I was first introduced to portable storage when I was in my early 20s (nearly 20 years ago now!). It was not exactly ‘portable’ by modern terms. It was an early LaCie dual drive enclosure that created a RAID. We used it to back up media projects and unfortunately, it failed on us at the most inopportune time. We immediately moved to the WD MyBook series hard drives and even though they were in their infancy, they never failed us. Ever since then, I’ve been sold on Western Digital and their products. Today, there are a lot more options from WD for portable storage including the Western Digital My Passport Ultra, which I’ve been fortunate to be testing out for the past couple of weeks.
The My Passport Ultra is a portable hard drive that is pocket-sized. Measuring 3.2”x 4.3”x 0.85”, the My Passport Ultra is very easy to carry around from place to place. It packs a lot of storage into a small package. There are four sizes — 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, and 4TB — and two colors — white/gold and black/gray — to choose from. The drive features USB 3.0 and is backward compatible with USB 2.0. In addition to being an easy-to-use, plug-n-play hard drive, the My Passport Ultra includes WD Discovery software integrated on the drive. This software allows you to connect to social media and cloud storage services like Dropbox and Google Drive as well as backup your files in a secure manner. The WD Security app provides 256-bit AED hardware encryption to keep your content private and secure. With it, you can set personalized passwords and activate encryption and data protection. The drive utilities that are also included, you can ensure that your drive is always in pristine health. It’s a very succinct package wrapped up in this one stylish hard drive.
- My Passport Ultra hard drive
- USB 3.0 cable
- WD Discovery software for WD Backup, WD Security and WD Drive Utilities
- Quick install guide
One of my favorite thing about this drive is that it’s ready to use out of the box. All you have to do is plug it in and start using it. Most of the time I’m a little annoyed by the pre-installed software on hard drives, but after using the WD apps, I was actually pretty impressed with how it rounds out the data storage package. I am running a MacBook Pro as my main computer. It’s a 2016 model so it’s only inputs are USB-C ports. I do use a docking station when I’m at my computer, but the USB ports are in the back so it’s a little hard to connect a drive at a moment’s notice. So, I connected to the WD My Passport Ultra using a USB-C Hub that I recommend everyone with a USB-C MacBook/MacBook Pro carry with them. I’ve thoroughly tested this particular USB-C Hub and noted that it’s connection does not cause any loss of speed for connected devices.
When plugged into my computer the hard drive mounts quickly. I did notice that Paragon NTFS for Mac detected the drive slower than the WD Utility App did. It showed up in the menu utility before it popped up on my desktop or the sidebar of my Finder window. To see how much available space was on the drive, I opened Disk Utility to get a profile on the drive. As it turns out, the drive is formatted as NTFS and even though more than 750MB is taken up with WD software packages, the drive still shows 4TB available space. I double checked this by getting info on the drive and reviewing the drive specs in Apple System Profiler.
When I test out a hard drive, I run a few tests on transfer speed, the endurance of the drive, and overall performance. Here are the results for the WD My Passport Ultra.
Endurance: With this being a mechanical hard drive, I was a little leery of leaving it plugged in or moving it around too much. I’ve had a lot of SSDs lately and have to admit I was a little out of practice with a mechanical drive. I didn’t handle it with kid gloves though. I plugged it into my laptop and let it sit idling while I wrote some articles. I believe I had it running for approximately 2 hours and even though I could feel the drives spinning furiously in the case, I didn’t detect any heat or noise coming from the drive itself. Leaving it plugged in and carrying my laptop — with the drive attached — didn’t seem to affect it’s performance either. The drive remained connected and steady as I moved from one room to another.
Data Transfer Speed: Given that the hard drive is compatible with USB 3.0, one should expect that the WD My Passport Ultra can maintain speeds up to 5gbps. I ran two separate tests on the hard drive — Blackmagic Disk Speed Test and AJA System Test Lite. They both ended up with very similar results as you can see in the screenshots included. A secondary test I ran for speed testing was to copy a file to the drive and time how long it takes. I selected an MP4 file that was 2.36GB in size. It copied to the hard drive in just under 20 seconds. This averages to a transfer rate of 118.2 MB/s, which was also in line with the speed test apps.
The WD My Passport Ultra hard drive is a great option for keeping storage available — even when you are traveling. I love its high capacity availability and portability. You do have to be a little cautious about how you travel with it since it’s a mechanical drive. I can recommend the WD My Passport Ultra to any type of user.