My Book Drive “Turbo” Hardly the Case

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In early December of last year, the folks at Western Digital released some new USB/Firewire “Turbo” drivers for their My Book line of external storage devices. There was no mention of this news, nor was there a press release issued from the company.

For my own storage purposes, I own a My Book Pro II (1TB) drive. I use it to backup my audio (iTunes) and video (Sony HD Camcorder) content. This drive is connected to my iMac via FireWire 800.

When I stumbled upon the Turbo Drivers a month ago, I decided to take the risk and install them. There is no readme included with the installer, although from the download page, here is the information Western Digital provides:

“This installer – WDMacTurboDrivers.dmg, contained within the WDMacTurboDrivers.zip file installs custom Western Digital performance based Turbo drivers and drive icons for WD USB and FireWire enabled external hard drives under Macintosh computers.”

So what happened after I installed the drivers? Other than the icon changing (see below), I can’t see any performance benefits. After recently performing a search on the Western Digital support site, here is what I found:

Question:

Why is there no performance gain using the WD Macintosh Turbo Drivers for a My Book Premium II, Pro II, or Studio II while connected by FireWire?

Cause:

The My Book Premium II, Pro II, and Studio II Edition hard drives use a Macintosh based performance driver already included in the Macintosh Operating System. This Macintosh based performance driver has the same performance as the WD Macintosh Turbo Drivers.

Resolution:

There is no resolution for this as there is no performance gain or loss due to the usage of either the Macintosh based performance drivers or the WD Macintosh Turbo Drivers.

OK, who isn’t confused by this explanation from Western Digital? What is the value of creating these custom “turbo” drivers, other than changing the icon? Is it just for branding? Why did Western Digital spend the software development cost to implement a useless driver? In these economic times, I would think that Western Digital would be more cost conscious.

By the way, here is the visual change for the disk icon:

Before:

FireWire Drive Icon

After: 

WD Hard Drive Icon

Impressed by the visual change? I would hope not, but then, we all have different aesthetic values.

Overall, I am pretty disappointed by this offering from Western Digital. My expectations were that I would see improved read/write performance from this driver. Instead, and clearly stated from Western Digital, there is none.

For what it’s worth, I didn’t do any formal speed tests comparing the standard Apple FireWire driver vs. the new Western Digital Turbo driver. I mistakenly fell into the marketing trap of “ooh-faster-from-company-must-be-better-than-Apple-nonsense.”

Thankfully, I have neither seen any impact to my overall system stability, nor any negative impact to the My Book Pro II drive itself. If anyone else has tried these drivers, I would love to hear your feedback and see if you have received any benefit from installing them. Otherwise, you can thank me for being your guinea pig.

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