The Western Digital My Book is a solid drive, but it doesn't stand out from its peers.
Backup and password protection
Not too bulky
Needs a separate AC adapter
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Western Digital is a household name when it comes to storage solutions, and its My Book range is synonymous with reliable, high-capacity backup drives for all your storage needs. That’s why I was absolutely thrilled to get hands-on with the biggest hard drive ever created, the new 22TB My Book Desktop Hard Drive.
That’s the highest capacity hard drive the company has ever made, driven by research in 2022 revealing that the average household generates more than 20TB of data in one year. With photos, backups, and files all bigger than ever, having more storage to protect your data and your memories is paramount. At $600, the 22TB My Book is a hefty investment, as well as its 44TB ‘Duo’ big brother, which costs $1,500. So is the My Book worth your money? Let’s find out.
Western Digital My Book Desktop Hard Drive 22TB: Price and availability
The 22TB My Book Desktop Hard Drive is available for $599 MSRP at Western Digital’s online store. It is also available at Amazon for slightly cheaper, and B&H Photo. This has only been out a few weeks, so we wouldn’t expect to see any discounts just yet.
Shipping from Western Digital takes around three to four weeks, and that comes with a free three-year data recovery plan, a 30-day money-back guarantee, and a three-year limited warranty. So you may want to try Amazon or B&H Photo to get it delivered faster. You can also add Western Digital's data recovery plan for two years at $9.99 or three years at $14.99, options you probably won't find at other retailers.
Western Digital My Book Desktop Hard Drive 22TB: What I like
When you first take the Western Digital My Book out of its box, what you actually notice, is that it's quite reasonably sized for the amount of storage that it offers. It doesn't feel too big, and has a nice design and so it would easily fit in a desk setup. I like the overall aesthetic and feel of the device, it’s very sleek and smart so will look right at home in almost any setup. However, it’s also neat enough and small enough to hide away somewhere.
Setting it up is also very straightforward, as I simply plugged in the hard drive to its power socket and connected it via USB. If you’re on a Mac like me, plugging in the My Book will automatically launch the installation process for the software included on the drive. Once installed, the software sits in your Launchpad and is pinned to the macOS menu bar, where you’ll find options to backup your data and install extra apps for security and the Utilities app for running diagnostics, etc.
The My Book is rated for out-of-the-box compatibility with Windows, as well as macOS El Capitan, Yosemite, and Mavericks, and macOS Ventura which we tested it on.
While you can use the extra backup software, the My Book does just fine using the macOS Time Machine feature which comes built into Apple’s Macs. Selecting the My Book as a backup location was a breeze, and with 22TB on hand, you’ll be able to back up your Mac for as long as you could possibly need.
Moving some files around, the My Book’s performance is impressive, writing more than 2.3GB of photos to the hard drive in just a few seconds. Read speeds are also snappy when it comes to real-world performance, I barely had to wait for any photos that I’d moved to render their previews as I was scouring through the drive. But what about some more hardcore numbers?
Running the Blackmagic disk speed test yielded write speeds of around 216 MB/s, and read speeds of around 218 MB/s. That means that as you use the My Book you’ll be shifting 1GB of data back and forth in around 4.5 seconds, or 1TB in almost 90 minutes. This is just shy of Western Digital’s claimed 5GB/s transfer speeds, although I was using mine through a dock, which might explain the gap here. It’s not the quick, snappy read and write you get from SSD, but it is much more cost-effective when it comes to high volumes of storage, which is why the 22TB My Book definitely sells itself as a trusty archive backup for photos, music, your Mac through Time Machine, and more.
Security is another big selling point of the My Book. With built-in 256-bit AES Hardware Encryption and Western Digital’s own security software, you can set a password and ensure that no one can access your data except you (unless you forget the password). This device is unlikely to ever leave your home, but it’s reassuring to know your data is secure should anyone ever try to gain access to it. You can also encrypt the drive with macOS by simply right-clicking on the drive’s desktop icon and selecting “Encrypt”, I imagine the WD software is more targeted to Windows users, as macOS users are more likely accustomed to using Time Machine and macOS’ built-in encryption software. The latter does come with options to set specific dates and times for your backups, however.
Western Digital My Book Desktop Hard Drive 22TB: What I don’t like
Out of the box, the My Book comes with two cables, a USB-A SuperSpeed cable, and a power adapter. I believe that the entire My Book range comes with a power adapter regardless of the storage capacity. This means that you’ll always have two cables poking out the back of your My Book, and you’ll always need an extra plug socket to power it. Remember though, that the My Book is all about huge volumes of storage - it’s not portable, although you could move it around if you really wanted or needed to.
The first thing you notice about the Western Digital My Book when you plug it in is the noise. There’s a noticeable high pitch whizz as the disk whines up, then some rattling before the drive settles down into a distinctive hum, punctuated by a regular and extremely annoying noise that I can only describe as “hard drive shuffle”, a bit like the noise your computer used to make when you put a floppy disk inside it back in the day. This noise, unfortunately, doesn’t let up, so it’s something you’re going to have to live with. This could prove troublesome especially if you leave the hard drive on for long periods of time if you’re using Time Machine, or need access to your storage at a moment's notice. This is going to add a fairly significant amount of background noise to your office, so it is definitely not recommended for creators such as audio engineers and podcasters where sound (or a lack of it) is important to their workflow.
Otherwise, there really isn’t much to dislike about the My Book. As noted, the biggest drawback is definitely the need for a second power cable alongside the connection, and the USB-A SuperSpeed cable doesn’t lend itself to snappy Mac connectivity the way a USB-C model might.
The only other thing that might perhaps be missing, is some sort of status indicator light that would confirm the drive is on and active. However, the noise is so loud that it really isn’t necessary.
Western Digital My Book Desktop Hard Drive 22TB: Competition
There are two drives that stand out as viable alternatives. The first is Western Digital’s own Elements Desktop hard drive. It offers the same storage of up to 22TB, plug-and-play compatibility, and a sleeker design (in my opinion). It doesn’t come with the same software as the My Book, but I don't think that’s a big deal, making its $549 price tag a more attractive option.
There’s also the SanDisk Professional G-Drive, which comes with USB-C connectivity and snappier 280MB/s read and write. It also looks like a futuristic spaceship, which is a huge plus point in my opinion.
The My Book is a good drive but at first glance, I prefer both of these alternatives in terms of looks and pricing. There are also other options in our best external hard drives for Mac roundup, including more portable options and speedy SSD drives.
Western Digital My Book Desktop Hard Drive 22TB: Verdict
The My Book is a solid hard drive with more storage space than anyone could possibly need, so it’s perfect for someone who wants to back up their Mac into eternity, or who has a collection of thousands of photos, videos, songs, and movies to store.
However, plenty of folks will likely be better off with a fraction of the storage at a cheaper price point or a more portable option. For those who do need all that space though, the Western Digital My Book is a solid option in a crowded market.
Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.
Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9
By Tammy Rogers