Forget the cloud! WD My Book Duo backs up your photos for less than six cents per gigabyte


posted Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at 7:55 PM EDT


Are your photos and videos securely backed up? For too many of us, the answer is no -- and in a world where cloud storage options abound, many of them with free offers to entice you to their particular platform, that can seem a little crazy. But when you look at them closely, cloud storage prices quickly add up. (And with modern digital cameras creating huge files -- especially if you shoot lots of HD or 4K video -- you can burn through storage space really quickly.)

Let's take a look at what's on offer from some of the major players right now. Microsoft will give you 15GB of storage for free -- at least, after you jump through some hoops, and hassle your friends into signing up too. Beyond that, you'll pay up to US$100 per year for 215GB of storage, little enough that a single SD card could run out your entire allotment, and still have data left over without a backup. Dropbox will give you 500GB for $500/year, and Amazon will give you a terabyte -- but you could still wipe that out with a few 256GB SD cards. Even the mighty Google will charge you $120/year for a terabyte. That's 12 cents per gigabyte, and at the end of the year's subscription, you pay it all over again!

WD's My Book Duo, front and back views.

With prices like these, backing everything up yourself can start to look mighty attractive, and WD's handsome new My Book Duo looks like a handy way to do it. Capacities up to eight terabytes are available, and even the highest-capacity option costs just US$450, or 5.6¢/GB. At prices like those, you could afford to have two My Book Duo drives, each set up with hardware RAID for redundancy, and you'd still be saving a little money compared to Google Drive.

That cost obviously won't include the power bill for keeping your My Book Duo running, and the company hasn't included power consumption in its specifications -- but then nor does Google include the cost of your broadband connection, and the power for your computer to upload vast quantities of data at slow residential broadband speeds. So really, the comparison seems quite fair. What you really lack is that your storage isn't offsite, so if something happens to your home or office, the backup itself will likely be affected. But then, you can always arrange to mirror the My Book Duo to another device offsite -- and there's no ongoing subscription fee, so even if you bought four of WD's devices, you'd still save over the same amount of storage with Google over a couple of years. (Assuming the search giant doesn't slash prices in the meantime, that is.)

The My Book Duo is based around WD Red hard drives.

It seems to us, though, that what these drives are offering is pretty impressive. Sure, they're not network-attached, but it's easy enough to share a drive across the network from a PC or Mac desktop, should you need to do so. And for your money, you really do get a spectacular amount of storage with performance far in excess of what you'd get from the cloud. WD says the My Book Duo is capable of a whopping 290MB/second via USB 3.0, if your computer is up to the task. That's almost 30 times faster than the average broadband download speed in the USA according to Akamai, and although write speeds are likely lower, that's definitely true of upstream broadband speeds for most consumer internet connections as well.

The WD My Book Duo is available immediately, and includes two WD Red hard drives in RAID 0, RAID 1 or JBOD configuration. It features hardware RAID, hardware encryption, and has three USB 3.0 interfaces. Pricing and capacities vary from US$280 for 4TB up to US$450 for 8TB. More details on WD's website.

My Book Duo capacities run from four to eight terabytes, at prices far below that of cloud storage.