. Unfortunately if you get the same result as I did with neither of those functions working then you are left with a very expensive doorstop.

If you can get the device working properly with your network (which judging from the write ups on the device that I have seen is something that many people have managed to do) then it should provide you with all sorts of useful facilities. If however, as I found, the device is incompatible with your network then there appears little that you can do apart from returning the device and trying to get your money back.

 

This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.

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