Western Digital My Passport SSD Portable Hard Drive REVIEW

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I’m always on the lookout for great options for portable storage. When I’m on the go, I just want to have reliable storage that is easy to transport. That’s why I like Western Digital’s (WD) My Passport line of products. I’ve used a couple different models of My Passport drives over the past few years and I find them to be dependable and secure for my most important data. When I upgraded my laptop last year to the 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro my options for portable hard drives were very limited due to the fact that the only connections available on the MBP were USB-C. I was very happy when WD released this beautiful portable SSD that is compatible with USB-C — the My Passport SSD Portable Hard Drive.

The My Passport SSD was introduced in April of this year as the fastest WD brand portable drive yet. The drive supports up to 515 MB/s and is designed for use with the latest generation of the computer that features USB-C. The connection from the drive to a computer is USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10GB/s) and is built for use with PC and Mac. The My Passport SSD also offers a secured place to store your data with 256-bit AES hardware encryption and password protection. This tiny hard drive is also incredibly durable. Since it uses an SSD rather than a hard disk drive, there are no moving parts. It’s essentially a giant flash drive. This is what makes an SSD not only faster than an HDD, but also more durable and more transportable because of it’s resistance to damage.

The My Passport SSD comes in a bright yellow WD branded box with a photo of the product on the front. There are some basic details included on the box including what size the drive is. The My Passport SSD is available in three sizes — 256GB, 512 GB, and 1TB. The size of the box relative to the size of the drive itself is comical. From the size of the box, you might expect a standard external hard drive, but in reality, it’s a minuscule device that is smaller than a box of Tic-Tacs. Aside from the device itself, you will also find a USB-C to USB-C cable, a quick start guide, and a technical support and warranty guide. WD also includes a USB-C to USB-A adapter in case you need to use the hard drive with a computer that has a standard USB port.

One of the things that I truly appreciate about WD drives is that they are plug-n-play. There is no specialized software required in order to get the hard drive working with your computer. You simply plug the drive in and start transferring files. Even though you can use the hard drive straight out of the box, you do have the option to use the WD Backup Software for automatic backups of your system. If you don’t want to use the WD software for backups, you do have the option to use Apple’s Time Machine as the My Passport is fully compatible with that option, too. You will have to reformat the drive before going the Time Machine route though.

When you first plug the drive into your computer — in my case a MacBook Pro — you will be asked if you want to use the My Passport to back up with Time Machine. This is really your discretion. I could see this being a very nice option for Time Machine backups, but if you want to just use it as a regular external hard drive, you can select “Don’t Use” or “Decide Later” to move on. Now, even though you don’t have to use it, you will see a lot of files already stored on the hard drive. This is the WD backup software I mentioned above. Personally, if you aren’t going to use the WD software, I would recommend reformatting the drive so that you have a full 1TB to use for storage. With the preloaded software from WD, there is 727MB of space taken up on the drive already.

The first test I did was using the USB-A adapter with a 2014 13-inch MacBook Pro. The drive mounted almost immediately but took a few seconds to eject. To see exactly how fast the drive is, I decided to copy a video file to both the My Passport SSD and a USB 3.0 Flash Drive. I moved a video file that was 2.39 GB in size in less than 8 seconds. The same file — on the same port on the computer in fact — took 1 minute 11 seconds to transfer on to the USB 3.0 flash drive. Now, while I know that’s not exactly comparing apples to apples, it’s still a pretty significant difference. USB 3.0 has a transfer speed of up to 5Gbps while USB 3.1 can transfer 10 Gbps. Even with that statistic, the My Passport SSD transferred the 2.38GB file nearly 9 times faster than the flash drive.

The next test I ran was actually using an HP Spectre x360 laptop. This laptop is comparable to a MacBook Pro in speed and performance and it features USB-C with Thunderbolt ports as well as a standard USB-A port. I thought this was an interesting mix between the 2014 MacBook Pro and the 2016 MacBook Pro. Using the same video file and the same flash drive as I did in the first test, I found that the file transferred to the My Passport SSD (without the USB-A adapter) in about 8 seconds. This is huge in my opinion because it means I can get the same performance from the My Passport using the adapter as I can just the USB-C cable. The file transferred to the flash drive in about 38 seconds, which is about half the speed as it did on the 2014 MBP, but that’s still 4.75 times as slow as the My Passport drive.

Finally, I transferred the file from the 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar to the My Passport SSD. The file transferred in less than 6 seconds. In addition to my own field tests, I also ran a Blackmagic Speed Test on the drive and got the following results.

The My Passport SSD is ideal for storing large photo and video libraries as well as being able to quickly back up files and important documents. I’ve been very happy with its performance to date and look forward to using it for a lot of my needs in the future. The device has a price point starting around $100 (256GB). It is definitely going to be my portable workstation buddy for data storage from now on.

For more information, visit wdc.com/my-passport-ssd.
Find Western Digital on Facebook and Twitter.

Originally published at macsources.com on June 22, 2017.



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