Western Digital My Passport Review (2017, 2TB)

by Reads (991)
  • Pros

    • Includes backup and security software
    • Available in multiple colors
    • Standard 3-year warranty
    • Good data transfer performance
  • Cons

    • No included carry case

Looking for a convenient way to locally back up your files? Western Digital’s stylish portable hard drive may be what you’re looking for.

Design and Setup

We last looked at the Western Digital My Passport Ultra in 2015. That drive was an updated version of the one we reviewed in 2014. The My Passport we’re reviewing here isn’t technically the successor of those drives, as it doesn’t have the “Ultra” branding. The My Passport Ultra drives include extra software and have a more upscale look, but are otherwise very similar to the My Passport series. (We’ll discuss software later in this review.)

The My Passport is sold in six different colors. We have the blue and black versions for this review, but you can also get them in red, orange, yellow, and white. The exterior construction is all plastic, although it’s thick and of good quality. The pricier My Passport Ultra drives have a combination metal and plastic exterior and, of course, a snazzier look. They tend to retail for about $10 more.

The drive itself has a sturdy look and feel. The top half has a smooth and shiny finish, while the bottom half has a grooved surface and an anti-glare coating. The My Passport feels durable enough, although it doesn’t carry any kind of official MIL-spec durability or waterproof rating.

The dimensions of the drive are 4.4×3.2×0.9 inches, and it weighs about one-fifth of a pound, including the cable. Here you can see our My Passport drives next to a standard coffee cup, for reference.

On the underside of the drive, there are four small rubber feet to keep it from slipping around too much.

The included cable connects to the drive using a “Micro B” connector. The end that goes into your computer is the standard rectangular Type-A USB. This is a USB version 3.0 drive, but it’s backwards compatible with USB 2.0. The cable measures about 16 inches from end to end.

Specifications and Performance

The available storage capacities for the My Passport are 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, and 4TB as of this writing. From a gigabytes-per-dollar perspective, the 4TB drive is the best value; it retails for $119. The 2TB versions we have retail for $79, but we found them going for a few dollars less online. Competing drives, such as the Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB and the Toshiba 2TB Canvio Basics, seemed to be priced with 10 dollars of the WD drive, indicating its price is competitive. There’s no hiding the fact that these kinds of drives are commodities.  

As we expected on a drive of this size, the My Passport comes formatted with the NTFS filing system, which will allow you to copy files up to several gigabytes in size. It’s ready to go out of the box for whatever you want to copy to it. To test the storage performance of the My Passport, we hooked it up to our Windows 10 test computer and transferred a single 9GB file back and forth. To eliminate any sort of bottleneck on the PC side, the source file was stored on a lightning-fast solid-state-drive (SSD).

Copying the file from our test computer to the My Passport, we recorded a peak write speed of 97MB per second, with the transfer completing in 1 minute, 35 seconds. Transferring the file back to the computer, we observed a peak read speed of 117MB per second, with the operation completing in 1 minute, 21 seconds. That performance is about as good as you can expect from a portable 2.5-inch hard drive. Using this drive to back up or synchronize many gigabytes of data on a regular basis shouldn’t be a problem. Note you’ll want to connect the drive to a USB 3.0 port for the best possible transfer speeds. (As we noted, the drive is compatible with the older USB 2.0 connection.)

Included Software

The My Passport sits between the Elements series and the My Passport Ultra drives in Western Digital’s external storage lineup. The Elements drives don’t include software, whereas the My Passport includes WD Backup software and hardware data encryption. The My Passport Ultra includes extra software.

The WD Backup software is preloaded on to the drive. After you plug the drive into your computer for the first time, you can access the software installer right at the root of the drive (WD Apps Setup.exe). It takes just a few clicks of the mouse to install the software.

Once installed, WD Backup runs in the background and backs up your files as per your schedule. The setup wizard for selecting files to back up is straightforward.

You can select whichever files you like from your local computer. By default, all of your documents, pictures, and so on will be selected. On top of that, you can even select those from your cloud storage services. Dropbox was installed on our test computer, and WD Backup gave us the option of getting files from there.

It’s a matter of editing the backup schedule from there. The default schedule is hourly, but that can be easily changed by clicking the Edit Schedule button:

In our example, we set the backup to run once daily at 12 am.

In the event you need to retrieve and restore your files from your My Passport, you’ll first want to install the software on your computer (assuming you’re using a new computer, that is). Open the software after it’s installed and click the Restore button. The software has an automatic mode that will attempt to restore the files where they were originally located. Alternatively, you can just tell the software where you want it to place the files. (We’d probably just do the latter, and then copy them where we wanted.)

The My Passport drive also includes the WD Security software. This allows you to password-protect your My Passport, preventing unauthorized access. These drives are quite portable, after all, so don’t count out that you could accidentally leave the drive somewhere public. You’ll need to enter the password you set each time you want to access the drive. If you’re frequently accessing the drive, it might be more convenient to enable the drive’s auto-unlock feature in the WD Security software. As long as you’re logged into your computer, the drive will remain unlocked.

Day-to-Day Usage

We used the My Passport for several weeks as a personal backup drive, taking it with us wherever we brought our computer. This will more or less boil down to personal preference, but we thought the squared-off corners were a bit sharp. The more expensive My Passport X offers a sleeker design with rounded corners if you think the squared-off edges will be a bother to you.

The glossy plastic exterior seemed to hold up well to wear and tear. At least, keeping it in our computer bag unprotected alongside a bunch of other peripherals didn’t seem to scratch or mar the finish that much.

Something we will recommend for daily transport is that you unplug the drive’s cable before putting it in your bag. If left connected, the cable can put undue stress on the connector and potentially lead to failure over time. It’s not worth the risk when it’s so easy to disconnect the cable.

Something worth mentioning about this drive is that it includes a standard three-year warranty. The competing drives we looked at from Seagate only included a one-year warranty. You’d expect an external storage drive like this to last for some time, and a three-year warranty gives you peace of mind. Our personal experience with these drives is that they are reliable if treated with basic care. (That means not throwing it around; there are moving parts inside, after all.) The WD My Passport Ultra we reviewed in 2014 is still going strong.

Final Thoughts

The basic idea with the WD My Passport is that it’s a simple backup device. The included WD Backup software is easy to configure and use. You can schedule recurring automatic backups, which is really the way to go. In addition, the My Passport has built-in security that you can configure so a password is required to access it. The less expensive WD Elements storage drive line doesn’t include the software we just mentioned. (If you opt for the pricier My Passport Ultra series drives, they have a slightly higher-grade construction and additional software.)

The My Passport drive we reviewed didn’t have wireless or cloud-based features. If you need those, WD offers the My Passport Wireless Pro for $179 in a 2TB capacity. That’s quite the increase from the $79 My Passport 2TB we reviewed here. But again, if you’re just after a simple backup device without network features, then the My Passport is a solid pick.

Pros:

  • Includes backup and security software
  • Available in multiple colors
  • Standard 3-year warranty
  • Good data transfer performance

Cons:

  • No included carry case



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