WD ShareSpace review for photo storage

WD ShareSpace 4 TB Review – Centralized storage for photographs

A couple of weeks ago I started my search for a good centralised system to store all my photographs, instead of having them spread across several external hard drives. The other problem I had since buying a Canon 5D Mark 11 was that the file sizes are huge and quickly take up all available space on my MacBook Pro. It was then, that I came across one called WD ShareSpace by Western Digital. At first it was the amount of storage space that caught my attention. Currently the WD ShareSpace comes in 3 sizes, 2, 4 and 8 TB. I opted for the 4 TB.

Why did I opt for the WD ShareSpace instead of a large external hard drive?

1. One of the grabbing factors for me personally was that the WD ShareSpace offered Raid capabilities. Basically what this means, is that it’s really 4 hard drives working in an array called a RAID array, acting as one single volume (drive). The data goes into this device and is redundantly spread out among 4 drives. If one hard drive in this device fails, pull it out, slap a blank one in its place and the array rebuilds itself and you lose no data. Unfortunately this means you lose 1/4 of your storage, leaving you with 2.68TB of redudandant storage available. If you don’t like that idea, it’s easy to turn RAID off and use it simply as a normal external storage device. Personally I like the security of RAID, knowing that if one drive fails, I can hopefully restore my photographs. Presuming the technology works as intended of course. I don’t plan on finding out any time soon!

2. Now for the really cool part. This hardware is called ShareSpace, because you can plug it into a spare ethernet connection in your wireless router so the whole household can use it! So in essence, it becomes a home drive. It even comes with a built in iTunes and Media Server to store all your music and video so it can be played on any computer in the house. Now if you’re like me and don’t like the idea of every one in the household having access to your photo library, you can also plug it directly into your laptop (presuming you have an available ethernet port). If not, then still connect it to your router, and set a password that only you know!

Any Cons so far?

1. After reading the PDF document on their website, it seems if a drive fails and needs replacing, it must be a Western Digital drive with the same capacity as the original. Hopefully, Western Digital keeps making these drives.

2. There seems to be a lot of talk around that this is not true hardware RAID but rather software RAID, hence the much cheaper price. On Amazon reviews there seems to be a lot of different opinions on how easy it is to recover lost data if a hard drive was to fail. With this in mind, I wouldn’t recommend it for a large office data centre. But definitely do recommend it for backing up photographs or home office use.

As all experienced photographers know, it’s always a good idea to back up your photography in a couple of different places. If you sell your photography or have precious family keepsakes, it’s even better if you keep a copy in two different physical buildings for obvious reasons. Personally I backup my most important images to Apple’s MobileMe service.


Fredi Markovitz October 5, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Hi Tanya,
Your concern is basically true – need large space and worry about reliable HDD,
but I wouldn’t buy this WD SHarespace with RAID because:
1. I beleive it’s price is much higher against 2 separate HDD 2TB/4TB beacused
it’s a RAID system, so it’ more complex.
2. If 1 HDD failed after 1-2 years, what is the chance you find exactly HDD needed,
I mean you can not just add any HDD – you must have the exactly HDD failed
3. I had once a complete server in company I worked with RAID system, cost a lot,
after 1 year a disk failed, the whole sysetm was crashed, I invited an expeert,
and find out we need to recover the systm from a backup tape, so we worked
whole weekend to recover the whole system.
My meaning is that RAID supposed to be more reliable and safe then simple
HDD, but you can not count on it forever.
4. As you said, you can turn the RAID OFF, but I think it’s better to have 2
seperate external HDD’s, can be located closed to each other, connected to UPS
with your PC, and when you copy photos-copy to one HDD, copy also to 2nd
HDD. the chance both will failed at same time is very rare.
This way is much cheeper and more safe.
You can find external HDD 2TB in less then 200US$, and prices going down
always. besides now thrre are HDD with E-sata connection – much higher speed )
look for Verbatim BRAND 2tb).

Regards, Fredi

Tanya Ann November 10, 2010 at 1:00 am

Thank you for your comments. You do raise some very good points and ones that I considered. I would think that if a hard drive failed after only 2 years, I would be able to find the exact HDD required (Ebay is great for stuff like that). Personally I’m using the WD Sharespace as an external drive to save space on my MacBook Pro when editing etc. However, I do recommend photographers back up important photographs that they want to keep in the long term at least twice, using two different systems. Preferably one in house, and one out of house, for example with Mobile Me (Apple).


zerodtkjoe October 20, 2010 at 9:42 am

Thanks for the info

aparadekto October 26, 2010 at 4:04 am

Hey, I can’t view your site properly within Opera, I actually hope you look into fixing this.

Tanya Ann November 10, 2010 at 12:40 am

Thanks for letting me know. I will go download it and see what I can do to correct the problem!

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