Review: WD My Book Essential 3 TB


2 May 2011
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WD My Book Essential 3 TB
MRP: Rs 10,999
Street Price: Rs 10,500 (approx.)

While portable hard drives have become larger in capacity, it cannot be denied that backup drives belong to a completely different breed. The only limiting factor with backup drives has been the bottlenecked data transfer speed of the USB 2.0 interface. Things have changed for the better with the introduction of USB 3.0 SuperSpeed interface, guaranteeing speeds rivalling those of SATA hard drives. WD has provided us with a review sample of the 3 TB version of their new My Book Essential backup drive. We have tested this with USB 3.0, as well as USB 2.0 interface.

The first thing that we noticed on opening the box is that drive comes securely packaged in a box with plastic damping material to protect it from mechanical shock damage while in transit. The accessories are neatly packed, thus reducing the chances of them getting lost.

WD My Book Essential 3 TB

* WD My Book Essential 3 TB
* USB 3.0 Micro-B cable
* Power adapter with cable
* Quick Install Guide

As is usual, WD has provided all the necessary cables required to be used with this drive. No disk was provided with this product, because the software is on the drive. Unlike the My Book 3.0, this drive didn t come with a USB 3.0 card, because it is a value product. A USB 3.0 adapter card is useful for using the drive with older computers with PCI Express slot, which can be instantly upgraded to the newer and faster interface without having to buy a new expensive motherboard.

Design And Features

The My Book Essential is shaped like a small reference book - the reason for its moniker. It has a sturdy black polymer casing with a smooth glossy finish on the larger sides, while there is a shiny WD logo at the front bottom. The spine of the drive has ventilation grills on three sides to facilitate cooling of the WD30EZRS 3 TB 3.5-inch SATA hard drive inside.

WD My Book Essential 3 TB (Front)

There are two rubber feet on the underside of the drive to prevent it from moving around while in use. A power LED present on the front, glows white and blinks during drive activity.

The USB 3.0 port is present at the back of the drive. The new interface is a combination of two interfaces, of which, one is the micro-USB. This can be used to plug in an older USB 2.0 cable if you happen to lose your USB 3.0 cable. Needless to say, the data transfer speeds using the USB 2.0 cable will be similar to what is expected of the older interface. The USB 3.0 cable is thicker than a normal USB cable and seems to be more durable. There is also a socket to connect the power adapter plug, a power button and a Kensington lock at the lower back.

WD My Book Essential 3 TB (Back)

The drive boasts of 3 TB capacity, which is enough for most purposes.

If you connect the My Book to a USB 2.0 port, or if you connect it using a USB 2.0 cable, then you get a pop-up message that suggests you to connect it to a SuperSpeed USB 3.0 port.

Popup message warns you that the drive can support faster speeds with SuperSpeed USB 3.0.

The drive comes with SmartWare backup and restore software, which is an improvement over the one provided with previous drives. Unlike previous My Book drives, this software is not actually present on the drive itself, but is integrated in the controller circuitry, thus making it impossible to accidentally delete it. When the drive is plugged in, it shows up as a virtual optical drive with the WD SmartWare and a 3 TB removable hard drive.

WD SmartWare

WD SmartWare is very easy to use - all you need to do is simply plug in the drive, and SmartWare runs automatically. The Backup software automatically makes backup of your photos, videos, movies and other important files.

This software provides Visual Backup, which allows you to actually see the files present on your computer (on the left) and the files you have backed up to the My Book Essential (on the right) with proper categorization in a graphical format. Continuous incremental backup means the files are continuously backed up as soon as you make any change to the file in your computer. You can choose to save up to 25 versions of a file.

Security is taken care of by 256-bit hardware-based encryption by password protection, thus preventing unauthorized access to your data. Restoring a file is also easy as you can selectively retrieve a particular file or restore the complete backup set.

WD SmartWare available for Mac as well, though we could not test them.


We used the SiSoftware Sandra Professional synthetic benchmark to gauge the drive's performance and also performed real world file transfer tests. We tested the hard drive by connecting it to USB 3.0 as well as USB 2.0 ports, to get an idea of the performance benefits of USB 3.0 port, and to find out how well it works with the older interface.

SiSoftware Sandra Professional: We created a fresh NTFS partition on the test hard drive and ran the File System benchmark module on the freshly-formatted partition.

SS File System benchmark with USB 3.0

SS File System benchmark with USB 2.0

The drive index was found to be 101.42 MB/s for USB 3.0, and 28.48 MB/s for USB 2.0, which are good scores.

The File Copy Test: We copied 4 GB of assorted and sequential data to and from the drive, and obtained the following results.

The end results of all these tests indicate that the USB 3.0 interface does speed up things to a great advantage. The drive exhibits satisfactory performance with USB 2.0 as well. To give you some idea, you can transfer 4 GB in just under two and a half minutes.

Power Consumption

We have started taking into account the power consumption of USB hard drives too. The WD My Book Essential consumes 4 W in idle state, while the power consumption increases to 8 W in the ready state. 9 W is the maximum power that it consumes while data transfer is being done internally.


The WD My Book Essential 3 TB proves that USB 3.0 is the best thing that has happened to external backup drives in a very long time. Along with the transfer speeds as good as an internal SATA hard drive or an eSATA hard drive, there is the convenience and hot-plug feature of USB. This means that you will no longer have to wait for too long to transfer huge files, such as HD movies, to the hard drive and back. The same applies for backing up entire computers.

Unlike the general impression that a backup drive is supposed to be boring, this one exudes elegance due to its casing with a premium finish and it is built ruggedly as well. It even works with a USB 2.0 cable, just in case you happen to lose the USB 3.0 cable that comes along with it.

If we were to mention some cons, then it would be that this drive does not have a backup button, which would have made life a lot simpler. The WD My Book Essential 3 TB is available at an MRP Rs. 10,990, with a two-year warranty, which makes it a lot more expensive than the 1 TB version available for Rs 4,999 or even the 2 TB for Rs 7,499.

Performance: 4.5
Design and Build Quality: 4
Features: 4

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