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Western Digital My Passport Hard Drive – 500GB Review

By Tony Hannides On Aug 11, 2012 0
5 out of 5 Rating

Western Digital is one of the leading companies in external hard drives. Their goal is to make their products user friendly, fast and efficient. I’ve used a few of their products before but never a portable and pocket-able hard drive. After going to a press event for Western Digital, we got a hold of a couple of WD My Passport hard drives. While these drives have been on the market for some time, we still wanted to give them their fair chance in the limelight.

Image from WDC.com

Unboxing

Opening the box was an easy task. Inside, you get the My Passport hard drive, USB 3.0 cable and warranty/registration information. Color-wise, the hard drive comes in black, blue, gray, white and red. As for memory capacity, the My Passport is available from 500GB to 2TB (2000GB).

Hardware

The hard drive itself is compact and has a rugged outer shell. If you were to accidentally drop it, rest assure it won’t break apart. It is very light at only 0.30 pounds and smaller than a standard folding wallet. Below, we compared it to the size of an average computer mouse. Also, there is no need for external power as the hard drive draw all of its required power from the computer it’s connected to. Finally as for compatibility, it works on Mac and PC (Up to Windows 7).

Software

Truth be told, although the packaging says 500GB, you don’t get a full 500GB to play with. Some of that has to do with formatting but the My Passport also comes with some software you can install. I say you can because it is completely possible to use the hard drive without any additional software. However, this software could be considered useful.

The SmartWare in the My Passport will scan your whole computer and based off what kind of “backup plan” you’ve chosen, it’ll start backing up your files within minutes. What’s really nice is the category backup will look for files like movies, music, pictures and even email. You still have control over what you want in your hard drive, it’s just much easier for the computer to do the hard work for you. In fact, the software will continue to backup your information whenever you connect the hard drive to the computer.

“…it’s just much easier for the computer to do the hard work for you.”

Best of all, SmartWare will create a secondary backup so in the event you accidentally delete an important file, you can still retrieve it via the “easy-to-use retrieve interface.” For those of you were aren’t very techie, I would recommend using this additional software. We tend to think we can remember to backup our computers but in reality, we forget just as quickly. One last benefit of the software: password protection. Should someone nab your hard drive, if they try to access the data within, they’d need to know your password.

Usability

Using the hard drive is very simple; other than the additional/optional software it’s plug-and play and drag-and-drop. I have over 2000 photos on a separate computer and to have to use a USB stick to move them 50 at a time would have been a nightmare. I knew 500GB would be sufficient for the existing data and more than enough room to fill in the future. For reference purposes, above is a chart that lays out the approximate numbers of what can be stored. 500GB would get you around 100,000 photos stored.

Before I plugged it in, I noticed the new USB 3.0 plug. Understandably, USB 3.0 is much faster than 2.0; however I only have the one USB 3.0 cable. If I were to lose it, it’s a hassle I’d have to deal with; I’ve got a ton of USB 2.0 cables laying around. So while I still have the faster cable, let’s check the transfer speeds. Once it’s plugged in, you’ll know it’s working when the white LED turns on.

  • 2000 Photos at 5GB takes 7 minutes
  • 10 Minutes of Video at 1GB takes 45 seconds
  • 13 MP3s at 103MB takes 7 seconds

Conclusion

This laptop accessory accessory is a must for the professional on the go. Not only can you keep your important docs offline and off your computer. Plus if someone does get a hold of them, they need to bypass the WD security encryption. It’s also super useful if you’re trying to transfer large amounts of files from one PC to another. Of course, due to formatting differences, you cannot transfer files from a PC to a Mac; you have to re-format the drive. Nevertheless, whether you decide to use the software or not, this small yet powerful drive can be a helpful backup. It doesn’t take up much space, it gets warm but won’t burn you like a hot laptop battery might and best of all, its performance on transferring files was super fast. The only downside with USB 3.0 is the new cable but that’s about to become the norm so you’ll just have to get used to it. Mind you, this is meant for on the go use. Sure you can have it as an additional home-based external drive but Western Digital has some other solutions with more memory that might suit that need. So in the end, I would recommend the My Passport by Western Digital.

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