The laptop drive that I cloned had three partitions for Windows, data and backup, and the Acronis software cloned all three without trouble. Once the cloning was complete, I removed the original hard drive and plugged the WD Dual Drive in its place. Now it was time to run the WD software to unlock the 1TB hard drive.At this stage you need to know that the Dual Drive works with Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8 but not with Mac OS X, at least not until next year. Linux support... well, who can say?The partition can’t span the SSD and HDD, and WD doesn’t support Nvidia and ASMedia SSD controllers, although that is more likely to bother desktop PC users than owners of laptops.Once the Dual Drive installation software had loaded the bridge chip drivers, the system restarted and the 1TB partition was created before the system booted into Windows. I now had two visible drives in Windows Explorer with a combined formatted capacity of just over 1TB.
The HDD compares favourably with a 1TB Seagate SSHD hybrid drive, although it is a few percentage points slower at every step and is noticeably slower than the new 7mm 500GB Toshiba MQ01ACF hard drive.When I duplicated 2GB of music files on each drive there was a noticeable gulf, with the Seagate doing the job in 16.7 seconds and the Toshiba in 21.8 seconds while the Dual Drive HDD took 32.3 seconds.Interestingly, the Dual Drive SSD took 28.6 seconds; much slower than a SanDisk Extreme II SSD, which copied the files in 5.1 seconds. In other respects, the WD SSD flew through the benchmarks and trounced the hard drives but was unable to keep up with the SanDisk SSD.The Dual Drive feels like a decent HDD and a slowish SSD that have something holding them back - probably the Marvell bridge chip which is managing the Sata interface.I can show you a convincing reason why you should consider the Dual Drive: starting 64-bit Windows 7 on my Core i7 took 42.7 seconds using the Toshiba HDD whereas the SanDisk Extreme II took 22.3 seconds. The WD Dual Drive won the race: it took 19.5 seconds.
And so we come to the big question: should you spend £249 on a 1TB WD Dual Drive? Clearly not if you have a Mac – or at least, not until the Mac software is released in 2014.If you can afford £480 for a 1TB Samsung 840 Evo SSD then I suggest you avail yourself of one, as it is an act of charity to remove spinning magnetic media from your laptop.If you like the idea of a WD Dual Drive but hate the thought of spending £249 on a 1TB HDD, I sympathise and point you towards the 1TB Seagate SSHD, which will set you back just £85. Or you can buy a 1TB WD Scorpio Blue HDD for 60 quid.If you don’t need 1TB or 750GB then the smart thing to do is to buy the most affordable SSD that you can stomach. My suggestions include the £150 240GB SanDisk Extreme II, the 480GB Crucial M500 and the 500GB Samsung 840 Evo. The last two are both priced at £290, a whisper more than the Dual Drive.
If you have a Windows laptop with a single drive bay AND you need more than 500GB of storage AND you don’t want to spend more than £250 AND you’re not too concerned about performance THEN I strongly recommend the WD Black² Dual Drive. But that’s a LOT of ‘ands’. Whatever you pay, your money will get you a 1366 x 768 display, dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, a pair of USB 3.0 ports and HDMI output. That’s the connectivity - inside is 4GB of RAM, a 16GB SSD for those of your files that your really don’t want in the cloud, and a 1.4GHz Haswell-based Intel Celeron 2955U processor, a two-core, HyperThreading-less part with 2MB of cache and a 15W TDP.That helps the Dell Chromebook get around 10 hours’ runtime out of its battery, the company claimed.
The Chromebook 11 with 4GB of RAM will go on sale later this month, but Dell has also promised a 2GB model for further on this quarter. That will presumably be slightly cheaper, the better to appeal to the schools Dell hopes will buy its cheap laptop.Question is, can Dell get its 11-inch Chrome OS lappy out before the rather sexier HP Chromebook 11, currently withdrawn while the vendor nails down an incendiary USB adaptor bug, is back on the shelves?According to US market-watcher NPD, Chromebooks outsold Android tablets - and Apple laptops - in the first 11 months of 2013. Comment Widespread ridicule has greeted the announcement that eight giant technology companies led by Google and including Facebook and LinkedIn were going to save us from the NSA.The ridicule is thoroughly justified, for trusting giant corporations - whose business models rely on selling your identity to advertisers - to safeguard your privacy is like hiring a kleptomaniac to guard the sweet shop.Thirty years after the Khmer Rouge declared war on "the Garden of the individual", Silicon Valley was lauding the collective "hive mind" while stealthily dismantling the rights that protect the individual.
Both practically and philosophically, today's giant web corporations are incapable of defending you - and how can they, when don't really accept that the individual really exists? In Silicon Valley, the individual is merely a phantom: a collection of patterns, or a node secreting data into one of its giant analytical processing factories.Before we can understand why tech/media companies can't protect the individual, and why their "solutions" are impoverishing us, let us remind ourselves what's happened. We need to see how complicit the data business was with the behaviour of the intelligence agencies.Edward Snowden's revelations confirmed that 20 years after it was opened to the public for commercial access, the internet is subject to the same casual warrant-free surveillance as the circuit-switched telephone network. Fantasies that the internet would put us beyond the reach of the spooks turned out to be just that: fantasies. Only a fraction of Snowden's material has been released, and much of it is banal: spies spy on foreign powers, for example. But the material did confirm that the physical infrastructure of packet communication is completely compromised, and security backdoors are apparently commonplace.
This week's disclosures in Der Spiegel confirmed the lack of protection. Spiegel did not draw from the Snowden cache in its report, which details alleged offensive capabilities of the NSA's Office of Tailored Access Operations (TAO).According to the German magazine's report, TAO's operations range from Q-Branch-style custom hardware to directed hacks on suspected individuals, networks and infrastructure. It would be naive to think this didn't already go on, given the capabilities of Russian and Chinese cyber-warfare teams against political and industrial targets. The sophisticated Stuxnet malware, believed to be a joint US-Israeli effort, was constructed to disable control systems in Iran's nuclear fuel processing plant.Yet at least the NSA is subject to democratic scrutiny. Technology companies are not. The scrutiny of the NSA may have been supine and ineffective, thanks to senators including Democrat grandee and chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dianne Feinstein - but the structure is there to provide better oversight.
What I find far more disturbing than anything in Snowden's cache is the fact that Silicon Valley's internet companies have been complicit in denuding citizens of the privacy an individual requires to be an individual.Firstly, these companies are a data acquisition industry. They hired the best engineers and mathematicians of their generation and set them about creating a kind of derivatives bubble of inferred human behaviour. The gimmicky gadgets we feature - Android phones and Google Glasses - are simply subsidised data-capture devices. I am doubtful there is as much value in this data as the hypesters want us to believe - because economists always put more store by "revealed preferences" - what you actually spend on a good - than by second guessing what you might spend.Far from being bold and "disruptive", Google and Facebook appear to be deeply conservative companies that seem loathe to stray from their comfort zones. They'd prosper from helping other industries build transaction-based markets, which makes the inferral analytics less important than traditional business skills. Why don't they go there? Perhaps the nerds who run these web companies fear being smaller fish a bigger pond.However, if there is value in this data they capture, then we are giving it away too cheaply. New elites prosper on the back of this. This prompted Jaron Lanier to suggest that we charge them for it, receiving a micropayment when an ad is clicked. There are two drawbacks in Lanier's suggestion. One is that it relies on micropayments, which only ever work in aggregate amounts - discrete micropayments are too expensive to process. The second, rather larger problem, is that there isn't enough money there in the first place.
So, instead of conducting a real transactional business, or helping other people make operational IT efficiencies, they've created a ghost world of their own instead, in which we're the product. This required a public relations effort to try to persuade us we don't have any property rights over our data, anyway.One of the most ironic sights of 2013 was seeing the fugitive Snowden open up a laptop emblazoned with stickers for the EFF, the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The EFF is just one of many groups that receives money from the technology industry - with Google leading the handouts - waging a ceaseless war on the individual's digital rights, while claiming to defend them.These groups also loudly claim to be privacy watchdogs - yet have turned their meek protest into a funding activity. And guess who's doing the funding? When Google and Facebook settled their respective Buzz and Beacon privacy lawsuits, the biggest beneficiaries were not individuals but “organizations that are currently paid by [Defendant] to lobby for or to consult for the company” thanks to a quirk called cy-près. The EFF and ACLU each bagged $1m from the settlement, which for the EFF was more than it raised in donations. And it has some pretty wealthy donors.