Western Digital My Book Thunderbolt Duo Review: It's A Giant Gorilla

Western Digital's inevitable Thunderbolt offering is missing solid state guts — and that hurts it a lot. But what it lacks in speed it makes up for in capacity. It's an enormous vault with more space than most humans will ever need.

What Is It?

The Yucca Mountain of external hard drives — 6TB of storage in a RAID array, plus a Thunderbolt connection.

Who's it For?

Videographers and others who need a massive amount of storage that's quickly accessible.


It's about as graceful as a big external hard drive with two bays can be. But there's a cheap-feeling pop-up plastic top to access the drives themselves.

Using It

Plug it in, save your stuff, repeat. Stop if you reach 6TB.

The Best Part

The Thunderbolt Duo is surprisingly speedy for something that uses old-fashioned mechanical drives. Synthetic testing showed the Duo with about the same write speed and half the read speed of the Little Big Disk (SSD), but a real-world test of moving a 19GB photo library told another tale: about three minutes to copy over, and about eight minutes to copy back to a MacBook Air's SSD.

Tragic Flaw

The Duo requires external power, which is always a drag. But it's expected, given its huge size.

This Is Weird...

The way massive storage continues to shrink is the only weird thing about this hard drive.

Should You Buy It?

It's big, capacious and expensive — but if you absolutely need space above everything else, yes.

Western Digital My Book Thunderbolt Duo

• Dimensions: 165mm (H), 157mm (D), 99mm (W) • Weight: 2.15kg • Input: Thunderbolt • Price (RRP in Australia): $699.99 for 4TB, $849.99 for 6TB

[Western Digital]


    Tragic flaw is that it requires power? My car requires petrol, is that a flaw?

      Heh, true dat. name an external HDD that doesn't need power.

        Wd passport portable 2tb :p

          SO MUCH WANT for that thing.

        2.5 inch still requires power, just not from the wall but from the USB socket!

    It's going to be speedy because it's got 10Gb cable bandwidth and configured as Raid0 (i assume) which is great because you get speed and capacity but it only takes 1 of those 2 drives to die and you've lost all your data. Agreed more empty Thunderbolt enclosures, $850 for 6Tb is insane given single 3Tb drives are under $200 each these days.

    Drobo with thunderbolt and usb 3.0 will do the job as an empty enclosure.. Unfortunately it will be absolutely insanely expensive I would imagine. As a model for what people want out of external enclosures it is pretty handy though. Someone will take note and do a cheaper version that is more accessible.

      I have the droboPro on gigabit iSCSI with eight 2TB drives. That gives about 10TB for my Mac to play with, but it does allow for two drive failures. Just swap out discs when you want for bigger units (I'm waiting for 4TB drives to become cheaper - and available!) with no shutdown for rebuilding - constant availability. It's that flexibility over traditional RAID that gives the drobos the advantage. You know what they say - disc drives are binary devices: they're either new, or they're full.

        New or full... Like. I have been reluctant to hunt one of these down because of cost. You sound effusive. I take it, it is good... Really good?

          I have a old Drobo Version 2, got for under $300 on Amazon America... So awesome but throughput is slow, will definently be getting the Thunderbolt version or keep it as reliable storage and get a fast cheaper external/internal drive and use it as backup, depends on price!!

    Cost of the chassis is high - but once you have it, that's it. And you use whatever drives you have floating around the house (SATA, of any capacity, from any manufacturer) to get you up and running. Then add more drives to fill all available slots, and then start swapping out the smallest drives as you further upgrade capacity. All without taking the drobo offline for rebuilding or reformatting. With one- or two-drive failover options, I elect to use two-drive failure - a little capacity sacrificed for peace of mind. And multiple volume management - on the fly. Yes, it is good... Really good.

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