wd-2-displayWestern Digital is announcing three new families of external hard drives today, all of them with indicators that tell you how much free storage you have.

WD, the biggest player in external hard disk drives, is announcing today its My Book Elite desktop external drives with a customizable display that you can use to label what’s stored on the drive. The display also shows you how much space is left. The drives also have the WD SmartWare software introduced last month. That software lets you back up your computer and shows you visually how much has already been backed up and how much it still has to do.

All of the products are aimed at making external storage and backup hardware less of a hassle The My Book Elite (pictured) has built-in encryption and comes in capacities of 1 terabyte ($169.99), 1.5 terabytes, and 2 terabytes ($279.99). It’s available now at retailers and www.shopwd.com. The e-label smart display is on the spine of the drives and can be easily changed. It uses e-paper technology which looks like ink on paper. It’s solves frequently asked questions by customers: whose drive is it and what’s on it?

The second new family is the My Passport Elite, which has smaller capacities and has an indicator light that shows how much data is on the drive. It does not, however, have a display like the My Book Elite. The My Passport Elite sits on a universal serial bus dock so that you can stand it upright while it’s connected to the computer. The drives come in red, blue and black and have capacities of 320 gigabytes ($119.99), 500 gigabytes ($159.99) and 640 gigabytes ($169.99). These drives also have the WD SmartWare software and password-protected encryption.

The last new series is the WD My Book Studio external drives for the Mac. These drives are just like the My Book Elite with the E-label display. They also have a Mac-friendly FireWire 800 interface for high-speed transfer, and they are compatible with Apple’s own TimeMachine backup software. The drives come in capacities of 500 gigabytes ($149.99), 1 terabyte, 1.5 terabytes, and 2 terabytes ($299.99).

WD competes with rivals such as Seagate, Hewlett-Packard, ClickFree, and others. Parks Associates estimates that the average household now has 120 gigabytes of data. That’s a lot to lose.

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